The problem with most exotic motorcycles is that they are too damn fast. We drool over equipment from the likes of NCR and Vyrus—but unless you spend your spare time testing for a MotoGP team, their performance is mostly academic.
Carmakers have got this sussed out: even Bugattis and McLarens are comfortable around town. And if you don’t need moon rocket acceleration, you can drop the cash on something much more civilized, like a Bentley or a LWB Range Rover.
There’s now a motorcycle that fits into that mindset. The $185,000 Midual goes into production in 2016, with 35 units scheduled to roll out of a factory 300 km southwest of Paris, in the ancient town of Angers. The bike is a classic roadster with exquisite levels of fit and finish: the kind of tactile luxury that the French do so well.
Let’s get the specs out of the way first: the Midual comes with a 1036 cc flat-twin engine that pumps out 104 hp and 100 NM (73 lb ft) of torque. There’s an aluminum monocoque frame that also holds the fuel, and suspension is from Öhlins’ top shelf: 43 mm FGRT forks and a TTX 36 shock.
Unlike most fiendishly expensive motorcycles (and even those just below the premier league, such as Bimota or Confederate) the Midual looks comfortable and easy to ride.
It’s specifically pitched as a ‘luxury’ rather than performance bike, with the focus on build quality and exclusivity rather than lap times. If it were a car, it’d be a Bentley Continental GT. (Which costs around the same, incidentally.)
The driving force behind the project is engineer Olivier Midy, who has been developing the bike and its engine for over two decades now. Startup funding came from French institutional investors, and in 2010 more investors piled in as the prototypes neared completion and thoughts turned to production.
So despite the lofty purchase price of the Midual, the financial side seems stable. There’s even a four-year back-to-base maintenance contract and warranty for owners.
The most interesting part of the Midual is its engine, though. It’s a longitudinally mounted boxer twin—an arrangement that theoretically makes sense. There are no bulky cylinders sticking out, and because the Midual is liquid-cooled, overheating shouldn’t be an issue. Lubrication is dry sump and there are two oil radiators, just in case.
Fuel-in-frame technology is not a new idea, but the Midual looks infinitely better than a Buell XB. The chassis is the work of a French aerospace foundry, and reportedly took thousands of hours in design and development.
Given that the Midual costs as much as a typical house, the potential for personalization is virtually unlimited. Buyers will be able to choose almost any paint they like, plus different types of hardware finishing—from a brushed effect to a polished or patina’d look.
More than 45 types of leather are on offer, plus 25 sand casting treatments, which can be applied even to the engine parts. We just hope that owners go for a discreet, minimalist vibe rather than the full Russian oligarch effect.
So the big question is: will anyone buy this bike? I’m inclined to say oui. There are plenty of folks out there who will pay between $300,000 and $2 million for a car, so there should be a few who will drop $185,000 on a bike.
Type: 25°-sloping flat-twin, transversal crankshaft
Bore x stroke: 100 x 66 mm
Total displacement: 1036 cc
Compression ratio: 12:1
Max power: 106 cv at 8000 rpm
Max torque: 100 Nm at 5300 rpm
Max engine rpm: 8800 rpm
Cooling: liquid, with an expansion chamber + 2 oil radiators
Crankshaft: 180° timing, boxer type
Cylinder heads: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, INT 36 mm, EXH 31 mm
Timing: spur gears, roller chains, hydraulic chain idlers
Fuel and air supply: electronic injection, diam. 54 mm throttle bodies
Exhaust: 2 catalysts + lambda sensor
Oiling: dry sump lubrication system
Primary gear: spur gears
Transmission: 6-speed, type 525 chain
Clutch: multi-plate, oil bath
Type: double-wall aluminum alloy monocoque, acting as the fuel tank and the body
Front suspension: diam. 43 mm Ohlins FGRT fork, displacement 120 mm
Rear suspension: cantilever, Ohlins TTX 36 shock absorber, displacement 120 mm
Swinging arm: integral aluminum molded part
Wheelbase: 1505 mm
Head angle: adjustable from 24° to 25°
Trail: 100 mm (for head angle of 24.5°)
Front brake: 2 four-piston Brembo calipers, diam. 320 mm floating discs
Rear brake: two-piston Brembo caliper, diam. 245 mm disc