Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Total Heros: My Brothers in the NFK

Ok ,so awhile ago I did an interview with my buddy MotoYan for Jeff Wright on his Church of Choppers blog.
Jeff could only run so many photos on there and I have tons of them. And, I love, love, LOVE Yans photography. Soooo... I am going to post a bunch of them with the interview here.
If you can't see why all the NFK members are so inspirational to any Attack Chopper project and to my Attack Chopper philosophy... then you aren't paying attention.
Besides... Tokyo itself is a huge influence on my philosphy as well.
What better way to see what Tokyo and Tokyo bikes look like than to go straight to the source!
Go see Yan's amazing blog here : http://nfkffnfk.blogspot.com/


Total Heros: My Brothers in the NFK- PART 1

Many of you readers out there may have seen pics posted by one of the Tokyo contributors named MotoYan.
Or perhaps you may have even seen pics of some wild eyed crazy guy tearing around Iowa and on to Wisconsin with Jeff and everyone at the S&S 50th all the while taking pictures of anything and everything.
You might have even seen a mention here or there to something called the NFK and wondered if that was the same group of guys that were shown blasting around in late night Tokyo traffic on the Jason Jesse movie: Pray for me.
And you MIGHT have even seen a bunch of fixed gear bicycle, and bike messenger or skating pictures if you followed a link, or happened across this mysterious MotoYan’s blog, or Flickr page.
So I’m sure many of you have questions that have been gnawing at your brain for some time about this character:
“Who is this guy really?”
“Is it true he is invincible?”
“What is up with this group of guys called the NFK?”
“Where did this rash come from and why does it burn when I pee?”
“And who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Wolverine?”

Well, I can’t help you with those last two, but maybe I can shed some light on the MotoYan and NFK mystery.

I had a chat with Yan about himself, and the No Future Krew or NFK as they are usually referred to as and this is what he had to say:

So Yan, I first became aware of you and the No Future Krew when you emailed me one day about my old ratty XS650 chopper and we immediately became friends. I think that was about 4 years ago… and you guys were together before that. When is it that you guys first began riding together?

Yeah, that's right. I was really shocked when I saw you and your chopper drifting in the dirt. I saw you on the Bad Motorcycles for Bad People forum.
At the same time, I was managing a BBS called "NO FUTURE" where many people talked about choppers and every time I saw some cool chopper pics, I posted them on that board.
Some of the people on there really liked what I was posting on the board, and they began to stay and talk together.
And then, in June of 2003, we said “Why don’t we ride together on Thursday night".
And that was the beginning of the NFK.

Right on, is the NFK a gang, a club, or something else?

I don't know. We are just friends. No regulation, no rules, nothing.

How many members are there in the NFK?

About 15. May be more. I don't know.

Is there a particular kind of motorcycle that the NFK members must ride, or prefer to ride?

No. But right now, some of guys have started selling their Harleys.
Joytoy sold his chopper and got an old Buell RSS.
H sold his Twincam and got a new Triumph Bonneville café racer.
Disk sold his FXR and he might buy a Gixxer.
I sold my FXR and got GS1200SS.
Yudai will be selling his shovelhead pretty soon.
Some of the members don’t even own a motorcycle. They ride fixed gear bicycles.

Why are you guys all selling your Harleys?

Actually, we are NOT biker type of guys. We love motorcycles. Not only Harleys.
We all met together because we were riding Harleys though. I can appreciate that.
Riding a Harley has something extra… like…power. I made many friends riding my Harley.
But I also like sportbikes too. And old air-cooled Kawasaki’s. And oil-cooled Gixxers.
I finally realized that I wanted my Harley to become like a 4-cylinder motorcycle.
So I decided to get Jap bike.
I have three kids so I cannot waste money on Harleys any more. Compared to Harleys, the Jap bikes are much, much cheaper to maintain here.

