THE GOLDEN PAGE
Today, two-wheel drive is still considered technology of the future. Christini, Lawson and others have experimented with the concept to much acclaim. But, it was
Rokon that put the idea into production 50 years ago and
continues to do so today.
This particular Rokon caught our eye at the Braving
Baja exhibit in Los Angeles last month. It is a Baja-going
version of an RT340, currently owned by West Coast off-road legend Ron Bishop, and represents a less-known
one-wheel-drive chapter in Rokon’s history. In the early
’70s, Rokon was trying to break out of its utility-oriented
two-wheel-drive typecast and became involved in racing.
There was a motocross team, an off-road team and even
an ISDE team. In 1973, four of them finished the Six Days,
including Hall of Famer Dave Mungenast, and that earned
the firm an FIM Technical Innovation award. In 1975,
BACK IN THE DAY BACK IN THE DAY
Bishop rode this particular bike on the Rokon Baja team.
This bike might have been single-wheel drive, but it had
several other very distinctive features. It was powered by
a 335cc Sachs engine mated to a Salsbury continuously
variable transmission. It also had hydraulic disc brakes at
both ends. Rokon had all these features long before anyone else.
Unfortunately, the RT340 was not a sales success. Its
development was expensive, and it was blamed for the
company’s subsequential financial trouble. In 1978, Rokon
went into receivership. It came back in 1981 making only
the two-wheel-drive models. Now there’s a devoted group
of Rokon lovers and a few historians that remember a different kind of Rokon. o
Ron Bishop’s 1975 Rokon was on display at the Braving Baja
exhibit in Los Angeles.