Each year, on the first Sunday of December, scores of custom motorcycles and hot rods pack out the Pacifico Yokohama exhibition center, for the incomparable Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show. Or, if you prefer, the Mooneyes show.
Mooneyes is a cornucopia of visual delights. Like the Japanese custom scene itself, it operates on another level, with no regard for convention. Although choppers usually dominate the floor space, myriad other styles are represented too—from café racers to flat trackers, scramblers, bobbers, and other oddities that defy definition.
Our good friends and powerhouse photography duo, Marc Holstein and Christine Gabler, have become regular visitors to the show. They’ve just wrapped up their third Mooneyes experience, and have come away as wide-eyed as they did the first time. “Experiencing the Yokohama Hot Rod Custom Show is always a special moment, and something I look forward to at the end of the year,” Marc tells us.
As usual, Marc and Christine came away with full hearts and even fuller memory cards. And if you’re wondering why many of their photos are devoid of any people, it’s because they bagged a coveted invitation to the Saturday setup session.
“As always, the organization was meticulously planned to Japanese perfection,” says Marc. “There were many unique cars, but focusing on the motorcycles, it’s evident that Japanese customization is in a class of its own. It was challenging to pick a personal favorite as I was overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of quality builds.”
Some of the highlights included 46Works’ KTM 690 Duke, CT Newman’s turbocharged Harley-Davidson, a sidecar-equipped Royal Enfield Super Meteor 650 from Cherry’s Company, and a new custom BMW R18 from Custom Works Zon.
This year’s edition of the show boasted the highest attendance ever, with a stacked roster of international guests that included Roland Sands, Jeremy Tagand from Deus ex Machina, BMW’s Roland Stocker, Indian Motorcycles’ Ola Stenegärd, Carey Hart, and the Guardado brothers from SMCO. The fact that brands like BMW, Indian, and Royal Enfield pick Mooneyes as a launchpad for their custom collaborations, is a testament to how prestigious the event is.
Winston Yeh from Rough Crafts was there too, but he wasn’t alone. He brought 2LOUD Custom with him, plus the bike that won them the freestyle class at Rough Craft’s recent Speed and Crafts show.
“The highlight of the show was the ride-in of the selected custom bikes,” Marc tells us, “which included a variety of impressive builds.”
“Setting aside all the commendable custom work, my personal favorite was an 80s-themed Dakar-style Harley-Davidson. As an 80s Enduro aficionado, this build perfectly encapsulated what I love about the era.”
Flicking through Marc and Christine’s photos, it’s clear that Mooneyes is only getting better with age. We’ll have to make sure we’re there in person next year.
Images by, and with special thanks to, Marc Holstein and Christine Gabler