Japanese custom bike builders Zero Engineering could be on the verge of creating an ‘entry level’ single-cylinder model marking a huge departure from their Harley-powered roots.
The firm, founded by custom building guru Shinya Kimura way back in 1992, has built a reputation around its V-twin models. They pioneered Kimura’s ‘zero style’ design ethic. But in March the firm showed a single-cylinder concept bike at the Tokyo Motorcycle Show. The single followed the same retro-inspired styling ideas as Zero Engineering’s other models but in a far smaller package.
Now pictures have emerged that show what could be a production version of the same machine. It shares the K2C’s 250cc single-cylinder engine and styling but gains practical elements needed for road use. Where the original concept had no mirrors or indicators, they’re included in the new pictures. The bike’s exhaust, which was an unusual drum-shaped device on the concept, has also been swapped for something more conventional and practical. A licence plate hanger has been added at the back, appearing to confirm the design’s road-going, production intentions.
The new version of Zero Engineering’s single has got the same frame as the concept. Although appearing to be a rigid, hardtail design, it’s actually got rear suspension. The whole diamond-shaped rear section of the frame pivots as a swingarm. A linkage connects it to a monoshock with a hidden spring.
At the front there’s a set of springer forks, similar to those used on Zero Engineering’s other ‘Road Hopper’ models. A single front disc does most of the braking, while there’s a drum at the rear.
The engine is an SOHC single-cylinder. It’s air-cooled and unlikely to offer much in terms of performance, but the bike does appear to be lightweight. That should help claw back some speed. However, Zero Engineering’s bikes have always been about style first and foremost, and there’s no question that this is another great-looking design.
Should it reach production, the single would be a complete departure for Zero Engineering. It’s founded on the idea of building tiny numbers of very expensive, high-end bikes. A small single would inevitably need to be far cheaper. As such, production only makes sense if Zero Engineering has plans to build them in relatively large numbers.