I hear that man.
So maybe some of the readers have heard about the Coreride. What is the Coreride?
That was a monthly ride we had run together.
Full throttle highway blasts from Yokohama to Tokyo.
It was like a cannon ball run.
Guys were putting new parts on, boring out their cylinders, putting high performance cylinder heads, running higher cams, getting new paint jobs, all for this cannon ball style run.
It was usually 10 to 15 guys came and rode together.
Occasionally 30 and sometimes as many as 60 guys at once.
People came from all over. From Nagoya, from Kobe, from Nigata, from everywhere.
2004 was the peak. 4 guys crashed, and after that the run was never like it used to be.
There is a big bridge across Yokohama to Tokyo called "Bay Bridge",
one guy tried to pass another guy before the bridge, and his handle bar hit the other guys handle bar. The guy that got hit was riding a Buell, and he fell off.
And another guy riding an Evo-Dyna ran over him. The Buell guy broke both wrists.
and another guy crashed into the Evo-Dyna with his Sportster.
Also the fucking police started chasing us every time we run, but we never stopped.
But now Coreride is gone. bye bye.
We stopped riding on the highways, now we run just in the city streets.

Total Heros: My Brothers in the NFK- PART 2

That reminds me of something I have wondered about for quite a while now:
Does the NFK have a lot of trouble with the police? Or are the cops pretty relaxed in Japan?
The last few Corerides, the police realized that we run on the high way at super high speeds.
They were waiting for us. We recognized there was a police car in front of us. But we never stop.
I passed Police car over 120mph, then they start chasing me.
They didn't chase us from behind; they came right up beside of me. side-by-side chasing, man!

Ha, ha... wicked man!
Is there a leader of the NFK?

No leader. No prospect. We are just friends.

Are most of the NFK members living in Tokyo?

Well, you are an NFK member living there in Nebraska, Knucklehead Steve is living in NY, and Shadows Oliv lives in France,
I’m here in Tokyo, Joytoy and Disk both live near my house and there are a few others…
But yeah, I would say that NFK is mostly based in Tokyo.

Ok, let’s shift gears a bit here.
I know that you are a bicycle messenger during the day now; does all that crazy messenger riding affect your motorcycle riding skills in the city? I would think that it would have to… probably really speeds up your reflexes… my brother use to race motocross and he always was looking for other things to “cross train” to help him learn better balance and riding skills. I had never thought of being a bicycle messenger until now. How has that affected your riding style on your motorcycles?

Well, I would have to say that riding a Bicycle is kind of the same but still very different from a motorcycle.
The speed is obviously very different, and the maneuvers are very different.
And riding a bicycle in the city, especially a fixed gear bicycle, is very dangerous, so I ride carefully.
I guess it really hasn’t changed my motorcycle riding that much.

Ok, cool…don’t you and some other NFK members ride your bicycles in that RxKxBX roadkill night run thing too? Tell us a little about that.
Oh, yeah. We were going to the RxKxBx run every time last year.
Many of NFK members got fixed gear track bikes. It was so fresh riding bicycles together and being outrageous in the city.
It was the same as the Bosozoku, man. No rules. Red light go style. It was so much fun.
And at the same time, we were kind a tired of the Tokyo chopper scene from 2007 to mid 2008. Not fun.
So we escaped to the bicycle society, Ha, ha! There was a lot more freedom. and no politics.
Man, RxKxBx is fuckin nice. It’s the same kind a community as the NFK. No Limits No Laws style.
No president, no prospect, we just wanna have some fun! That's it.

Do you still ride that red Triumph chopper? That was supposed to be for your wife right?

Yeah, I got that Triumph chopper from Choppahead in Boston for my wife. It’s actually still sitting in the garage!

Total Heros: My Brothers in the NFK- PART 3

I know with your latest bike purchase (Your GS1200SS) you are getting away from the custom bike style that you had with your FXR and your Triumph… but what are some of the things, people, magazines, books, or movies that influenced you and the rest of NFK when you built your bikes now and in the past.
I’m going to guess that like me… Mad Max, The Road Warrior and Akira is right up there at the top for you guys!

Actually, I don't think I am done with the custom bike society. I will definitely be back! I am broke right now, but I will be back.
My next bike will be much more of a streetfighter. I wanted my FXR to be a streetfighter Harley.
But with stock gas tank and fenders though.
And yes…as you know, my biggest influence is the Mad Max movie.

