1939 Kurogane Type 95

1939 Kurogane Type 95

Written by Martin Hodgson. Source: 1939 Kurogane Type 95 | Pipeburn.com

For many decades it was a mythical creature, believed destroyed in a nuclear apocalypse that shocked the world and any documentation of it’s existence deliberately destroyed. Even the official historian of a very large American motorcycle manufacturer with a strong connection to the machine believed any trace had been lost forever. But of all places, the war time Kurogane Type 95 motorcycle by Japanese corporation Nihon Nainenki appeared on US television in a brief scene on the hit show “I Love Lucy” in the ’50s and ever since collectors and historians have been searching for a complete example. With only three remaining in the world and two in the collection of our friends at The Motorworld by V.Sheyanov, we can now present to you this 1939 Type 95, the only “Civilian” version of the sidecar equipped V-Twin beast anywhere in the world.

Before the Japanese motorcycle industry became what it is today, with large dedicated manufacturers dominating the world market the industry was made up of small suppliers who provided components to assembly plants often owned by companies that had no interest in motorcycles other than as another product to sell.


For many years one of the suppliers to the market was Harley-Davidson with their flathead engine used in an array of makes and models, but as the Second World War approached and Japan isolated itself the military took control and Nihon Nainenki was contracted to supply the side-car equipped Kurogane (meaning Black Steel) Type 95 for military use and in service of the Emperor.


But when the Atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Hiroshima the factory that built this machine was totally destroyed and the lives of the engineers and designers lost. The last remaining traces of the Type 95 were deliberately destroyed when troops surveyed the city and all such examples believed lost.


That was until an example was spied on “I Love Lucy” and it was clear that at least one US solider had taken himself home a sizeable souvenir. The machine along with it’s side-car was found in California in the 1960s but was again hidden from the world until restorer Steve Rainbolt brought it along to the International Motorshow in Del Mar in 1997 and took out the judges choice award.


Just to show how rare a machine it was, even an expert judging panel was totally fooled, as not only was it painted US military green instead of the correct black, it had a surface restoration and didn’t run but that didn’t stop the judges from also naming it “the rarest motorcycle in the world”. But when the bike was purchased by The Motorworld by V. Sheyanov for the Motos of War collection nothing but a complete and original restoration would do and Italian maestro Costantino Frontalini was tasked with the job.


“Restoration of military Kurogane was a historical event for my firm, because of extreme rarity of this motorcycle. We moved to a higher level when Vyacheslav Sheyanov has also offered me to work with a civilian version. Actually, there was no serial production of a civilian version of Kurogane, at least there is no existing documentation for confirmation of this hypothesis. The main idea was a representation of a “spoils of war” which was found by an American soldier, then transported to US and repainted to civilian style – a typical story of the WW2 period.” recounts Frontalini.


He knew he had a genuine example however due to the presence of a reverse gear and marks where a sidecar would have been mounted and set to work on the mammoth task restoring the Type 95 with no information other than some old war time photos. The frame itself is rigid made from thick walled steel to handle the load of three men and a sidecar, with extra bracing in all load bearing locations.


It’s remarkable how much of the bike is original, albeit restored to perfection and that includes the heavy duty, twin shock, springer front end that provides remarkable stability at high speed and precise dampening in rough terrain.


The rigid rear provides no such luxury but was vital to maintaining a reliable machine during war time. But clearly the man to be was the one seated in the sidecar, as while the rider and his rear passenger sat on sprung seats to absorb the rigid’s blows, the thirdman had the benefit of dual leaf springs suspending his carriage like a cloud in the heavily reinforced steel sidecar cradle.


The spoked wheels are identical front and rear in all dimensions, so too that used by the sidecar, meaning the mounted spare wheel could be substituted at any time should there be a blow out. There is no braking system on the third wheel but front and rear wear drum brakes to bring everything to a halt.


Powering the Type 95, like many large war time Japanese motorcycles, is a variation of the Harley-Davidson Flathead. But despite its American heritage virtual no part would fit a Hog as they were modified and redesigned to fit the unique Japanese manufacturing process and the new and improved engineering needed for reliability.


Despite the 1260cc side valve based on the Harley version with a total loss oiling system the Type 95 has a fully internal oil pump. Improving the ignition and electrics is a system that was designed and built by Mitsubishi for the factory in Hiroshima that included a trick magneto. The gearbox is everything you would expect from the Japanese and years ahead of its time. A hand-shifted box that featured three forward gears, reverse for easy maneuvering of the sidecar and neutral with a hill-hold. All of which has been restored back to perfection, starting first go and easily capable of 80km/h with a full load and three men on board.


For what was essentially a military vehicle the appointments are luxurious throughout. The Lazy-boy recliner like sidecar seat is large and heavily padded, with high grade leather used on all three seats. All the controls are chrome and highly ergonomical with a very upright seating position thanks to the stretched back bars.


An important part of the restoration was the fitment of a period correct speedometer that reads in km/h and the shift panel with stamped Japanese lettering. As the name suggests the bodywork was returned to the rich black it was always meant to be but not before its Italian restorer had poured hundreds of man hours into perfecting the panel work. From the tank, to the body of the sidecar and all the headlight buckets and surrounds every piece is now rust free and metal worked with tender Italian love.


One of the many brilliant features of the Kurogane Type 95 is how easily the sidecar can be decoupled turning the three man moving machine into a solo scoot. But why would you want to do such a thing with arguably the rarest motorcycle on the planet that has undergone a big dollar resto and sits in a museum?


So you can ride it of course and not just on the flat stuff, but the gents at Motos of War are also happy to take it off road and have a blast in the mud with the V-Twin shooting rooster tails all over those trailing. It is the gift to all that is the “The Motorworld by V. Sheyanov” collection. A place where rare automotive treasures sleep during the night and when the sun comes up you can visit this smorgasbord for the eyes or saddle up and take an old war horse for a ride.


