It is arguably that you cannot put a price on coolness, but could the £27k Samurai Type 5 cruiser be the answer
Can you buy cool? It’s a valid question. Every time I try to be cool I mess it up. I trip over my own feet, blow smoke in my eyes or dribble beer down my chin. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no geek, but if you have to try then you’ll never really nail the whole Fonzie thing. The Samurai Type 5 doesn’t try to be cool, it just is. As cool as turn-key bikes come. A hard-tailed, cryogenic Steve McQueen on wheels. The one you see here is the only one in Europe. And for the next few days it’s mine. Can it pull off the impossible and make me cool?
The by-product of Japanese custom style gone commercial, the Type 5 is one of a range of bikes available from Zero engineering in Kariya city, Japan. For the team at Zero, picture the Teutuls of American Chopper fame only Japanese and with taste. One hundred staff hammer, tinker and fettle every bike into life by hand; no robots, no production lines, no deadlines and no fly-on-the-wall camera crew. The Samurai name was chosen to suggest the unique appeal of a beautiful vintage weapon. Trying to take in the Type 5 for the first time, swords are the last thing on my mind. Instead I blow smoke in my eyes and nearly trip over my own feet. Let’s be clear about this – whether you ‘get’ customs or not, the thigh-high, impossibly delicate Type 5 looks mint.
I can barely sleep the night before I pick it up. I lay out my carefully considered clothing at the foot of my bed like some excited school kid. I doubt Brad Pitt does the same prior to riding his Samurai (apparently he owns two) but I really wanted to do the thing justice. And then of course I realise I could have worn snow shoes and a pink shower cap; on a Type 5 there’s really only one star.
£27,000 – and yet there’s nothing to a Type 5; rigid tail, no fuss, springer forks and full-fat Avon Coker-style tyres. Nothing tries hard except the rider. At just 680mm from ass to grass, the Type 5 is low and no messin’ – you don’t so much cock a leg as lift your foot over the seat. And that’s after you’ve stood for at least 10 minutes looking at the details. Prod the pinhead starter and, for all its wild styling, it’s a pretty muted and familiar noise that greets you, the lumpy duff-duffing of a boggo Harley Evo lump. So rigid is the bike that, despite the vibration, nothing rattles.
This thing hasn’t been built, it’s been crafted. Getting off the kerb and onto the road is the first reality check; a steering lock shocker. I push and pull like the bike’s a Bowman’s saw just to get it nearly pointing in the right direction, wobbling, swearing and generally looking like a pillock in my helmet and shades. Brad probably gets somebody to do that bit for him. I wonder if he scorched his right calf the instant he got on. I managed it within seconds.
I don’t have the luxury of taking time to get used to this £27,000 machine – I can’t afford a little mishap since nothing will be cheap or easy to repair. Now I’m pointing in the right direction things get easier. An easy-to-use clutch and standard Harley-Davidson gearbox help get things moving. You sit so low that for a mile or two you have to remind yourself you’re on something incredibly expensive, not pinging up the road on a Monkey bike.
Crashing along, it doesn’t take long to realise that all the suspension travel is stashed in the springs of the seat and the sidewalls of the tyres, and that’s it – no hidden shock or funky Buell-style bouncy stuff. The Type 5 is pure sixties style. If you see a pothole you ride round it or you get off and walk. Once you’ve mashed your kidneys over one cats eye you learn never to hit another as long as you live.
Need more convincing this bike puts a price on cool, then read on
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