So is the core NFK group in Tokyo getting more into the air-cooled musclebike/race bike and streetfighter scene too, or is that something you guys have always liked?

Oh yeah, most of the guys really just love motorcycles. Any motorcycles.
We really got into Harleys for, like 7, or 8 years. That’s enough! Ha, ha!
You will see an all new NFK in the near future.

A lot of the NFK now own fixed gear track bicycles, but I know for a long time a lot of you skated and you actually owned a skate shop. Do you guys still skate, or have you moved onto bikes only now?
I am a very stupid guy. I can do only one thing at a time. I quit skating now since I am a messenger.
Some of the guys still love to skate. I still want to do downhill skating too… but when spring comes. It’s way too cold out now! Ha, ha!

You told me after the S&S 50th that you really loved Iowa and riding there. You loved the high speeds and the long stretches of open road… do you prefer that to Tokyo city riding, or is it not very exciting after all that crazy traffic battling that you have to do every day? I get rather bored of it after living here in Nebraska for so long… I love riding in the city traffic.

I really liked Iowa a lot because of how great Jeff treated us Man, he is fuckin nice. We had so much fun with him.
The roads out there are completely different from Tokyo. Totally straight roads, with absolutely nothing in front of me.
I realized that choppers would be very nice in this situation.
And also no helmet law. That's fuckin nice! I felt freedom!
But yes, I got easily got bored on the flat, straight roads with no traffic. I realized that I love traffic wars.

We all know about how the riding that the early chopper riders in San Francisco changed how they customized their bikes so that they could survive the police purists the high speeds, and lane splitting without crashing… (Slightly longer front ends for more ground clearance, higher frisco pegs, narrow everything, lighter weight, ect. ect.)
And we know that the BASARA MC have followed some of the early Frisco bike ideals with their high speed mountain road Harley choppers…
How has the NFK and other Japanese riders changed their bikes to keep up with the demands of your riding style in your environment?
Or does it not affect your bike customizing at all?

The only thing I needed to do to my FXR was to raise my pipes up higher with my Thunderheader and get more ground clearance.
I also ran a lower handlebar. Basically a Superbike bend. I guess I did also lower my front forks a bit to turn intersections at higher speeds.
That’s probably it for me.
I can’t say for the other guys.
Most of the guys took off their mirrors for lane splitting.
Some Shovelhead guys got strokers for more acceleration on the street. And most of Evo guys bored out the cylinders for better top end on the highway for the cannonball runs.

Ok, we are going to go out on a limb here and hopefully the Church of Choppers readers will follow along with us here and not snooze off… lets talk about photography for a bit:
You and I are big photography geeks, and I LOVE your photography.
Photography is a huge part of my life and whether the readers realize it or not… theirs too...
That’s one thing that I love about the CoC blog , Jeff and the COC contributors can always round up some great photos.
You have a fantastic style to ALL of your photos Yan and you are RIGHT there in the middle of everything. You are always out of the streets at night, or riding in the middle of the pack of bikes, at the right shows, in the right places, 3 inches from that tattoo needle, or in everyone’s face. I follow your Flickr page pretty religiously and you continue to score big every day.
So first I guess I want to ask you about your influences:
Who are your favorite photographers?

Thank you man! I think you have your own style too.
I wanna be right in front of everything. Front line wannabe.
My favorites are Mattias Westfelk. Masayoshi Yoshinaga, Keisuke Nagoshi,
and Magnums or all photographer contributing to National Geographic or news papers.

Ok then…did you always want to take photos, or did you become a photographer by accident?

No, I have always loved taking photos for long time.

Do you have some blogs and sites that you follow regularly?

Yeah, Bubble visor, Ottonero, RxKxBx, and sometimes the Flickr blog.

