Just below the very southern expanse of Tokyo It takes about an hour and a half by train to reach Atsugi from the city centre. In stark contrast to neon filled streets and anonymous crowds, walking amongst the farmland reveals a more relaxed Japan. Edging towards the headquarters of international motorcycle modification and parts powerhouse, Motocorse (MC), it’s easy to imagine a large factory where all sorts of milling / carbon and composite manufacturing and motorcycle modifications take place.
The reality is a building that externally looks like many Ducati dealerships, anywhere around the world. It’s only once you get inside that you see the delicious absurdity that is Motocorse. The display area is packed with bikes, virtually none of them standard.
Wall to wall are examples of bikes that have been given the Motocorse treatment. Those with off the shelf parts and only minor modifications, do not wear any MC model badging. Those which have been given over for more extensive modifications proudly wear a C (Classic) designation at the end of the manufacturer’s model number (for instance Ducati Panigale SC / Bi-Mota DB9C) whilst the bikes who have undergone further mechanical tuning display an R designation after the C.
The sales floor is full of new and custom exotics
Motocorse started in 1994 as modification shop focused on modifying only one type of bike, the Bimota SB-6. The MC ethos was established then, and stands true now. Shin Kondo, the chairman of MC wanted to build bikes that not only suited their clients, but ones that the crew at MC would be proud to ride themselves. The crew at MC wanted their bikes to be ‘’special’’, as such, then-current aftermarket parts proved to fall short in terms of quality and uniqueness, so the decision was made to create their own.
Clients brought the bikes back multiple times for more and more modifications and MCs catalogue of aftermarket parts and skillsets grew. In 2000 they secured themselves as an official Ducati dealership and immediately took to expanding their portfolio of tuned bikes. It was also the year when MC stepped up with Bimota, which sent 50 DB4 bikes to Japan to be completely overhauled, becoming a very limited and successful run of the DB4C model. Bodywork on these was largely kept within the styling cues of the original, MC focusing on making the bikes more lightweight, faster and bespoke. This has something that has also carried through to their current bikes, with the C/CR bikes retaining much of the design elements of the originals.
Shin believes that OEM design should not be disrespected; after all, countless hours have gone into making sure the bikes are balanced, aerodynamic and with marquee design cues. Whilst everything can be improved upon, staying within the core design on the machine is very much an MC value. There are of course exceptions such as the recently built NVC (Nuda Veloce); based on the Panigale the bike is a stripped down and re-imagined street sports bike that is a radical departure on the donor bike; as such it no longer carries the Panigale name, it is for all intents and purposes a different beast altogether. Shin built the NVC to be the penultimate street sports bike, a more upright riding position results in higher level of comfort; this is a bike for the rider who wants to enjoy a deluxe cruising experience but still seeks superlative thrills with the twist of a wrist.
Nuda Veloce – "not for the feint of wrist"
MC has now become the exclusive importer into Japan of Metisse, Vyrus and Avinton motorcycles and has expanded their tuning department accordingly. In fact, their head office has become a multi-national skunkworks for motorcycle development. Thankfully, older models have not been left behind, with new parts continuously in development, even for low volume sales, such as carbon fibre fuel tanks and updated headlight designs, these parts take a long time and cost to develop and ultimately will see only a few sales; however, this is very much part of what keeps customers returning, bikes are after all never-finished artworks with constant upgrades (no matter how many times we tell our partners our bikes are finished, we know there’s a new part worth salivating over). With newer models, there is a constant push for exceeding boundaries, as manufacturers improve OEM products; MC is keeping one step ahead to deliver real, meaningful upgrades to already mature products. I was shown a Bimota Tesi3D that was undergoing the full CR treatment. Apart from MC’s usual tactic of replacing OEM components with ones made of better quality materials: i.e. titanium, ceramic brakes and layers upon layers of carbon, in addition, the bike was being given a new dash courtesy of a Motec ECU, complete with a fly-by-wire throttle system and re-map. It’s a vast improvement over the original, taking a bike that was aiming for the stratosphere all the way to mars instead.
Inside the workshop, craftsmen work on enhancing upon mechanical-artistry
Bi Mota Tesi3DCR
Shin Kondo demonstrating the Avinton
As for looking to the future, Shin is confident that the small yet capable team at MC will continue to present new possibilities to their clients. MC stands as one of the few serious purveyors of tuned bikes that aren’t owned by the motorcycle manufacturers themselves (like Ducati Performance / HRC, etc.) and occupies a unique position with shop-developed custom bikes and a plethora of mass-production as well as small run exotic parts developed as a result. Shin and his team will continue to walk the line between creating new products and building fierce machines that find their way to riders and collectors around the globe.