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The story of a living legend custom bike builder: Shinya Kimura

The story of a living legend custom bike builder: Shinya Kimura

Snapshot: You will find more than enough reasons in this article below to find out that Kimura is probably one of the coolest custom bike builders present today.

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As soon as mass production of motorcycles started, the second thing that started with it was the bike customization. Custom bike building is as much as an art as it is engineering. We have seen a boom in bike customization in the recent times, but today we are talking about one of those people who actually made a difference in this industry and whose creations are the base for bike customizations for masses. 

Kimura chose his career as a motorcycle builder after completing his biology studies at the college. Since then, Kimura never looked back and kept moving forward due to his passion for motorcycles. He started with ‘Zero Engineering’ in Okazaki Japan back in 1992. Soon after Kimura started with the bike building, he became an extremely popular name in the industry because of his distinctive work on vintage motorcycles that was a fusion of form and function.  His name was soon synonymous with what people often refer to as Zero-style. With time Kimura and his crew started testing limits their motorcycles by taking them to various vintage race series across the country. Kimura expanded the business and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2002 where he started another office of the Zero Engineering. In 2005 Kimura made an entry to the Bikers Build-Off against the famous Joe Martin from the Martin Brothers. The competition’s bikes were built in just 10 days in front of whole filming crew by both of the team at separate places, the riders then met up in Las Vegas and rode to Palm Springs, California where a popular vote was held which Joe Martin won.

In 2006, Kimura left ‘Zero Engineering’ and moved forward towards the world of art with the launch of his own studio called ‘Chabott Engineering’ in Azusa, California. Two of the company’s bikes were chosen to be on-screen in Hollywood blockbusters “Iron Man (2008)”

Kimura stated, "Since setting up in America, I've moved from being just a custom-bike builder to slightly changing my direction a little more toward the world of art. I don't know whether success or failure is awaiting me in the future. Can custom bikes become art? Maybe we'll know in 10 years' time."

Kimura was among the first few custom bike builders to receive an invitation to the “Legend Of The Motorcycle - Concours d'Elegance exhibition” 1n 2010, one of the film makers, Henrik Hansen made a documentary on Kimura and Chabott Engineering which was one of the five documentaries that were nominated for 2010 Vimeo Documentary Awards.

I have told you enough about Kimura till now; it’s time to read about what Kimura has been doing lately.

Kimura is probably one of the few custom bike builders who works on his own terms and doesn’t follow the orders. He builds only 3-4 bikes a year worth up to $100,000 or even more and whose waiting period is up to a year long. Kimura just came up with an official build for Yamaha Europe recently; the built is called ‘Faster Son’. Working on ‘Faster Son’, Kimura totally reworked the Yamaha MT-07 making sure that the functionality of the motorcycle is not altered.  

“I have an emotional attachment to Yamaha,” Kimura says. “The first large motorbike I bought was the DT-1. I also loved the SR series, and I’ve always owned one or two of the SR400, SR500 or the XT500 since I was a teenager. The engine on Mt-07 is the latest technology from Yamaha; it’s not like the vintage engines with beautiful cooling fins. But the overall design of ‘Faster Son’ does not obstruct the newer design elements, or the nostalgic element, but rather flows and blends the two together”.

The ‘Faster Son’ was showcased at the Wheels & Waves festival in France and it immediately gained attention as it was world apart from all other motorcycles on display there.  

“Always at the front of my mind is making motorbikes that I want to see, that I want to ride, and that I can have fun with. It makes me happy to create timeless beauty without following trends and fashions.”- Shinya Kimura

There are good chances that more of the ‘Faster Son’ motorcycles will be coming in the near future as stated by Kimura.

Read about Keanu Reeves and his project KRGT-1 here.

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