Video: the Shinya Kimura story

Dailies -


Shinya-Kimura.jpgHere’s a brief glimpse into the world of custom bike maker Shinya Kimura. The video lets the artist tell a little of his own history even as we see him wrenching and riding some of his whimsical, austere creations. Did you know he doesn’t draw plans for his bikes before he starts cutting metal?  >

  • pv

    i want that

  • CMC

    And this guy is different from Falcon…. how?

    • Wes Siler

      Function, originality, vision, creativity.

    • Grant Ray

      Conceptually, I don’t think they’re all that different, other than one being American and the other being Japanese. The American slavishly makes homages to Golden Era British motorcycling and the Japanese guy slavishly makes crazy spaceship freakouts for George Clinton if George Clinton rode motorcycles on the way to the Supreme Galactikos.

      • Grant Ray

        Well, maybe not George Clinton. Maybe the Kimura bikes are for Zorag so he can blast off to the planet KreGor, slay lizard barbarians and score some hot action in the 1981 March issue of Heavy Metal.

        • rev

          “Maybe the Kimura bikes are for Zorag so he can blast off to the planet KreGor, slay lizard barbarians and score some hot action in the 1981 March issue of Heavy Metal.”

          grant > all


    • pdub

      Really? C’mon. This guy has oil running in his veins. How can anyone talk shit about this? Why can’t this just be appreciated for what it is.

      • jsta


      • Trojanhorse

        I don’t think he’s talking shit about Shinya…I think he’s saying that Falcon didn’t deserve the shit it was given, and it’s a bit hypocritical to dis one and not the other. I tend to agree. Honestly it’s just ridiculous to imply that Falcon doesn’t have functionality, originality, vision, or creativity, and such a statement comes off rather like sour grapes from someone with a bone to pick MORE than it does as valid, intelligent criticism.

      • CMC

        I’m not talking shit about either of these guys. I think the Falcon is cool and so is this bike. I just don’t see why our esteemed editorial staff here thinks Falcon is a pointless fashion house and Kimura is somehow different. They both make gorgeous, impractical, uncomfortable-looking bikes that are ridiculously expensive and less capable than that which rolls off the assembly lines at today’s modern manufacturers, and am curious as to how they reconcile this dissonance.

        • Wes Siler

          I really don’t want this to turn into another retarded Falcon thread, but understand the need to address this question, so let’s try this: we can have an intelligent, informed, polite discussion, but anyone dropping any crazy will have their comments deleted and they’ll be banned from commenting in the future, sound good? Let’s discuss this, not fight about it.

          I see Falcon as being roughly equivalent to OCC, just with “craftsmanship” in place of stick-on plastic space shuttles as their defining characteristic. Sure, both products are capable of being ridden, but only slowly and for very short distances, it’s not why they were made. Ultimately, Falcon and OCC bikes are created, parked, then looked at.

          As a former carpenter/construction worker/foreman, craftsmanship is something I deeply, deeply respect but it can’t be the be all and end all of a product. Just like OCC served the fashion of excess in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I see Falcon as serving the faux authenticity/faux manliness/workwear thing that’s fashionable right now. How will Falcon’s bikes be perceived when a bunch of people in Paris decide flannel shirts are no longer in fashion and we move on to foil moonsuits and DayGlo singlets?

          As someone who does outdoors shit, rides motorcycles way too fast and builds things with my hands, I also have huge issues with people dressing up like/pretending that they’re manly men. My dislike for dressing up like a lumberjack when your hands are as soft as a baby’s bottom spills over to Falcon bikes which are receiving enormous publicity because they deliberately play to that trend.

          Admittedly, some of my own frustration at living in New York right now and not getting to do as much of the above as I’d like probably plays into my general dislike for this trend. Maybe I feel a little like the kids playing dress up because my callouses aren’t what they used to be. I need to move somewhere else, maybe I’ll be less frustrated when I do.

          As part of this trend, motorcycles are experiencing a resurgence of popularity, but that popularity isn’t leading people to buy them, ride them, crash them and live them, it’s leading them to look at them. To my thinking, that’s a somewhat dangerous thing, motorcycles aren’t meant to be only fetish objects, they’re about doing, not observing.

          In contrast, I don’t see Shinya’s bikes as pandering to a trend or being popularized because they do. What he’s doing is original and his work will stand the test of time as a result. He also races, beats on and rides the piss out of his bikes and has a breadth of tastes that extends outside of one rigidly defined class of motorcycle, I admire his ability to do choppers, cafe racers, superbikes, whatever and do them all well.

