BMW Motorrad Spezial

Rooke Customs Vettel15

Rooke Customs
In the US there are a few builders who aren’t in the mainstream public eye as much as they should be. One of them is California-based Jesse Rooke, who kicked off Rooke Customs in 2002.

Rooke’s relatively low profile might be because he only does two commissioned builds a year; his bikes are all one-of-a-kind, so you can’t call him up and order a copy of a machine he’s already made. Despite this, his reputation is growing within the industry and he’s at the forefront of the new wave of US custom building.

Rooke Customs
The Rooke Customs style is hard to pin down, and unusually eclectic thanks to Jesse’s background in AMA roadracing, motocross, auto racing and shifter karting. The bike shown here is the ‘Vettel15’, reflecting Rooke’s longstanding association with Red Bull Racing and it was assembled during Red Bull event at the Indy MotoGP.

Check the Rooke Customs website for more delicious eye candy, including his latest creation ‘Jaden’, a KTM-based cafe racer.

Rooke Customs

  • leston

    This bike is amazin in its own for sure.

    But go check out Rookes’ ‘Darla’, its simply stunning and original.
    This man is doing original stuff.

    P.S that KTM is sick

  • Mule

    He’s got a very cool website!

  • dobbs

    I saw his bikes and met him at a show a few years back. He was a nice guy.

    The designs I saw at the show were incredibly original, and the level of attention to detail bordered on the autistic. He had about 3 or 4 bikes there and there seemed to be a subtle Stingray bicycle influence to them, but especially on the ‘Vegas’ bike.

    Very, very cool builder.


  • gary

    Great post and great builder. Those radiators are kinda.. out there. Maybe an air cooled engine would have “looked” better. Idunno, awesome bike.

  • iRivas

    Saw Rooke on Discovery’s Biker Build Off. He builds some wild machines. Rooke is good friends with Roland Sands who also builds some awesome bikes. You should feature one of Roland Sands bikes on here. I would recommend the KRV5 Tracker.

  • Teo

    I love the tank.
    Too bad for the ugly water cooled engine…

  • *drool*

    there are so many things right about this bike.

  • vencejo

    I’m from Spain, over in Europe custom bikes are usually designed to ride. Why are they just static show bikes in USA?
    Rigid frames… are you joking?

  • Mark

    That’s true Vencejo, but this is art…it doesn’t have to be practical. Isn’t being beautiful enough?



  • oh yes please already….vile disgusting mechanical bits (more so the ‘Darla’ lass)….well done as well BIKEexif on the find and highlight!

  • Patrick

    Yo Vencejo:
    Some young American men still ride rigid frames – not me, I’m too old.

    The “Slotard” will be seen as visionary in about 18 months. The frame she is not rigid, but it is still a young man’s bike.

  • Andy Carter

    Look at that – a really good custom bike with an engine that’s not a Harley! This man has clearly got not just imagination and bucket loads of talent but the courage to push the envelope. So many custom builders (and not only in the US I’ll add) end up slapping the universal HD engine with a bit engraving here and there or whatever. Sometimes it’s exactly the right choice (like Young’s Flying Pan or P’tang), sometimes it seems like a lack of imagination.
    We need more people like Jesse Rooke!

  • joe momma

    ….the scrambler 54 is a handsome dog…….if you step back from the whole panel of pix (at the website) howerver the cookie cutter look flourishes……like i said before if it makes you gasp, snivel or fart….. it may be art….this offering looks like the backside of my refridgerator…..i don’t think it needs me……????

  • el vencejo

    Form without function can never be beautiful.

    Rigid rear, perhaps 5cms of front fork travel = unrideable on anything but really smooth surfaces.

    Long frame = slow handling PLUS
    Big rake and trail = even s l o w e r handling PLUS
    Big wheels = not really practical to ride around a curve in the road.

    So here we have a bike that is practical to ride down a lane in a bowling alley.

    So what is the point?
    Waste of a good motor and workshop time to me.

  • G

    I’m with el vencejo. I understand that this is “Art” and beautiful to look at, but its still a motorcycle. It doesn’t have to be a performance bike but at least make it fun to ride.

  • Mark

    Maybe beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;-)

    There’s been more comments on this bike than any other I’ve liked. I guess we can all agree it has impact!

  • Mule

    El Vencejo, You are saying what most Americans seem hesitant to say. Yes, this bike is a form of “Concept Art” without being encumbered by any need for function or actual engineering. Art is an easy excuse for something that really makes very little sense in the real world. “Oh, it’s art. It doesn’t need suspension.” There has been an entire industry including television stardom based on the new acceptance of bullshit as art, without functionality. The people that have all the praise for this type of effort in actuality would never in a million years want to purchase one of these things and have to spend more than 5 minutes in the saddle. So at that point, where is the value? Yes, Jesse Rooke does gorgeous finish work and I can admire the hell out of anybody that takes the time to fuss over the minute details. But lets come up with a new term: “Zero Function Motorcycle Art” or something like that. It’s like a special class of body building for prople all wacked out of proportion on steroids. Looks sorta cool, but it just ain’t real. Gotta keep this stuff in perspective.

