Retro-futuristic styling and walloping performance is a mouth-watering match, and this tasty Fireblade from France is gourmet fare. It comes from Atelier Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues, a workshop in the small village of Tréméven, in Brittany in northwestern France.
The shop is run by solo operator Manuel Jouan, whose work is on a par with many of the bigger European outfits. If you remember the name, it’s probably because he caught the eye of Yamaha a couple of years ago, and was selected to create a very funky BW200 for the Yard Built project.
This CBR1000RR is our favorite SLCDR build to date though, because Manuel has sailed through the notoriously tricky task of reworking a modern superbike.
For a liter-bike, the Fireblade is actually a smooth, refined and accessible ride—despite the aggressive MotoGP-inspired styling. If there’s a weak point it’s the styling, and that’s the main issue Manuel has addressed.
“This is a 2007 CBR1000RR,” says Manuel. “My customer arrived with the bike at the workshop after a crash. He didn’t know if he wanted to rebuild it while keeping it stock, or make a custom. I advised him to let me transform it, with a futuristic style.”
The CBR is most definitely not in need of a performance boost, with around 170 hp on tap from its compact inline four. There’s only about 450 pounds to push around when fueled up. So Manuel has focused on radically new visuals, plus a smattering of subtle but effective component updates.
“My customer let me do what I wanted for the design, and that’s the way I prefer to work,” says Manuel. “He trusts me, but I ask his opinion to validate important steps.”
The front end of the aluminum twin spar frame—normally hidden by the fairing—remains stock, but Manuel has built a new steel rear frame to support the minimalist, uncluttered back end.
The new bodywork is all aluminum, from the very unusual front fairing that flows over the bars to the short tail unit. Other hand-made parts include the Alcantara seat pad, the side covers, and a belly pan.
“The aluminum parts are all handmade with a hammer, an English wheel and a lot of welds. Many attempts landed in the bin before I found the good shapes and lines I wanted,” says Manuel.
A proposed new fuel tank was one such casualty. “I started to build one in aluminum, but the part I built looked like the original—so I preferred to keep the original.”
His judgment has paid off. “I wanted to keep the spirit of the bike. It’s a muscle bike with almost 170 hp. I didn’t want to make a ‘classic’ out of a modern beast.” That’s why the lighting is LED rather than Bates style: a pair of Highsider units at the front and twin strips from Custom Dynamics embedded in the new tail section.
The paint is in a style we haven’t seen before, but you have to look closely at the black paneling to spot it. “I wanted something with ‘basic’ colors, but a lot of detail,” says Manuel. “So I stuck on almost 300 stickers to make dot-shaped stencils, and masked them so they were not too apparent.” The engine covers and forks are blacked out with a fresh layer of Cerakote.
The rest of the upgrades are top-shelf stuff. Manuel has kept the under-seat exhaust layout, but the pipework is an Arrow system that’s now mated to a very compact Akrapovič muffler.
The wheels are Rotobox’s revolutionary carbon ‘Bullet’ design, which weigh around fifteen pounds for the set—less than seven kilos. They’re shod with Michelin’s Power GP tires, a 50/50 road/track compound.
Most of the electronic upgrades are hidden, but get up close and you’ll notice a Motogadget speedo—plus matching turn signals, mounted on the end of the Renthal clip-ons. There’s also an mo.lock contact free digital ignition system, to do away with the need for a key, and classy Beringer hand controls.
A modern sportbike like the CBR is possibly the hardest style of motorcycle to customize, but Manuel has pulled a rabbit out of his chapeau. Very impressive skills indeed.