A month or so ago, the subject of Rokons came up on the forum and the folks from Marita Sea & Ski/Alaska Power Sport invited me to write a review since I own two of them. Up until recently, I had only driven mine for pleasure and they are a lot of fun. This fall, I've used mine for pioneering trails back into hunting areas as well as for hunting and gear hauling. Here is my assessment.
Trail-Breaker - CurrentTrail-Breaker models come equipped with a 208cc Kohler, single cylinder, fourstroke, fan cooled engine delivering 7 HP at 3,600 RPM. They come standard withRokon’s 12” hollow drum aluminum wheels that enable you to store 2.5 gallons offuel or water in each wheel. They also come standard with the new Auto-Grab Front Suspension which delivers a full eightinches of shock travel and cushion to your ride. Older models offered 6 HPKohler four stroke, 6 HP two stroke, or two stroke 8 HP Chrysler Power Beeengines as well as 15” drum wheels. The addition of the front suspension is afairly recent development.
Scout – Current models arevirtually identical to the specifications of the Trail-Breaker with theexception that the Scout comes standard with 12” steel spoke wheels rather thanthe hollow aluminum drums and does not have the Auto-Grab Front Suspension.
Ranger – Current model comesequipped standard with a 5 HP Honda GX160 four stroke engine, 12” steel spokewheels, and without theAuto-Grab Front Suspension.
All Rokons require you to be an“active” instead of a “passive” rider. They handle a little differently than most motorcycles due to the two wheel drive in that you will feel the front wheel pulling you when cornering. Rokons are also slow. Think of them more as amule than a race horse and treat them accordingly. Rokons are made for sure-footed traction over rough terrain and the ability to handle loads. Muscleling through rugged country and clawing up hills, it is often convenient to take your feet off the footpegs and “walk” along with the bikes at slow speeds to maintain your balance. This motorized walking will give you a real workout if you haveto do this for any length of time. You will appreciate the ability to sidehillon terrain that ATVs cannot navigate.
The 5 – 7 HP motors are basically lawnmower engines. What would appear to be a weakness is actually one of its strengths. Maintenance is a breeze and there is very little of it actually involved. The small engine displacement and horsepower makes for a machine far lighter than its four-wheeled counterparts. Their hauling and climbing capability is achieved through a torque converter, automatic transmission, andlow gear ratio driving both wheels, not the engine itself. There is no shift onthe fly capability with current models; you simply select a transmission gear range at a stop and the torque converter does the rest. Simply shift the transmission into the gear range that you will expect to use across any obstacle at its slowest speed. I particularly like that I don’t have to use a clutch or shift with my left foot since I have a handicapped left ankle.
There is no suspension on therear of any of the bikes and the Auto-Grab Front Suspension only comes standardon the current Trail-Breaker model. Older bikes and those that came without front suspension systems can be retrofitted with the new front suspension system.The low recommended 2-3 lb PSI of air pressure in the tires does a bit to smooth out the ride as does the driver seat suspension spring. Rokons are roughon old bodies looking for ATV smoothness.
Rokons will truly haul some gear either onboard or towed along behind. One thing to mention is that the more you load onboard the more it will affect your balance. You will have to determine for yourself just what you can manage on the terrain that you expect to traverse.My ’98 Ranger is always equipped with either a double milk crate or a small rucksack on the front cargo rack and occasionally a chainsaw. On my home built rear game carrier/cargo rack I can carry my main backpack. I also have dual saddlebags that I stuff full of tools, spare parts, survival gear, rain gear,etc. I also have a detachable rifle scabbard that I use.
I have a single track trailer that I can tow behind the bike. I’ve found this to be of limited use since itmakes the bike very hard to balance when I’ve loaded it with weight up to 300lbs. For lighter loads of no more than 100 lbs or so it does pretty well particularly when you have considerable distances to travel. I actually prefer when I’m out in the woods to tow a plastic cargo sled of the type commonly used for ice fishing gear. I can drag heavier loads with no problem without any snow.
Both my old ’69 Trail-Breaker and’98 Ranger are equipped with the hollow aluminum drum wheels and I really likethem. Some Rokon advertisements tout Rokons equipped with them for their ability to float. I wouldn’t really know since I’ve never intentionally floated mine. The ability to haul fuel and water is what I like the drums for. Filling the front drum also helps add additional weight with a low center of gravity to the front of the bike. That weight is really useful in keeping the front tire in contact with the ground while climbing steep hills. It also helps prevent the bike from flipping over backwards on those really steep hills because theRokon will keep trying to climb whether the front tire is in contact with the ground or not. This is something that I’ve learned through hard, unpleasant experience. Some folks have found that the steel spoke wheels are an asset when fording swift-running streams and creeks because the water flows through the spokes. I’ve found that empty aluminum drums do have a tendency to try to float downstream sideways in those same creeks. Filling the drums with either fuel or water helps to alleviate that particular problem and gives more traction on those slick cobbled creek beds.
I’m not much of a mathematician so I won’t go into the whole slope/angle/gradient explanation of how well a Rokon can climb. Suffice it to say that if you can hold on and keep enough weight on the front of the bike to prevent it from flipping over backwards, theRokon will climb it. I have studded the tires on my Ranger so that it can keep traction on slippery wet logs and roots that punctuate the areas that I ride in. When you select tire options for your Rokon, I would consider the available implement tires as the least desirable option and pay for the upgrade to goodquality ATV-type tires. I highly recommend the Maxxis Bighorn tires.
I reckon that I’ve beenlong-winded enough. Hope this helps.