Chicara Nagata makes some of the most unique motorcycles you’ll ever see. In this interview, Chicara tell us what it takes to craft his motorcycles – some of his designs can take up to 7,000 man-hours.
I live in Saga Prefecture, Kyusyu Island located in the Southern part of Japan. I have been working as a graphic designer for about 30 years and in the meantime I’ve been making motorcycles for about 20 years.
You design and construct your frames, suspension and steering components. What kind of machinery do you use?
Almost all process – design, metal working, leather craft for the seat etc – I do all by myself.
I do not have an expensive high level machine. I do shave, sheet metal, welding and metalworking using a hand tool. It takes about 5000 to 7000 hours to make one motorcycle that you can see on my website.
You use vintage engines in your motorcycles. Which engines do you like to work with?
I can’t tell which engines I like to work with. But when I see a certain vintage medel engine, I feel like creating. This is what I like to work with.
You choose the engine first when you start to build a bike. Why start with the engine first?
Most of the time I choose the engine from its beauty not only from its function. I would like to give the stylish detail for well-balanced engine. That’s why I pick up the engine first.
You took several years to complete your first motorcycle. How was that experience?
Every progress, I encounter many many problems. I can’t count how many times I give up to make motorcycle. But I noticed that ” If we don’t give up, We can make it .” In another word, we can make the impossible possible. This is what I learn from making motorcycles, but still on the way.
Your first creation won the 2006 AMD World Championship of Custom Bike Building. How did that feel?
I was really happy. Because I put so much time into fixing it up and my effort paid off. The World Championship is just like a very special bonus.
Do you work on one bike at a time, or several at a time?
I create the image first and produce. Basically I work on one at a time, but in my mind I create some images at the same time.
How many people work with you at your studio?
I am the only one who makes the motorcycles. Because I am the only one who has the conceptional drawing.
Do people who purchase your bikes ride them?
Yes, they do. Of course, some of them don’t ride and just take a look.
So I seldom draw the design and use PC. I am an analog type.
What out there inspires you?
I live on the graphic design. To make motorcycles is not my job but something like my lifework.
I would like to show my identity and my existence to all the people through creating motorcycles.
You’re a graphic designer, do you bring any of that experience into building bikes?
Yes, I do. The graphic designs are basically two dimensions. When I make the motorcycles, I go back and forth between 2Ds and 3Ds. I think it is important to complete 2Ds design perfectly first even when to make 3Ds motorcycles.
What part of the bike usually takes the longest to design?
I spend more time before I start to make motorcycles. That means I need more time to fix my style and design. I don’t spend much time for thinking about metalworking or welding.
How often do you ride?
Unfortunately, once I started to make motorcycles, I have been busy. So I don’t have much time to ride.
Best city in the world to ride a motorcycle?
I have not been to many countries in the world, so I can’t tell. I like to ride a motorcycle, of course. But I like to see the motorcycle in the beautiful scenery. I prefer the place that have four seasons like Japan.
Your favorite movie of all time?
I like all kinds of movies. But I saw `The World’s Fastest Indian` more than ten times. He was obsessed by speed and I was obsessed by beauty of motorcycles. He and I were devoted into motorcycles, so I empathize with him.
What do yo do when you’re not creating motorcycles?
I do my job or I think about the design for my new motorcycle or sleep.
Update: 04 May 2013:
Gallery of Chicara’s latest build: HARLEY-DAVIDSON KH1954 GENERAL CHICARA ART5C
Photos by FRANK KLETSCHKUS
+ Source: Chicara Nagata