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Thread: Rokons: A Review

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    Default Rokons: A Review

    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.

    Rokon Models:
    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.
    Last edited by Daveinthebush; 09-27-2015 at 19:58.

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    Please excuse the lack of spaces between words. I don't know why it came out that way but I suspect it was because I wrote the review in Word and pasted it to the forum.

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    Thanks for the review.
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    Man those things are cool. Just learned about them a couple of months ago.

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    I just got a trail breaker this summer so I have little experience with them while out hunting I put about 100 lbs on the back rack and I made it about 50 yards in a swamp before the rear chain broke in two places I was not into the throttle that much do you think this was a coincidence or is that too much for this machine thanks for any advice Tad

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    I think that it was probably a coincidence. 50 lbs should have been no problem.

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    I recently had my Rokon engine seize after a couple of days slowly idling along, stopping to glass, shutting down to walk, and then idling along a bit more. This slow speed idling was apparently abusing the engine and it suffered what the mechanic called "carbon lock." Those small air cooled engines need to be operated at higher rpm. Think of it as the older Volkswagen beetles. When I bought my '65 model new, the dealer told me to "drive it like I was trying to tear it up."

    The mechanic was easily able to free the Kohler engine and I am now running it at lower gear and higher engine speed. I am also adding an anti-carbon mixture to the fuel and carry an extra tool so I can do a field repair should it happen again.

    Thanks to Rod's Saw Shop in Fairbanks for excellent and speedy service and advice.

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    Interesting Dan. I have never heard of the carbon problem before but I do know that a lot of new owners who tend to want to go fast (a relative term for a Rokon I know) operate their bikes almost exclusively in 3rd gear range. Me, I'm a shifting fool and run in 3rd gear only on reasonably flat or gently rolling terrain or on good trails. For poor trails, no trails, hills and water crossings, I'll run in 2nd. For long or very steep hills, and in situations like you mentioned glassing, I'll drop into 1st gear and just creep along. Running at higher RPMs puts less stress on the clutch and keeping the Mercury clutch on my old '68 Trail-Breaker in good shape is fine by me.

    Is your Kohler engine one of the older 2-strokes or a newer 4-stroke? I'm wondering about constantly running both up in the top end and how that would affect the carbon problem and overall engine performance. I'm not a small engine smart kind of guy so I'm curious.

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    I had Rokon on my mind a week ago for sure. Shot a bull in a not so great place in the late afternoon , hiked in through the alder mess, opened him up and emptied him out/skinned,hiked back to camp in the dark, spent the next day whacking a trail in and getting 2 quarter out and the better part of the next day finishing up. The wheelers weren't gonna get to the animal but with a Rokon I could of walked it out the trail I put in I'm sure . I said the word "rokon" out load to myself quite a few times on those trips out with meat on my back....

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    Muskeg, my engine is the newer four stroke model. I am not a small engine smart guy either. I always thought it was best to run engines at mid-range in cruise and reserve wide open throttle only for short duration like take off in an airplane or getting out of the hole and on step in a boat. I was using third gear and low rpm in the Rokon because it was making less noise and seemed to be effortlessly creeping along while I hunted. The first thing the mechanic asked me when I explained my situation was "did I ever race the engine?" When I responded "no" he told me I should occasionally do so in order to burn out the carbon. I seldom have the need for fast speed in the Rokon and was using the higher gear and low rpm solely for noise abatement while hunting. When I think about it, I wouldn't drive my truck like that but it seemed like the Kohler engine was doing just fine - until it wasn't.

    Cwoods, the situation you describe is exactly why I keep the Rokon. I do not have a four wheeler because I live in Haines and they have limited utility here with few trails and not much opportunity to really use them. The Rokon will fit in my inflatable jet ranger and I can carry it across the river. It does take effort to create a trail for it but not much more effort than creating a pack trail.

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    And where I hunt I'm back in 40 miles by atv where I set up which I could not get my gear into or meat out by Rokon without many uncomfortable trips.If I could have one back there in camp it would be VERY useful though. As far as rpm range in these 4 stroke small engines they are meant to be in high rpm ranges for extended lengths of time, look at lawn mowers and pressure washers.... although I am surprised that taking it easy on it caused motor lock up, huh...

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    Well, someone I know tried to give me a ride on a Rokon that had an extra seat on the side (like a 3-wheeler). The trail was wide, but up a hill. He tried and tried to steer the thing, and we made it about a mile up the trail. Just keep in mind that I am not a big and heavy guy, but the added weight on the side would unbalance the Rokon. I was not impressed at all to say the least.

    I imagine that a 2-wheel Rokon with a set of very wide tires could be useful on narrow trails. I remember seeing an Army ranger riding a Rokon that had two very fat tires, and he was doing just fine. I am just too old and lazy, I guess. If I cannot get an ATV to a downed moose, I just don't kill it. I started with ATV's, and now have a Rhino side-by-side (carry a chainsaw and fuel in the back, just in case)

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    Yep, they aren't for everyone nor every purpose but I they are just the tool I needed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Muskeg_Stomper View Post
    Please excuse the lack of spaces between words. I don't know why it came out that way but I suspect it was because I wrote the review in Word and pasted it to the forum.
    I think I corrected most of them for you.

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    DanC What size Jet Ranger do you have that will carry a Rokon? How difficult loading and unloading it?

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    BAH468, my Jet Ranger is the larger one of the series, 14ft I think. Difficulty of loading and unloading is relative. I'm an old guy with a vulnerable back and I manage to do it by myself. Just be certain your boat is beached when you load/unload. Don't try it if the boat is floating. Lean it against the raft and lift/pull one wheel in at a time. Reverse for unloading. You might be able to lay it across the front two seats but I remove the seats and lay it on the floor. Use a tarp, or something, to protect the bottom from the foot pegs. I hope this helps.

    Best wishes

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    Thank You DanC!

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