Showtime in Japan: Custom Motorcycles from the Eastern Island

Tokyo and Osaka offer custom motorcycle culture like no other.

Japan is a land with a unique and deep two-wheeled culture that's never displayed better than at the back-to-back Osaka and Tokyo Motorcycle Shows. While manufacturers wait for the international show season at the end of each year to show off their latest wares, the early-season Japanese events are a chance for the huge Japanese aftermarket industry to lay out its latest ideas, styles and trends. Here's a round-up of the best machines from the two events.

Osaka Show Bikes:

Honda NM4 Ghost in the Machine
Honda NM4 Ghost in the Shell
The hero bike from the new Ghost in the Shell movie, which is just hitting theatres, was actually developed with the help of Honda's own design studio. The basis is the oddball NM4 so creating the sci-fi Manga style wasn't actually such a big leap. All the bodywork is actually new, although the NM4 roots are pretty clear.
Photo: AutoBy
Honda Monkey 50th Anniversary
Honda Monkey 50th Anniversary
Not so much an aftermarket special as a celebratory machine that marks both 50 years of Monkey bike production and the end of the line for the current generation of Monkey. Honda's 50th Anniversary Monkey gets special emblems, paint and seats, and will be officially on sale in its homeland later this year. Its eventual replacement is likely to be a new, Grom-based Monkey model that could re-open a worldwide market for the baby Honda.
Photo: AutoBy
Honda CB1100RS
Honda CB1100RS Customized Concept
The first of a host of CB1100s to make this list, this one comes from Honda itself and is expected to form the basis of a factory-optional kit of café-racer body parts. As well as the cowl and seat hump, the concept version gets polished metal bodywork elements, Galespeed wheels and a Moriwaki exhaust.
Photo: AutoBy
Honda Rebel Concept
Honda Rebel 250 Customized Concept
Another official Honda machine, this one's based on the Japanese-market Rebel 250, a sleeved-down version of the Rebel 300 recently launched worldwide. The custom version takes BMX bikes as its inspiration; right down to the mis-matched front and rear wheels and the padded handlebar brace. There aren't any production plans for this one, though.
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Honda CBR250RR Race Bike
Honda CBR250RR HRC race bike
The CBR250RR has made quite a stir already, despite not yet going on sale in most countries. This is the official HRC race version, developed as an off-the-shelf competition bike for the Japanese and Asia Production 250 championships. As well as the race fairing it gets a new exhaust, ECU and rearsets.
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Yamaha MT-09
Yamaha MT-09 Authentic Sport
This creation comes from Y's Gear, Yamaha's official accessory arm in Japan, and as such the parts it sports are either already available as options or due to be added to the parts list. As well as the retro paintwork, it gets a new screen, fog lamps, a suede-style seat and that stunning triple-exit exhaust from Prunus.
Photo: AutoBy
Yamaha MT10
Yamaha MT-10 Y's Gear
Another Y's Gear production, the MT-10 also gets a Prunus pipe, this time with four exits to match its cylinder-count. Other add-ons include Galespeed wheels and a tall screen from the MT-10 Tourer.
Photo: AutoBy
Yamaha SR400
Yamaha SR400 Authentic Sport
The SR400 might be older than most of us, but it's still a current model and has a massive following in Japan. The transformation performed by this retro-style paintwork, the cut-off fenders and those retro-styled, gold-finished cast alloy wheels makes us wonder why they don't come like this as standard. Again, this is a Y's Gear bike, which suggests it will be possible to create something very similar from official options in Japan.
Photo: AutoBy
Yamaha XSR900
Yamaha XSR900 Authentic Sport
This one's another genuine Yamaha, Y's Gear creation, made entirely from parts that are available in Japanese Yamaha dealers. The updates include a bodywork kit, a Prunus exhaust, Galespeed wheels, a suede seat and special KYB suspension at both ends.
Photo: AutoBy

Tokyo Show Bikes:

BMW R nineT
Active BMW R nineT
Not a wildly modified machine, but one with the sort of subtle, off-the-shelf bolt-on parts that the R nineT was designed to make the most of. As well as the nose cowl and the new, humped seat, there's a pair of Galespeed wheels and Hyperpro suspension at both ends. The work is all by Japanese tuning parts shop Active.
Photo: AutoBy
Kawasaki ZRX1200
**Active Kawasaki ZRX1200 **
Another machine from Active, the Kawasaki ZRX1200 is one of those machines that has an enduring following in Japan. This one features a new, aluminum swingarm, Akrapovic pipe, Brembo calipers and Hyperpro suspension. Favored wheel-smiths Galespeed once again provide the rims.
Photo: AutoBy
Yamaha YZF R1
Active Yamaha YZF-R1
Not, perhaps, the prettiest of Tokyo's bikes, Active's R1 nevertheless features around $10,000-worth of aftermarket parts. That fairing is a full carbon one from Nexray, the wheels are Galespeeds, as are the master cylinders, while Gilles provides the bars and lever guards.
Photo: AutoBy
Harley-Davidson FXD
Active Harley-Davidson FXD
Proof that Harleys aren't just an American obsession, tuner Active's take on the FXD takes it in an unusual direction. The addition of Galespeed wheels, Brembo brakes, Hyperpro suspension, a fabricated aluminum swingarm, and race-style bodywork make it into a track refugee. The S&S engine suggests its performance should back up the appearance, too.
Photo: AutoBy
Suzuki GSX1100S
TG-Run Suzuki GSX1100S Hagane
The old Suzuki GSX1100S Katana is another mainstay of Japanese bike tuning, and Technical Garage Run is a specialist in the machines. As well as carbon body parts, Galespeed wheels and Ohlins suspension it gets special metal-effect paintwork. The bike's name, Hagane, is Japanese for 'steel'.
Photo: AutoBy
Honda CB1100S Retro
Honda CB1100RS retro
Made by Honda Japan, this one-off CB1100RS is a nod to the firm's past and to the CB1100R concept bike from 2007. The seat and exhaust are 'Wyvern' parts from R's Gear, a company run by former 500gp rider Hiwatashi Osamu. Again, the wheels are Galespeed parts – which seem to be very much in favor in Japan at the moment.
Photo: AutoBy
Kawasaki H2 Tourer
K's Style Kawasaki Ninja H2 Tourer
Although the aftermarket parts fitted here aren't anything special – just some GIVI panniers, a rack, a tall screen and a custom seat – look at what they're bolted to. Yes, that's a Kawasaki Ninja H2 that's been converted into tourer, for those all-day rides where anything less than 210bhp just isn't enough.
Photo: AutoBy
Zero K2C
Zero Engineering K2C
Rather than being a tuned bike, the K2C is a concept for a new single-cylinder retro machine from boutique brand Zero Engineering. Better known for its exotic, S&S V-twin-powered models, Zero Engineering – a sub-brand of PLOT – has been turning out Harley-based bikes since 1992. This one is a departure, with a purpose made chassis and a 250cc single that appears to have been sourced from China, all wrapped in the firm's trademark retro styling. It could lead to a production model in future.
Photo: AutoBy