Pipeburn is organising a tour to “The Motorworld by V. Sheyanov” collection in Russia. It will be a once in a lifetime experience to a ride some of the rarest motorcycles in the world – and probably drink a little bit of Vodka too. If you would be interested in joining us shoot us an email and we will keep you posted on the details and costs.

1939 Kurogane Type 95

6 Motorcycle films worth watching

6 Motorcycle films worth watching

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The fine art of the motorcycle film has hit a speed hump in recent years. Raw and gritty paens to the alternative lifestyle are harder to find. And easy access to broadcast-quality DSLR recording has caused a rise in quantity rather than quality.

But it’s not all showers of sparks from angle grinders, or softly-spoken men with beards muttering dreamy platitudes. Here are six terrific films that we’ve enjoyed recently, including a couple of old favorites—and a very enticing trailer.

ON ANY SUNDAY, THE NEXT CHAPTER Released back in ‘71, On Any Sunday is one of the best-loved motorcycle films of all time. Directed by Bruce Brown—famous for the surf classic Endless Summer—it captured the spirit of motorcyling in a way that even non-riders could understand. And deservedly won an Academy Award nomination.

A sequel is now being readied for release, directed by Bruce’s son Dana Brown and shot using 4K Ultra HD equipment. On Any Sunday, The Next Chapter is backed by Red Bull, KTM and Skullcandy, and the PR machine is about to hit top gear.

Fortunately, the trailer suggests that the film will live up to the hype. It’ll hit theaters in the USA on November 7.

Official Website

LONG LIVE THE KINGS Clement Beauvais and Arthur de Kersauson scored a king hit with this oddball six-minute documentary. Released two years ago, it follows the lads from Blitz Motorcycles on a roadtrip through France. Shot on Super 16 film, it’s a beguiling mix of edginess and elegance.

If you like Kings, keep an eye out for Beauvais and de Kersauson’s new full-length documentary, The Greasy Hands Preachers. It’s just premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival, with Orlando Bloom on board as executive producer. Early reports are mixed for that one, but we’ll reserve judgment until we’ve seen it ourselves.

TOM FUGLE If the name Scott Pommier sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen his peerless motorcycle photography—often monochrome, but always atmospheric. Pommier has now made a five-minute film: a profile of veteran builder Tom Fugle.

Fugle is one of the founders of the El Forastero outlaw motorcycle club—which counted artist Dave Mann amongst its members. But this film is about Tom’s passion for bikes, and mighty fine it is too.

WAITING OUT WINTER Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. This is Andrew David Watson’s homage to craftspeople who spend cold days inside their workshops, building and fettling, and waiting for better weather. If you’ve ever shivered inside your garage while working on your bike, you’ll sympathize.

CHENNAI TO PONDICHERRY Director Skylar Nielsen took a crew on a motorcycle tour of Southern India, and the result is as tasty as a hot masala dosa. The trip south down the East Coast Road was eye opening, and Nielsen has somehow captured the mayhem of being surrounded by thousands of cars, tuk-tuks, cows, goats, and dogs. Sensory overload at its finest.

SHINYA KIMURA—CHABOTT ENGINEERING This is the gold standard: the film that raised the bar, and every other director looks up to. It’s four years old now, but has lost none of its appeal. Director Henrik Hansen takes us on a trip into the world and mindset of Shinya Kimura, the enigmatic Japanese builder who set up Zero Engineering and now practices his craft in the small town of Azusa, California.

He’s one of the few builders who can command more than $100,000 for his work, and after watching this, you’ll see why. It’s two minutes and 45 seconds of perfection.

The post 6 motorcycle films worth watching appeared first on Bike EXIF.


Top 5 Vintage Motorcycles On eBay This Week | eBay

Top 5 Vintage Motorcycles On eBay This Week | eBay

This week we seem to have inadvertently focussed on racing motorcycles, both on and off road varieties. It seems like there are more sporting bikes on eBay at the moment but this might be due to the fact that the weather is slowly warming up and people’s minds are turning to summer days in the saddle.

This week’s personal choice would come down to a choice between the Rickman Triumph Metisse and the BSA B50 MX. Both of these would be a blast to ride and the Triumph has the added benefit of being road legal in all 50 states.Click here to see a live list of motorcycles on eBay.

1965 Rickman Triumph Metisse Special

This Rickman is a bit of an unusual amalgamation of parts, it originally had a 250cc two-stroke fitted but it’s since had a Triumph parallel twin fitted to the frame. The good news is that this means it’s much cheaper than it otherwise would be, and much less smokey!Click here to view the listing.

Excelsior Board Track Racer

The Excelsior is an American marque that’s sadly no longer with us. Back in their heyday they built some of the fastest board track motorcycles ever made, and surviving examples like this one tend to sell for significant sums of money. This one has a non-original frame Click here to view the listing.

1967 Triumph TR6 Trophy

The Triumph TR6 was the most popular donor bike for conversion into a “desert sled” back in the 1960s. Steve McQueen had one and Fonzie rode one in Happy Days – and this is a great example of the model.Click here to view the listing.

1971 BSA B50 MX

This was to be the last BSA motocross bike ever made, it was an improved version of the B44 with a tougher engine and better reliability.Click here to view the listing.

1975 Rickman Triumph CR 750

This is a very rare bike indeed, and it was only raced for a single season in 1975 before being rolled into storage and never touched again. It’s for sale now with everything you’d need to get it road legal, after a restoration of course.Click here to view the listing.

Source: Top 5 Vintage Motorcycles On eBay This Week | eBay