There’s no two ways about it; Japanese custom bikes are just so damn cool. Japanese builders seem to have an endless ability to jam some crazy-ass styles together and come up with the coolest looking creations. So we were stoked to see this killer build land on our virtual doorstep during the week. Although we’d never hear of this particular shop, their skills were clear to see. Then we find out that they are a paint shop. Huh? What sort of paint shop that can turn out a build like this? Apparently, Saitama’s Takashi Hashimoto and his TM Garage can. And here’s the proof.
The theory of Six Degrees of Separation supposes that everyone is six or fewer steps away from any other person in the world. In the motorcycle industry, it is fair to say the same is true of every model ever made by every manufacture to ever exist; but which motorcycle is separated by the least steps? Which one sits right smack-bang in the centre? Surprisingly, the Answer is the Rikuo Type 97; an American-powered bike produced in Japan by a conglomerate of many small companies that would later become the automotive kings of Asia. And all as a result of protectionist policies designed to assist British Manufacturers with technology passed to German and Italian companies through the War Alliances of the time. It is no wonder, then, that this 1938 Type 97 belongs to our bike-and-battle-obsessed friends at Motos of War.
At the height of the Import Tuner scene (think the release of The Fast and the Furious in 2001), Japanese workshops like JUN and Top Secret were the leading names, having developed a reputation for automotive perfection and always raising the bar. With the custom motorcycle scene now well and truly thriving and arguably having past where the Tuner scene was at, it is once again Japanese builders like AC Sanctuary and the now US-based Shinya Kimura whose efforts often leave you speechless. Well, you can add to the list one ‘Shiro Nakajima’ who used to build incredible bikes for Ritmo Sereno, which he founded but has since left. Since then he’s set up a new workshop known as 46Works at the base of Mt. Yatsugatake, where he has returned to his roots of brilliant one-off machines, incredible fabrication and the odd bit of furniture making thrown in for good measure. Here’s his latest.
The back alleys of cities all over Japan have delivered some of the coolest custom cars and bikes from small workshops that punch well above their weight. From the Hyper Lemon tuner cars of JUN to the retro-tech bikes produced by AC Sanctuary – you don’t need millions and a huge facility to produce incredible machines in the land of the rising sun. And nobody exemplifies that spirit more than custom bike building genius Fujita Koichi and his one man operation AN-BU Custom Motors.
I’ve been at this whole custom bike blog game for a while now, and if there’s one thing that has always gnawed away in the back of my mind, it is the following conundrum; Japan produces some of the world’s coolest custom bikes and yet, due to the language barriers, the scene is neigh on impenetrable to westerners. To me, it’s always felt like a massive gold deposit that’s been inconveniently placed under an ocean or right next to an active volcano. Everyone knows it’s there, but getting access to it just seems like mission impossible. Then, a few weeks back, it hit me. I have a Tokyo-based mate who I’ve known for over a decade. He’s Japanese born and bred, yet he speaks perfect English – what if we were to get him to help us out? So here’s the first of what I am hoping is many interviews with these Nihon-jin masters. Please bow deeply as we welcome Kengo Kimura San from Heiwa Motorcycles to our humble blog. Otsukare-sama desu!
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This isn’t a bike built by the chocolate maker, it’s from a custom shop in Japan that goes by the name M&M Motorcycles. Based not far from Yokohama in a city called Kanagawa. Like most Japanese shops they specialize in SR’s, W650’s and TR’s. We really dig this yellow SR tracker. Judging by their website they seem to build mostly street trackers. They also have a blog and a shop that are worth checking out. The shop has some interesting things, ranging from ashtrays through to motorcycle parts and clothing.
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Originally found this Yamaha XV250 on the marvelous Mulligans Machine. Of course it’s from Gravel Crew in Japan who have such a distinctive style. I still can’t believe it’s a Virago. I see so many of these bikes around the streets but I have never seen one customized (unless you think adding saddle bags and tassels counts). The xv250 is actually a really cheap alternative to the more popular project bikes like the SR400’s. Although I’m not sure they have the same range of custom parts readily available.
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It’s no surprise that we love Japanese customs and Heiwa is one of the best. This Honda FTR223 is quite popular in Japan but not that common in Australia (although there is one for sale on bikepoint). The FTR is Honda’s version of Yamaha’s TW200 which has become a very popular project bike (we will try and post some of the TW200 pics you guys have sent in). Heiwa have pimped this bike in true Jap style. Love the slim tank which looks very simliar to the ones found on Peytons Place.
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Having recently received my SR400 from Japan I can’t stop searching for pics of them for inspiration. So when it comes to SR400 and SR500’s one of the best places to go is Bratstyle. They are a Japanese custom shop that have a very distinctive and rideable style. They especially love their Sr400’s, XS650’s and W650’s. Check out their gallery for more eye candy. One of the first purchases will be a set of old-school Firestones like the ones on this SR500 aptly named Godspeed.
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The much anticipated Chop Cult has launched. The site has a fresh feel and some even fresher bikes. We found this immaculate purple 1979 Erwin SR500. Built by the talented Kim Boyle, we are having trouble taking our eyes off it. We thought the beautiful Blue Moon Kustom tank looked familiar having seen it on their blog recently. For more details on the build and more beautiful pics by Wes Drelleshak check out Chop Cult.
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