Lately we’ve been featuring a lot of lowdown/garuchan cars, and why not? They’re cool and old school. But there is another side of the whole bosozoku scene, and that’s the bikes.
And rather like a lowdown/garuchan car (with its external oil cooler, dished wheels, flares, sharknose and loud paint) a bosozoku bike seems to follow quite a rigid formula. It has to be an older bike, preferably from the late 70s, and usually about 400cc.
Then you have to have a really dramatic queen seat with a really high backrest like a 70s sissy bar, with medium-height ape-hanger bars:
As for the front, you either run a fairing, that is mounted in a bizarre, high position.
(….take the above two styling features to the max and you end up with something like this…and yes you can question what function the fairing has when it’s all the way up there)
Or you have this funny thing that looks like a huge helmet visor over the clocks.
Then you add accessories like billet battery cover, chrome and candy paint (and it seems very much part of the “look” that you have to colour code everything that isn’t chromed).
….is that girl on the pillion clutching a Louis Vuitton bag??
……..and then you have to have open, unmuffled pipes so that you can do…..
I watched an instructional (oh yes…) video on how to make that “music”, and basically you stomp on the back brake, then alternate the revving with drags on the clutch while in gear. Now if you’re thinking “haha, that’s silly but sort of a little catchy” then you need to cure yourself of these thoughts by imagining what a whole bunch of bikers all riding together sounds like:
In these particular videos, you’ll hear the term “Kyusha-kai” being used quite a lot, and there’s a story behind it. Do a search on “Bosozoku” and you’ll get a lot of hits that paint a picture of gang crime and violence. And certainly this is true up to a point (“Bosozoku” is actually a truncation of words that mean “Violent Running Tribe”). But for more normal people who simply like the style of the bikes and the club riding lifestyle, then they’re called Kyusha-kai, which is more like the respectable face of the outlaw biker scene.
But no matter how legit they might be, they all still make that awful noise!
Spend some time in Japan, and eventually you’ll come across a swarm of these bikers cruising together, and making an enormous, headache-generating racket. Most Japanese people regard them as largely harmless, if a little annoying with the noise they generate as they ride down the street. And on the other hand, to call these bikers “bosozoku” might actually be a bit offensive to these bike enthusiasts who might not actually be gang members.
Here is a bosozoku meet (notice the overalls with gang slogans and rank insignia embroidered on them):
Here is a Kyusha-kai meet:
And rather like how the JDM police have almost completely stamped out street racing, the true bosozoku crime gangs are slowly being made extinct. There is however a great deal of overlap, and while kyusha-kai don’t wear gang colours, you do see a few clubs insisting on a uniform of some sort (although I think they are mostly quite careful to avoid the baggy overalls which would have too much of a gang connotation).
But Kyusha-kai is sufficiently popular that there are magazines dedicated to the scene, and the accessories for these 30yr old bikes are still quite available: check out BEET and Orbic, and there are even bike dealers that specialise in these things.
But suffice to say that these bike clubs are a unique fixture of the scene in Japan…across all walks of life. And the bike mods aren’t any less outlandish than what the lowdown guys do to their cars.
Now where’s that bottle of Panadol….