The plane into Yokohama was filled with familiar faces. Bike builders like Roland Sands and Suicide Machine sat next to photographers and journalists all headed to the same spot. There is a reason so much of the US motorcycle industry heads to Japan for the Hot Rod Custom Show (HRCS) in Yokohama: it’s one of the best custom car and bike shows in the world, and always brings the freshest, cleanest, and most far-out talent in the motorcycle world.

Bikes I had been following for months online were finished and here in showroom shine. Psycho Engine’s psycho W-triple engine made out of three Honda single heads and a custom-machined low end in a rigid frame with a single-sided springer front end—the thing was blowing my mind. An Ariel Square Four chopper that I had pictures of from the ’70s was restored to its former shining glory and sitting in a bed of sunflowers. Vice from Japan had built a replica of HAMC Tiny’s chopper—white frame, huge apes, cylinder tanks, and all. Lap after lap, I kept noticing new bikes and new details.

Tiny's chopper
Vise's tribute to Tiny's chopper.Morgan Gales

Pinstripers and artists from all over the world were there doing their thing live and peddling merch. Japan’s top moto gear and clothing companies were set up and displaying their wares with everything from helmets and leather goods to selvedge denim and military-inspired apparel. Vintage toys and Americana were also popular themes, going along with the Southern California-meets-Tokyo vibe of the whole show.

Honestly, I have been home for three days now and I am still reeling, thinking about certain bikes and things I saw. Japan is such an amazing place, with so much that is so different from what we see here in the US, and this show embodied that so well. If you can't get out to Japan for the Yokohama show, the Mooneyes Christmas Show happens this weekend, December 8 at Irwindale Speedway in Southern California. Check mooneyes.com/ for more details!

aluminum-clad sportster
So much style in such a little package!Morgan Gales
aluminum-clad Sportster
That's one big intake on this aluminum-clad Sportster.Morgan Gales
Triumph sprint racer
A Triumph sprint racer with flipped heads.Morgan Gales
Guzzi
While it looks as classic as the day it rolled off the factory floor, this Guzzi has updated running systems that make it much nicer to ride.Morgan Gales
Heiwa's BMW R75
Headlight detail on Heiwa's BMW R75.Morgan Gales
Heiwa's custom BMWs
Heiwa's custom BMWs were on display.Morgan Gales
Ironhead
Hide's speedway-inspired Ironhead.Morgan Gales
Shinya Kimura's SR500 custom
Shinya Kimura's SR500 custom on display.Morgan Gales
BMW R7
A BMW R7-inspired custom by Roland Sands Design.Morgan Gales
XS650 Custom
Go Takamine's XS650 Custom.Morgan Gales
Psycho Engine in Indonesia
Wild one-sided springer by Psycho Engine in Indonesia.Morgan Gales
2300cc Volkswagen-powered cafe racer
A 2,300cc Volkswagen-powered café racer.Morgan Gales
Yamaha XT
A beauty of a little Yamaha XT.Morgan Gales
BMW
A beautiful BMW updated with modern brakes and suspension.Morgan Gales
Ariel Square-4 chopper
An Ariel Square-4 chopper restored from an original '70s build by Breeze.Morgan Gales
Custom Yamaha XR650
A custom Yamaha XR650 with lots of engraving detail.Morgan Gales
Bratstyles BMW R nineT
Go Takamine of Bratstyle showed this BMW R nineT.Morgan Gales
Yamaha SR500s
A couple of Yamaha SR500s, one of the most popular Japanese models at the show.Morgan Gales
Sportster custom
A minimal yet menacing Sportster custom.Morgan Gales
Crazy Sportster dual-sport custom
Crazy Sportster dual-sport custom.Morgan Gales
Custom monocoque SR500
We saw this custom monocoque SR500 outside the show during load-in day.Morgan Gales