CB1000 Big One from Cus’Tom Motorcycle…
Over the years, motorcycle culture has been blessed with a handful of hilarious and highly entertaining comic strips and series. In English, we’ve had everything from Ogri to Andy Sparrow’s Bloodrunners and Jet Metal. In French, the most legendary is Joe Bar Team, which follows a group of bikers who hang out at Joe’s Bar — a play on the French words barjo (“nuts”) or jobard (“crazy”).
“Chased by cops, taunting each other into overstepping their riding ability, happily tearing down a stranded rider’s Guzzi (even though it only ran out of gas), and experimenting with Joe’s cocktail mix in their fuel are just some examples of the hijinks that will have you laughing at, and with, this crew.” –Aerostich
First published in 1975, Joe Bar Team has become nothing short of an institution in France.
“For now more or less 30 years in the French motorcycle culture, this comic is a sort of national monument.” –Iron Trader News
That bike was a tribute to Tom’s late father, who taught him to ride on the twisties around their rural home — training that would culminate with Tom racing supersports in the Coupe de France Promosport 600cc class:
“We lived in the countryside, in an area full of narrow, hilly roads. My father trained me on these roads on the weekend at the end of the day (my parents were separated and my father could do anything). I had to follow him on his 350 RD. Twelve years later, this beautiful story ended in the 600 Promosport class with a broken collarbone in the Dunlop curve at the Le Mans circuit.”
Tom and his father used to read Joe Bar Team together, and it was there that the Honda CB1000 Big One Super Four entered his waking dreams. After all, one of the characters, Edouard Bracame, rode a Honda CB1000 Big One — a 90s retro superbike with a carburetted 998cc engine and just under 100 hp on tap.
“The name ‘Big One’ remained in my head; for me it was the big bike that was a bit road-oriented, but had potential for road racing. One day I had an opportunity to buy one, and the next day, it was clear: I wanted a project with a MotoGP / flat track / NASCAR / Road Rash (the video game) look.”
Tom details the full modifications below, but highlights include the Öhlins forks from an Aprilia RSV4 Factory superbike, Öhlins rear shocks, Brembo brakes, sportier 17″ wheels with racing slicks, a solo tail section, a tachometer with NASCAR-style shift light, and a livery that pays homage to the Honda-powered McLaren F1 car piloted by the legendary Ayrton Senna and teammate, Alain Prost.
Of course, as a veteran racer, Tom isn’t satisfied with a machine that just looks good. He wants to make sure the function matches the form, and the best place to learn is the track:
“Circuit tests are planned on the Pau-Arnos circuit to see if the bike’s performance parallels its look.”
Below, Tom gives us the full story of the build in his own words.
Honda CB1000 Super Four: In the Builder’s Words…
When I was 12, I started 50cc racing with my dad (the rider of the 350 RD). We lived in the countryside, in an area full of narrow, hilly roads.
My father trained me on these roads on the weekend at the end of the day (my parents were separated and my father could do anything). I had to follow him on his 350 RD.
Twelve years later, this beautiful story ended in the 600 Promosport class with a broken collarbone in the Dunlop curve at the Le Mans circuit.
So, at an early age, I was already tinkering with motorcycles to make them faster; I was passionate about it.
In France we have an incredible comic book about a band of bikers (four old and three young), who spend their time road racing each other and being in bad faith.
Joe Bar Team name is a play on words because they’re always found at “Joe’s” curbside pub, and the words Joe + Bar in French sound like “Crazy” (jobard).
In short, when I was little I read these comics with my father, and one of the characters had a 1000 CB Big One. His name was Edouard Bracame — another play on words, as Bracame sounds like arbre a came (camshaft).
The name “Big One” remained in my head; for me it was the big bike that was a bit road-oriented, but had potential for road racing. One day I had an opportunity to buy one, and the next day, it became obvious, I wanted a project with a MotoGP / flat track / NASCAR / Road Rash (the video game) look.
Little signs showed its potential for this project: its big tank, its big engine, and its aluminum swingarm, which could come from a vintage superbike.
The fork is an Öhlins unit off an Aprilia RSV4 Factory. (I have an RSV4 in the workshop for my retirement as an amateur racer, so I had the parts on hand to see if assembly was possible.) It’s mounted with modified Ducati fork crowns to adapt the original steering column axis [stem].
The original 18-inch “truck” wheels were replaced with sportier 17″ rims. The front wheel comes from a Ducati 996, with Brembo discs (320 mm), calipers, and master cylinder for improved braking feel.
The rear rim is that of a Honda CBR900RR to best match the design of the front wheel. This required modifications to the bearings, spacer, and sprocket holder.
The rear caliper is also a Brembo. It’s stopped in rotation with an adjustable connecting rod fixed to a machined part and welded to the swingarm for a racing look. And it has a custom-made support to position itself on the wheel axle.
Öhlins rear shock absorber for the consistency of the project, directly provided for this model, without modification.
The dashboard was replaced with a tachometer with NASCAR-style shift light and small, unobtrusive lights for turn signals, neutral, and oil pressure.
The original rear hull has been reworked to make it a single-seater tail. I wanted to keep the 45° rear cut of the bike as well as its small spoiler, like NASCAR machines. I integrated a multifunction LED rear light and a red alcantara seat for the racing side.
A Dynojet jet kit has been installed in the carburettors to try to find a few small horses without touching the engine.
A chunky carbon muffler completes the look and the noise of 90s carb’ed race bikes (with nice TIG welds at this end).
The Small Details:
Fixed aluminum foot supports (like racing bikes).
Titanium bolt and nut for wheel axles and front calipers
A bespoke chainguard with the name of the workshop, in a very square style like the protective guards of the gimbals on period dragsters.
Stainless steel brake hardware + competition-type quick disassembly clip.
Supports for stand stands welded to the swingarm. Matte black powder coating of the frame and fine grain black on the rims.
Of course, a pair of slick race bike tires (used in superbikes with a 200 wide rear size).
And finally a mythical decoration in homage to the F1 Honda McLaren piloted by Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost from the time of manufacture of this motorcycle.
A totally custom motorcycle project — only the alcantara upholstery was outsourced.
For the difficulties encountered, putting this big engine back in the frame on its own without making a mark made me sweat a lot!
For the rest, circuit tests are planned on the Pau-Arnos circuit to see if the bike’s performance parallels its look. The fork length may have to be change; I’ll only know after taking it on the circuit.
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