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Winding Riding: from Japan to Spain

25 mayo, 2021
winding riding

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What is Winding Riding?

If we could summarize what winding riding is in a few words it would be: Japan, madness, gas and eccentricity. In the 90s this trend reached its maximum splendor thanks to a series of unique circumstances, which together led to this unknown biker sub-culture in the West.

Narrow and twisting roads, light and powerful motorcycles, cheap, easy to repair, high quality, good series components, immature and passionate youth, wide market for components, and a prosperous country, with a culture for 2-wheelers without same. All this, together with the lifestyle of the average Japanese madman, ended up creating what was eventually called Winding Riding or Winding Racing.

foto 1 winding riding

Nowadays, you buy a 125 or 250 cc motorcycle, and no matter how R, you are getting a center-beam chassis with a conventional fork, axial brakes and a low-power 4-stroke engine. The current market has drowned the passion in young people, or at least compared to yesteryear, when a 250cc R motorcycle supposed (already in the 90s) double front disc brakes with inverted linear spring forks, double-cradle aluminum chassis with banana-type swing arms, carbon fiber exhausts and engines of at least two cylinders if it was a 2T and in many cases four cylinders if they were 4T. Yes, yes, 4 cylinders for a 250cc. We were talking about RR’s, we talked about motorcycles.

Motorcycles that as standard they gave you powers of 30hp or more in the 125cc and 45hp or more in the 250cc and with a wide margin to be boosted, and with the ability to get your hands on it with only four keys. Motorcycles that weighed 125kg as standard and had sports tires.

This is the 90’s, and madness was already served “as standard.” In Japan, the culture of motorcycles is as fierce and passionate as that of a samurai warrior and battle. Motorcycles were invented in Europe, but Japan reinvented them in the second half of the 20th century, with the birth of the Big Four. Since then, for many, say motorcycles is say Japan.

Winding culture

The ending “winding”Comes from the English“ wind ”, this is wind, although in this case it also means“ winding ”, giving meaning to the type of roads that were frequented; twisty and winding roads; twisty / twisty driving. Although on the other hand there is the direct explanation of a Japanese text, which comes to refer to the waving of the shirts with the wind running. The translation comes from a very “Japanese” text and by this I mean, from a very philosophical syntax, so the exact meaning of the term in this case is not entirely clear.

foto 2 winding riding

The fans used to go out in groups, which ended up drifting into teams, and each team wore its own shirt, where the name, motto and founding date were displayed.

foto 3 winding team

As I was saying, what started out as groups ended up being teams and what started out as team encounters ended up being motorcycle streams of one another looking for the slipstream on the road. Obviously they were other times, where passion and madness prevailed over logic and civility. But, What are motorcycles but a little hidden reflection of rebellion? If it is also linked to speed, there you have a Japanese accelerating hard, be it a motorcycle or a fighter plane.

foto 4 winding team

The Japanese type of biker winding (as in everything they put interest, commitment and passion) was a biker profile with a hunger for speed and an uncontrolled desire for emotions, risk and the illegal, along with a sense of brotherhood and of union with people of the same very strong style.

But it was not only a matter of appearance or way of being, but also of the attitude to be had. The winding rider was insane in every way, not exclusively reckless or driving, but also absurd and inexplicable.

You could see from smaller bikes, to bigger bikes, from Yamahas YSR 50 to ZXR 400 or even in the last days of this movement, the well-known 600cc.

They just wanted to get together with each other and do what they feel without qualms to third parties, be themselves, and this was reflected from how each one prepared their motorcycle, or the clothing they wore, how they decorated the helmet, to the way they posed. for photos, or the way they greeted you. They were authenticIt was the direct reproduction of his way of being, which could only flourish in such a genuine environment.

They gathered from 2 or 3, to numerous groups, where there is hardly more than a meter of space when they went out to shoot. Crazy.

The 90’s

In the 90’s winding riding had everything going for it; Most of the sports or small motorcycles were 2T, with all the movement and market for cheap preparations and modifications that it entailed, in addition to the ease of having “the motorcycle ready for tomorrow” without having to take it to the workshop. The laws were not yet as restrictive as they are now, in the same way as the presence (or persecution) of the police, and the little road awareness, something that we are currently aware of very early on.

