With 154 horses on tap and impeccable handling, the Honda CBR954RR Fireblade is a prime candidate for customization—if you’re building an off-the-wall street fighter. But if your proclivities lean towards cafe racers, you’ll have your work cut out for you.
Wenley Andrews will attest to that. He first started thinking about a CBR project eight years ago: “I was really into street fighters,” he says. “I even had the custom parts made, without a donor bike. The whole build was being put together in my mind and on paper.”
Then Wenley bought a Triumph Bonneville, customized it, and launched his own business. The bike appeared on these pages, and the new wave café racer scene sunk its teeth into him good and proper.
But Wenley’s passion for street fighters has never left him. So last year he picked up a low mileage, 2004-model CBR954RR, and resolved to blend his original ideas with his newly refined tastes.
You’re looking at the result: a gnarly ‘retro-fighter’ that Wenley calles The Angry Bird.
“I gathered up the parts from all those years ago, from under my parents’ house,” says Wenley, “and brushed off the cobwebs. They were as good as new!”
Some of those parts included the front-end and swing arm from a Honda VFR. The wheel rim was widened to take a 180-section tire, and the forks set further apart with custom-machined CNC triples. “It took lots of fiddling around to get the spacers and axle to fit such a huge front tire,” he admits.
There’s even more heft out back: the VFR swing arm is matched up to a car rim, and a 240 tire. “This is by all means not a simple conversion,” says Wenley. “I know a lot of people have done it… I commend them for it.”
The bodywork is just as eye-catching: “It was initially going to be pure street fighter—with a mask headlight, belly pan and pointy tail,” says Wenley. “But as I started building the Triumphs with the retro cafe racer theme in mind, I decided to go with a retro tracker seat and headlight.”
He adds that it was a huge gamble, and we reckon it’s paid off. But getting everything to fit called for some heavy lifting, so Wenley called in his good friend and collaborator, Billy Kuyken.
On the to-do list were creating a new subframe to match the tailpiece, and a lot of smaller details that most people will probably never notice. The tank also had a big hole where the air intake used to sit, so the guys filled that in with a laser-cut plate. The front fender is a hand-made fiberglass number.
As ideas snowballed, so did the budget, with a mini speedo, idiot lights, and bar-end and mini blinkers from Motogadget added to the list.
The handlebars are custom: Wenley couldn’t get the shape he wanted off the shelf, so he bent up a set of 1-inch drag bars himself. He then popped in an internal throttle and some bar end mirrors.
“With the bar-end blinkers, the wires go through the internal throttle unit,” he says. “It’s a secret.”
Last on the list was the custom-built exhaust—a similar setup to Wenley’s Bonneville build. “The double shotgun style, sticking out on one end, was the way to go,” he says.
For paint, the guys coated the frame all-black, then handed the parts over to Wenley’s resident painter, Jack Johnson, to finish off. “I wanted a retro theme with a touch of orange,” says Wenley. “Why orange? When the seat was being made I saw a Lamborghini with orange stitches on the seat.”
“So I told Andrew De Bono from Beyond Trim to make it look the same.”
It’s an inspired touch, and a testament to Wenley’s eye for those little things that matter. His CBR is one of the best mash-ups we’ve seen, with equal parts class and brawn.
It also kicks off the opening of his new shop—and if he keeps this up, we’re betting the order books are going to fill up fast.
From Wenley: Thanks to my life long friends, fabricator Billy Kuyken and painter Jack Johnson—couldn’t have done it with out you crazy bunch.