Shinya Kimura exhibited three of his remarkable creations at the Legends of the Motorcycle Concours, in the Custom motorcycles section, which I wasn’t a judge for – mine section was the vintage British machinery.  But, the Triumph and Excelsior foundations used for two of his machines caught my eye – here is someone doing interesting things with vintage engines.  His bikes are wabi-sabi, with all his handiwork visible, and the Triumph ‘Needle’ I found especially interesting, with really slim lines and a futuristic style.  They were displayed beside the usual American choppers, and some unusual ones too – Jesse James’ bikes especially, but I found Shinya’s by far the most intriguing.

Shinya Kimura with his ‘Needle’ custom, and friend [Paul d’Orleans]
There’s a story behind the skeleton; Kiehl’s is a big sponsor of this event, and Susan Towers, a VP, threw a reception two months before the event at Kiehl’s in SF. My wife noted a skeleton on display, and asked Susan if she had any extras, for her school. Susan said yes, then we forgot all about it until the Legends, when suddenly a skeleton was waiting to be wheeled 400 yards from the Kiehl’s booth at the show to our room. Shinya hijacked the prop for some pix; one was published in Old Bike magazine.

[Editor’s note: this was my first encounter with Shinya Kimura, but not the last! As seen in many later articles for The Vintagent, Shinya has generously participated in exceptional interviews (see ‘I Am A Coachbuilder’ here), allowed us to Test Ride his remarkable machines (see Test Ride: MV Masterwork here),  wet plate photo sessions (see ‘El Mirage by Wet Plate’ here), and featured the very machine pictured in our 2018 Petsersen Museum exhibit ‘Custom Revolution’ (see photos and story here).  We have been gifted with his friendship for many years since this 2006 encounter, which includes joining him on four cross-USA journeys on vintage motorcycles as participants in the Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance Rally (see ‘Cannonballs Deep’ here)]


Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.