Charles Leclerc, the 22-year-old F1 driver for Ferrari, now has his own custom motorcycle by Bad Winners. The French shop built him a special Husqvarna Vitpilen 701 dripping with carbon fiber, after the young racer from Monaco sent the guys a message via Instagram. The retrofuture cafe racer has been dubbed the Apex 2.0.
Charles Leclerc was the 2016 GP3 champion and 2017 Formula 2 champion before making his Formula One debut in 2018 with Sauber. He joined Scuderia Ferrari for the 2019 season with a long-term contract that ends in 2024. In 2019, he became the second-youngest F1 driver to qualify on pole position (in Bahrain) and he won consecutively in Belgium and Italy. He also became the youngest driver to receive the Pirelli Pole Position Award (formerly the FIA Pole Trophy) having earned seven pole positions in the 2019 season.
The rising F1 star joins a pretty substantial list of motorcycle-loving F1 drivers, including the likes of Ayrton Senna, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Damon Hill, Kimi Raikkonen, Jenson Button, and of course, Mike Hailwood and John Surtees who raced on both two wheels and four.
Apparently, Bad Winners owner, Walid Ben Lamine, doubted the authenticity of Leclerc’s online inquiry at first. “It started with a simple message on Instagram… A message from Charles Leclerc to the Bad Winners account! At first I thought it was spam,” Walid told Bike Exif. “Charles said, ‘I’ve been following you for a while, and I really like your motorcycles. Would it be possible to make me one?’”
Charles sent Walid his contact number and was able to prove his identity over the phone. He cited Bad Winners’ past Yamaha FZS600 Fazer build, “The Apex,” as one of his favorite custom bikes. He then commissioned a Husqvarna Vitiplen 701 from the shop, specifically requesting carbon fiber body work and wheels.
The Husqvarna 701 Vitpilen was already minimalistic and angular in its KISKA-designed stock form, but Bad Winners made it even more so. The shapes and parts were prepared using 3D modeling and printing for the molds. All the carbon bits were made in-house, sans the Dymag CA5 five-spoke wheels weighing less than 3 kg each. The custom work has shed a serious amount of mass from the base bike, bringing its dry weight down from 157 kg to 130 kg.
Bad Winners also made a new rear frame with a laser-cut steel plate and leather solo saddle. The rear light was made using CNC’d red Plexiglass and four LEDs, while the tail hides an Antigravity eight-cell lithium battery. The round headlamp was switched out in favor of the menacing face of the KTM 790 Duke. After the catalytic converter delete and SC-Project CR-T carbon muffler, a Dynojet Power Commander V fuel injection module provides adjustable fuel mapping for an optimal aftermarket tune that should provide a power boost of 10 PS. The Apex 2.0 also features a custom triple tree and Renthal racing clip-ons.
Impressively, Bad Winners was able to retain the original wiring, traction control, and ABS while retrofitting a new motherboard that communicates with the ECU. This system accommodates additional push buttons and a new 4.3” LCD screen, and Widal plans to make it available for more motorcycle makes and models. It seems that Charles doesn’t mind the fact that Bad Winners is offering replicas of the build — available in different stages, performance packages, and price points from €13,000 to €20,000. The customization does not affect the manufacturer’s two-year warranty.
The Gen Z Monégasque seems like both a professional and fun guy. Not only can he drive the Ferrari SF90 at 357 km/h straight through a circuit speed trap, he also has a penchant for custom motorcycles and a potential for mischief. He recently went skydiving in Dubai without Ferrari’s permission, saying: “You normally should [ask], and I do… I didn't for skydiving, because I just told myself that in case it will go wrong I will not be here to be told off! So, yeah, I just went for it, and then they were a little bit upset. At the end, I won't do it a second time. It was amazing. But it was just to do it once.”