  • joe momma

    ……ease up mule!….yer thinkin’ this one too hard… abooot it is closer to “uncomfortable racer” than “couch potatoe comfy”…..i don’t like this one either…..but, still… could be run hard probably as an ice racer….el ven’s bowling lane hard smooth track…..

  • mule

    Sorry, just got all wrapped up around the axle! :-)

  • JR

    How many of us here have actually ridden a rigid? I haven’t. I can imagine it being a little annoying for a daily ride, yes.

    I think if this bike had a rear suspension, even a faux suspension that moves about 2 inches (like a stock Sportster) people would LOVE this bike.

    I like A LOT about this bike. Just because there is one aspect about something you don’t like, doesn’t taint the whole thing.

    Let’s respect that fact this guy is amazing at building things. Better than all of us… maybe not the guy that builds Mule motorcycles though.


  • @ JR

    Ive found the people that cry “you cant ride a rigid on anything but a smooth surface!” almost always have never actually ridden a rigid frame bike.

    A well designed hard tail will flex a little, plus spoked rims will flex a bit more, and a tad lower air pressure in the rear tire gives you a bit more ‘bounce’. Top that off with a sprung seat, and its really not that bad. I ride my ‘unrideable’ rigid every single day. (rode it this morning, 51 degrees out) Although im 22, if your 55 I can understand how attractive a Softtail might be.

    Back to the bike featured….

    I saw it this year at the Indy GP. Its GORGEOUS. The welding looks fantastic. Its very small though, smaller than it looks in the pictures.

  • Sportster Cafe

    I’m over 50 and building another hardtail! They are fun and better then any softtail, which runs out of rear suspension way to fast, and with no sprung seat, well, lets just say you are saddle sore, plus they are not called Hogs for nothing, just look at the weight. I like how small this bike is, and it has very good ground clearance, next to most customs! My problem is, he only makes a couple a year, translation, way expensive. I would like to see more articles on down to earth bikes that could be built by most of the readers! The occasional dream bike is fun though, so keep up the good work!

  • Mule

    I’ve ridden one rigid. A 750 Triumph. I hit a good bump in a semi-fast sweeper and saw GOD! Up close and personal too! Coolness has a price and in this(rigids) case, I’m not a buyer. It’s a compromise I won’t make on an everyday roadbike. Why would you want to?

    Shawn F., The age thing matters to you much more more than people with 30-40 years of riding experience I guess. To a rider like me, I base my opinions on things I’ve learned the hard way over 42 years of riding and leave “Coolness” to people more interested in the “Trends”.

    In the old days (30’s, 40, 50’s), or the days that everyone under 30 is trying to relive now, bikes had no suspension, because it hadn’t been invented yet.
    Guys had no choice. They weren’t being stylish or trendy, it’s all that anyone could buy. Now you can have a good ride that sticks to the road instead of getting air over bumps or having a flexy-flyer frame or running on semi-flat tires to try to get back to the feel of suspension without the stigma of safety and decent handling.

    Rigids are about style, not motorcycle riding.

  • Sportster Cafe

    If you were ridding a GSXR you probably would have meant God, because you would have been going to fast! Don’t talk trendy to me, I have been riding longer then you, I ride what I want to, and don’t worry about trends! Besides, the whole chopper trend is going away, the RUBs are of to ruin cafe racers. As for whats a good bike, apparently, unlike you I have a choice of which bike to use for that particular days ride! Yes, I am lucky.

  • Mule

    If I was “ridding” a GSXR (I don’t have one), it would because I wanted to. Should we all rid rigids just to keep us from speeding? No thanks, I can do it by way of wrist/throttle control. But I get your point, Sportbike equals Insanity.

    Personally, I have only a passing interest in sportbikes, but I can fully appreciate the advances in technology that have been made. Yes I like simplicity in bike design, no doubt about that, and antiques are cool as hell, but to me, the only bike that has credibilty with a rigid or no rear suspension is a speedway bike. They are highly functional and compete on a billiard table smooth surface. And they run low tire pressure for traction and don’t ride with their full weight in the saddle. So thats apples and oranges.

    The whole chopper trend is going away? Finally! I thought the day would never come! The downside is those darn RUBS are now out to ruin Cafe Racers! Damn the bad luck. We’ll, at least they’ll be leaving the rigids to the lucky guys that have a choice on what they want to rid.

    Would you drive a rigid car or truck? Hell no. Well, I don’t think I would anyway, if given a choice. Rigids look cool and clean in the back half, no argument there. But beyond that, what’s the justifcation for building one?

  • Jesse Rooke definitely has skill or has hired someone who does, but his bikes are all of that variety of “bling” that I associate with rap music videos and Southern California culture which includes slamming your 4WD SUV then putting 22″ rims with low profile tires on them, painting that damn repetitive small logo all over things like you see on the Louis Vuitton purses etc. It’s more of a hey look at me! style that comes from the culture of having so much money that you can afford to buy ridiculously wasteful and backwards things just because they are so unique.
    I like how he’s personally redefined the word “scrambler” to be a hard tail chopper/bobber 1400cc or larger v-twin.