ZERO ENGINEERING was started by Shinya Kimura in the early ’90s. Your readers might be familiar with him because he has been in tons of biker build-offs over the years. He really started the resurgence of bobbers and old school bikes into the custom scene. When everyone was building billet-style, Arlen Ness choppers and Martin Brothers style choppers, he was building low, down and dirty Knuckleheads in Osaka, Japan. He’s a pretty successful vintage racer over there too. The guy is a real artist.
In 2004 he came up with the concept of building a production model bike and got a company called Plot Inc—who are one of the biggest aftermarket parts manufactures in Japan—to come on board with him. Shinya is an artist, not a business man, so after a while he decided the corporate world wasn’t really for him. He had been in America quite a lot building bikes for the biker build-offs and for movie stars so he decided to sell the business in 2005 to Plot Inc who carried on the production concept, and he started another company called Chabott Engineering in Hollywood. He works from there now and builds bikes for people like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, although he still stays on in an advisory capacity with Zero.
This bike is basically a cut down bobber. They’ve cut down the rear guard, made custom struts, custom petrol tank, Excel aluminium rims; it’s got a jockey shift, a custom triple tree with narrow bars and an old Harley-Davidson drum brake off an old Sportster which doesn’t work very well or at all. It’s a difficult bike to ride with those tyres, the narrow bars and that spring seat.
It’s a cool look, and it’s a look that’s really taken the custom world by storm, that ‘less is more’. So less chrome, less stretch, very low, fat tyres and real retro. The look is like a 1930s Knucklehead stripped down; it’s very simple. Zero’s moto is ‘less is more’.
Photos by Wall 2 Wall; words by Buster at Gasoline Custom Garage