A Porsche 917-inspired Aprilia Tuono!
In 1971, the Porsche 917 is one of the most iconic racing cars of all time, a flat-12 powered prototype that gave Porsche its first overall wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1970 and 1971. Various versions of the car had a 0-62 mph time of 2.3 seconds, a top speed of 225 mph, and starred in the Steve McQueen film Le Mans.
Enter our new friend Gwenael Barthélémy, a French logistics coordinator and motorcycle aficionado who designs and creates custom bikes under the name Le Week-End De Course (The Race Weekend). Gwenael’s two-wheeled passion lit early:
“My brother had a Kawasaki GPZ1000RX when I was young and he allowed me to start up the bike and be his pillion rider from time to time.”
Gwenael got his own bike as quickly as he could, and he’s owned nearly 20 different motorcycles over the years, many of them Ducati or Aprilia. Working out of Geneva, he’s very close to the Alps and the mountain riding they offer, which may have helped to inspire his first Pikes Peak style Aprilia Tuono.
“I was not 100% happy with the first Pikes Peak (2019) edition I did — I needed to go much more into details and coherence…. I think this is what I achieved.”
Gwenael is quick to admit that he’s not a professional builder — all of his builds are self-financed, and he designs the parts and works with various workshops to fabricate the parts and finishes he needs. In this case, he started with a 2017 Aprilia Tuono V4 and took his inspiration from the legendary 917:
“The Porsche 917K that won Le Mans inspired me for sure…. I found it very interesting to build similarities between the bike and the winning car of the 1971 Le Mans.”
The pepita fabric used in Porsche seats was one of the anchors of the build. Gwenael worked with Geneva’s Sellerie Moto Dubouloz to create the saddle from this fabric — the first time he’d seen pepita used for a motorcycle seat.
Pretty much everything else apart from the 173-hp 65° V4 engine has been modified or transformed: the modified Airtech tail section, the front plate from Geneva’s Swiss Motorcycle, fuel tank from Burgol Racing, aluminum panels from Apita Metal Shaping, paint by Corbex SA, graphics by Calvin Publicité, and custom carbon parts from GVA Composites — a who’s who of Geneva’s fabrication workshops.
The result is an Aprilia Tuono V4 “Le Mans” that has just the on-road character and charisma that Gwenael hoped:
“It feels like a real racing bike! It is noisy; it is uncomfortable; but it is light, very responsive and very rewarding — I love it!”
Below, we get the full story on his inspired “Le Mans” Aprilia and more killer shots from photographer Pepito.jpg.
Aprilia Tuono Le Mans: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I am 49 years old, French, a logistics coordinator. My brother had a Kawasaki GPZ1000RX when I was young and he allowed me to start up the bike and be his pillion rider from time to time. As soon as I got a job, I passed my motorcycle license and bought a Kawasaki W650. Every single weekend I was out riding. I could changed bikes every year and overall I think I have owned about 18 motorcycles, mainly Aprilia and Ducati. I work in Geneva so the Alps nearby were the perfect place to be! I used to say that around 2003 or so, I calculated how many kilometers I did on motorcycles and found the quite impressive figure of 300,000 kms. I never counted the distance i did after….
In 2000 I saw the Aprilia RSV-R 1000R at the motorcycle show in Paris and absolutely fell in love with the bike…. I saved some money, found the proper dealer, and then my story with Aprilia was launched, a kind of a perfect mix between passion, usability and reliability.
As you may have understood, I do not have any shop, I don’t sell anything, I do not have any expertise with my hands except drawing and my ideas…. So shall that be a reason not to customize a motorcycle? No! In 2016 I started to make a cafe racer from my Tuono V4 and never stopped after that customizing Aprilias. What I do is design bikes and parts, then I find workshops or professionals who can make the parts I need, and this is how I’ve worked for the last five years…. All the work is 100% financed from my own money — I pay for everything I order and do not have any support from any company except the support I get from being a good customer.
As I said, I am very happy with your comments because I am trying to do things I haven’t seen elsewhere, or at least my very own versions of things I have seen elsewhere. I am trying to bring different ideas, different parts, different design…. But the most important thing is that I am doing things with a lot of honesty without trying to do the same things that others do, trying to find my own path….
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The project is based on a Aprilia Tuono V4 factory, bought brand new in 2017.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike belongs to me, so I built the bike for myself. I was not 100% happy with the first Pikes Peak (2019) edition I did — I needed to go much more into details and coherence…. I think this is what I achieved.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The Porsche 917k that won Le Mans inspired me for sure…. I found it very interesting to build similarities between the bike and the winning car of the 1971 Le Mans. I would like to go much more further in the future — I know it is not easy but the challenge is very very interesting….
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Except the engine, everything was customized. The rear fairing is based on an item bought from Airtech Streamlining and modified to get the rounded shapes. The front plate was done by Swiss Motorcycle here in Geneva.
The exhaust is an Akrapovic. Most of the aluminium panels were done by Apita Metal Shaping, paint by Corbex SA, stickers by Calvin Publicité, fuel tank by Burgol racing, saddle by Sellerie Moto Dubouloz in Geneva as well, and the carbon parts were made by GVA Composites, for my bike only…. All in all, as I said, except the engine, which remains standard, all the rest has been modified or transformed.
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Pikes Peak “Le Mans.”
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
It feels like a real racing bike! It is noisy; it is uncomfortable; but it is light, very responsive and very rewarding — I love it!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The saddle for sure! This is where the project started (I first wanted to use another fabric but the designer of the fabric did not want me to use it), and at the time I released the project, I never found anyone else who created a saddle with the pepita fabric from the Porsche 911 seats…. I believe I may be the first one — I’ve since seen a couple of shops who took this idea for their own projects.
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