          Then there’s the question of motorcycles as art. I have no problem with bikes being art objects, but I do think that simply purchasing a bike to serve as art is seriously lame. I’ve previously used the metaphor of a taxidermied bear. If you have one and you didn’t kill it yourself, what’s the point?

          Also, I’m biassed. I think hardtails are lazy because their builders haven’t bothered to resolve function, just form. I grew up and started riding in Europe, you’ll never convince me that anything without rear suspension can do anything but stand still.

          Who knows? Maybe I’m just a snob. If you disagree with me, more power to you, but hopefully this helps explain where I’m coming from with my criticism.

          • Trojanhorse

            Thanks for the further clarification Wes, I think it does help to explain even if I don’t necessarily agree.

            Personally, I think you’re unfortunately stuck in New York, when you’re really more of a Seattle type of guy. If you haven’t been, you should check it out sometime.

          • CMC


            I appreciate your taking the time to respond, though I still have a hard time distinguishing these two craftsmen. Clearly you can, so more power to you.


            P.S., you say “snob” like it’s a bad thing. :P

            • pdub

              Guess I was one to misinterpret your first post. I get your question now. In effort I don’t see much difference between the two builders. Both talented craftsmen put to different aims. One in inspired tribute to things past and one straight out of his id.

          • Mike J

            Hi Wes… it’s a small point I know but I just can’t agree with your equation of Falcon with OCC.

            Even on their “theme bikes” OCC essentially build a bike from off the shelf parts and cover it in, as you put it, “stick-on plastic space shuttles” etc in order to somehow evoke whatever “theme” they’ve chosen for it. Their bikes are essentially stock OOC choppers that have been covered in evo-stick and ridden through the appropriate gift shop. There is a degree of fabrication skill and stylistic judgment involved, just a very small degree and a horribly impaired judgment.

            Whatever you think about the stylistic slavishness (or not) of Falcon the level of engineering/fabrication skill alone that went into that bike is way above that put into OCC’s. And even if you think that Falcon may be indulging some kind of retrograde nostalgic idiom they’ve done it well and the Kestrel is a wonderfully stylish, well executed example. Everything I’ve seen from OCC, on the other hand, is a nasty, visually dissonant piece of gaudy crap.

            PS.. I’ve ridden on European/British roads all my life and while I prefer the Ohlins damped silky mono-shock on my old GSX, riding hard tail bikes on our bumpy roads can be fun! It’s a good way to test the quality of your dental work.

          • g

            Thanks! enjoyed this video allot. And well said Wes.

            I really like this site.

          • VetteWrecker

            Hey Wes,

            Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful reply to some legitimate questions from your readers. I love this site, keep up the great work!

          • Pete

            Wes, thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I liked your analogy of the taxidermied bear. I like to say that bikes are like just like sandwiches, made for a purpose. Hanging bikes on a wall is NOT their purpose, any more than we should hang a sandwich on the wall.

            But you’re off base in one small item, IMHO. Rigid bikes can be ridden fast. Try an old Velocette, you’ll like it. ‘Fast’ takes on a new meaning with primitive brakes, tires, handling and horsepower.


      • Mike J

        I don’t think CMC was trying to “talk shit” about Kimura, just pointing out that there’s not much more than a stylistic/conceptual difference between his creations and those of Falcon motorcycles. Although their thematic influences may be divergent both essentially produce hand crafted artistic re-interpretations of classic and vintage donor vehicles.

        Kimura’s creations have been and, I fear, increasingly will be acquired by wealthy collectors for decorative/display purposes. But the fact that some rich asshole may buy a bike and never ride it shouldn’t be held as a reflection on the vehicle itself, or detract from the skill and dedication of those who worked hard to create it.

        The fact that they have found a way to exploit the desire of the wealthy to acquire good taste, in order to do what they love and avoid the usual nine to five, in no way makes them guilty of pandering. That their creations may end up in the hands of idiots doesn’t take away from the fact that both Chabott and Falcon are highly skilled enthusiasts and should be respected as such.

        • Mike J

          Of course I reserve the right to hypocritically ignore my own opinion in order to criticise the stylistically stilted shit produced by OCC (oh… my argument just fell apart!?).

      • connor reed

        double ditto –

    • woody

      Cause I saw him go over 100mph on one of these out at El Mirage two weeks ago. So there is some go to go with all that show. Plus Falcons bikes are just nice looking bikes, these are works of sculpture that happen to be motorcycles

  • bk

    nasty. kimura is bad ass and very zen / soulful at the same time.

