Most people who see, for the first time a Zero Engineering motorcycle are not won over by the Japanese workshop's design philosophy and attention to detail. Using a traditional, torque V-twin, Zero Engineering draws inspiration from the concept of wabi wabi (austre refinement) and the beauty of the raw materials to incorporate the essence of wa (harmony) into their designs.
The result is a range of minimalistic, vintage-looking motorcycles that combine high-tech function and traditional form, based around a rigid, gooseneck frame, springer front forks and spoked wheels, with many components deliberately left in a bare-metal finish.
The frame may look like a classic but it's a completely re-engineered modern component that employs top-grade steel tubing of varying thickness and specification to best achieve the firm's goal of rigidity with flexibility. Zero Engineering explains why it went to such lengths: 'Without the extra weight and soft rear suspension of a typical cruiser soaking up all the vibrations and brute force of a large V-twin, these rigid motorcycles lay down the power like no other. The combination of a rigid frame and so much torque is truly shocking to first time riders. Absolute, reliable, super fine control over the engine is a must.' The result, it says, is a rigid motorcycle but one built into a frame that has been designed to bend strategically so 'this bike has the flexibility necessary for longer journeys and one-day touring.'
The Type 5 seen here is Zero's signature model and comes with the five-speed 1340cc Evo engine in silver or black and chrome finishes. The 74” springer forks are modified from the original drum brake configuration to accept disc brakes for better stopping power and are tailored to each model to match its mass and engine output.
The Zero Engineering Type 5 also features Zero's unique aluminum fuel tank, hand-crafted in Japan and that solo saddle is set just 635mm from the ground. Combined with the motorcycle's narrow profile, the low seat height and flat handlebars make it ideal or the urban environment. Each motorcycle is built by hand and takes several months to complete, with just a two models available in Thailand. There is, or course, an extensive range of options to ensure that each Zero Engineering bike is nothing quite like any other, including an open primary drive and dry clutch, brass trims, hand-sew saddles and so on.