600 hours of tal­ent and pas­sion

Classic Trial - - VISION TERROT 175 - Words: Ph. Pi­lat and John Hulme • Pic­tures: Deluy-Haussi and Franck Miz­era

Each one of us likes to cus­tomise our own mo­tor­cy­cles a lit­tle and it’s even more the case with older ma­chines. But when one dis­cov­ers the Ter­rot 175 owned by French­man Di­dier Cho­quet it takes it to an­other level, as he reck­ons it’s taken him 600 hours of tal­ent and pas­sion to cre­ate. Wher­ever you look at his motorcycle, in­no­va­tion and engi­neer­ing cre­ation can be found in all ar­eas. Ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing is ar­tis­ti­cally ma­chined in-house. The op­por­tu­nity to dis­cover more about this to­tally unique motorcycle was ac­cepted with­out the shadow of a hes­i­ta­tion.

It is un­der a pleas­ant paschal sun that I ar­rive at the home of English­man Hamish Eadie. In the com­pany of Philippe Mercier we ar­rive for the third time to a friendly meet­ing of old mo­tor­cy­clists who have been gath­er­ing for seven­teen years. The var­ied ar­eas to be rid­den in­clude twenty pretty kilo­me­tres of tracks and trails with shift­ing re­lief, to the de­light of the forty reg­u­lars who would not miss this an­nual ride-out for any­thing in the world. Di­dier Cho­quet is al­ready wait­ing for me, en­joy­ing the sights and sounds, but he is also ex­cited by the beauty of the course and the qual­ity of the tracks. In his eyes it is in­deed one of the most beau­ti­ful tri­als in the southwest of France, and our tan­dem of An­glo-French organisers is al­ready plan­ning a two-day meet­ing in 2018.

Post-war France

While ad­mir­ing the ex­cep­tional fin­ish of his 175 Ter­rot we lis­tened to Di­dier de­scrib­ing his cre­ation: “I al­ways liked to ride on post-war French mo­tor­cy­cles and in par­tic­u­lar four-strokes, and it is true that the pref­er­ence of lovers of this gen­er­a­tion of mo­tor­cy­cles is ori­en­tated most of­ten to­wards the Ter­rot. It was tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior to their con­tem­po­rary AMC or other Mo­to­be­cane ma­chines. In­deed their dry-sump en­gine launched in 1929, well be­fore the equiv­a­lent English mo­tor­cy­cles, en­sures bet­ter lu­bri­ca­tion and cool­ing that ben­e­fits their re­li­a­bil­ity. I have al­ready built three Ter­rot 500cc ma­chines. Some time ago at the Ven­toux Clas­sic Trial we even formed a team Ter­rot with the 500 that was ranked 7th out of 46 teams. Since then I wanted to move to a 175 as it’s lighter and more man­age­able, and here is the re­sult: 84kg with a full fuel tank”.

The fact that it is com­pletely cov­ered with pol­ished alu­minium parts and with its black end tank dec­o­rated with the fa­mous Ter­rot logo the Di­dier 175 gives a clear im­pres­sion of light­ness. So how did you learn all your skills, we asked: “I spent a large part of my life as a qual­i­fied boil­er­maker, and all of my life I have loved work­ing with dif­fer­ent met­als and ma­te­ri­als.

“In 2008 I sold my metalworking/boiler mak­ing com­pany which em­ployed a dozen em­ploy­ees and it has left me with much more time to tinker a lit­tle on my mo­tor­cy­cles. Orig­i­nally this fuel tank was equip­ping a road-go­ing Ter­rot so I re­duced it by 9cm in width and 4cm in height. It is, along with the en­gine, one of the few parts that I bought, be­cause it is not in my phi­los­o­phy to buy a com­plete motorcycle and then to strip it down to tinker with it and make to fit my own needs. Above all I like to make as many parts for my mo­tor­cy­cles as I can my­self.”

Home Brewed

Di­dier ex­plains about the ‘Home Brew’ frame of his 175: “The steel frame takes the round shape of the back loop of the Greeves of the 1950s but with mod­ern fork ge­om­e­try. It con­tains about 1.5L of oil but the hoses are not vis­i­ble, which keeps it cleaner, but you can check the cir­cu­la­tion of the lu­bri­cant through the small win­dow at the top of the frame. At the front end are orig­i­nal forks from a Yamaha TY 125 but the yokes and the han­dle­bar clamps are made in a lo­cal vil­lage where I can get small engi­neer­ing jobs car­ried out. As I am rather tall the ma­chine han­dle­bar yoke is high enough to pro­vide me with a suit­able rid­ing po­si­tion. At the rear I have mounted a pair of mod­ern shock ab­sorbers which work well and are con­nected to a steel swing­ing arm. As for the wheels I ren­o­vated Akront 36 hole wheel rims and then ‘mated’ them with the Ter­rot hubs, which are a lit­tle heav­ier than I wanted but keep it orig­i­nal. The brakes were very poor and for safety’s sake I ‘bonded’ a very spe­cial lin­ing to the brake shoe. I put them in the oven and take the tem­per­a­ture up to 200°C for 45 min­utes. Then I turn the brake drum in the lathe and match the brake shoes to the same circumference, once again in the lathe. The re­sults pro­vide very ef­fec­tive brakes. A pair of IRC tyres was also fit­ted to the wheels. The chain guard and the small sad­dle are also per­son­ally made. The last job was to fit the pol­ished alu­minium mud­guards”…It all sounds very sim­ple, I might add!

