The Rooke Bike

Story by Glenn Roberts// Photos by Glenn Roberts
March 1 2013

As I pull into Dave Germaine’s driveway, I notice the exterior of his shop is painted in earth colours so as to better blend in with the grey leafless hardwood forest that surrounds his house and a couple of other outbuildings. But inside the shop is anything but drab and dreary, the bright lights reveal an immaculate work environment; his workbenches and floors are spotless. Dave is a driven perfectionist, and he builds his bikes to the same exacting standards as he keeps his workplace.

This bike had a rocky beginning, and wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for his determination. A few years ago, Dave attended a bike show in Columbus, Ohio, where he saw his first Jesse Rooke custom. It reminded him of an old Schwinn bicycle; he had never seen anything like it, and he couldn’t shake the burning image in his mind’s eye. Dave knew he had to have one.
Once he got home, he immediately called Rooke Customs and began a conversation about buying a frame and the bow-style front end he had seen in Columbus. Over many phone calls, Dave and Rooke discussed cost, but for reasons unknown to Dave, he couldn’t get a firm price and was continually given the runaround. Eventually, Rooke just stopped responding to Dave’s calls, leaving him with an unquenched desire to build a Rooke-style custom.

Featured bikeGermaine is no stranger to custom motorcycles, and during his many years working as a technician at Barrie Harley-Davidson, he has developed a good working relationship with custom frame maker Redneck Engineering. In conversation with Redneck, Dave mentioned that he was in touch with Rooke about one of his frames, but he couldn’t buy one. His contact at Redneck said that they would not copy someone else’s frame, but since Dave couldn’t buy one, they would be willing to make something similar based on his requirements and specs. Finally, Dave would have the style of frame he desired for his next build. Dave would be building this bike for his wife, Juanita, and the overall dimensions were based on her size and riding needs.

Dave’s idea was to change things up a bit from the regular motorcycles on the road. From the rider’s vantage point, this bike would be skinny – like nothing he had ever seen before. To accomplish this, he would use an oversized oil tank for gasoline and use the frame as the oil reservoir, thereby eliminating the traditional fuel tank in front of the rider and keeping the centre of gravity low. Dave’s frame design would have the oil pumped to the top frame tube, and it would cool as it flowed down to the oil pump feed line at the bottom of the frame. Once the fuel tank was created and mounted, he used a fuel pump from a Gold Wing to force fuel against gravity and up to the 42 mm Mikuni carb.
He decided the rear wheel would have its chain sprocket and disc brake on the same side, and this meant a custom wheel hub for the rear as well as a matching hub for the 21-inch front wheel. Once the frame arrived, Dave got to work measuring the frame and front end for custom hubs, and sent the details to Ridewright Wheels for manufacture.

Engine of Rooke BikeWhen Dave mentioned to Juanita that he was thinking of a foot clutch and hand shifter, she agreed, and in fact, she insisted on it. To eliminate the need for the clutch pedal to be operated while stopped, he installed an automatic centrifugal clutch that would release at around 1000 rpm. Installing a points and condenser ignition system would allow the engine to idle lower, and in turn, allow the centrifugal clutch to work as efficiently and as smoothly as possible.

After making the frame tabs, fenders, seat, oil and fuel lines, battery box, covers, cables and handlebars to fit Juanita, his last finishing touch to the bike was the addition of the final chain drive’s adjustable idler pulley. Removing the complete exhaust system and the licence plate bracket proved far too much work to simply adjust the chain, but now he can adjust it in a minute or two. After all, this bike was built to ride, not to work on.
And it does get ridden. Juanita shares her riding time between the The Rooke Bike for leisurely highway rides and her XR1200X when she feels the need to be a bit more aggressive…

Owner: Juanita Germaine
Builder: DG Chopper, Dave Germaine
Time: 8 months
Name of Bike: The Rooke Bike
Builder: Harley-Davidson
Displacement: 80 ci
Cases: Harley-Davidson
Heads: Harley-Davidson
Lower End: Harley-Davidson
Carburetor: 42 mm Mikuni
Air Cleaner: Velocity Stack – D&M Custom Cycle
Ignition: Points and condenser, Drag Specialties bearing type mechanical advance
Exhaust: Pipes – DG, Muffler – SuperTrapp
Builder: Harley-Davidson
Type: 5-speed
Case: Harley-Davidson
Clutch: Grandeur Cycle auto clutch
Foot Clutch: DG/Harley-Davidson
Primary Drive: BDL open primary
Handshift: DG
Builder: Redneck Engineering
Type: Liberty, Rigid
Rake: 34 degrees
Modifications: Oil in frame
Front End  
Builder: Redneck Engineering
Type: Springer
Painting Sonny at Custom Colours
Powdercoating Bruce Clark and Elvis – The Powder Shop
Builder/Manufacturer: RideWright Wheels
Tire Make and Size: Avon Super Venom 80/90-21
Builder/Manufacturer: RideWright Wheels
Tire Make and Size: Avon Super Venom 250/55-18
Gas Tank: DG/Redneck
Oil Tank: DG
Brakes: Front: HHI, Rear: HHI sprocket brake
Fenders: DG
Seat: DG with shock
Seat Finish Valentine Upholstery – leather from 1940s Indian
Handlebars: DG
Headlight: Preston
Taillight: Harley-Davidson/DG
Speedo: Dakota Digital
Handlebars: DG
Foot Controls: DG/ Harley-Davidson
Cables: DG
Throttle: Empire internal

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