Rooke Customs at Laguna Seca

July 13, 2005
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Jesse Rooke  born and raised in Phoenix  got into the custom scene after success in kart racing.
Custom builder Jesse Rooke with his latest design the Dunlop ’05. Dunlop and Rooke showcased the bike during the 2005 USGP at Laguna Seca.

The USGP at Laguna Seca was the perfect showcase for Dunlop Tires and Rooke Customs to unveil the latest creation from talented custom builder Jesse Rooke. A rising star in the custom cruiser industry, Rooke displayed his new bike, the Dunlop ’05.

The Dunlop ’05 is a 2006 Rooke Custom Kali Racer model with a wheelbase of 66 inches. A Harley-Davidson 103 cubic inch engine, producing 120hp and 115lb-ft of torque, provides the power which is delivered with a Baker RSD 6-speed transmission, while a Mikuni 45mm carburetor controls the air/fuel mixture. The trick black primary/mid controls as well as the hand controls/front caliper are from Performance Machine and Mike Learn from Rolling Chrome provided the race inspired paint job. Like most custom cruisers the wheels grab a lot of attention and the Dunlop ’05 follows suit with a 21×120 front and wide 18×250 E3 slick on the rear.

The Dunlop ’05 was a real draw at Laguna Seca, garnering its fair share of compliments. Included amongst the admirers would be our very own Director of Editorial Content Ken Hutchison, who liked how the rear fender hovered ever so close to the fat Dunlop tire. The bike migrated from the edges of the Dunlop Hospitality Area at the U.S.G.P. to the center of attention as more and more people came to get a better look. Rooke’s unique designs just grab the eye and demand a closer inspection.

Rooke, born and raised in Phoenix, got into the custom scene after success in kart racing. Early in 2002, contemplating a full-time focus on his kart-racing career, he happened to watch Jesse James on the Discovery Channel. Within six months Rooke had created his first custom bike Dinah. The bike got noticed, winning Best in Show at the 2002 L.A. Calendar Show and was featured on television and in magazines.

His second bike Phyllis resulted out of a specific challenge issued from Jesse James to build a fast aggressive road bike. The bike met with approval, but more notable was from whom the challenge had come from. In less than a year, the rookie bike builder had gone from watching the famous James on television, to creating his own bikes and being on television himself.

A Harley-Davidson 103 cubic inch engine  producing 120hp and 115lb-ft of torque  provides the power for Dunlop  05.
The Dunlop ’05’s rear fender just barely hovers over the fat tire. Rooke started building in 2002 after happening to watch Jesse James on the Discovery Channel.

Rooke’s third bike came to fruition when he accepted yet another challenge, this time from the Discovery Channel’s Biker Build-Off to design and build a show-winning custom cruiser in under 30 days. He responded 27 days later with Cathy, a distinctive bike which featured the trade-mark “Single-Sided Suspension” and became the prototype of the “Kali Kruiser” style design Rooke would use on later models. Cathy repeated Rooke’s success at the 2003 L.A. Calendar Show, winning Best in Show.

Rooke’s reputation in the ranks of custom builders continues to grow, building bikes now at the rate of about ten a year. Eight of his 2005 builds have sold already, so business is good. It looks like this custom bike building gig just might work out. The 2005 L.A. Calendar Show this July 16-17th is once again on the Rooke agenda, and you can bet his bikes will be there too, drawing the eye of many eager fans – and most of the judges if the past is any indication.

For more information on Jesse Rooke and Rooke Customs, as well as photo galleries of all the bikes check out

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