The Samurai Spirit is here
In Australia our love for American and British motorcycles is unquestionable and the borders between the owners of these bikes and so called Japanese or Japa bikes is enormous, with Japa’s being the ride of those who lack style or can’t afford the quality of a Harley or Triumph. Well this is all going to change, wait till you get a hold of these and these bikes aren’t from the Honda, Yamaha or Kawasaki metric moulds these bikes are reminiscent of the romantic days of Americana 1930’s and 40’s.
The Lawless crew was cordially invited to the Sydney launch of the Zero range at Gasoline Custom Garage, Camperdown to check out the Zero engineering 2012 range of Samurai Choppers. The event took place in the ultra-cool Gasoline Custom Garage and was sponsored by Asahi Japan’s NO1 beer. The Garage itself has a very Americana feel and is reminiscent of an age gone so it served itself well for the background for the launch. The walls are strewn with old American gasoline signage, the original rafters a used to give that old barn feel and on the night one of Gasoline’s pride classic American cars, an old vintage truck was used as an ice box full of that great Jap beer. Excuse me for not getting the model off the truck my focus was on the beer!
When you first walked into the Garage spread out throughout the shop under the scaffolds and lighting was some of the coolest bikes you are going to see anywhere, and the bikes were much like the flyer described them, a unique style that embodies a nostalgic look with engineering excellence. Whilst new to Australia Zero Engineering has been building and designing bikes for the past 20 years and the event was used to unveil the Type 5 Custom and introduce the Type 5, 8 and Type 9 of the range along with the Iron Man movie bike. When you walked through the doors you immediately saw the jaw dropping Type 9 and it was whilst I was checking it out I was introduced to one of Gasoline’s and there for Australia’s first owners of a Zero, Adam Zammit. Adam is Ceo of the Big Day Out music festival, runs a bunch of music magazines and website and is the proud owner of a Zero Type 9. Adam ‘’just happened’’ to stumble across the Zero at Gasoline and immediately put a deposit on a Type 9. ‘’I’m a big boy and I wanted a softer ride and the multi-link suspension they have developed is incredible, it looks like a hard tail but they have beautifully integrated a vertical shock that’s hidden away is just fantastic! I have already ordered brass grips. The best thing with these bikes is they are immediately presentable as a custom bike, but they immediately beg for further customization and I think that’s a big thing for a guy like me who wants my own bike. In a difficult ADR climate for customising its (The Zero) a great platform for which to start with or stick with.’’ Adam at this time was still waiting for his bike to arrive from Japan and had already started to accumulate and planned his own touches, the first step was to rip out the box muffler, chop the fender a little, swap in the brass grips he brought from Germany and fit the 10oz Anvil Customs leather holster style saddle bags and tractor style custom seat he imported from the USA. If there is just one complaint from Adam it’s the seat “the seats aren’t great and I think Zero know it, the kick back of the seat is just too high and it seems to throw you into the forward controls and even if you’re a short guy it’s a little too much and I might swap over to a set of Firestone’s (tyres) but besides that it’s good to go!’’
As with many of the smaller dealers, custom especially the customer and builder/dealer often build a relationship and Gasoline shop manager ‘’Buster’’ and Adam have since built up an relationship and it was Adam who actually introduced Buster to Asahi ‘’Asahi Japanese beer are clients of ours and I told them about the Zero bikes and they instantly said that’s us! Gave us a bunch of money and showered us in a shitload of beer and said here support the bike launch!’’
Behind every good garage is a good mechanic and Gasoline Custom Garage’s resident grease monkey is Kiwi (we won’t hold that against him) Ben, so I bailed up Ben over a couple of Asahi’s and tried to get the dirt on the new invader ‘’the Zero is a great bike’’ he says ‘’it’s so hard in Australia to ride a custom bike because of all the rules and hassles, the Zero’s are great because they are fully ADR and if you get pulled over it’s just like getting pulled over on a stock Harley. You can come in and buy a Zero and own a custom bike which is fully legal and because the bikes are recognised as fully legal you can get finance and insurance for it which also makes for a good thing. I love ém, just the overall look and there isn’t much I don’t like. The motor and gear box are Harley Davidson and everything else is made by Zero and the bike comes in a Hard tail with springer seats or the Type 9 Multi link set up. The Hard tail is very much like riding a vintage bike only with modern performance, model brakes and is very much a lot more practical and most of all being a custom bike a Zero has soul, personality and character.
Being situated in one of the trendier suburbs of Sydney in Camperdown the launch attendees were everything from glamour models to celebs and even the odd rock star and motorcycling greats and I was able to catch up with just a few the first, Sydney drive time triple M radio personality and comedian Merrick. ‘’I recon they’re great and it’s great to see choppers being imported now. They’re a good jig and they’re a bit different to a modified or standard Harley Davidson and there is a lot of stuff coming into the country and onto the market like the Victory or Harley, so it’s good to see something like this come onto the market.’’ In the typical delivery that has taken Merrick had me believing him if only for a moment with this line ‘’as for a ride I can’t ride anything over 250cc so I’m clueless!’’ with a swift ‘’OK’’ I found myself glazing over and scouring the room for someone with some real bike cred when Merrick blurts out ‘’It’s a joke! Just give me some credit would ya? I think their great; I just love everything about them, their tops. I don’t know if these guys will let me have one for free, I’ll go and ask. I will take one for a test ride, I’ve ridden Bobbers and Choppers but I haven’t ridden one of these or even know of anyone who has, lookin’ forward to having a crack’’ .
