JAC: What got you into working and building motorcycles?
Aki: I eventually got my first Harley when I was 18 years old. It wasn’t even in good condition. I was going to this bike shop, but they were kind of jerking me around because I was young and it really made me upset. So I said, “Fuck it! I’m going to learn it myself.” So I quit going to the bike shop and I started tearing the motor apart and working on it. That’s how it got me started because I was dealing with that shitty motorcycle shop.
I went on to Motorcycle Mechanic Institute in Phoenix, Arizona in 1998 and graduated in 1999. I went back to Japan and worked for a dealership for like a year.
I have been working on bikes since I was about 16 years old. Back then we were borrowing scooters so you needed to hot wire them. That’s how we all learned to work on bikes too.
I worked at car shops early on. I was working in the car industry till I was 18. Paint shops and stuff like that. Then I worked out of my garage before I got hired at West Coast Choppers. That’s when I moved back to the U.S. in 2002. I wanted to work for Jesse James of West Coast Choppers so back in Japan I finished two bikes and sold them to make money to get here. I showed up at West Coast and applied. Fuck it. I got lucky.
Tune in tomorrow for part 3.