The 90’s was the golden decade of motorcycles; real cucumbers from SBK; RVF 750 RC45, VFR 750 RC30, FZR 750 0w01 … TZR’s, NSR’s, RGV’s, RD’s, 250cc four-cylinder CBR’s … wherever you look there was a jewel of motorcycling. The bikes were built with competition and fun in mind, possible future preparations etc, and not emissions or practicality or production cost reduction.

In addition, they were analog motorcycles, that you drove them, you configured them, you learned them, you understood them and you understood them, generating a passion that today is not understood since it is unknown. These were the 90s and this was winding racing:


The most used motorcycles were all sports from 50cc to 400cc, given that in Japan, until the 21st century, they had very restrictive laws regarding high-displacement motorcycles, so motorcycles of more than 400cc needed a very expensive and difficult license, added to exorbitant taxes and that insurers shunned these types of large motorcycles, so the market for small and 2T motorcycles in Japan was infinite.

From small Yamaha YSR 50 (motorcycles that do not exist here, very small, like a minibike, but with a large motorcycle structure, that is, as if you take a large motorcycle and rescale it with photoshop)

foto 5 yamaha ysr 50

Jogs and 2T scooters with preparations capable of exceeding 140km / h.

foto 6 jog

going through the 125cc: all of 2T, NSR 125, TZR 125, RGV 125 … 125cc motorcycles but with a different cut from those that reached the western market. A Japanese TZR 125 was like a 250 but with a smaller engine: with single-seat tailpipes or in any case with a split seat, semi-handlebars below the seatpost, inverted forks and powers higher than 30cv as standard. Like the Aprilia RS 125 that we did have here, only the Honda NSR or Yamaha TZR that arrived in Spain, had a much less sporty cut.

foto 7 125cc tzr

From 250cc the 4T entered, with models such as the CBR 250 RR mc22, a 250cc 4T motorcycle and four cylinders in line, with a rotation rate of 20,000rpm and a power of 45cv. Power that today a CBR 500 2017 gives you and in a much less exciting way (for example).

foto 8 cbr 250 rr mc22

There were also the 2T, which were the biggest words, motorcycles 250cc 2T 2-cylinder (line or V) that easily delivered 60hp and with an exhaust, a filter and a carburetor rose to more than 70hp, like the TZR 250 R 3xv. Well, you had to multiply this by 4, one for each brand of the four great Japanese (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki)

foto 9 tzr 250 nsr 250

Then there were the 400cc 4T (although there were also 2Ts, but less common), which were 400cc 4T four-cylinder engines, both in-line and in V, which directly rivaled the 250cc 2T. They were authentic miniature replicas of the then SBK 750such as Honda’s VFR and RVF 400 (nc30 and nc35)

foto 11 rvf 400 nc35

wave ZXR 400 L, a mini “telephone” with 65hp and 16,000rpm of rotation speed.

foto 12

And of course, the Yamaha FZR 400 RR or the Honda CBR 400 RR were not lacking.

foto 13 fzr 400

foto 14 cbr 400 rr

Much more than motorcycles

But winding riding was not just what types of motorcycles were bought, there was also a whole aesthetic movement and modifications behind that characterized them in a unique way. The majority tended to a circuit “endurance” style, but suitable for the street always, or almost always, keeping a headlight in sight to be able to circulate. Most had fiberglass fairings, racing decorations, numbers, and badges of the pre-invoice they were racing in or the team they belonged to.

At that time, showing a photo of someone touching the knee on the open road was the order of the day and was considered normal, so the magazines of the time were full of photos sent by users and fans or the teams themselves to be published. , and only the best or the most iconic were chosen.

foto 15 16 bari bari machine

The absence of the internet created this other world, where the magazines of the sector also lived their own golden age, where all the fans went to the kiosk to see other people’s motorcycles or the styles of another pre-invoice.

In them was discussed and analyzed by the editors of the magazines, both the level of riding, as the type of riding position he is wearing, how much he leaned, the aesthetics of his motorcycle, what equipment he was wearing, what helmet, how he had painted it etc, and therefore, everyone was dying to go out in the most important magazines, like the mythical Bari Bari Machine. This caused the exits to evolve from routes with colleagues to authentic searches of the …

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