France’s Forge rebuilds a Parisian Monster…
In 2006, Ducati introduced a new entry-level Monster, the Monster 695, which boasted 10 more brake horsepower than its predecessor, the M620. In fact, Ducati said the bike’s 73 bhp power output was the highest output per cc of any Ducati air-cooled V-twin ever produced to that date. Besides the engine, the Monster 695 remained relatively unchanged, which was a good thing, as the smallest Monster had earned a reputation as an incredible all-rounder, capable of urban commuting, backroad blasting, and even the odd track day:
“The Monster 695 is the same lovable mount as the 620, using the matching trellis frame, rake (24 degrees), wheelbase (56.7 inches) and wheels, plus the same 370-lb claimed dry weight and 30.3-inch seat height.” –Motorcycle USA
Recently, we heard from Gwenolé Bizien of western France’s Forge, which has been open for seven years, located originally in an old forge — hence the name. Gwenolé, who runs the shop with his wife, who’s also a biker, says the workshop was born from his realization that he needed to change his riding style for public roads:
“I come from the world of sportbikes on the road and track, but for my own safety, I understood that I should change my style of road riding. Not finding a machine to my taste, I built one myself — a BMW R80 RT — and Forge was born.”
Gwenolé says the bike’s owner, Alexandre, who lives in Paris, loved his Monster, and wanted to keep and customize it rather than buy something new. Together, they planned on a classic design with modern amenities, which would result in a true-to-form modern café racer. A Paul Smart tank served as the crux of the entire project, outfitted with an external fuel pump. Gwenolé worked very hard to get the lines of the bike just right, particularly the tail section and saddle, which leaves enough room for Alexandre’s girlfriend to ride pillion. All work but the saddle and paint were done in-house.
Below, we get the full details on the build from Gwen himself.
Ducati Monster Café Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
We opened our workshop seven years ago. We only do complete builds, all brands all cylinders. No maintenance. There are two of us at shop, myself and my wife, who is also a biker.
I come from the world of sportbikes on the road and track, but for my own safety, I understood that I should change my style of road riding. Not finding a machine to my taste, I built one myself — a BMW R80 RT — and Forge was born.
The name Forge comes from our first workshop, an old forge — a perfect find. We are located near Nantes in France. We create 1-2 motorcycles a year, and we select our projects with care in order to inject our ideas freely into them. Our goal is always to surprise, whether in the overall project or just in a detail — it is sometimes just this detail that will turn the bike from “good” to “unique.”
Our communication is based on sharing. We regularly update our site and our Facebook with photos of the stages of preparation. There is no secret in making a motorcycle, just the right taste and a harmonious overall vision that anybody can acquire.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
Ducati Monster 695 Dark, 2007. The design of the Monsters has not evolved a lot in the last 20 years — it’s almost nice, so we tried to make it very nice. I love the original bike, and when I designed the project, I was very close to making a second one just for me.
• Why was this bike built?
Alexandre, the owner, contacted me. He liked our other projects and liked his bike. He preferred to keep it and have a great custom than buy a brand new one like a Triumph — it’s his first bike. He contacted me and sent me some references — other Monsters prepared, sometimes a seat and a headlight, a color, a style — but he didn’t really know what he wanted, which was perfect because it’s a part of my job to help him go in the right direction.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I determined that he wanted a classic design with modern accessories. I photoshopped him a bike, and we spent some time discussing the seat. He wanted a comfortable seat for his girlfriend, and I wanted a perfect rear frame design — together we found the best choice.
For the tank, no doubt for me, we needed a Paul Smart tank. At first, it wasn’t an option. Without it, it could stop the project, and I waited to receive it before disassembling the bike. No Paul Smart tank, no project.
The color was a big discussion with Alexandre. He wanted a Gulf replica, impossible for me, so we tried an old Ducati race color, but it didn’t work. I counseled him to go to luxury car dealers to find a nice color. He lives at Paris near les Champs Elysée; he call me back few weeks after: “I found the perfect color! A Peugeot color.” Hahaha.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Everything was done at our shop — sandblasting, paint, etc. — except the seat and the green color. We did everything, from the first sketch to the finished photos.
- New rear frame design
- Paul Smart tank, Monza cap, external fuel pump
- Handmade seat from “La Sellerie Nantaise”
- Furtif head light
- Motogadget Motoscope Classic Speedo, front blinkers, and mo lock
- CNC top tree
- Clip ons
- Black Spark exhaust
- Radial front brake 19
- LED strip taillight and rear blinkers
- Rear mudguard with plate
- Blue green paint
- Custom airbox
- Solise battery
- Racing Air pods
- ECU reprogrammed
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
The stock Monster is very pleasant to ride, nice torque, nice sound, agile and light. Our custom project gives a true design of the word café racer: it’s lighter, with clip-ons and longer tank. The riding position is more aggressive, and with pods and mufflers the sound is great. Alexandre promises to lend me the bike for rides.
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m proud of the frame. The lines are nice, and they match with the originals. If I did a second one for me, the frame would be yellow to be more visible and, with the tank, the master design part.
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