Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Unfortunately, we all just missed the opening party; the New York Times 'Design' magazine this Sunday had a page devoted to "The Well-Curated Home (Fine Artists Collaborate with Design and Fashion Houses)".

One of the artist's works on the page was a custom motorcycle - which certainly caught my eye as it has a single-cylinder engine - definitely not your typical custom (see top photos of the machine). The suggestion is to 'install the art in the garage'... if you're so inclined. I think at the price being asked, they're more likely to be hung on the wall...

The Ippodo Gallery (in NYC and Tokyo) is hosting the 'Chicara Liquid Chrome' exhibit, from Nov. 7 - Jan. 31. The artist/builder is Chicara Nagata, and he's won quite a few prizes for his custom motorcycles. He typically spends around 7500 hours hand-crafting every piece on his bikes, and has three of his two-wheel creations in the exhibit. Nagata won the AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building in 2006 (I didn't even know there was such a thing), and placed second in 2007. The motorcycle in the top two photos is the 'Chicara III', which uses a 1950 Meguro racing engine, Triumph gearbox, and Schebler carb; everything else is hand made.

The Meguro engine looks like an Ariel Red Hunter crankcase mated to a JAP speedway cylinder and head; such were the hybrids being produced in Japan in the early years - 'copy the best'.

The lower photo shows 'Chicara Art I', which was the 2006 winning entry, and is built around a '39 Harley Model U engine (1200cc flathead). It represents a more typical layout for a custom, although the work appears to be an order of magnitude better than most customs I've seen. Still, a bit shiny for my taste - but no more than 'Copperknob' or 'Silverknob'! And, for the kind of money being asked, you could buy many genuine Vintage racing machines, with provenance....maybe even Copperknob itself!

If you're thinking of buying one one of Nagata's machines from the gallery, they're asking a cool $1 million each. That works out to about $133/hr of Mr.Nagata's time, but galleries usually take half on sales, so unless he has a deal worked out, he's only making $67/hr, which sounds shockingly reasonable... by the hour, if not the total!

What do you think of the first RETAIL MILLION-DOLLAR MOTORCYCLE?

And, because we missed the opening party, youtube will provide us with a peek:

UPDATE: A documentary about Nagata's motorcycles has been posted on Current.com. Chris Winterbourne, the film-maker, wants us to vote for the video on the site, so he can continue making documentaries on interesting subjects!
See the documentary here.


triumph110 said...

Hi Paul, I had a story on these bikes on my website www.oldbikenews.com It is from Monday November 10 and is titled Million Dollar Motorcycles. There are a couple of more pictures on the site. Come on over and take a look.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Paul.
Check this site, it is about 2007 World Champion Custom Bike.
And what is more interesting, this bike is RIDABLE! See its creator Stellan Egeland broadsiding the bike on a 400 meter speedway track!
The bike has a Harley crankcase, home made cylinders and 4-valve semiradial aluminium heads (copied from Rudge Grand Prix heads from the early 1930-ies).
it is well worth the trouble for you to get in contsct with the builder of this fantastic machine. If he ever decides to sell it, it will probably be the first motorcycle to reach the 1 million dollar!
You´ll find him a very plesant chap, full of mad humour.
Best regards, Bo Eklund.

Anonymous said...

Paul, Funny how you noticed that in the NYT;so did I. Look as this:www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ygY81LOPaul, Funny how you noticed that in the NYT;so did I. Look as this:www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ygY81LOiDI. Very interesting and I hope to get to NYC in the next six weeks to have a look. Best Regards, JohniDI. Very interesting and I hope to get to NYC in the next six weeks to have a look. Best Regards, John

Anonymous said...

Nice site, sorry you missed the opening, hope you enjoy the video.
BW, curlysoo, youtube

PS would like to look at the bikes these naysayers have come up with.

I think 1 mill is a steal.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,

I saw that you did a piece on Chicara and thought you might be interested in a mini doc I did on him, I would be very happy if you would consider putting it on you blog. I need all the votes I can get so that I can get paid and do some more docs. Here is the link...


all the best,

Chris Winterbourne