A Spe­cial En­gine

If you think the frame and its com­po­nents are spe­cial you will soon find that this is the tip of the ice­berg, as we now look into the en­gine. Di­dier: “In­side the cylin­der block we find a slightly larger pis­ton that in­creases the cylin­der ca­pac­ity to 186cc with­out risk of im­pair­ing the re­li­a­bil­ity. At the time Ter­rot an­nounced a power of 15bhp but I think I may have found a few more. I also mod­i­fied the en­gine crank­case so that the gear­box oil pro­vides bet­ter lu­bri­ca­tion to the crank­shaft, a small de­fect of the orig­i­nal Ter­rot. Whilst I was in­side the en­gine I ma­chined a clutch hous­ing, in which sits, smooth and slim, discs from the 125-200 TLR Honda. I also mod­i­fied the clutch hous­ing so that the ac­tu­at­ing arm is on the top of the en­gine to pre­serve it from dam­age.

“The ig­ni­tion comes from a Kennedy elec­tronic model but I pre­ferred to keep the orig­i­nal Amal car­bu­ret­tor. The stain­less steel ex­haust sys­tem con­sists of a tube that pen­e­trates to the end of the home-made si­lencer. Part of the tube in­side the si­lencer is pierced with nu­mer­ous holes un­til it reaches the best com­pro­mise be­tween per­for­mance and the sound level. The kick-start lever cur­rently comes from a 50cc Ital­ian motorcycle but I am in the process of ma­chin­ing one in 7,000-grade alu­minium, which will pre­vent me from hav­ing to fold the left footrest to start the ma­chine every time. The air fil­ter is made from 1,000 grade alu­minium, which is much softer to work with. It was also made with the French in­flu­ence of the ma­chine in mind, and re­tains the small but­ter­fly tight­en­ing fil­ter with the looks of the glove-box zip­pers from Citroën, I love their shape!”

When we tell you that this guy Di­dier is an artist ... In the end this au­then­tic mar­vel stands him at only 2,800 € of parts; en­gine (300 €), tank and paint in­cluded, which re­mains very rea­son­able. That is un­til we put a price on his labour, which runs around the 600 hour mark. Prof­itabil­ity is no longer the es­sen­tial con­cern, it’s the plea­sure of the re­al­i­sa­tion of the con­cept.

My Baby

For its first of­fi­cial trial it val­i­dated al­most all the mod­i­fi­ca­tions car­ried out by its de­signer. Start­ing with­out a prob­lem with a nice but rea­son­able sound she sets out to face the ar­eas of this friendly rolling coun­try­side. The rid­ing po­si­tion is well suited to the rider and be­tween its han­dling, its con­tained weight and its com­pact ge­om­e­try, it all works very well. The lo­cal ter­rain also makes it pos­si­ble to check the ef­fec­tive­ness of the brak­ing and the well-damped sus­pen­sion, which pro­vide very sat­is­fac­tory grip.

As for the en­gine it’s quite lively and smooth, but on the other hand it does not have the range of power when you need some ex­tra speed. It ‘peaks’ out far too early and Di­dier is al­ready con­sid­er­ing a mod­i­fi­ca­tion: “As soon as I re­turn to the work­shop I will re­move the camshaft and take it to a spe­cial­ist to rec­tify its pro­file. And while he takes care of this I will fit a smaller gear­box sprocket. The torque avail­able should stand it with­out prob­lem. And then I could also fin­ish and in­stall my own kick-start!”

The en­thu­si­asm from this guy is in­cred­i­ble. But when we come to the ques­tion of pos­si­bly mak­ing other Ter­rots the an­swer is a clear no. “I’ll stop with this one that I will keep for my­self. But soon I will look at the English mo­tor­cy­cles, in fact I al­ready like a lit­tle idea which is in my head…Uh yes for the Ven­toux 2018 trial I plan to in­tro­duce my­self at the start with a 100% Tri­umph team. But not with the ‘Tiger Cub’ model as it would be too sim­ple, no I think with the 350 Twin. With three mo­tor­cy­cles to com­plete I can keep my­self oc­cu­pied with­out be­com­ing bored!”

Alu­minium can be found all over the bike, in­clud­ing the en­gine cover, lo­ca­tion brack­ets and the sump shield.

Moved out of harm’s way to the top of the en­gine is the clutch ac­tu­at­ing arm.

The cir­cu­la­tion of the lu­bri­ca­tion oil in the frame can be checked through this small win­dow in the top of the frame.

600 hours of work and pas­sion are ev­i­dent here!

From this side it al­most looks like a pro­duc­tion ma­chine.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.