Inspired by a samurai general’s armour and named after a pioneering Japanese Isle of Man TT racer, Kenzo is a reimagined 1977 Honda Gold Wing and the result of traditional craft combined with state-of-theart manufacturing techniques and plenty of headaches. And cuts. And burns. And serious reconsiderations of life choices.
In 1570, Honda Tadakatsu made a name for himself as one of Japan’s most revered samurai generals, winning against an enemy who outnumbered him by fifty to one without so much as a punch being thrown, simply because they thought he was either insane, deadly, or both. His rival general was so impressed by his bravery (or madness) that he ordered no harm should come to Tadakatsu or his men. Whether by luck or judgement, Honda Tadakatsu lived a charmed life, never once suffering a significant injury despite fighting in over a hundred battles, a fact which led him to be known as ‘the warrior who surpassed death itself’.
Meanwhile, in 1930, Kenzo Tada spent forty days travelling to Europe by rail and sea to take part in the Isle of Man TT. He was the event’s first Japanese racer and one of the first racers in his home country—when he began racing in 1921 there were just twenty men competing on motorcycles in all of Japan. He fell off several times on the Isle of Man but always remounted and carried on, earning the respect of his fellow riders. It was the first time anyone from his country had competed abroad and it would be 1959 before another Japanese rider rode in the TT.
Then, in 1977, the Honda Motor Company popped out another Gold Wing GL1000 from its production line, which eventually found its way to us in 2018.
So … Samurai. Kenzo. Gold Wing. Simple, eh? You were probably already ahead of us. Honda Tadakatsu, the samurai general, probably isn’t related to the Honda Motor Company family. And Kenzo Tada definitely didn’t ride a Honda in the 1930 TT (it was a 350 Velocette). But what’s important here is to not let the details get in the way of a good story.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Over the last couple of years, very few if any motorcycles have inspired such bafflement and scratching of heads as Dan Duggan’s Honda CX500
Every project starts somewhere and this one began at the Bike Shed Show at Tobacco Dock in London or, to be more accurate, when my mate Matt Donaldson turned to me and said, “I bet you can’t build a bike good enough for here.” Well, that set me to work!
Jarno comes from a family with petrol in their blood. His father races classic motorcycles and Jarno was raised on a farm where the barns are full of motorcycles instead of cows! This is his very first project, the Jarno Bastian Special
CUSTOMBIKE Messe Bad Salzuflen, Germany
Sometimes what is missing from a show is more interesting than what’s present. With the German show Custombike celebrating its fifteenth anniversary, the event remains a showcase for European customising in all its diversity— with the additional benefit of a focus on parts that are homologated and approved for Europe
It’s not often that I have to sneak in and photograph a motorcycle without the owner knowing anything about it—something that was made tougher in this case by the said motorcycle being kept at said owner’s house
Spike And Bob's Big Swedish Adventure: Part 5
In 1979 Hasse took Caprice to the Norrtälje show for the first time, but he had changes for the bike in mind and, during the winter, he picked up a jammer frame and a set of 20-inch tubes.
There's No Place Like Chrome
When settling down to write a feature for a magazine, it’s necessary to have two things, nay, three things in front of you. A computer is useful, it saves all that messy ink and blotting paper that we used in those long gone school days, a strong hot mug of tea should also be on the desk (goes without saying), and finally, a set of scribbled notes that a couple of months ago resembled a detailed description of a motorcycle, but that by now, are largely illegible…
Over the last few years Death Machines of London has produced a number of pioneering builds, some of which you will have seen in these pages, not least the Air Force One Moto Guzzi from the cover of 100% Biker #231. Just when you think they can’t possibly surpass the last build, designer James Hilton of DMOL and engineer Ray Petty of Ray Petty Meccanica raise the bar just a little bit more. And that’s just what they’ve done again…
Today motorcycle customizing is a phenomenon that spans the entire globe, of that there can be little doubt. However, it’s still all too easy to think that building custom bikes is primarily confined to Europe and the United States and often, even in these days of social media and instant information, we don’t hear about what’s going on in other parts of the world
After the Harley-Davidson Sportster, I would wager that the Yamaha XS650 is the most popular choice for a custom bike across the world
National Cycle VStream Sport Windscreen for Honda Africa Twin
There are many ways to improve motorcycle rider comfort, covering everything from bar risers to footpegs. Having done almost all of them, I decided to switch out my stock windscreen to see if it made a difference, especially on long trips.
THE SUZUKI HAYABUSA
Suzuki said the first Hayabusa invented a new category called Ultimate Sport. We said, “Yeah, right,”…until we rode it.
ASSAULT ON PIKES PEAK EXPEDITION II
Forty-three years ago, we did it with a Honda 50 and a Stella 10-speed bicycle...
2020 KTM 390 ADVENTURE
BIG BIKE IMPACT IN A SMALL(ER) BIKE’S FRAME
THE JUNKYARD CIRCLE OF LIFE
Though the notion is strange to my non–car-enthusiast friends, HOT ROD readers will appreciate this—I like to go to junkyards, whether or not I’m actually looking for a specific part.
OttOmobile Honda S2000 Type S
Sharper Edged Club Racing Roadster
AUTOart Honda Civic Type R
A hot hatch with everything but looks
A HISTORY OF HIGH-PERFORMANCE HONDA: Engineering Efficient Speed
Engineering Efficient Speed
So. Much. Cake.
HONDA FINALLY HAS A HYBRID SUV TO CHALLENGE TOYOTA'S DOMINANCE
JUST IN CASE
THE MOST FUEL-EFFICIENT AND MOST POWERFUL CR-V IS FINALLY HERE