First Ride: 2006 Voxan Charade

Can Voxan's new management manage a Gallic version of what John Bloor did for Triumph?






Voxan has struggled to put the French motorcycle industry back on the map since the firm began building its quirky V-twins 10 years ago. But things are looking up under current boss Didier Cazeaux, a multi-millionaire who, like Triumph's John Bloor, made his fortune in construction. The latest model is the sportiest yet: the Charade, named after a racetrack not far from the firm's base near Clermont-Ferrand.

The Charade's style mixes aggression and retro cool, with its black fairing, single seat and high-level exhaust system emerging from a big V-twin engine. There's a hint of early 70s works Harley XR750 road-racer in designer Sacha Lakic's creation. Anodised aluminium control levers, master cylinder tops and radial front brake calipers add splashes of colour.

This bike keeps Voxan's format of 996cc, liquid-cooled V-twin engine, plus a frame constructed around two large-diameter steel tubes running from steering head to swing-arm pivot. The cast aluminium steering head also acts as the airbox; the swing-arm pivot doubles as the oil tank for the dry-sump motor. Marzocchi upside-down forks combine with Beringer radial calipers and 320mm discs. Shock is by French specialist BOS, sitting horizontally beneath the engine.

The Voxan lump's 115bhp maximum is nothing special for a liquid-cooled DOHC litre motor, but there's heaps of low-rev and midrange grunt that helped make the bike easy to ride on the twisty Charade circuit, and the same would be true on the road. Despite a tall first gear it rumbled easily out of hairpins, and was always ready with a strong, glitch-free burst of power.

By sports bike standards the Charade was not mega fast, but it showed a fair turn of pace on the one downhill stretch where I got near the140mph maximum. The tall screen worked well, and I was pleasantly surprised by the low vibration level of the 72-degree V-twin lump, which doesn't have a balancer shaft but stayed smooth even with 9000rpm showing.

Handling was good and braking excellent, helped by the 185kg bike's light weight. The Charade was more stable than quick-steering, but it could be flicked pretty easily through those tight bends. The under-slung shock soaked up all the bumps that the relatively well-surfaced circuit threw at it, and gave plenty of feedback.

This bike takes its place at the head of Voxan's seven-model range, all powered by variants of the 996cc V-twin. The firm doesn't yet have a UK importer, so you'll have to order it directly from the factory. Merci.

VERDICT 3/5


Not cheap, but stylish with good

all-round performance and even more Gallic charm than Asterix

SPECS


TYPE - STREETBIKE


PRODUCTION DATE - 2006


PRICE NEW - £13,000


ENGINE CAPACITY - 996cc


POWER - 115bhp@8660rpm


TORQUE - 74lb.ft@6250rpm


WEIGHT - 185kg


SEAT HEIGHT - 800mm


FUEL CAPACITY - 21L


TOP SPEED - N/A


0-60 - n/a


TANK RANGE - N/A

Click to read: Voxan Charade owners reviews, Voxan Charade specs and to see the Voxan Charade image gallery.

Voxan has struggled to put the French motorcycle industry back on the map since the firm began building its quirky V-twins 10 years ago. But things are looking up under current boss Didier Cazeaux, a multi-millionaire who, like Triumph's John Bloor, made his fortune in construction. The latest model is the sportiest yet: the Charade, named after a racetrack not far from the firm's base near Clermont-Ferrand.

The Charade's style mixes aggression and retro cool, with its black fairing, single seat and high-level exhaust system emerging from a big V-twin engine. There's a hint of early 70s works Harley XR750 road-racer in designer Sacha Lakic's creation. Anodised aluminium control levers, master cylinder tops and radial front brake calipers add splashes of colour.

This bike keeps Voxan's format of 996cc, liquid-cooled V-twin engine, plus a frame constructed around two large-diameter steel tubes running from steering head to swing-arm pivot. The cast aluminium steering head also acts as the airbox; the swing-arm pivot doubles as the oil tank for the dry-sump motor. Marzocchi upside-down forks combine with Beringer radial calipers and 320mm discs. Shock is by French specialist BOS, sitting horizontally beneath the engine.

The Voxan lump's 115bhp maximum is nothing special for a liquid-cooled DOHC litre motor, but there's heaps of low-rev and midrange grunt that helped make the bike easy to ride on the twisty Charade circuit, and the same would be true on the road. Despite a tall first gear it rumbled easily out of hairpins, and was always ready with a strong, glitch-free burst of power.

By sports bike standards the Charade was not mega fast, but it showed a fair turn of pace on the one downhill stretch where I got near the140mph maximum. The tall screen worked well, and I was pleasantly surprised by the low vibration level of the 72-degree V-twin lump, which doesn't have a balancer shaft but stayed smooth even with 9000rpm showing.

Handling was good and braking excellent, helped by the 185kg bike's light weight. The Charade was more stable than quick-steering, but it could be flicked pretty easily through those tight bends. The under-slung shock soaked up all the bumps that the relatively well-surfaced circuit threw at it, and gave plenty of feedback.

This bike takes its place at the head of Voxan's seven-model range, all powered by variants of the 996cc V-twin. The firm doesn't yet have a UK importer, so you'll have to order it directly from the factory. Merci.

VERDICT

Not cheap, but stylish with good all-round performance and even more Gallic charm than Asterix.

Voxan Charade Specs

SPECS
TYPE - STREETBIKE
PRODUCTION DATE - 2006
PRICE NEW - £13,000
ENGINE CAPACITY - 996cc
POWER - 115bhp@8660rpm
TORQUE - 74lb.ft@6250rpm   
WEIGHT - 185kg
SEAT HEIGHT - 800mm   
FUEL CAPACITY - 21L   
TOP SPEED - 140mph
0-60     - n/a
TANK RANGE - N/A