In a world where we throw around words like ‘svelte,’ the chunky Honda GL1000 hardly seems like a suitable prospect. Honda’s designers were clearly aiming for mile-munching comfort, rather than short runs to the local café.
Still, custom builders occasionally take a crack at it. And once in a while we strike gold—like this GL1000 from Manu and Yann of Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues.
With a sizeable opposed-four at its core, there’s only so much you can slim the GL1000 down. But the boys from Brittany, France, have done a stunning job of giving the lumbering Gold Wing a dynamic look.
They had their work cut out for them, though: this ’76 GL1000 was rescued from a barn, and was in a shoddy state. So the engine was treated to a full strip and rebuild, and a coat of red paint applied to the main block to highlight its heft.
The frame has been reworked beyond the usual cut-n-loop. Yes, the rear end has been shortened, but there’s also trickery up front—to accommodate a BMW R-series fuel tank. This involved relocating the ignition system and building a one-off airbox setup.
Interestingly, the BMW tank holds more fuel than the original Honda unit. Visually it works well, softening the bike’s square angles. The team cut and joined it to install a Motogadget speedo, and fitted a pop-up fuel cap.
Moving to the rear, the guys built a new seat, perched on an aluminum seat pan and tail. The side covers are hand-made too, as is the stainless steel exhaust system (capped with a single Supertrapp muffler).
The front forks were lowered, and beefed up with a pair of custom-made sleeves; Hagon shocks were fitted at the rear. The bike’s also sporting a set of Shinko SHR 270 tires, lower bars, a smaller headlight and a neat LED tail light.
And the name ‘Sur Les Chapeaux De Roues’? It literally means ‘on the hubcaps,’ or traveling at speed. Which is exactly what we’d like to do on this brazen but beautiful Gold Wing—on a smooth, wide autoroute down to the south of France.