Take one Suzuki TL1000S, add $70,000 worth of one-off custom bits, and voila--Superbike-spec Oehlins fork resides in custom billet triple clamps from Harris Performance, and is home to blue-anodized six-piston Berringer calipers.
Owner Mark Barnett's credit card is still feeling the pain inflicted by these Dymag carbon-fiber wheels.
The trick fairing on William Adler's 1999 Hornet 600 proves that Simpson Bandit helmets aren't just for drag racers and those trying to recapture the '80s-era Indy 500 look.
It's like a CBR600RR, just bigger...lots bigger.
Haya-what? This little 600 can play with the Big Boys thanks to its none too subtle nitrous kit.
No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you--this bike's YZF-R6-based ass is indeed pointing at the heavens.
Owner Ed Cannon laid down the sweet orange, red, white, yellow and checkerboard paintwork all by hisself. Well played.
We're not sure about the El Camino-esque tailsection, but we sure are fans of the madness that is a GSX-R1000-based naked bike. Underseat exhaust trades peak power for more midrange...just what the GSX-R1000 needs!?! Custom-braced swinger is 10mm longer than stock in a feeble attempt to stave off wheelies--it works, the bike only wheelies in the first four gears!
It's springtime in 1996 and I'm standing on London's fabled Chelsea Bridge, swilling a pint of something black and dangerous while watching a gaggle of London hooligans skim their knees around the diesel-stained roundabouts and then bust standup wheelies across the bridge. London riders have been gathering along this span across the Thames River since the days when rockers in pompadours were the epitome of street chic, and in the mid-'90s things were no different. It was mostly a good show, but every once in a while an amateur, anxious to impress the crowd, would get in over his head. Like that night, when we all laughed at some newbie who looped his neon-green Ninja.
The following Friday I was back on the bridge, only this time I brought a camera and excitedly aimed it at anything shiny and fast. I was there for only a few minutes when a cheer went up from the crowd: I looked up and saw last week's crash-test dummy hoisting a stunning standup across the bridge, only this time his Ninja was naked. The crash-battered fairings were stripped off and the clip-ons replaced by green-anodized motocross bars; his headlight was now a pair of bug-eyed chrome spots tacked onto the steering head, and the dented exhaust can was hacksawed off. Another streetfighter had been born.
This is how the streetfigher movement got its start: Riders trash their pristine sportbikes and instead of reporting to the penny-pinchers at the insurance agency, they defy all aesthetic (and common) sense to build a bike that looks like an extra from the set of Mad Max.
No one knows when the first true streetfighter was built. The idea of stripping and customizing bikes dates to well before the advent of 'fighters, to cafe racers and the choppers that came before them. Modern "naked" sportbikes (many of these closely related to streetfighters) exist only in contrast to "faired" sportbikes, meaning that the streetfighter trend probably began sometime in the late '80s after the arrival of fully faired sportbikes such as the GSX-R. One thing is certain--most of us here in the land of the Golden Starches got our first taste of streetfighter styling from U.K. stunt god Gary Rothwell's seminal Showtime video: His flamed, stripped-down GSX-R1100 screamed streetfighter with its tall dirt-bike handlebars and absentee fairing.
Streetfighters may have started out as cheap and dirty warriors, but nowadays they're big bucks and (reasonably) big business. Just like the popularity of custom choppers forced major manufacturers to introduce "factory customs" such as Harley-Davidson's Deuce, streetfighters are largely responsible for the scads of naked bikes clogging showrooms today--machines like Triumph's bug-eyed Speed Triple, Aprilia's Tuono and Kawasaki's new Z1000. European engineering firms such as Bakker, Spondon and Harris now churn out everything from wild, tubular frames to twisted body kits for the roll-yer-own streetfighter crowd, as well as complete machines based on today's most popular sportbikes. And here in the states, firms like Special Edition Motorsports and European Motorcycle Accessories are making streetfighter bits--sourced directly from European manufacturers--available to U.S. riders for the first time.
As streetfighters evolve, the custom end of things becomes more insane. Spending $10,000-$20,000 on chrome and custom parts like NOS kits, turbochargers and gallons of custom paint isn't unheard of. And the wilder the better; Day-Glo-painted engines are becoming popular, along with radically upswept tailsections that make the bike look barely rideable. And you're not really ballin' streetfighter style until you slap on an Aliens sci-fi mural with a snarling, skull-faced helmet painted to match.
Even though the streetfighter fad is gaining speed in America, the trickest examples still come out of Europe. Which is why, when Super Streetbike wanted to put together this streetfighter gallery, we went in search of some overseas hardware. Of course, we weren't disappointed. We picked three shining examples from the throng of fighters that gathered at this year's Isle of Man TT: Mark Barnett's terrible TL-S, William Adler's creative Hornet 600 and Ed Cannan's fearsome FZR 1000, all of which show what happens when a couple guys take up wrenches and let their creative juices flow. We also threw in one "production" streetfighter, the outrageous, GSX-R1000-based Grizzly from noted Dutch specials builder Nico Bakker.
