samedi 23 avril 2016


Despite the often-impenetrable language problem, we’re always keeping an eye on the Japanese custom scene. Even though the Western ‘alt moto’ scene is exploding, the top-flight Japanese builders are still setting the pace.

In Japan, Harley-Davidson has been running the same dealer-based Battle Of The Kings contest that we’ve seen in Europe. But it’s the Street Build Off competition that has made our jaws hit the floor.

Five of Japan’s top custom workshops were given free reign to tear into the Street 750, and the results are frankly incredible.

The judges were Brad Richards, Harley’s design director, Frank Savage, a Harley styling manager, and industrial designer Dais Nagao, the only Japanese member of Harley’s design studio.

BIKE XG750 Flat Tracker BUILDER Hideki Hoshikawa, Asterisk.

None of these builders will stop at anything to get the effect they want, but Hoshikawa has gone to the ultimate extreme—building a complete new cro-moly frame.

The suspension gets an upgrade too, with classic 43mm Ceriani forks up front and a cutting-edge Öhlins TTX GP shock out back. The wheels are Roland Sands’ increasingly popular Del Mars—19 inches both front and back—shod with Dunlop DT3 race rubber.

BIKE Street Fighter XG750 Turbo BUILDER Kaichiroh Kurosu, Cherry’s Company

We’ve already covered Cherry’s XG750 Street 750, and it’s still one of our all-time favorite custom builds. The one-off bodywork is inspired, but only the icing on the cake—virtually every part is a one-off.

The girder fork is custom made, and so are the bars and even the wheels. But the most radical mod is to the engine: it’s turbocharged, complete with intercooler and all the attendant piping. A true tour-de-force of custom building.

BIKE Gunslinger BUILDER Masayuki Sugihara, Luck Motorcycles

Closer to the mainstream of traditional custom building is this rigid-framed machine from Luck. The Street 750 engine is visually much cleaner than your usual Harley chopper motor, and in this case, it’s the surrounding metallurgy that provides the fireworks.

There’s a girder fork here too, but in a minimalist style, hooked up to a 19-inch Kim Tab wheel steered with the help of custom drag-style bars. The rear rim is a chunky 16 inches, and the engine gets a boost from one-off ‘mushroom’ intakes, a drag-style exhaust, and an auto-tuning ThunderMax ECM.

BIKE Zonnevlek BUILDERS Yoshikazu Ueda & Yuichi Yoshizawa, Custom Works Zon

There’s an air of elegance about this ‘digger’ style Street 750, which has a single-cradle frame and completely new suspension front and back. The vibe is functional, with an eye on the drag strip: There’s a 19-inch W&W wheel up front, and a 15-inch Rocket Racing rear rim.

The fuel tank has been moved to the seat cowl, permitting a low-slung fake front tank. Poking out is a jockey shifter, with the clutch operated by the pedal you’d normally use to change gear. And the name ‘Zonnevlek’? It means ‘sunspot’ in Dutch. Don’t ask us why.

BIKE The Other One BUILDER Tatsuya Fujii, Duas Caras Cycles

Duas Caras is in Nagoya, the battleground of custom bike shops in Japan. Fujii-san is a multiple award-winning builder, and this machine has the most contemporary feel of the five Build Off bikes.

The front end is from a Buell S1, with a custom tubular swingarm hooked up to the back wheel. The wheels are 18-inch RSD items, with brakes from Performance Machine—who also supplied a free-flowing air intake. it looks like there won’t be much back pressure from the ultra-short exhaust system, but a Vance & Hines Fuelpak FP3 module extracts maximum power from the engine. The custom bodywork isn’t showy, but it has a timeless air to it. This is one custom Street 750 that is unlikely to look ‘dated’ any time soon.

So which bike took home the honors? Decisions, decisions…in the end, Brad, Frank and Dais picked the Custom Works Zon build (below).
What’s your call?
Harley-Davidson Japan | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Hiromitsu Yasui

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