mandag den 23. juli 2007

Monday Oct. 16 - Zero Engineering Redefining Custom Bikes

Today I start by riding along a winding road through a deep gorge, which leads me to The Pacific. The map says it’s a major road, though the 30 and 40 kph speed limit, posted on signs and painted on the road, do make sense most places. The locals seem rather relaxed about these limits, though, and soon I adapt to that too. When occasionally a truck appears on this ‘major road’, and there’s hardly room just for him, I’m glad to be on a solo bike rather than riding one with a sidecar. The latter would also have been a true disaster later, when I ride on Highway 1 going west.

Hwy. 1 leading through the urban area is The Road From Hell. Ugly, narrow, sometimes on stilts over built-up areas, occasionally with walls, and crammed to the max. with diesel fumes spewing trucks, the latter turning my white hair grey and greasy within hours. I hardly dare think what my lungs take in, especially when I ride through long tunnels. I see no ventilation inside these, though this may be because I wear sunglasses and can’t see much of anything in there anyway. Only a ten kilometer long stretch along The Pacific breaks the constant ugliness – this is the second time of my life I see this ocean from the saddle of a Nimbus, though this time it is on my left hand side. ‘Magnificent’ is the right word here, I guess. I also note the first palm trees and bamboo forests, and try to figure out in what kind of place I can pitch my tent. Like on the beach.

After some 250 k’s of often filtering through dense traffic, mainly doing 40-50 kph, I reach Okazaki, where the Zero Engineering firm is situated. ZE builds some of the best looking Japanese choppers, usually in a short and low style, not much chrome, but with a lot of innovative details and technical solutions. The founder of ZE, Shinya Kimura, has since moved to Los Angeles, where most of his customers live anyway, and has sold ZE to someone with a more traditional building style. Luck has it that today he is visiting his old place – good thing I did not postpone the ZE visit until my return trip, because by then he would be back in Lala Land.

Shinya Kimura meets me outside the workshop, and exclaims “Oh, a Nimbus!” Ok, sooner or later I was bound to run into someone who knew about this brand. Turns out he even has worked on Nimbuses, albeit ages ago. But for everyone else at ZE my Nimbus is new and exciting. I buy the book about his choppers, have it autographed, run the Nimbus engine to show the exposed moving rocker arms a few more times, and check out the workshop. Along with the sound of a sidevalve Triumph twin, which a girl keeps starting, I hear a distant bell, and soon after a monotonous voice drone on for a while. Being curious, I ask if this is the sound from some kind of religious ceremony. No, they say, it’s just someone selling potatoes.

After chatting about chopper design and my further plans, the man invites me to stay at a small place he has up in the mountains. I can stay there for a week or two, he says. The place is actually the office part of two large barns made of corrugated steel, filled up with Japanese junk bikes and parts thereof. Tons of it, and lots of cats too. Around the barns a further hundred bikes or so can be found – other places there’s a further 2,000 or more, waiting to be broken up for spares. In Denmark much of this, like the large Suzuki Katanas, would be considered pure gold. This is not the case here, as he elaborates later, when we drive away searching for dinner. By now it is dark, and since traffic has eased up some, the open Porsche Carrera gets a workout (remember; southern latitudes darkness, very narrow roads, 30 or 40 kph speed limits).

1 kommentar:

Ben Schkade sagde ...

There are 2010 Calendars for sale on zero's site, Just thought you fans might be interested...