Presentation of Voxan V2
Vive la Vrance
Does France’s motorcycle history have to be rewritten? With a large V2, Voxan wants to establish itself as a motorcycle manufacturer.
Cuisine, culture or prestige technical projects, in many areas of honor France calls itself the Grande Nation. The Gauls have only had to pass in the field of motorized two-wheelers. If the industrialist Jacques Gardette has its way, that should now change.
The manufacturer of pharmaceutical products discovered its passion for motorcycles at the end of the 1960s. The first Triumph Thunderbird was followed by many more motorcycles, the last being a Ducati 916. All his bikes had one thing in common, namely two cylinders, as Jacques Gardette said: “Four-cylinders are good for cars, motorcycles must have two.”
After much discussion, in July 1994 the idea emerged of building our own motorcycle and producing it in series. So the child was initially given a name: Voxan, a word creation whose initial indicates the design and, according to Jacques Gardette, exudes power and dynamism.
In order to follow the word with appropriate deeds, a number of employees were hired. The right man was quickly found for the chassis in the well-known chassis specialist Alain Chevallier. The French designers Sacha Lakic, known for the Bimota mantra, and Stephane Valdant were to take over the design. For the core, the engine, Bernard Mange, head of the small but fine company Sodemo, recommended, which in addition to building the Renault factory engines for rally and touring car use on the Magny Cours racetrack, had already gained experience with racing engines of the Honda RC 45 . A designer hired by the Peugeot Formula 1 team took over the complete planning of the engine from the first drawing to the fully functional prototype.
For the cylinder configuration, Sodemo specified a V-motor with 72 degrees, for them the best compromise between good mass balance and small size. At least as far as the dimensions are concerned, this is also successful. The engine makes an extraordinarily compact impression, although its basic dimensions with a stroke of 66 millimeters and a bore of 98 millimeters correspond exactly to the competition from Ducati, Honda and Suzuki. In the professionally executed construction, one tooth chain per cylinder drives the two overhead camshafts. A special feature: In contrast to today’s common bucket tappet arrangement, ultra-light rocker arms work between the camshafts and the four valves per cylinder. The crankshaft is also noticeable due to its filigree construction.
The mixture preparation is done by an injection system. The operates with a relatively modest 42 millimeter intake manifold diameter and should thus ensure high torque and more than 100 hp peak power. A 1242 cm³ variant with a 102 millimeter bore and 76 millimeter stroke is provided for even more torque for use in a tourer. The first test bench runs in mid-June must show whether the engine meets expectations.
Alain Chevallier came up with several unusual ideas for the chassis. The main frame is a composite structure made of cast aluminum and steel tubes, while the control head section is designed as an airbox. The motor sucks in the air through an opening in front of the control head. The control head is screwed to another cast part with an integrated swing arm bearing via two curved steel tubes. The frame geometry can easily be varied for other models using different tubes. The cast part of the swing arm bearing also serves as an oil tank for dry sump lubrication. The Voxan also needs this, because the White Power shock absorber sits under the engine instead of the oil pan. At the front end it is hinged directly to the engine, at the rear end it is connected to the swing arm via a lever. An upside-down fork, also from White Power, guides the front wheel.
The compact construction gave the designers a lot of creative freedom. The tank, which extends over the engine to under the seating area, limited the possibilities only a little. For the roadster planned for spring 1998, Sacha Lakic chose the curves known from the mantra. For the Cafe Racer, which was planned at the same time, designer Stephane Valdant envisaged more martial forms. Later a scrambler, a cruiser and a custom bike will follow.
M.ith the variety of models and the different design directions Jacques Gardette wants to meet the taste of an upscale group of buyers in Europe, the USA and Japan. The Voxan will make its debut in France and Germany. At a sales price just above the two-cylinder competition from BMW and Honda, 1500 machines are to be sold per year initially. The declared long-term goal, however, is 3000 units in 2000. But there is certainly still a long way to go before then. The production halls in Issoire in the heart of France are ready for assembly, but are currently empty. The world can therefore be curious to see whether, after the TGV and Concorde, the Grande Nation will also live up to its claim to technical leadership in the motorcycle sector.
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