Total Heros: My Brothers in the NFK- PART 4

You once told me that you didn’t want to take bike riding shots from a car or truck. (For instance all those BASARA shots were taking at 80-100 mph while you were riding one handed up mountain roads with them!)
You said your riding shots HAD to be from a bike while you were riding. What made you want to only take your bike riding shots that way?
I know that if I take riding shots from van or car, that's easy and I would be able to take neat photos, you know, you can relax, you have time to change set ups everything.
But while riding my bike and taking shots of other guys riding, that's pretty difficult to do.
But I have to take photos from my bike because I wanna be in the same pack.
I love to ride my motorcycle and also I love to take photos!
If can do them at the same time, that makes me very happy. It’s one of the best things in my life.
If I take photos from the car, that means I am not riding my bike, and that's so fuckin boring. No way. I don't wanna watch some other guys riding their bikes and having a good time from the car!
And I can move around wherever I wanna be, I can get into the right position. With a car, I cannot
If you look at my Iowa pictures, my riding shots of Chopper Daves back while he was riding Jeff's white bike…that shot would never have been possible from a car… I mean…you can see the front wheel of the FXR I was riding in the same shot!

Well, I love that style of riding shot where you can see some of the photographer’s bike in the shot as well, so I would have to agree with you there. Totally rad.
That really gets me pumped to hear you talk like that about loving to ride your bike… I meet less and less people that really love to ride. I loved that last line from the Adam Wright interview that Nelson did:
“I’ll ride the hell out of anything. I’ll ride a Honda spree, I don’t care.”
That’s the way I have always felt… has it got two wheels? I can have fun on it.
So moving on, you have already released a Blurb book called “No Future Japan” that is tons of great street photography and all kinds of other stuff… are you planning on releasing any more?

Thank you! But I am not satisfied that book. I want to publish a new one someday in the near future.

Sweet man, can’t wait.
OK, enough with the small talk… time to get down to the serious business: Who would win in a fight between Wolverine and Spiderman?

I don't know who Wolverine is but I would say that Spiderman is gonna win the fight. May be. I don't know.

Ha, ha… no worries man. I’m just messing with you.
Ok, I know that I hear a lot of smack talk about the Tokyo or the Japanese chopper "scene" sucking lately... I don't get into that "scene" crap. I just want to know if you have seen any cool chopper ideas or trends on the streets of Tokyo that you could tell the readers about.

That's just me man.
I am sick of following the American culture. That's all.
But don't get me wrong. I still love and respect American motor culture like choppers and hot rods, but we just wanna do our things, our way, our style you know?
Here in Tokyo it is very different from US. There is no desert, no horizon; it's a small island country with lots of mountains. Jap bikes are made by Japanese people in Japan for Japanese people and Japanese riding.
Riding a Jap bike in Japan is very normal thing. I have come to realize that.
Spending lots of money to keep my Harley alive is not for me anymore.

Bird: Cool, I can understand that. Heritage is important.
I saw on your Flickr page lately that before Joytoy sold his Ironhead chopper he tossed that long front end and the drum brakes, ran shorter tubes, disc brakes and changed up his wheels. is that going on all over? Are Japanese chopper builders moving away from less functional choppers and moving towards Performance choppers?

It depends. But I would say that the overall quality of Jap choppers are got higher than few years ago. I can tell you that.
But still, Japanese people like the old school Harleys. I guess that's because the V-twin Harley motor is really old school and primitive compared to any 4-cylinder DOHC motor. I would say that low-tech, hand-made choppers is the Japanese style. The Japanese like Sushi, you know… raw fish. It's kinda same thing. Don't add too many things; be natural, as it would be.
If someone wants to ride a fast, high-tech bike, he or she will ride Jap bike or Ducati.

Well that is a shame, because I would love to see more people trying hard to make their rigid framed choppers into performance bikes within the limitations of the platform.
Well man I guess that is all I can think to bother you with now, thanks for doing the interview. Say hello to all my NFK brothers for me and any final words for the COC readers?

The Japanese people all love what you guys have created in this motor culture.
We really appreciated and respect all of it!
We are like brothers from different mothers.
Keep up good work. Thank you all.

More pics of my brothers in the NFK and Motoyan

Most pics are by Motoyan.
Also a few of those shots are not of the NFK, OR of MotoYan... they are just great photos that he took, so I threw them in.
One of the most fun guys I know, and one of my all time favorite photographers.