Rooney Tune 2018

Somewhere out there, in what ever part of the world you are in, chances are there is a Rooney Special rolling along on the same hard earth you stand. And if not, no doubt there has been.


Adrian’s headlight looks a bit down after the trip all the way across OZ.

There are more than 50 of them ‘out there’, produced over the last 30 plus years. Some have never venture off a race track. Others have circumnavigated the globe. Some have disappeared with whereabouts unknown, others pop up reliably at outback races like Sunraysia or Condobolin.


Paul’s prodigy bask on the green green grass of home

And while each share similar markings on their birth certificate, all were born very different machines, and have then grown their own unique character traits.  Each of course share Pappa Rooneys  engineered DNA, but they also reflect the owners goals, character, taste and experiences.


Jim and Adam discuss the back route to the Copmanhurst Pub. It’s a blinder

And these are bikes that are ridden. Hard. They are scratched, the saddle is worn, the paint faded (ok, except for Darren’s r80g/s, that thing is crazy clean, and yet…holy shit can that guy ride). But the thing is, and the thing I love ..

Every bike is a story of a person, and every scratch is a story of that person challenging themselves.  And if you like those kind of stories, chances are you would have enjoyed being at Rooney Tune 2018. 

I sure as hell did. And I’m pretty sure so too did the others that in late November 2018 rode to Copmanhurst NSW on all manner of Rooney Specials to wax lyrical and ride. They came from as far as Darwin NT, Perth WA, and Tasmania. And even better, they came on and mingled with 14 of Paul’s own offspring.


Darren’s is a clean machine that is ridden unsparingly

And being the first time a gathering of Rooney Specials had occurred this was an unexpectedly good result. So what do you call a gathering of Rooney Specials?  Well, we called it Rooney Tune, blatantly stealing Paul’s own catch-cry.  But while Paul applies it to his tuning of machines we applied it to his machines tuning their people.  Two days of tuning the mind in fact, riding the Northern NSW hinterland in the early summer sunshine. Just the kind of tuning everyone needs.


Here, ride this…Holy shit. just, wow.

Paul Tuned up in his 6×6 Landrover camper, bringing along with him a race bike of course. It had just been rebuilt after a a literal run in with a kangaroo at the Sunraysia rally. But being now all ready and rearing to go a few of us managed to steal it while Paul wasn’t looking and round up some cattle in the rodeo ground.  Adam Jung, took out the Best Recovery Award after riding the machine into a horizontal spin on the left cylinder, performing a pirouette, and then bringing it back up again and riding off. Darren Craig took out the Gaston Rahier Award when, after considerable arm twisting, he literally climbed onto a machine that stood near as high as he, before blowing our freaking minds as he opened up the throttle and a box of effing amazing.


Adams machine grazing under supervision

The rest of us where more subdued, or hungover, or both. And although not all of us shared the incredible riding skills of Adam or Darren we were fortunately only a walk away from the Copmanhurst pub, within which could be obtained such liquids as required to convince ourselves (and others) we did.


Yipee  Ei Aye…See you in Darwin Jim

It’s a terrible shame those skills that clearly I had on Friday night had disappeared by Saturday morning for the group ride out to the Hiefer Station Gorge. There can be no argument that the Northern Rivers Hinterland holds within it some of the most scenic, and most fun riding in the whole of country. The Grafton convict road, Paddys Flat, … you really just cant go wrong. And we didn’t.


Paul with his Prodigy. A truly humble man

Just as well, because on Saturday Afternoon we finally remembered why we all here, lined up all the bikes and presented to Paul his offspring in one of those ‘happy family photo’ type scenes. Except unlike those ones with your arsehole cousins when you were 10, we were all happy to be there. At this inaugural event we had almost all aircooled boxer specials.  Almost, being the exception of a VW powered trike that Paul designed and built from the bare earth, well, close enough.

We demanded Paul made a speech and he obliged us but we all know Paul’s a man of action, not of words. And thank goodness for that we thought.

And so it was, Rooney Tune 2018 was by all reports a great time. We had all been well Rooney Tuned and were he better for it.

We had hoped to see a a couple of K series and some of the later oilcooled Specials but circumstances meant a couple of those guys couldn’t make it.  which is why..

We’re going to do it again.

Rooney Tune 2020!  Seems us hopeless airheads have a two year (social) service interval. So in 2020 we’ll be turning out out and getting our heads tuned in, before being released again to roam the far corners of our amazing earth.


