WORDS: Ben Purvis ILLO: Kar Lee
Motorcycling’s history is littered with ambitious failures, and Midual is one of them. French designer Olivier Midy came within inches of putting his 900 Roadster into production at the turn of the millennium, only to stumble at the last hurdle. The original Midual Roadster, styled by noted motorcycle designer Glynn Kerr, was the star of the 1999 Paris Motorcycle Show. The tubular-steel frame, naked styling, and off-the-shelf suspension were conventional, but the engine was something else entirely. A water-cooled boxer twin, it eschewed the BMW-style layout and instead turned the motor 90 degrees to run one cylinder forward and the other to the rear. Tilting the engine so the front cylinder was lower than the rear cut down on the inevitable length of this arrangement, and the overall result looked surprisingly compact. After its high-profile unveiling, the project quietly slipped out of sight.
The Midual brand is being kept alive by a French firm named RDMO, which has maintained the midual.com website and has recently advertised to hire staff, promising news about a new Midual “soon.” Meanwhile, Olivier Midy has filed new patents for a revamped Midual design, retaining the signature front-to-back boxer-twin engine layout. Now slung under a cast-aluminum monocoque chassis with a pair of aluminum braces supporting the swingarm pivot, the metal frame also doubles as the bike’s fuel tank, with Midy’s patent acknowledging Erik Buell’s beam-framed bikes as inspiration. The monocoque, made from two halves bolted together, also extends back to support the seat, eliminating the need for a separate subframe.
The final version of the bike is again expected to be a naked roadster but this time with futuristic styling that showcases the radical new chassis. The release date for any Midual prototype is unknown at the moment, which is in keeping with Midy’s normal protocol—the original 900 Roadster was developed in complete secrecy and worked on for years before the prototype was finally revealed.