Best In Show: Cherry’s Company ‘Chronos’ 1975 Panhead

Words: Geoff Baldwin Photography: Luke Ray

The Japanese custom scene is ripe with talented builders and workshops and there’s no denying that what’s happening in Japan has had an incredible influence on the global scene. We all have our favourites, but when it comes to what gets the locals excited there’s one guy who’s been at the top of the heap for three years running. At what has become one of Japan’s biggest and most internationally renowned events, the Mooneyes Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show, Kaichiroh Kurosu of Cherry’s Company has yet again taken out the prize for Best Motorcycle in Show. His latest Panhead/Shovelhead baptised Chronos wowed the judges and show goers, and our esteemed leader and man behind the lens Luke Ray was there to capture it in all its glory. Kaichiroh isn’t a man of many (English) words, but we did our best to pull together this exclusive interview (thanks Google translate!) about the 2014 Yokohama Mooneyes Best in Show; Chronos.

You started Cherry's Company back in 2000. Can you tell us about your life before Cherry's and how it led to you opening your own workshop?

Before I set up Cherry's Company I worked in several industries. During my studies I majored in architectural design and after graduation I worked designing retail spaces. When I turned 23 I left that career to work as a mechanic's apprentice at a Harley-Davidson dealership. This was the beginning of my life in the motorcycle industry and after 5 years with Harley-Davidson I founded Cherry’s Company and went out on my own.

How would you describe the Cherry’s Company style?

I like the Chopper style but it’s not all that I like to build. I’m also into Café Racers and the Board Track Racer style and have built bikes like this for my customers. What I really like is creating a sense of speed.

In the past few years I have begun to develop themes for my builds. Last year I was on the theme of ‘Vintage Street Drag Racer’. This year, I have chosen ‘Future & Retro’ and will be creating what I like to call ‘Neo Board Track Racers’.

Also in terms of style the riding position of my bikes is very important to me and it has become quite aggressive in 2015.

How much planning goes into each build and how many people work on your builds?

I always start by thinking about the bike’s design and structure in my head. I dedicate a lot of time to thinking. I don't do any drawing, so when I build bikes it is much easier for me to work almost entirely alone.

Obviously an incredible amount of time and work went into building the Chronos. Can you tell us about some of the more difficult parts of the build?

The bike took me two months to complete and it’s the custom made frame that was the most difficult part. The Chronos frame uses a Softail style suspension setup which I wanted to make as small as possible. Usually Softail frames are much larger, but the Chronos frame is a beautifully compact single down tube.

What other work went into putting the Chronos together?

I started out with an engine that was a Shovelhead/Panhead hybrid. To accommodate the exhaust system that I wanted to build, I flipped the bike’s carburettor to sit on the left side of the engine rather than the right using a modified S&S intake. This also adds more visual style to both sides of the bike. The frame, swing arm and front girder style forks are all one-off designs I made especially for this bike. The bodywork is also all custom made such as the fuel tank, headlight cowl and tail end.

For this bike I also created a custom front brake rotor and foot controls and have installed an auto-clutch system which I am looking forward to experiencing more now that the show is over.

Where does the name Chronos come from?

Chronos is the god of time. I decided on this name because the bike is old but it looks new. I wanted to create something that would not be era specific to those who see it.

What has it been like building bikes for the Mooneyes show?

Mooneyes has helped to bring new customers to the Cherry’s workshop (including BMW Motorrad in 2014) which is great for me. It also helps me to know how people evaluate Cherry’s Company bikes and helps me to evolve and begin to plan my next build.

How do you feel about being selected as best in show for the third time?

It is a complex feeling. If I just think about myself I feel very happy, but if I think about the custom motorcycle industry, I feel some regret. I have worried if whether it leads to a reduction in industry-wide motivation when one person is awarded multiple times. It is better when different builders get awarded for the industry development.

This article first appeared in Tank Moto issue 06.

Follow Kaichiroh: @cherryscompany.