It’s the Indicator Equinox.


Down in the garage I have a box of indicators. Odd ones. Cheap “sacrificial” indicators from ebay. I’d like to tell you the collection is part of a passionate hobby I pursue with great gusto. That one day I will have one kind of every cheap- arse indicator ever made and all will bask in the intermittent flashes of glory bestowed upon them. But what sounds like bullshit, oddly enough, generally is bullshit. And that sounds a hell of a lot like bullshit to me, and I wrote it. But then, there it is written and so it must be true, or partly so, or not. Seems like that truth stuff doesn’t even matter any more, this is social media aint it? isnt it? So hmm…maybe none of this really didn’t happen (think on it..clever huh? and explains also why my left side hurts).

Anyway. Let’s take this somewhere soon before it implodes. The theory is that every eight years I’ll get to a point where the rotation of the earths indicators will be such that all indicators on my scooter will be of the same variety. A situation known internationally as THE INDICATOR EQUINOX.

Of course to reach such a benchmark some indicators must be sacrificed. A situation that I’m sure you are familiar with. If not, it is possible you are much better a rider than me (and so can just bugger off) or are worse but careful and resent the needless sacrifice of cheap plastic into grinding mangling rock and earth (and so can just bugger off). For the two people still reading I bring forth to you a tale.

You see, sometimes fate moves too slow for the timely passing of the equinox. Sometimes we have to go out and FORCE the issue. Undoubtedly by now you wonder how anyone with sensibilities as refined as yours truly could ever departed ungracefully from their trusty steed. But I assure you it does happen.

A ..err…little bit.

Upon invitation to participate in an off season review of work practices in an environment far removed from the habitat my species usually operates in…verily did I depart.


The rather too soon appearance of snow confirmed the message of blistering cold that my nose sent to my brain whenever I opened my foggy visor. But vision seemed to vastly improve progress. Too much so. Indications of circumstances indicative of indicator sacrifice were circumstantially absent. And so…one more time unit the breach.


Finally, just as I was building a completely unwarranted amount of belief in my own prowess I made a rather minor decision that had a rather major influence upon the relationship between my front and back wheels. Now traditionally, when engaged in a passage of forward momentum, my back wheel has chosen to follow the front. Though after 34 years in such a fix I can understand why they may have tired of this status quo. Why shouldn’t the rear wheel go first?

Well, turns out there is quite a good reason. I found out by dabbing the rear brake a little to hard and … wait for it …bingo!


The gods had clearly viewed my venture favorably. Carefully I picked up the remnants of my indicator and wrapped it in a ceremonial oil rag, the shroud of tourin.

Such a wondrous outcome had been unexpected so early in an overnight adventure. I was now mere miles away from my retreat and so had quickly to devise my story of great hardship and endurance. A story so pure in commitment and tenacity and faith that whereupon I unraveled the shroud of tourin before them all would behold the truth that is the indisputable power of the indicator equinox.


There were no Tigers at the Tiger hut. Quite a triumph really, But there was growling, the kind of sick guttural echoing of punch drunk men with frozen minds and carefree souls. The kind of rush of freedom that becomes available when those with great responsibility relive times and tales of high stakes told at high times, in high places, when nothing can threaten the very peace they by nature commonly reject.


By morning the snow had eased. The shroud appeased. And time came to make way for new indicators. The Equinox was a day closer. But a big day. A whole year of days, a lifetime to some, to those who cried “not me” and fell softly back into bed instead of painfully upon the solid icy surface of the mother earth. Oh Mother, accept thy indicator of questionable child labour and take not the child but the indicator itself. And I will ride on.










Rooney Tune 2018 update

Ok good people. Here it is. Copmanhurst Campground.

“Ride to Copmanhurst & stay on the Clarence Way, you go past the pub & take the 1st turn to the left, you are still in the 50 k zone.
Ride down that road to the river, sandy banks good camping + toilets.”

There is accommodation in Copmanhurst for those who would like a proper bed.

If this campground is full we have a second option that is a larger area….

“Next place is ride to Copmanhurst then stay on the Clarence Way for about 15ks turn left on Winegrove rd., till you hit the river good camping + toilets.”

I am aiming to be there Friday night (23rd) November. Stay night Saturday the 24th. Possibly Sunday also depending on what others are doing?

So we can have rides Saturday and or Sunday?

Would people like a pub dinner on the Saturday? In which case I’ll need to start getting numbers for that. Comment if you’re in.