TV presenter Tom Williams and would be Hells Angels take on the Zero was just as enthusiastic ‘’I’m very impressed, very tough. I would certainly want to find myself into a good gang on one of these bikes. These bikes set you apart from everyone else, very unique, very nostalgic and still tough. You’d hear it coming.’’
A highlight for me was meeting member of legendary Aussie band Silverchair and brother biker Chris Joannou ‘’I could absolutely see myself on one of these, if I couldn’t I’d think myself a crazy man. I’ve been riding for years and at the moment I’m riding a Ducati. These bikes are just so impressive, the one they have just finished building up the front that’s the one you want!’’
Besides the glitz and glamour there were many from the trade and whilst in true motorcycling spirit wanted to just kick back and sink a few coldies all were impressed with the bikes and can see the potential. One such organisation is Lucas Oil have chosen Gasoline Custom Garage as one of their distributors. I caught up with NSW rep for Lucas Oil products Mal Wilmont and his daughter Laura to get his take on Gasoline and the new Zero. Proud Mal was quick to lay down the Lucas catch call ‘’Lucas motor oils born from racing, made in America for American bikes!’’ this out of the way with a laugh and a swig of his Asahi beer we got the low down of the Lucas and Gasoline relationship ‘’ Lucas has been involved with Gasoline Custom Garage for a bit over 12 months and they were chosen to be our sole supplier of Lucas oil and lubricating products. That’s the whole range, heavy duty, gear box, engine oils etc. It’s been a great relationship and goes hand in hand.’’ A sympathetic Mal reflects on his night ‘’shame the boss couldn’t be here, he is at his at head office in the USA at the moment and actually I should have been there too, we are just that busy keeping up with the product, someone had to be here’’ and when asked of the bike ‘’Unreal, what a bike, fully ADR compliant, looks like something out of happy days yet when boys were boys and girls were girls and there was a clear line in-between’’.
Keeping a low profile in the rafters with boyfriend was Sydney model and columnist Rachael Burr, she was looking shit hot so I just had to go over and say hello and with a ‘’do you like ém’’ there was an instant “I love them’’ and Rachael was up there all over the Zero and made for a marriage made in heaven, hmmm?
Irish party boy and shop manager Buster was everywhere, so by the time we finally tied him down and made him stay still he was well into party mode and with the Asahi flowing, lights and music in the background I asked what he thought of the night ‘’the launch was a massive night, we did a burnout, we drank beer and we got to launch the best bike. The launch has been 14 months of hard work to put together, we’ve got the bikes here, we have all the media, and it’s been an absolute blast. Everybody has been really interested in the Zero’s. We have three models fully ADR and we built a custom for tonight and everyone has been really positive with all the bikes. We are the only shop in Australia doing something like this here after Big Bear went bust in the United States. Sucker Punch is doing it but they have their own thing going. Our bikes are unique, all the parts (except motor, gearbox) are made in Japan and no one is making a bike along the line of Zero Engineering and Gasoline are adding their little twist to them. Bikes start at $30,000 for the base model and can range up to the $40-50,000 mark depending on what you want. The main selling point of these bikes is that they are completely legal and even this bike we built for tonight is completely ADR, you can ride this bike away and have no dramas, and they are exactly like buying a Harley or Ducati. They are fully Federal compliant so they can be registered in every state and there are only a couple of bikes that can say that at this time.’’
Gasoline Custom Garage was only eight months old at the time of the launch and already an established dealer with, as Buster puts it, their bread and butter comes from used Harley Davidson sales, Gasoline also repair and modify Harleys from the early WLA from the 1930’s to today’s twin cam and have a large range of bikes under $20,000. Then there’s American cars and of course the Zero’s. Gasoline also has a large range of parts and accessories, T shirts and merchandise and hey if you have looked at this pics and thought how cool would it be to have a party there? Well here’s a scoop, Gasoline Customs Garage premises can be hired for events and parties. As Buster put it ever so modestly ‘’we do it all!’’.
Standing over one of his beloved Zero’s Buster adds ‘’I ride a zero all the time, the bikes are absolute quality and they are building the best hard tail motorcycles in the world at the moment. Zero bikes come with a full two year warranty and have repairers Australia wide, they (Zero) only build 200 bikes per year and we are lucky enough to have received 25-35 this year for delivery throughout Australia and New Zealand. The Aussie economy has been very buoyant so I put my money where my mouth is and ordered the bikes and it has been paying off and the response to the bikes positive. Zero has been building bikes for the past 20 years. The bikes have been styled on the early bikes of the 1930’s, the Harley Davidson WLA and Knuckle heads. Shinakimyura, the man who started the company was customising these styles of bikes back in the 1990’s. Back in the days when people were building Easter egg billet choppers. He just turned his back on the whole scene and has been building in his own distinctive style for the past 20 years and the whole world has only now caught up!’’