There were so many jaw-dropping builds at last week's annual Hot Rod Custom Show in Yokohama, Japan (see our galleries here), that you just may have missed the sensational custom bike that won Best of Show at this year's event. The BMW-influenced "Departed" from Custom Works Zon saw its premiere here, and from what we can see, this wild build deserves every bit of the praise it has received.

Custom Works Zon
Custom Works Zon has done it again with this wild “Departed” bike, which mixes a prototype BMW engine in a custom frame and lots of handmade parts.Courtesy BMW Motorrad

You might recognize the shop behind the insane creation. Japan-based Custom Works Zon founded by Yuichi Yoshizawa and Yoshikazu Ueda in 2003 has earned heaps of prizes and awards over the years, and they're well-known for their creative, unexpected, and meticulous builds. These guys are regularly invited to well-known shows like Mama Tried, The HandBuilt Motorcycle Show in Austin, Texas, and the Brooklyn Invitational, to name just a few.

We featured the shop's way-out, koi-loving Knucklehead a couple of months ago, as well as its sleek, rippling H-D Street 750 some years back.

massive engine is suspended in the frame
That massive engine is suspended in the frame but reinforced with grid tubes.Courtesy BMW Motorrad

But this time, the duo has outdone themselves in spectacular fashion, with a stunning mix of handbuilt and über high tech, a custom based on a prototype of a BMW boxer engine, which itself references past ideas.

prototype boxer engine
It’s a modern, prototype boxer engine, but pushrods running above the cylinders recall BMW’s older boxers from the ’60s.Courtesy BMW Motorrad

Naturally, there was plenty of buzz about that prototype engine, since the external geometry and visible elements like pushrods running above the cylinders recall BMW’s older boxer engines built until the late 1960s. Of course, this mill presumably boasts a larger volume and modern air-/oil-cooling. Just look at that gorgeous radiator shroud. But that’s just speculation: BMW remains tight-lipped about the engine’s possible future application, though we’re sure to hear something soon. For his part, Yuichi Yoshizawa says he was thrilled to collaborate with the German brand: “It was a great honor and a challenge to be able to build a motorcycle around the prototype of such a spectacular new boxer engine.”

aluminum and fitted with relatively narrow tires
Talk about spaciness. The large but airy 21-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels are milled of aluminum and fitted with relatively narrow tires.Courtesy BMW Motorrad

While the large-volume engine is clearly the focal point in Departed, there’s no missing Custom Works Zon’s distinctive classic styling that somehow seamlessly combines modern production techniques and a ridiculously high level of craftsmanship and detail. The solid aluminum girder fork is an undeniable nod to the past but with a more modern sweep, and the bike’s low, thin silhouette looks like it could have been pulled right out of the late 1920s and 1930s. Those beautifully spoked 21-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels, both fairly narrow, add to the spaced-out feel. Look closely, and you’ll see that the steel swingarm is attached to the tubular frame via concealed (but robust) suspension; the massive engine is suspended in that frame and reinforced with tubes. Of course these guys always put in a fair amount of craftsmanship into their builds, and here it’s the fuel tank, seat, and front trim that get the handmade treatment, all from sheet metal.

Custom Works Zon
Custom Works Zon used this aluminum girder fork to reference the past and give that tall front hoop some emphasis.Courtesy BMW Motorrad

All this imagination and creativity didn’t go unnoticed, as the spectacular Custom Works Zon/BMW Motorrad collaboration earned the prestigious Best of Show Motorcycle designation, a suitably lofty honor at the 27th annual Hot Rod Custom Show. We can’t wait to see what Custom Works Zon brings to the next show. And we have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll see of that BMW engine either.

Yuichi Yoshizawa and Yoshikazu Ueda
Yuichi Yoshizawa and Yoshikazu Ueda hoisting the goods at the Yokohama show. Pretty sure we’ll see them on the podium again soon.Courtesy BMW Motorrad