In the mid-1970s, motocross was off the charts popular, and a small, New England-based motorcycle manufacturer called Rokon was building off-road bikes with continuously variable transmissions to compete with all comers from Europe, Japan and beyond. This 1976 Rokon RT340 is in remarkable condition for a dirt bike.
The 1970s was the golden era of motocross, and the Northeast was Mecca for off-road riders. The annual International Six Day Trials — an endure event that received worldwide attention when it was featured in Bruce Brown’s documentary On Any Sunday — was being held in the United States for the first time ever.
Rokon fielded its own bike for that event, held in Amherst, Massachusetts. The company received some attention for building agricultural, two-wheel-drive motorcycles called the Trail-Breaker, a sort of a predecessor of the three- and four-wheeled ATV, with balloon tires and a PTO-like device that ran attachments like saws and post-hole diggers.
The company was founded by Orla Larsen, and was headquartered in Keene, New Hampshire in 1967. In 1972, Rokon competed in the Berkshire Two-Day Trial and managed a Gold Medal. Following that victory, it diverted some of its attention from those farm-equipment Trail-Breakers to a more conventional off-road machine called the RT340. Those were the bikes that Rokon sent tot he 1973 ISDT in Dalton, Massachusetts. All four bikes completed the event, and soon after, Rokon began building them as production bikes.
Four prototypes were sent to the 1973 ISDT in Dalton, and the company won awards for technical achievement after all four went on to finish the race. Production soon ramped up, and the company started building the RT340 Enduro, the MX340 and later MX2, and the more street-worthy ST-340 dual-purpose bike. Rokon built three different versions of the same bike: The dual-sport RT340 Enduro, the more dirt-oriented MX340 and MX2, and the street-ortineted ST340.
All the bikes featured a 335cc Sachs two-stroke engines, yanked to life by a pull-cord starter, like your snowblower. The RT340’s transmission worked via a centrifugal clutch and a variable belt-drive.
Up front, the RT340 had a hydraulic disc brake, which was unique amongst off-road bikes in that era. Red Wing rear shocks were positioned a steep 45 degree angle, which allowed for much greater, and more linear rear suspension travel than conventional rear suspensions of the era.
Most motorcycles — even in the mid-1970s — were still using metal fenders. Off-road riders were replacing them with plastic from the aftermarket, but the Rokon RT340 came with plastics right from the factory.
The RT340 never took off, though, and its development contributed to the company’s declining fortunes over the next few years. “Targeted at the very top end of the enduro price range,” wrote Bob Gallagher, an unofficial Rokon historian, “the RT340 program would bring Rokon to its knees.
This one is in pretty amazing condition, with just 545 miles since new.