As you can see from the bikes on the following pages, the fighting spirit has come a long way from the naked-'n'-nasty rat bikes I saw on that first visit to the Chelsea Bridge.
TL-EXCESS: Mark Barnett's 2000 Suzuki TL1000S
Beginning with a pocket full of pound notes earned from his Harley-Davidson import business, England's Mark Barnett set out to build the baddest TL streetfighter in existence--if not the most expensive. How much, you ask? Barnett confesses to having forked over almost $70,000 so far customizing his big Suzuki, and says he's not done yet. Fortunately, close scrutiny of his bike shows that this was money well spent.
Barnett started with a raft of trick bolt-ons for the chassis. A set of custom billet aluminum triple clamps machined specifically for the bike from Harris Performance hold a 45mm Oehlins roadrace fork, just like the unit found on Yamaha's R7 World Superbike racer. With his Visa card still smokin', Barnett then laid out the cash for a set of lightweight Dymag carbon-fiber wheels, which actually weigh less than the Dunlop D208 tires that are spooned onto them. Stopping power comes courtesy of blue-anodized, six-piston Berringer calipers--pure eye-candy--with matching fully floating discs. More determined to shave excess poundage than Tyson at a prefight weigh-in, every last nut, bolt and fastener on the TL-S was yanked and replaced by lightweight titanium hardware, and Barnett canned the stock plastic fenders and replaced them with carbon bits.
Of course, all the bling in the world don't mean jack if you've got no eye for details--and Barnett obviously has the paint and finishes locked in, also. Check out the checkered-flag motif applied to the engine cases, and the gorgeous blue, gold and silver licks laid down on the bodywork. With a Pro-Taper motocross handlebar bolted to custom billet bar mounts (for more comfort and bigger wheelies, Barnett says), he furthered the classic-streetfighter look by modifying the fairing, and shortening it with a one-off windshield by Miles Carter of MC Concepts.
But does it go? Wiseco high-comp pistons, Carillo rods, a lightened crank and skimmed, gas-flowed heads all contribute to 155 rear-wheel horsepower though the full Yoshimura carbon/stainless exhaust system hanging off the back. More than enough to help the beefy Barnett, who could easily trade clothes with pro boxer "Butter Bean," effortlessly crank wheelies in the first three gears. As the Brits might say, this TL-S is "all that and a bag of crisps."
HEADFIRST HORNET: William Adler's 1999 Honda Hornet 600
On the opposite end of the streetfighter spectrum from Mark Barnett's big-bank TL-S is this budget busting Honda built by William Adler of South London. Without a fistful of dollars at his disposal, Adler had to use his head literally to come up with ideas for this eye-catching ride. Inspiration struck when Adler came across an old Simpson Bandit helmet, which he then mounted to the front end of his 1999 Honda Hornet 600 (basically a naked CBR600F4 sold exclusively in the Euro market). Adler attached said brain bucket to his Hornet's fork via a set of handmade brackets, and completed the effort with internal wiring that places the bike's headlamps inside the lid's visor holes. The end result is an eye-catching, one-of-a-kind mod.
Adler finished off the bike's appearance package by yanking the bodywork and dousing it in a glimmering gold-metalflake basecoat topped with a funky, Evel Knievel-inspired stars-and-bars pattern across the tank and tailsection.
Although the nimble Hornet comes stock with upright handlebars, Alder tossed 'em in favor of an even wider, gold-anodized Renthal motocross bar held by billet aluminum clamps. "Guys get tired of playing Roger Race Rep and want to be comfortable," Adler says. "Now me back doesn't hurt anymore on long rides." Faced with an underpowered 600cc motor and not anxious to spend thousands on internal work in order to keep from getting spanked by bigger bikes, Adler instead opted for the ultimate bang-for-the-buck performance solution: a full-on nitrous kit from NOS Systems, enough to boost the four-cylinder Honda's power output to nearly 130 rear-wheel ponies at the push of a button. A handmade underseat exhaust featuring a single can a la Honda's new CBR600RR rounds out the performance modifications. "Why go broke building a 'fighter when I can do so much of this meself," the owner asks. One thing's for certain: Adler has the creative imagination and fabrication skills to avoid paying big bills.
TALL-TAIL FZR: Ed Cannan's 1989 Yamaha FZR 1000
Spotted outside the Raven Pub at the Isle of Man's Ballaugh Bridge, this 1989 Yamaha FZR1000-based custom epitomizes the "arse-ooop" aesthetic of the modern streetfighter movement. Owned and built by Ed Cannan of West Cork, Ireland, this bike came by its streetfighter status the honest way: Cannan first peeled off the fairings after tasting asphalt on a spirited street ride, and the project snowballed from there.
