Sunday Ride Classic 2022, “French Grand Prix” Expo: The epic of Claude Fior

Claude Fior is an avant-garde. An introduction to genius, a multi-function inventor, a modern-day Da Vinci, minus the painting. Today, let’s focus on his story, like the madness that inspires. To see some of his most beautiful creations, go to Sunday Ride Classic on June 11 and 12 by Paul Ricard.

1964, Nogaro, in Armagnac. A boy, tall three apples, changes his brother’s VéloSoleX. At the age of nine, Claude’s hands were dirty. However, only a few are sure that this kid with fairy hands will come one day in the closed world of the Grands Prix, fighting the most.

Quickly, young Claude turned to the competition. Automotive at first, he distinguished himself thanks to his talents as a welder. Aluminum is no secret to him; Fior, just 21 in 1976, put his box in Nogaro and subcontracted for the French auto industry. At the same time, “Pif” loves two -wheelers and doesn’t hesitate to ride them for national races.

Two years later, he was here to start the first 24 Heures Motos, in a Yamaha XS1100 driven by Pierre Guy. During this race, something bothers Claude: handling and strength on the front axle. Not very strong, the latter wears concentration and wastes crew energy. After this incident Fior decided to face a big task: to change the principle of the “fork”, nothing more, nothing less.

Not immediately told because it was over. In 1979, the troupe returned to Sarthe with a Fior-Yamaha XS1100, with a new system. Our thief took the opportunity to draw a chassis, not content to stop at the front axle. The principle of the “Fior fork” is actually very simple: It consists of separating the “braking” function and the “steering” function, so that stability and accuracy are not affected under the stress of deceleration. . Of course, the concept has improved over time, but the foundations have been laid.

In the paddock, the original engine caught the eye. However, by finishing 8th at the end of the race day, the competition was laughing yellow. So much so that this work on the TZ250s caught the eye of Sonauto-Yamaha, official importer in France and engaged in 500cc with factory engines! Unfortunately, the Japanese, faced with the strangeness of the matter, did not risk showing it on the track in the early 1980s. A disappointment for Nogarolien, who dreamed of the Grand Prix.

Don’t even think about it! Thanks to the money promised by Sonauto, the “Pif” will line up its own motorcycles! First with Suzuki and then with Honda engines, Fior leads the most. Even though he hadn’t driven his machines in a while, the excitement didn’t go away. Within the framework of these experiments he collaborated with his Swiss friend Marco Gentile, a noble pilot.

In 1988, Claude handed over the equipment. It includes an “in-house” engine, derived from JPX used in sidecars, in its chassis. Gentile, at the steering wheel, advanced without combining the top 10. In 1989, Fior returned the cover. Marco even managed to climb to 4th position in Misano, if not the most. 33 points were scored for 17th place in the championship. With some resources despite being sponsored in Marlboro, the Fior/Gentile duo is on par with Mamola in Cagiva, which has a much higher budget.

However, the dark winter of 1989 marked the end of the epic. The tobacco company closes the door and worse, Marco kills himself in Nogaro in a kart designed by Claude. Despite Aprilia’s 250cc approach for 1990, the dreams of the first class have come to an end.

Fior’s technology, which was never patented, was “borrowed” (some would say “copied” or “stolen”) by engineer Norman Hossack. Since then, BMW has adopted the idea of ​​the fork, known as the Duolever, and equipped some of the big models around it, such as the K1200.

An ancient genius inventor, Claude did it all, literally. Motor skateboards, carriages, gliders… his skill in aluminum and his skill allows him to translate his ideas into concepts. On December 13, 2001, “Pif” died in a plane crash (which he himself designed) near the Nogaro circuit, at his home. Just 46 years old, the proud Gascon is a model, an example to follow and has left an indelible mark on French motorcycle history. To better get to know this awesome character, don’t hesitate to detour Paul Ricard this June 11 and 12 for the Sunday Ride Classic where you’ll see some of his models.

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