The French are proud, passionate people who certainly love the finer things in life and know how to expertly craft them. Think of three French inventions off the top of your head, say Lingerie, Champagne and an Automobile, and instantly your day is guaranteed to be tres magnifique! So it is little surprise then that the Artisan’s who fashion these spectacular creations are held in such high regard. Already recognised in one of the nation’s daily newspapers and showcased in the country’s magazines and bike shows, Cedric Trenquir’s work commands respect. Operating under the banner of Cevennes Retro Motors he is simply a craftsman of the highest order and the more you look at his latest hand built Ducati, the more you want to pour a Cognac and savour them both.

At the base of the Cevennes mountains, in the beautiful commune of Ales, you’ll find a workshop that is everything you imagined to be the domain of the true solo artisan. Small and only just adequately lit, with tools a hundred years old and cabinets of rich timber even older, only the motorcycles that fill its space give any indication of what century you’re in. Where else would you find a classic armoire used to store nuts and bolts? But that’s just the way Cedric likes it, his surrounds give him the inspiration to craft his timeless masterpieces.

Known for his work in hand shaping raw alloy, he has indeed made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with his stunning CX500 and the alloy monocoque dirtbikes that roll out of his shop are like nothing you’ve seen before. But today’s serving, based around a Ducati 750SS, is perhaps his most sublime creation to date. Apart from the engine, almost nothing of the original bike remains and his first task was to create a jig to hold the classic L-Twin, and begin to bend tube around it. Using only the best Chromoly, the frame uses the engine as a stressed member and although using some trellis sections, it’s like nothing to ever leave the Bologna factory of Ducati HQ.

The elongated stretch towards the headstock is all part of creating a longer and lower stance, with the crankshaft now positioned a little further rearward of a 50/50 balance so as to give the unique forward tilted engine layout a truly centralised appearance. There is no precise uniformity from one side to the other, the lower chassis sections reach for the front engine mounts more organically than that; like a vine making its way around branches. While the rear section almost seems to defy reality, suspending the subframe with a minimum of fuss.

Perfectly matching the Frenchman’s form, the swingarm from a Ducati S4R takes a similar nature-inspired approach and being single-sided only helps to amplify the distinctive left and right side profiles. Helping to suspend that rear is a Fournales shock with billet alloy surround that allows it to blend into the scenery, but upfront there would be no off the shelf components.

The parallelogram design is all Cedric’s, painstakingly laying it all out, crafting each piece largely from alloy and then making the necessary changes to achieve both perfect form and function. Custom caliper mounts allow the front Ducati 1098 wheel to keep its twin brake discs, while the rear rim is also from the superbike.

Obviously the calipers aren’t the factory Brembo’s, nobody builds a bike like this to go 200mph, but the bodywork gives that impression even when standing still. All of Cedric’s work is first class, but this is where he excels. The main section of the body, the tank and the majority of the seat sits on an aluminium structure that has an almost industrial architecture like quality, then over the top the visual pieces are added, “It’s doubled aluminium bodywork 1.5mm thick, assembled on the edges to give it more volume,” Cedric explains.

And from the flowing tank that runs unbroken to the swooping lines of the tail, matched by the brilliant front cowl it is simply a work of art and the pictures tell the story best! The supporting roles are also perfectly cast, the locking mechanism for the custom fuel cap alone is a thing you could spend an hour opening and closing before Cedric politely told you to keep your hands to yourself .

Even the structural supports for the footpegs are glorious and the pedals with their burnt wood inserts where the grips would be, combined with the matching handlebars and seat give another artisan touch to wow the crowds.

Of course, the Ducati engine couldn’t be left untouched and the first step was to polish and paint it up to perfection. The induction is a work of art, sitting on a custom made alloy intake is a thumping Dellorto DHLA 40 Carb originally designed for a car, that works a treat on the 750 engine with all the linkages hand made by Cedric.

But stealing the show even from such an impressive induction system is the exhaust, the sweeping lines of the stainless steel hugging the engine tight. In some parts, they disappear into the polished alloy belly pan, with the outlets so flawlessly integrated it’s hard to know where one material ends and the other begins. Sure, it will get ridden and it’ll sound incredible just running, but this is custom motorcycle building in its finest form and we invite you to simply feast your eyes.

[ Cevennes Retro Motors ]