Valen Zhou is somewhat of a star in the custom motorcycle scene. He’s a man so resourceful and creative he can prove you don’t need tons of cash to build a custom bike you’d be proud to ride and own. His latest handiwork, called Shadow 26, is proof of just how clever Zhou is. He turned a 1987 Kawasaki KZ 250 into a fun little bike with no shortage of brute and grit.

Zhou took visual cues from ‘54 Triumph Thunderbird, cutting the frame in half and customizing the tail section. That was the most difficult part of the build, by the way. Given his lack of proper measurement tools, he had to DIY it up, relying on a fishing line and a level to dial the correct dimensions before cutting and welding.

The result is a motorcycle that surprises you in different ways. For instance, that fuel tank? It’s actually a camping flask that Zhou hid underneath a fabricated shell. And that seat? It was crafted from an old couch that cramped up his studio. He took the seat spring from an old bicycle that he found had the right tension for him — emphasis on “for him,” because the Shadow 26 is “uniquely fit for me only,” says Zhou.

The Shadow 26 is one of those custom jobs that doesn’t look impressive on paper. But when you look at the level of creativity and resourcefulness Zhou put in to create it, not to mention his wild and odd imagination, plus unusual yet fascinating choices, you’ll want one yourself.


Photos courtesy of Valen Zhou