The Motorcycle Portraits is a project by photographer/filmmaker David Goldman, who travels the world making documentaries, and takes time out to interview interesting people in the motorcycle scene, wherever he might be.  The result is a single exemplary photo, a geolocation of his subject, and a transcribed interview.  The audio of his interviews can be found on The Motorcycle Portraits website.

The following portrait session is with Shinya Kimura, the legendary motorcycle artisan who first came to worldwide attention by inventing the Zero chopper style in Japan.  He moved to California in 2006, and set up shop in Azusa as Chabott Engineering, and began exploring new styles of customizing motorcycles, which evidenced a hand-made quality that was at odds with the dominant fat-tire chopper style of the era.  Shinya has been featured many times in The Vintagent, and we’re always happy to see him in our pages.  Here is a transcript of his interview with David Goldman:

Shinya Kimura photographed in his Chabott Engineering warehouse in Azusa CA. [David Goldman]

“My name is a Shinya Kimura. I was born in Tokyo in 1962. I moved to California in 2006. And I have a shop in Southern California named Chabott Engineering. Basically, I’m customizing motorcycles, every kind of motorcycle, riding motorcycles, enjoying motorcycles. When I was six years old, my cousin had a small Honda, maybe 90 cc or 50 cc, I don’t know. But he took me on his back seat. That is my first experience of a motorcycle and I was excited. When I was a high school student, most of my friends were riding motorcycles So naturally, I started to ride a motorcycle when I was 16 years old, and my first customized motorcycle was a Suzuki 50cc. I made it like a chopper.  The most exciting experience for me is the Motorcycle Cannonball. It was a cross-country race from East Coast to West Coast taking classic motorcycle like 1920s or Teens or older. It takes 17 days to make it all the way.  At the beginning, I didn’t know much about a Teens motorcycle, actually. I took 1915 Indian motorcycle; I got a basket case 1915 Indian but and I fixed it up and made it a rideable motorcycle, but I didn’t think I could make it across the country. Actually I got a broken motor maybe several times… I had to fix at midnight to the next morning. Finally I could make it go and I was very excited.  Motorcycling is the only thing which I can do like thinking like breathing or having some dinner. Something very natural for me. I always enjoying riding motorcycles.”

Shinya Kimura in a quiet moment in the shop. [David Goldman]


David Goldman is photographer and filmmaker who has traveled the world on projects documenting human trafficking, maternal health and marginalized people. He also interviews and photographs motorcyclists in this travels for his series The Motorcycle Portraits. You can follow his website here, his IG here, and his FB here. Explore all his stories for The Vintagent here.
Related Posts

The Motorcycle Portraits: Megs Braap

For this edition of Motorcycle…

California Dunes Riding in the 1960s

Bill Greene's father documented his…

The Vintagent Selects: Faster Son: Shinya Kimura

Legendary motorcycle builder Shinya…

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter