It was one of those occasions that can make this job less fun than it sounds. I was short of time and needed to get some action photos taken right now - but the only likely location in deepest Bedfordshire was a small, busy roundabout with cracks in its surface. On most bikes getting good pics here would have been a nightmare.
Not so on the CR&S Vun, which more than lived up to those clichés about single-cylinder bikes making up with agility what they lose in horsepower. With its wide bars, classy chassis and dry weight of just 135kg the Vun was so light,
manoeuvrable and sweet-steering that it made slicing through the roundabout traffic as entertaining as it was effortless.
The Vun is the 652cc, Rotax-engined single
produced by Café Racers & Specials, a small Milan-based firm. Vun, which means One in Milanese
dialect, is being imported by Bedfordshire dealers Flitwick Motorcycles. Its basic package - 54bhp motor as used by BMW's F650; frame combining tubular steel and aluminium plates - can be
customised using various aluminium and carbon-fibre accessories.
Highlight of this bike was a
beautiful aluminium tank which, along with an Öhlins shock instead of the standard Paioli, added about a grand to the basic price of £9999. Insanely expensive, yes but you've only got to look at the detailing, from the hand-built frame to the carbon headlamp surround and under-seat airbox, to see that the Vun is special.
It got even better from the moment I threw a leg over the tall, narrow, thinly padded seat. The Vun was so light that it felt more like a pushbike than a motorcycle. It
combined those wide bars with pegs set sportily high and rearwards to feel improbably roomy. The carbon headlamp surround held a tiny
digital instrument panel. The motor fired up with a fruity thud-thud from the under-engine silencer (and occasionally a graunch from the starter).
The Vun was light and responsive; for a single the Rotax lump was smooth, encouraging me to get the dashboard's 7000rpm warning light flicking up through the lower ratios of the five-speed box. Admittedly the speed of a more powerful bike would have been welcome at times, but there was much satisfaction to be had from wringing the Vun's neck. It rumbled pretty quickly to an indicated ton but by then was running out of puff. Given the exposed riding
position, that was no great loss.
Especially on a bike that was so good in the bends. There's only one 320mm disc up front, but the four-pot Brembo radial caliper stopped this lightweight dead in its tracks. The multi-adjustable Ceriani forks and rear Öhlins were set up firm,
giving a racy feel that jarred a bit over bumps but made the Vun feel like it was hot-wired into my nervous system. Sticky Pirelli Supercorsas added to the back-lane brilliance.
Spending over £10k on a little
single is something few people will consider. That's fine by CR&S boss Roberto Crepaldi because he'll only build about 50 this year. If you want an impractical but entertaining bike that's beautifully detailed and
flatters your riding like nothing else on wheels, the Vun is worth a look.
Expensive but beautiful; fantastic on the right road
WORDS: ROLAND BROWN
PICS: PHIL MASTERS
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