Duu. To English ears, this sounds a strange name, but to someone born and bred in Milan, it's a number: two. And now it's a bike. But, not just any bike. Two cylinders, two litres, two-seater. And the second bike. The "Vun" ("one" in Milanese) was the first bike from CR&S, a premium, single-cylinder, custom motorcycle that delighted sports riders for its very high manoeuvrability made possible by weight reduction and a low centre of gravity. The Vun has a top speed of over 180 km/h, and is ideal for those situations beloved by fast bike enthusiasts, such as the winding, narrow, steep roads of Europe. Yet, the bike is equally at home on the long, straight stretches of American highways. Click here to read another article about the Vespa scooter, or click on arrows below to continue this article
The CR&S story has a lot in common with Roberto Crepaldi's personal history. Born in Milan in 1954, he has had motorbikes in his blood from the age of 18, travelling at least 10,000 km each year. He began his career in the field of fast cars, working as a dealer for Ferrari, Jaguar and Aston Martin, but was also founder of dealerships in Italy for Harley-Davidson, Triumph and Norton. He set up the company CR&S in 1992 to build his own custom premium bikes. Today, CR&S is the only vehicle engineering company left in Milan.
Crepaldi describes his approach, "I like riding motorbikes. I like to open up and feel the power underneath me, but without risking the orthopaedic ward or having a licence ban. I'm in my fifties, and I've tried just about everything with two wheels and an engine that there is under the sun. I wanted an ideal bike, almost a piece of exercise equipment, that would enable me to let my hair down and let go, enjoy the harmonies of a series of corners with shoulders down but without risking going down. I wanted only the best of biking, without the fatigue, suffering and danger. I wanted to enjoy the constant cornering of Italy's mountain roads, on the Stelvio or in Val Trebbia, those corners that need skill to power round at 80/120 km/h..."
The Duu is ready at last, and it was presented at the EICMA 2010 show in Milan. It is a naked-techno-custom bike at the very top of the Premium sector (1000 cc plus), fusing the massive X-Wedge 1916 cc V-engine built by the US company S&S with frame and design that enable the rider to tame that massive power and enjoy the thrills of Europe's winding roads. It produces a power of 71 kW at 5100 rpm, with maximum torque 148 Nm at 4300 rpm. This translates into a top speed of over 200 km/h. Equally importantly, the engine produces its power at all engine speeds, right from low revs, with torque that remains consistently above 140 Nm from 2,500 to 4,700 revs. The frame doesn't hide the engine, but reveals and enhances it. Each Duu is made to measure, hand-engineered and constructed. The company have already received over a hundred and thirty bookings, and as a result CR&S has had to move to larger premises in Cusago, on the outskirts of Milan.
The combination of an American power plant with a typically European motorcycle design has led to an original product whose status can be gauged from its inclusion at MAD (Moto Arte Design) as one of the motorcycling masterpieces of the last fifty years. The CR&S approach to customization is also very different from the usual method in which a customer buys a series bike and then has it personalized in a second phase. As CR&S builds each bike as a unique piece, it is actually assembled according to customer specifications, so that he or she can supervise its development through all stages of manufacture. Of course, after-sales updates and additions are possible at all times. This "total customization" makes the Duu a unique product, and in fact there are good prospects for growth in North America, Australia, Japan and the Far East, as well as countries in which CR&S is already well established such as Italy, Germany, France and other European markets.
The Duu's design is interesting, with many characteristics that set it apart from other custom bikes. For example, the circular aperture in the structure under the saddle. In a bike that, with such a large engine, inevitably expresses mass and power from the visual point of view, this opening lightens the overall effect. In fact, it is a fundamental part of the frame, linking the upper frame structure above the engine to the lower sub-frame that supports the engine. The circular joint could have been covered, but in the final design, it adds yet another aspect of interest. The frame is in stainless steel, which ensures freedom from corrosion (there is a lifetime guarantee on this component), while the additional elements in light alloy within the main structure are machined from solid metal. The result is a frame that weighs no more than 20 kg.
The saddle support is a CR&S patent, with a hand-TIG-welded structure that becomes one of the fuel tanks (the main tank is built into the upper frame) and houses the fuel pump. Other parts of the structure are made in carbon fibre, while exterior parts are in carbon, glass fibre or ABS. Many parts of the structure were designed specifically for aerodynamics, channelling air flow to improve efficiency, engine cooling and rider comfort. All in all, the Duu is a minimalist, high-tech vehicle, but at the same time comfortable and functional.
Different models of the Duu are made: the one-seater "Deperlù" (another dialect Milanese word meaning "for him"), and the "Conlatusa" (literally, "with the girl"), each in versions with 5 or 6-speed gearbox. Because each Duu is hand-built from start to finish, it can be personalized as desired in many ways. The classic options include rider position, suspension adjustment, and graphic design, with customized finish of frame, saddle and wheels. You can even choose the engine colour. As a final touch, there is a silver plaque with personalized etched engraving that identifies this mechanical work of art.
Personalization continues with a range of optional extras, which can be applied during construction or later, during the motorbike's life. These include the headlamp, a storage container that resembles a normal fuel tank, a windscreen, a more comfortable passenger saddle, a luggage rack, engine fairing, different alloy wheel options, and many more. A CR&S motorbike is not a standard product: it is a unique item on delivery, and it grows and develops according to the owner's tastes, experience and preferences. A motorbike that is built by bikers for bikers.
If you're tempted, it's best to move soon, because the company builds just a few dozen bikes every year, and so you may have to wait for a bit...
For further info, see www.crs-motorcycles.com
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