Alan Wills’ 1994 FireBlade is loaded with some of the finest aftermarket components and tune-up goodies you’ll find, from the digital SPA rev counter with integrated speedo to the hand-crafted single-sided swingarm and the one-off radiator.
For fans of special bikes it’s an inspiration, but the evolution of this particular FireBlade was brought about by a tragic event. Wills explains: " The bike used to belong to my friend Mally, who was killed while riding my GSX-R. His family gave his FireBlade to me, saying if I didn’t have it, no-one would. Mally had always talked about changing bits and pieces, but never had the time, so that was the inspiration. "
Once it was decided to modify the then-standard Blade, Wills went to town, spending the next three years replacing, improving or personalising virtually every component. He says: " I haven’t added up exactly how much I spent, but it must be close to £20,000. Because of Mally’s memory, though, the bike is priceless to me. "
The now defunct Cleethorpes firm Martek carried out the lion’s share of the major modifications to the Honda.
Wills says: " They were a brilliant company. Whatever I asked them the answer was always ‘yes’. You couldn’t find better engineers. The time it took them to carry out some of the work was a bit painful, but the result was worth it. The Martek single-sided swingarm is my favourite modification. It’s a hand-made bit of sculpture. The welding is unbelievable. Anyone can have a paintjob, but that swingarm is something really special. "
Wills calls his bike a CBR916RR because it’s a cocktail of Honda and Ducati parts. The wheels and brakes are from the Italian bike, as are the forks, which are gripped by Martek adjustable yokes.
Wills carried out the majority of the chassis and cosmetic changes, then sent the engine to Big CC Motorcycles, which built a lump the chassis could be proud of, fitting a 945cc big-bore, oversized valves and titanium retainers in a flowed head and modifying the carbs to suit the one-off Martek underseat exhaust system.
All those radical changes could so easily have ended in a bike that looked distinctive and handled badly, but MCN’s Kev Smith was impressed.
He said: " The tuned engine hasn’t been run-in yet, and it hasn’t been set up, but because it’s so adjustable it’s got massive potential. "
Bike: Honda CBR916RR
Owner: Alan Wills
Time spent building: Three years
Engine: 945cc big-bore kit, flowed and ported head, reprofiled cams, oversized valves, lightened and balanced crank, Dynojet kit, K&N filter, Martek header tank, Dyna 200 ignition, Dyna coils, Martek radiator, Martek four-into-one-into-two exhaust, Samco hoses
Brakes (front): Brembo calipers with Ducati 916 discs, ISR master cylinder. Brakes (rear): Ducati 916 disc and caliper
Chassis: Polished aluminium beam frame with modified
subframe, Martek single-sided swingarm
Suspension: Ducati 916 Showa front forks held by Martek adjustable yokes, Ohlins adjustable rear shock
Other modifications: Spa instruments, MRE air-shifter, Ohlins steering damper, Martek sidestand, Martek rearsets, Martek clip-ons, paintjob by Spraybay Racepaint, Immingham, Lincs, keyless remote ignition