RAT motorcylists roar into town

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When RAT growls into town today, all eyes will be on the most powerful production motorcycle on the planet. And anyone with a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license and the appropriate personal equipment can get in line to take the 2,300 cc Rocket II for a demonstration ride.

RAT stands for Riders Association of Triumph motorcycles, and 300 members are helping to pack the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel this year. The summer convention of the Rocky Mountain chapter of RAT has been coming to Steamboat for three years, but this year it will be bigger than ever because the corporate marketing guys have decided this should become one of the premier events they sponsor in North America.

That translates into lots of gleaming high-performance Triumph bikes available for test rides in the Steamboat Ski Area's Knoll Parking lot today and Saturday.

"Triumph corporation is expecting this to be one of the biggest rallies of the year," John Beldock said. "We'll be drawing people from several other states."

Beldock is with Erico Motorsports in Denver, a Triumph dealer. His colleague, Trip Miller, is president of Rocky Mount RAT. Triumph enthusiasts are riders who appreciate high-performance bikes with ties to the past and British pedigrees, Beldock said. Before the 1960s, when dominant Japanese motorcycle manufacturers emerged, British bikes ruled, he explained. Brands such as BSA, Norton and Triumph dominated racing circuits.

Triumph turned 100 years old in 2002, just one year ahead of America's Harley-Davidson.

Today's Triumphs range in price from $7,000 on up to the mighty Rocket III at $16,000, Beldock said. It's the biggest stock bike you can purchase, he added.

There are classically styled bikes such as the Bonneville, cutting-edge race bikes and a lineup of touring bikes for riders who want to stuff a few sets of clothes in the saddlebags and head out on the open road.

Triumph is sending a semi-tractor trailer load of 15 to 18 new bikes for this week's demo promotion, Beldock said. In addition, RAT will host both all-day and shorter tours across Northwest Colorado on today and Saturday.

The Rocket III generates 147 pounds of torque and offers experienced riders a foot-forward, sit back and cruise style of motorcycling, Beldock said.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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