The concept of a two-wheel-drive motorcycle is a bit absurd, but the design’s functionality is hard to deny. Jay takes a Rokon Ranger, built by one of the leaders in two-wheel-drive tech, for a spin in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
The Rokon name is not new. In fact, Rokon has been producing motorcycles since 1958—many of them in the exact same design as the one on this episode, which happens to be a 2017 model. The differences between those early examples and this modern one are barely noticeable, but luckily Jay has Tom Blias, the president of Rokon International, and the machine’s owner Jay Plimmer there to talk him through some of the finer points of the olive drab bike.
If we had to describe the Rokon in three words, we’d choose “simple,” “durable,” and “usable.” There’s nothing on the machine that does not need to be there, and what remains is essential to the bike’s functionality. Each component needs to work every time; and if it doesn’t, it needs to be easy to fix.
Utility isn’t synonymous with “sexy” in most minds, and it would take more than a few stiff drinks for us to describe the Rokon’s profile as sensuous. Luckily, those stiff drinks could be stored in the wheels, which hold up to 2.5 gallons of your favorite beverage—or extra fuel, for times where you really want to get away from the rest of the world. (No, we don’t actually suggest imbibing anything from those wheels. The fuel reserve, however, we’d definitely try out.)
Plimmer’s 2017 model tows a basic trailer, which lends even more hauling capacity to the 218-pound machine. In fact, even at that sprightly weight, the Rokon can haul 600 pounds and tow 2000. For the record, that’s the same tow capacity rating as a Jeep Renegade. I think we know which one a true renegade would use … but I’ll leave that there.
Jay even takes the machine for a ride, and is surprised by its smooth handling. Large tires with low pressure and limited suspension has a way of making a machine feel very jelly-like on the road, but Jay says it rides quite nicely, right up to the 35-mph top speed. You aren’t getting anywhere fast, but you can get anywhere you want. What other machine has that kind of capability?