  • amsterdam

    Hey Wes,
    what happened to the other Kimura thread?
    I hope it wasn’t my comment that made you delete it…

    • Wes Siler

      Amsterdam: not sure which thread you’re talking about, I pulled some outrageous/trollish/people-using-anonymous-proxy-servers-to-try-and-get-revenge-for-something-Grant-and-I-did-five-years-ago comments out of the last Falcon article, but don’t think you were a part of that. Email me and explain further.

      • amsterdam

        Oops, I wrote on an old post from 6 may.
        still there.
        Your’s above reaction is really very very well writ and so spot on.

  • Mark D.

    From my own admittedly half-assed artistic criticism, I’d say the main difference between Falcon and Shinya is “challenging” aspect. When I see a Shinya work, I see something that challenges the very idea of what most people think of when you say the word “motorcycle”. That, to me, is a much higher artistic attribute than the Falcon, which might as well be an amalgamation of the most commonly-held attributes of the word “motorcycle”.

    I see the Falcon like I see Norman Rockwell; done by a master artist with excellent technique and a great eye, easily digestible and agreeable to a mass audience, but ultimately too mainstream to reflect where culture and design and taste is going. Its the pinnacle of a static artistic tradition.

    Shinya’s works look like they crawled out of a Salvador Dali painting! And I think of his work like I think of Dali’s; challenging, bizzare, unsettling, but ultimately something that moves the entire idea of “art” and design forward. Its raw innovation.

    • Wes Siler

      Very well said.

    • eric

      +1. I couldn’t agree more. Real art challenges you to see the world in a new way. Kimura’s work has this quality in spades.

  • Emmet

    That video gave me goosebumps. The pictures on the fridge convey the passion in Shinya. Wes, can you get an interview with him? His wikipedia page is lacking-we don’t even know how old he is!

  • Anders

    Love this movie. Love his approach. Purity of creation. I may not always immediately like the things he scuplts from an esthetical point of view, but its intruiging and its different.

  • Adam

    Shinya’s work pre-dates Falcon for one.
    Falcon have built two bikes. Working on their third. Hardly a legacy just yet.
    But, they are both great. There’s room for everyone in this industry. Healthy competition breeds creativity, and the more artisan-like Shinyas and Falcons we support. The fewer mega-custom shops building chromed-out wiener mobiles there will be. Let’s keep it positive.

  • Dayyan

    He is an absolute legend. Would be good if there was a full lengh documentary about him.

  • Core

    This is why I like older Japanese…They have a way of talking deep, but in a logical way.

    I’m neutral on what he makes though. But I think its cool he’s following his passion.

  • Nick

    What or who is Falcon?

  • Buggs

    Just my opinion, but both give me something for my eye, soul and touch. I’ve been playing with bikes, cars and trucks since the late 60′s. The most fun and coveted have not been the most practical. I am glad these guys are here to let me feel their passion…

    And is that really the exhaust with no pipes? Radical!! LOL

    Love this site

  • gr8scotny

    Wes, if you keep up this level of increasing coolness, you will be causing heads to explode across the web.
    Rock on!!

  • ez

    as a designer the work is really impressive. Its not design, its an expression via a living breathing machine that finally can be ridden. The bikes limits, direction, shape all from one mans path not trend. As for those comparing this to that, get real and take your heads out your retro wanna be blinded a$$.

  • RT Moto

    The whole video is beautiful.

  • Ted Baxter

    super cool as usual, but holy fuck you have to be crazy to ride in an open face helmet. I just had another crash this past weekend where the front of my face wound up dragging on the ground. I don’t have enough pretty to be able to afford waxing the street with some before I go on my way.

  • baddad

    Great video about great artist.

  • C Loughlin

    Amazing, it’s like when you were a kid and drew awesome pictures of motorbikes, but he’s actually making them and riding them. I can’t imagine how amazing his process is to witness, it appears that he can fluidly transfer images in his mind to actual functioning machinery without any design stage. I wish I had the funding to create and ride the mad sh!t that is floating around inside my head. Godspeed.

  • fabcnc

    I’ve seen these bike designs before. Just because the bikes are hand built doesn’t exemplify hand craftsmanship. The bike just looks like a hodge podge of parts, no rhyme or reason…whats the purpose?

    • Lawrence

      you have to see them up close