Firebird

Published: 23 September 2001

Things are starting to make sense now to MCN road tester Kev Smith. He’s just noticed the bright yellow, stripped-to-the-bone special he’s just been riding has a 150bhp Blackbird engine in place of the 115bhp Blade motor he was expecting. " I thought the front came up quickly, " he says.

Creator Judd Cave delights in surprising people like that. He says: " I noticed every fourth bike was exactly the same as my GSX-R750, so I decided to build this. I built it totally from scratch – bought everything separately and grafted it all together. It was going to have a Blade engine, but my mate at the local dyno centre, R&S in Worksop, Notts, said: ‘You want a Blackbird engine in there.’

" I didn’t know if it was going to fit, but it only took about three hours to get it all in. It was just a matter of using common sense. It needed new front engine mounts and a new airbox, which took three days of dyno runs and mucking about to get to the point where it was working properly. And that was about it. "

Cave beat Honda to the concept of the CBR1100-engined X11 musclebike by two years – and he may have even given Honda the idea.

" I took it to a show and Tadao Baba, the FireBlade’s designer, came up. He looked at it, blipped the throttle a few times and gave me a pat on the back, " says Judd with some pride. " I couldn’t understand a word he said, but he seemed to like it. "

Smith takes the streetfighter for another blast and comes back white-faced. He’s had the mother of all front-end patters under hard braking and taken to the airfield’s grass. " I’ve changed the calipers to Kawasaki six-pots and they haven’t been right since then, " says Cave as the blood slowly returns to Smith’s face. " I’m going to change them back to standard FireBlade calipers. "

Smith says: " The bike is geared right down and it would be great for riding around town and blasting between roundabouts. The riding position is perfect for it – but I’d get those brakes sorted straight away. "

Bike: 1997 Honda FireBird

Owner: Judd Cave

Cost: Not saying

Time spent building: Two weeks

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 1137cc CBR1100XX Blackbird engine, modified airbox,

Dynojet kit, stainless steel downpipes

Brakes (front): Kawasaki six-pot calipers, PFM 320mm discs. Brakes (rear): Harrison caliper, Suzuki TL1000 disc

Chassis: Polished standard aluminium

beam frame and swingarm

Suspension: FireBlade front forks,

FireBlade rear shock

Other modifications: Billet top yoke, Suzuki TL1000 rear wheel, R1 seat unit

For sale: £5500. Call R&S Performance on: 01909-482670