Most successful custom builders are based in big cities. They need the client base, the close network of suppliers, and the buzz of a metropolis for inspiration. But one of the top workshops in France is based in the tiny medieval town of Chauvigny—tucked away in the middle of nowhere, about four hours south of Paris.
The geographic obscurity has not hampered the success of FCR Original in any way. Shop owner Sébastien Guillemot has just revamped his brand, moved into small-scale manufacture, and now sells a range of accessories too.
Custom builds are still at the core of the business though, and this zingy 2016 Scrambler is the latest to roll out of the shop. “It has the last of the 865 cc air/oil cooled engines,” says Sébastien. “With 270° timing, the engine is more ‘torquey’ and fun than the liquid-cooled 900 cc.”
The Scrambler continues the line of FCR’s retro-themed ‘Legend’ builds—a lineage that started a couple of years ago, with 20 bikes completed so far.
Like all its predecessors, ‘Yellow Legend’ has a gorgeous nickel-plated frame, with a shortened rear loop. But this time, the eye is also drawn to the engine cases, which have a beautiful bronze ceramic treatment.
According to Sébastien, it’s a nod to the magnesium cases of the Matchless G50 engine.
The sprocket cover has a matching finish, perforated with holes, and FCR have also installed their own bash guard—which completely encloses the front lower parts of the frame downtubes.
The plush new seat is big enough to carry a passenger, at a pinch, and finished off in black leather. There’s a sizeable aluminum fender to keep mud off one’s jacket, and a microscopic pair of turn signals. These are FCR’s own design, and have a 3-in-1 setup: “It allows us to remove the rear light, to make the bike visually lighter,” says Sébastien.
More noticeable is the handmade stainless steel exhaust system, terminated with FCR’s own mufflers in stainless steel with aluminum tips. (“The sound is identical to an enduro bike, with the 270° engine timing of the Scrambler.”)
The twin shock rear suspension now comes from the French company Shock Factory. The blacked-out aluminum-bodied units are 20mm longer than stock—to raise the stance—and include compression and rebound adjustment.
The rims are gorgeous Borranis, at 18 inches both front and rear, with stainless steel spokes and that classic ‘H’ rim profile. They’re shod with Heidenau K67 tires, an old school trials-style pattern that hints at the iconic Dunlop Trials Universal.
The cockpit continues the vintage theme, with a Monza gas cap, and Fehling bars in a classic motocross bend sitting behind FCR’s own Bates-style headlight. (The little aluminum ‘cap’ above the lamp is a throwback to 70s enduro bikes).
FCR Original bikes tend to use relatively muted colors, with the occasional pop of French Blue or a deep green. But to celebrate the next stage of the brand and business, Sébastien has finished this Scrambler in an especially vibrant yellow—close to Ferrari’s famed Giallo Modena paint.
“We wanted to make a very ‘flashy’ bike, but also very classy,” he smiles.
We reckon he’s got the balance exactly right. This is one good-looking machine, and if it’s a little shiny in places, a quick thrash along a dusty trail should sort that out nicely.