When off-roading, 4X4 is where it’s at, right? Well, not when you only have two wheels, and today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Rokon Trail Breaker is in fact a 2X2. Will its price however, prove to be five by five?
Like a Fabergé egg or Arianna Grande, yesterday’s 1982 Lancia Zagato was delicate and lovely to behold. It also comes from an Italian company that IS NOT coming back to the U.S. so your options if you’re a rabid Lanciaphile are pretty limited. Lots of Lancia lovers expressed their ardor for the marque yesterday, as well as for that azure droptop’s price, as it came away with a solid 72% Nice Price win.
Owing to their propensity to break down, Lancia has, over the years, gained a reputation for cars that, well, just don’t go anywhere. In complete contrast to that, we today have a bike that will go pretty much anywhere.
The Rokon, which is properly pronounced Rock-On, as it should be, is a two-wheel drive off-road motorcycle designed to go anywhere and everywhere. Power to both wheels is accomplished through a series of belts, shafts, and chains, and features a clever over-ride clutch to allow the front wheel to spin at a different rate than the rear, thus allowing the bike to make turns.
Charles Fehn first attempted to patent his “Motorcycle for slow cross-country travel over obstructions and in mountainous regions, and over snow and soft ground” in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1963, and two attempts later that his filing was finally accepted. There’s an excellent history of the bikes here, which notes the involvement in their development by none other than J.B. Nethercutt, owner of Merle Norman Cosmetics and founder of the Nethercutt Collection in Symar California.
In addition to the front wheel override, another of Fehn’s innovations was the adoption of hollow aluminum wheels that could each hold four and a half gallons of fuel, water, or a fine single malt whiskey.
Both of those innovative elements found their way into this 1969 Rokon Trail Breaker which also looks to have a 134-cc Westbend 82001 go-kart engine and Albion three speed. You’ll note that everything is hand controlled, the foot pegs offering nothing for you feet to do.
These are not fast bikes, the massive rear sprocket being your first clue. Top speed is something like 25 or 30 miles per hour, but then when you are off-trail, speed isn’t the issue, getting over shit is. This bike should prove to be pretty accomplished at that, and in fact the massive mudders should allow it some buoyancy for fording streams or puddles shy of, oh say, the Atlantic.
It’s not all talking bears and treat-filled pic-a-ik baskets here however, as the bike does seem to be missing some parts. The rip starter is gone on the engine’s right side, while over on the left the wire guard over the primary chain is also AWOL. Other niceties shunned by this particular Trail Breaker are saddle padding - yeah, those springs don’t look too inviting - and the front rack over the diff. Minor annoyances each.
Remarkably, these bikes are still being manufactured to this very day. That’s got to prove their worth. The new ones are a lot fancier, offering concessions to modernity like suspensions, lighting and effective brakes, but skin one down to the bone and it’s pretty much the same as this ’69 bad motor scooter. Oh, and a new one will set you back four-times this one’s asking.
That’s right, a new Trail Breaker is over eight-large while this classic edition could be had for a mere $2,000. The Rokon is the legendary American bike that you’ve probably never heard of. And right now, since you’ve now heard of them, you need to vote on whether this classic off-off-trail bike is worth that $2,000. What do you think, should this off-roader go for that? Or, is this a Rokon that doesn’t rock on?
H/T to rmtdrift for the hookup!
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