Motorcycle Craftsman Shinya Kimura's Exploration of Metal and Rubber

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“Flash motorocycle (2008)

Shinya Kimura makes custom motorcycles. In 2006, he set up his studio-shop Chabott Engineering (“with the fancy double t’s) in the desert town of Azusa, California. His reputation grew for motorbikes and their no-frills composition and aesthetic which became known as “Zero-style. From an interview with SouthSiders, a blog about motorcycle culture:

“A Zero-style bike is typically based around a rigid gooseneck, a pre-1984 Harley Davidson engine, springer frontend, spokewheels and often includes parts of the bike to remain in bare metal. The inspiration came from wabi sabi (austere refinement) and the beauty of the raw materials and incorporating the essence of wa (harmony) into his designs.

Kimura’s creations are like action-adventure manga. Physically, their opacity is minimal and the presentation exudes a rugged elegance. But by testing his creations, Kimura gets to know the true spirit of their moving parts. He experiences his creations and their nature in a thrilling way”and each test is a taste of freedom.


Danish director Henrick Hansen’s video of Kimura is a provocative portrait of the motorcycle maker and his surroundings of machines and sand. The culmination of his statements reads like a romantic manifesto:

“I was brought up surrounded by the smell of oil and steel,
and the sound of machinery.

I think this is why this life suits me well.

I cut steel or bend aluminum listening to how I feel at that moment.

I use my own hands and break my back making the bikes.
I believe that speaks to people’s emotions.

A bike should look good on its own but it’s incomplete
until a person rides it.

For me a motorcycle is more than art.

It’s something that brings out my instincts, the wildness
and vulnerability in me.

It feel nothing of how violent it looks from the outside. It’s very serene.
The ground and the sky are so white. There is no boundary between them.

I have never flown but it feels like flying an airplane using a reciprocating engine. I can’t tell you how peaceful it is.

That sensation of peace is Kimura’s marriage of, as he put it, “Functional Design + Speed + Bold Imaginations. This equation drives his exploration of metal and rubber, with the former being a pliable material, having a voice of its own.

Nate Burgos

Via colleague and collaborator Joe Giovenco

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