Motorcycle Sport & Leisure

To the ENDS of the EARTH

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Although he is quite rightly celebrated in his native Japan, few Westerners have ever heard of Shinji Kazama and that is a wrong that needs to be righted because he must surely be considered the greatest adventure motorcycle rider of all time.

In 1993 Kazama became the first man to have reached both the north pole and the south pole on a motorcycle. To date no-one has replicated this feat. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Kazama’s achievements. Eight years earlier, in 1985, he reached the greatest height ever achieved on a motorcycle when he rode 19,701ft up the glacial slopes of Mount Everest. He was also the first Japanese rider to win the Paris-Dakar Rally and has ridden across Asia, Africa, Australia and Europe as well as riding from the tip of southern Chile to Lund in Sweden. Many of these trips he completed with a leg so badly mangled in a Dakar crash that he very nearly lost it and would have bled to death where he lay had it not been for the prompt actions of a rescue helicopter crew.

Kazama has rarely given interviews to the Western media, mostly because he simply hasn’t been asked, but we managed to track down the modest 66-year-old at his home in Japan to get a rare insight into the mind of a man who is capable of such extraordinary feats on a motorcycle.

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THE BEGINNINGS OF AN OBSESSION

Shinji Kazama was born in Yamanashi prefecture in Japan on September 26, 1950, and first rode his brother’s motorcycle when he was 14. “I tried to ride it up to the top of a steep hill next to my house,” Kazama says. “I had gone about 150m and couldn’t ride any further so started pushing the motorcycle up the hill and when I arrived at the top I thought, what a fantastic view! I was fascinated by the view from the top of the hill and so I

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