You can email me (stu king) : desertoak (at) gmail dot com …or call text on 0428 one42 017



Couldn’t Hop for a Better Start.

Well, if you haven’t heard the Sunraysia Rally bought first good results and then shortly after, an unfortunate undoing.
The Rooney Special had a fabulous first day at the hands of the talented Joel Spoor. Joel started the day leaving in 28th place and finished the day in 13th.
Unfortunately an errant Kangaroo hell bent on departing life early chose to do that by hurtling itself in front of a rapidly progressing Joel.
The result was not nice. Joel took a trip to the emergency ward and spent the rest of the race recovering.
But the bike showed great promise with both Paul and Joel (and many others) amazed by its performance.


Ready for a thorough flogging at the 2018 Sunraysia Safari is this Rooney Prototype frame. Sporting the tried and proven 850cc engine and an updated version of the Rooney box frame now mated to a fully adjustable swing arm delivering a full 300mm of travel. What you see is a working prototype with borrowed bodywork. It’s been out for testing in the State Forest of NSW and by all reports is a pretty damn serious bit of kit. A no nonsense airhead rally machine in the 160kg category. Who wants a ride?


Fancy a Bolt of Salt? You better be quick.

Paul Marcos is a man with a plan. And it’s a plan that’s rapidly coming to fruition. How rapidly? How about a new Dry Lake Racers Australian Club Record. Fast enough for you?

I asked Paul to tell me a little bit more about how it all came to be.

“I want to start by giving credits instead of the traditional thing of doing it at the end of the article. 

This crazy idea could not have been possible without the genuine enthusiasm of Paul Rooney in advising on the project and, of course, his remarkable engineering skills. 

Mates like David and Alex McLachlan and Jeff Mitchell lending their expertise also made the process of developing the platform for this motor far smoother. 

My darling wife Heather’s indulgence kept the money (life blood of the project) flowing.

Thank you all.”



So just what is this machine? What if I told you the engine started life as a humble 1982 BMW r100.  But as Paul points out “now not even it’s mum would recognise it, only the case and crank remain original BMW equipment

The list of mods is extensive. Paul laid out the ingredients for a record breaking blitz below:

  • Carrillo rods.
  • Rooney heads.
  • Rooney cam.
  • Moto Israel Pistons.
  • Moto Israel cylinders.
  • Moto Israel pushrods and pushrod tubes.
  • Rooney designed fly wheel (for land speed application)
  • Suzuki fuel injection.
  • EMS EFI Computer. Fantastic tool for tuning and managing a complicated custom system like this.


A critical factor, adds Paul is that the motor is turned sideways in the frame to convert to belt primary and chain final drives giving easy drive ratio change options and more efficient horsepower transfer. “it gives almost zero extra benefits aerodynamically as it’s virtually the same width”. 

This combination results in a motor that revs very freely, is rev limited to 8500rpm for competition purposes but is tuned to run to 9000rpm if the extra revs are required.

“Maximum power achieved on the dyno is 103.5hp at the tyre but this has been tuned back to a steady 100hp at the tyre at 7800 rpm to give a very nice linear power curve that starts strongly at 2300rpm.”



This motor drives through a TT Industries 5 speed gearbox which is a copy of the AMC gearbox usually found in a Norton Commando but the TTI gearbox is properly engineered for positive shifts and to take this level of power.

“All this resides in a custom land speed racing frame by David “Bones” McLachlan and bodywork by me”. And bloody nice work it is.

“Initial practice runs on Lake Gairdner this year showed some very promising signs but disappointingly we developed a mystery misfire which I believe was due to low battery power as the bike runs a total loss power system, this is now being changed to carry a Powerdynamo charging system to ensure sparks are there to do the job.



In spite of the dramas we were able to easily go past the Dry Lake Racers Australian club record of 126mph achieving 129mph on its first run and 131mph on its second run. This is impressive as the engine was babied along with no real effort to rev it due to the misfire”.

So what now Paul?

“We are planning to push Salt Bolt to exceed the top speed achieved by a Southern California Timing Association Moto Guzzi at Bonneville which was 171mph.” 

I for one can’t wait to see the results. It’s a fantastic effort so far. In fact, as we started with credits it seems a mighty fine way to end. Salt Bolt is a credit you Paul Marcos, and you are a real credit to racing. Thanks for the feature on Rooneycyle.

Stu King.