BMW Motorrad Spezial

Voxan motorcycles

Voxan motorcycles
In two weeks, the assets of French boutique motorcycle maker Voxan will go under the hammer in Clermont-Ferrand. It’s one of the sadder stories of the Global Financial Crisis, because Voxan was one of the last true independents in the motorcycling world.

My favorite Voxan motorcycle is ironically one that never made it into full production: the Super Naked XV café racer. It was to have a 140 bhp, 1200 cc version of the proprietary Voxan motor, and was full of lovely design touches such as a slim rectangle of a brake light inset into the rear seat, an offset filler cap and a very avant-garde instrument display. Fittingly, this motorcycle was to be sold direct to buyers via the internet.

The designer was Philippe Starck, who cut his motorcycling teeth on the Aprilia Moto 6.5. Starck gave an interview to the French magazine Café Racer while he was designing the Super Naked:

“To create a motorcycle is to deliver an engine … and then build the bike around it. We’re certainly not designers: we are not drawing. We put in the engine, and then try to add only the minimum—that which is functional. The bike then draws itself over the basics. With this approach we have more engineers than designers.”

“We are currently working on a roadster for Voxan: ultra-radical, absolutely amazing. A motorcycle that’s ultra-light, ultra-naked, and full of new solutions … There are plenty of things to invent, and technical innovations to develop.”

Unfortunately, it was never to be: Voxan went into liquidation six months ago. On 5 May, the production facilities will be auctioned off. And on 6 May, the remaining stock of motorcycles will be sold. The prototype Starck bike will be one of them, a fitting footnote to a closed chapter in French motorcycling history. [See more images on the website.]

PS: Bike EXIF is the latest contributor to the ‘Favourite Five’ feature on the French motorcycle culture blog Southsiders-MC. Hit the link to see my personal top 5 selection of classic motorcycles.

Voxan motorcycles

  • It is really sad that another bike factory has to go down,and wish this become the fresh start for this name.

  • The Phantom

    I think the hardest bike to style is one that has squared off shapes incorporated into the styling. The wheels are so prominent that their curvature just upsets the angular elements. The Cafe Racer comes close but this aspect means it just didn’t quite get there as a cohesive whole. Lots of clever touches though.

    The only hard edges that really work with the wheels are straight lines, such as employed to such good effect by Yamaha with the 2004 R1.

    Very sad to hear of Voxan’s demise, what a shame.

  • Andy Carter

    A very sad moment for the industry as a whole. Small firms like Voxan that make such bold machines are to be admired for their courage and comitment and for the way they make biking more individual. I only hope that the name dosen’t die out.

    As to the styling, I’d say this: We keep looking at pictures of bikes parked on their own. Try and imagine a rider on the bike ( helps you get a bit of an idea). I reckon it would have looked great. A rider is non angular and would join the curves of the wheels interestingly (bearing in mind the comments from the Phantom above).

    Sadly for the moment though, it looks like we’ll never know.

  • Carbon-arc

    Some girder forks would be a wicked addition to this…………I’m thinking Ronin stylee

  • Terry

    Alot of talent went into this bike. Wasted talent.

  • Very slick Euro-hooligan. Like a French Speed Triple wearing a bespoke tuxedo and Doc Martens.
    Stylish, unique and (from what I’ve read of Voxan) a formidable motorbike in a Buellish big torque + sharp handling sort of way. Les backroads et les boulevards.

    Very, very European. The tank/frame/seat juncture in the bottom picture reminds me of Ikea and those Danish houses built out of cantilevered shipping containers. I mean that in a good way.

  • PB

    personally, despite the obvious respect for him, l find that Starck´s designs often look like a lego toy. and l do love lego toys.

  • mingh

    Too bad. Voxans have a fabulous sound, street credibility and Style in spade loads. I find this one a bit overdesigned, and don’t like the modern trend of the tanks going skyhigh near the seat. it wrecks the looks of the RC8, F800 and many more bikes.
    Would’ve loved to see the filler cap in the saddle like on a manx.

  • yves F

    The nicest bike produced by Voxan and designed by Sacha Lakic was the Black Magic, have a look on this :

  • A modern, horizontal headlight(s) would have been interesting to see. The tank seems too high in pictures (same goes for Mission Motors).

    @ Andy Carter: “… Try and imagine a rider on the bike”. Good point. Anyone ever see a rider on a Wraith? I like the bike, but it looks odd with a rider.

    I think Fossil has a cool line of watches by Philippe Starck

  • I’ve never been a fan of quicky re-style jobs with flat sides everywhere and super sharp edges. Just too hard on the eyes. The stealth fighter, as trick an airplane as it is just isn’t a beautiful thing to look at and it’s aerodynamics make it nearly impossible to fly. Motorcycles styled this way will never get my vote. Voxan has done beautiful things in the past and I’m a huge fan. But this isn’t one of the good ones I wouldn’t want it anywhere near my garage.