2 Wheels

Jay Leno Rocks On with a Rokon Ranger

If you want to hustle off-road on a motorcycle, there’s no shortage of bikes to choose from. There’s scramblers, dual sports, and dirt bikes, to start. Ural’s motorcycles come with sidecars. And it’s even possible to take an Indian Scout Sixty into the mountains. Or, if you prefer, you can take Jeep’s electric bicycle, or the Honda Hunter Cub if it comes to the US. But if speed isn’t the ultimate goal, but rather ultimately capability, Rokon’s bikes are the two-wheeled answer to the Sherp ATV. And recently, Jay Leno spent some time with the company’s road-legal model, the Rokon Ranger.

Rokon Ranger specs and features

2020 Rokon Ranger
2020 Rokon Ranger | Rokon

Like the off-road-only Trail-Breaker, the Rokon Ranger comes with a 208cc single-cylinder carbureted. It only makes 7 hp and 9 lb-ft, and top speed is limited to 37 mph. But the bike weighs 218 pounds dry—less than a Honda Super Cub. This means, if you accidentally topple over, it’s easy to pick up.

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Rokon Driveline Illustrated

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Plus, the Ranger, like Rokon’s other bikes, has two-wheel drive. The bike’s CVT connects via a driveshaft and universal joint to a chain-driven front wheel. With it, the Ranger can climb up 60% grades. In addition to making riding easier by eliminating the clutch, the CVT comes with 3 selectable ranges. 1st is 0-10 mph, 2nd is 0-22 mph, and 3rd is 0-37 mph. There’s also neutral, both to start the bike and to let it power pumps or generators, if so fitted.

The bike’s basic design dates back to the 60s. And over the years, there have been some changes. The wheels, for instance, have gone from 15” to 12”. That’s because Rokon fitted new suspension, and to keep the overall height low, the wheels were downsized. In addition, it was difficult to find off-road tires in the original 15”. However, although the engine is now 4-stroke, not 2-stroke, the Rokon Ranger maintains its simplistic approach to off-roading.

The bike has both pull- and electric-start, so it’ll fire up even if the battery’s dead. The wheels are hollow and each can carry up to 2.5 gallons of liquid. They also let the Ranger float in water, or ford streams up to 24” deep. The 2.69-gallon fuel tank detaches with one bolt and can be refilled straight from the wheel. The Ranger can carry 600 lbs on its frame, and tow up to 2000 lbs with an attachable trailer.

Jay Leno off-roads the Rokon Ranger

Rokon’s bikes, Ranger included, have proven remarkably capable. They’ve been used to cross mountains in Chile and passed through the Darien Gap twice. Iron & Air reports one owner took his Ranger from Portsmouth, NH to Malibu, CA solo in 20 days, traveling 3800 miles. And Jay Leno was noticeably impressed.

Riding it on the street, he remarked that the Rokon Ranger feels almost like a normal motorcycle. The low tire pressure does mean you feel the tires compress, but that also makes the bike fairly comfortable. Leno claims that, on the street, that 7 hp felt more like 25. And compared to other times he’s towed a trailer with a bike, the Ranger handled it rather easily.

Jay Leno didn’t take the bike very off-road. However, he did use it to ride through mud and sand and climb over some small hills. The 2WD system is very effective, he claims. Neither wheel fights the rider or flings mud around. The Ranger just grips and goes.

Pricing

With an $8,575 starting price, the Rokon Ranger isn’t necessarily cheap. And that’s before you start adding options like shovels, accessory racks, and trailers. It is worth mentioning, though, that Jay Leno actually found the Ranger’s price fairly reasonable.

2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S
2020 Suzuki DR-Z400S | Suzuki

For about $1800 less, you can pick up a Suzuki DR-Z400S. Like the Ranger, it’s got a carbureted, single-cylinder engine. But it’s faster, both on and off the dirt.

2020 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE and XC
2020 Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE and XC | Triumph

There’s also the Triumph Street Scrambler. Heavier than both the Suzuki and Rokon, it’s nevertheless a capable and quick bike. However, neither of these bikes are exactly perfect rivals to the Rokon Ranger. Neither can tow 2000 lbs or carry 600 lbs. And neither have wheels that can serve as ersatz water jugs.

The owner of the bike Jay Leno rode actually used to own a Kawasaki dirt bike for off-roading. But after coming across a Rokon online, he traded the dirt bike in for a Ranger. “It kind of just grabbed my imagination,” he said. Consider the 2WD system makes the Ranger something like a mechanical mule, $8,575 doesn’t seem too expensive.

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