Written by Martin Hodgson
If you ask me to tell you the difference between a genuine Louis Vuitton handbag and a 50 buck knock off from eBay, I could examine it with a magnifying glass and still have no idea. But save yourself the 3k and buy your girlfriend the Chinese fake for her birthday and you risk world war three. She knows! In the end it all comes down to how much you care and while fashion leaves me cold, bikes get my blood pumping; which is why just a brief glimpse of a custom classic and instantly I know when it’s a Heiwa. Thankfully motorcycle maestro Kimura-san is back with a beautiful ’68 BSA B-25, a British bobber in his unmistakable style.
From the industrial zone of Hiroshima, Kengo Kimura and his Heiwa Motorcycles are held with the same level of prestige and regard reserved for all material items of the high end. But unlike Yves Saint Laurent, Rolls Royce or Rolex there is no pretence here, inside Heiwa is as industrial as the area that surrounds it, oil stains and all. The commonality Heiwa shares with the above is a certain je ne sais quoi; you either have it or you don’t. And just like any good designer when a young local lady came to him for a custom piece Kimura-san matched muse with machine and convinced her that this build had to be British.
“She was riding a Yamaha TX 650. This time I challenged her to own a custom bike of a certain vintage,” explains the Heiwa head honcho. Envisioning exactly what sort of ride would suit his client he felt a slim line was needed and a small capacity single would be perfect. The donor bike was found locally, with the owner looking to upgrade to a bigger Beeza, the negotiation was simple and the B-25 was soon back at Heiwa HQ. There was no real inspiration for the build, Kimura-san knows exactly what he’s doing, but he wanted to give the bike the feel of an even older machine when Brit bikes were predominantly rigids.
The first task was to pull the 249cc OHV engine from the frame and give it a full overhaul on the well-worn benches where all Heiwa builds begin. The C15 designation motor was known to have its fair share of problems, horrific oil leaks, big end failure and a gearbox that likes to seize. But while the under-square engine only pumps out 15hp the design means there is torque always on tap. The Heiwa team solved all of the common issues and had the long block back in perfect operating condition. The Amal carb came in for a full overhaul with service kits still readily available the customer was promised an easy to start machine. While finishing out the engine is the simple header pipe exhaust that kicks out to the side in black.
Back to the frame and the aim was to get the stance right, giving the bike the bobber feel while remaining sprung and improving on the truly terrible BSA front suspension. The solution comes in a truly Japanese fix, with Yamaha SR400 forks and yokes adapted to work on the British bike. The change also meant the use of a larger front drum brake, two inches bigger than the woeful BSA item. Out back the rear end was further improved by ditching the little twin shocks in favour of some bulky shorty items that give the bike the stance and style. To finish out the rolling stock the hubs were re-laced to all new rims before being wrapped in equally sized 4.00×18 Duro classic tyres.
With the engine back in and all the mechanical components complete the Heiwa formula calls for the functional styling aspects to be next on the list. This meant taking a grinder to the back half of the chassis and reshaping the subframe for a narrower, stubby rear end. To keep the look cohesive a minimalist bobbed rear fender is attached to the frame with the most exquisitely bent and fabricated mounts and suddenly the lil old commuter had a bad ass back end. The frame could now be ground to a perfect flowing finish before getting coated in a hard wearing gloss black.
But the changes had meant the stock oil tank no longer fit and it was never the prettiest thing anyway. The solution is yet another example of the Heiwa high-end with a perfectly fabricated unit that fits inch perfect under the newly shaped seat rails. Unlike the factory metal it doesn’t protrude from beneath the frame and helps maintain the slim lines Kimura-san had in mind. To keep that going further forward he opted for an item the company don’t normally use and selected a peanut tank to carry the fuel. The paint work might be simple, more deep gloss black but its laid down to perfection and offset by stunning gold logos on the tank.
Moving further forward the bars were the next item to be tackled and the determination to maintain a narrow profile is solved with typical Heiwa brilliance. Capped 7/8″ thin tube is gripped by the stock Yamaha risers with the bars beginning their upward journey angled in for an even tighter look.
These are then topped off with a set of inverted bars braced with small tube and finished out in chrome they look the business. Doing nothing to spoil the lines the grips are joined only by the levers and throttle control for an old school look that will never age. A small single speedo is all that protrudes and neatly tucked away, it’s for the riders eyes only.
This starts the final phase of a Kimura-san design as the wiring is routed in the neatest possible way to the barest essentials of electrical components. Taking care of the lighting front and rear are Heiwa’s own signature creations, the stunning hot rod styled taillight one of the few pieces made available to the public. While what remains of the wiring components needed to fire the engine are carefully hidden in a custom box, nestled against the battery held in place with military like leather strapping.
Before the Beeza can be deemed fit for the road the subtly stretched bobber seat that adorns many of the Japanese companies creations is bolted down. Simple, elegant and beautiful in black, this British BSA bobber is yet another example of the Heiwa high-end classic you’ll come away with when Kimura-san fits you out in style!