While most of us are trying to shake off the festive season’s indulgence, I’d wager that Kengo Kimura is already back in his workshop. The master craftsman behind Heiwa MC has no shortage of orders, despite being in the midst of a shifting landscape.
We asked Kimura-san how things are going over in Tokyo: he tells us that the Japanese scene doesn’t place as much importance on manufacturing standards as it used to, and that 1970s American culture has invaded the scene.
As a result, some custom shops are on the decline… but Heiwa MC is thriving. And looking at this stunning Kawasaki W650, it’s not hard to see why.
The 2002-model W650 is loaded with trademark Heiwa finishings, and dripping with Japanese style. And no one executes the slammed, thin-saddle vibe as well as Heiwa.
Kengo’s dropped the W650 with a set of shorter shocks out back, and lowered stock units up front. He’s also axed the rear of the frame, replacing it with nothing more than a gorgeous pair of hand-made aluminum fender struts.
Why create separate struts, instead of just welding in a traditional rear frame loop? “In order to make it complicated,” explains Kengo. Go figure…
That skinny new fuel tank is also a one-off piece, hand-shaped from steel. And the W650’s bulbous side covers have made way for more graceful custom-made units.
Moving to the cockpit, Kengo’s fitted a set of his own bars, capped off with classic mini switches. It’s a super clean setup, with a 4.5” headlight out front and a single digital mini speedo. The mirror placement is unusual, to say the least.
Kengo’s made a bunch of smaller changes too—like trimming off the passenger pegs, and shortening the side stand to compensate for the new ride height. The taillight’s another Heiwa part, built with an aluminum casing.
A set of aftermarket exhaust cans—and a pair of Firestone Champion Deluxe tires—round out the parts package. We think they’ll perform just fine, given that this W650 is unlikely to be ridden in anger.
The real cherry on the cake is the subtle paint job—executed by Six Shooter. It’s classy and minimal, and the perfect livery for a super-sano Japanese custom.
With builders like Kengo keeping the torch burning, there’s only one thing left to say: long live Japan, and its crazy beautiful custom scene.