How did a country that's still in love with Jerry Lewis, Smurfs and mayonnaise on French fries come up with this? Once you rule out divine intervention and the second coming of Carroll Shelby, it all comes down to an engineer by the name of Joël Domergue, who has been working on the Wakan 100 Roadster in one way or another since he was 14. He was bitten by American muscle-cars in general and Shelby's AC Cobra in particular-the glorious improbability of a crazy, retired racer from Leesburg, Texas, stuffing 7 liters of Ford V8 into a spindly little British roadster. Nobody else had come up with a two-wheeled interpretation, so Domergue built this one.
Inspiration was imported from America, along with 100 cubic inches of S&S V-twin power, an Andrews transmission and a Gates drive belt. The 41mm Keihin flat-slide, downdraft carburetor is from Japan, and the forged-aluminum Marchesini wheels and 46mm Ceriani inverted fork come from Italy. The most significant French component is Domergue himself, a former nuclear engineer who got his start in the motorcycle business building Scorpa Trials bikes in 1993 with first Rotax and then Yamaha engines. After selling Scorpa earlier this year, he poured the proceeds and his considerable manufacturing savvy into Wakan, a sacred word from the Lakota Sioux language that roughly translates to "spirit in ours."
The motorcycle itself is a faithful rendition of Shelby's 425-horsepower icon, and the engine is still the star of the show. The 120-horse S&S twin hangs from a TIG-welded chromoly steel-tube backbone that doubles as an oil tank. Intake air enters through a stylized 6-71 supercharger muzzle atop the airbox disguised as a fuel tank, which feeds the aforementioned carburetor. Fuel injection is coming. A roto-molded nylon fuel tank takes 3.4 gallons of super unleaded through a filler cap behind the solo seat. Once you're there, Wakan means two cylinders, two wheels and the road.
That's mostly a good thing. The dry clutch takes a healthy pull, and more stopping power up front would be nice. Otherwise, racy steering geometry leading a short, stiff chassis delivers more agility than anything else with pushrods under the hood. There's enough steam to crack 150 mph if you can hang on that long. But then again, hanging on to something like this is half the fun.
Domergue figures to sell 75 percent of the (very) limited-production Roadster in the U.S., though at press time the bike was awaiting official homologation, so you'd have to handle that yourself. But as long as you've been really good, that shouldn't be a problem. Mr. Claus has connections at the EPA.
A Gates belt drives the dry clutch behind that carbon-fiber cover (top). The 100-inch S&S
||a-c 45-deg. V-twin
||120 bhp @ 5750 rpm
||120 lb.-ft. @ 4250 rpm
||46mm Ceriani inverted fork with adjustable
spring preload, compression and rebound damping
||Sachs shock with adjustable spring preload,
compression and rebound damping
||Six-piston AJP caliper, 340mm disc
||Two-piston AJP caliper, 220mm disc
||120/70ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Power
||180/55ZR-17 Michelin Pilot Power
|Claimed dry weight
Verdict | Nice
The sexiest French export since Brigitte Bardot.