The first thing that catches your attention on Cannan's bike, of course, is the radically upswept tail. The cowling comes from a late-model YZF-R6, mounted on a custom-cut subframe positioned for maximum elevation. "Nah, she doesn't like passengers," Cannan jokes. Underneath the turned-up tail is plenty more trickery, such as the braced and polished aluminum swingarm from JMC that acts on a custom Oehlins shock. The fork was also worked-over Oehlins-style with heavyweight springs, and the legs are now braced with aircraft-grade aluminum triple clamps from the guys at Broscome Engineering.
Cannan put down the paintwork himself, a wicked combo of orange, red, white and yellow hues terminating in a checkerboard motif that's even carried over to the stock three-spoke wheels with polished rims. Parts of the original FZR fairing make up the bellypan, while up top, Cannan fashioned a stainless steel surround for the instrument cluster that frames the dual "bug-eye" headlights culled from aftermarket supplier Demon Tweeks. Stainless steel also covers the radiator grill (that's an overflow cylinder hanging next to the radiator, by the way, not a nitrous tank), and the drilled passenger peg mounts are also stainless.
The final touch is a beautiful Akrapovic exhaust canister that Cannan cut down by six inches for an authentic stunt-bike look. (Stunters cut down their cans to keep them from catching on the pavement during 12 O'Clock wheelies and flipping the bike over.) Fortunately, this is no longer a concern for Cannan--the only thing his FZR flips now is people's minds.
BAKKED TO PERFECTION: Nico Bakker's 2002 Grizzly
Words: Roland Brown Photos: Phil Masters
"We called this bike the Grizzly because it's wild and a little bit hairy," the legendary Dutch specials builder Nico Bakker laughs, describing his latest creation, based on the 2002 GSX-R1000. Bakker has been building crazy bikes for 30 years, using engines ranging from Kawasaki's Z1 to BMW Boxers and Suzuki's TL1000S. The Grizzly, based around the ground-pounding four from Suzuki's GSX-R1000, is arguably the fastest and most outrageous one yet.
The Grizzly starts with a Bakker-built frame, fabricated from aircraft- quality chrome-moly steel (Bakker's chassis is both lighter and more rigid than the stock Suzuki aluminum structure) and paired with a custom-braced aluminum swingarm, also from Bakker. The swingarm is 10mm longer than standard because, as Bakker helpfully points out, "with a more upright riding position it's important to try and reduce the wheelies a little bit!" Still, the bike remains something of a monomaniac, easily lifting the front wheel in fourth gear at over 125 mph when cresting even the slightest rise.
Chassis geometry is slightly less racy than the standard GSX-R, with the fork kicked out a half-degree to 24.5 degrees and an extra 3mm of trail. The rear shock is by the Dutch firm WP, and the test bike's fork is an inverted unit taken from Suzuki's TL1000R; ditto the six-piston Tokico brake calipers that bite on wave discs from Braking. The wheels are from Marvic, but Bakker will spec whatever parts the customer prefers, and price the bikes accordingly.
The Grizzly's bikini fairing houses headlamps from BMW's R1150GS, one above the other. The ducts on either side of the lower light, along with scoops on the side-mounted bodywork panels (all body parts are carbon fiber), feed fresh air to the stock airbox. The 998cc, 16-valve engine remains standard internally, tuned slightly with the addition of a Dynojet Power Commander. Bakker makes the stainless steel exhaust system that ends with a large silencer hidden in the tailpiece. The end result is 140 horses, down slightly compared with a stock GSX-R1000 (mostly because Bakker's exhaust does away with the Suzuki exhaust valve), but it is much stronger through the midrange--more important on a bike like the Grizzly, Bakker says.
Bakker cleaned up the liquid-cooled motor a bit, also, relocating the coolant expansion chamber inside the frame and repositioning the radiator's electronic pickup on the back instead of the front. The result is a bike that looks clean and simple in an aggressive, Monsterish sort of way, yet also has a style all its own. Of course, the upright riding position doesn't encourage ton-plus riding for long, but the Grizzly's low screen helps make fast cruising bearable. Anyway, who cares about comfort on a streetfighter? The extra leverage from the flat bar makes the Grizzly highly flickable, and did we mention the fourth-gear monos?
Fancy one of your own? Plan on handing over nearly $30,000, a price that includes paint in any color you like. Although we recommend the King Kong GSX-R motor, a Honda Fireblade or Yamaha R1 engine could also be fitted for the same price. Answers to all your other questions are available at www.bakker-framebouw.nl.