Pistons and Pivots

Kaz's 2001 Toyota Tacoma TRD and 2023 Trek Fuel EX

Photos Hailey Elise
Video https://www.instagram.com/haileyelisee/?hl=en
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Pistons and Pivots features cool vehicles with character, and a little about their owners and the bikes they ride.


Hello Kaz, while most readers might know who you are, give us an introduction and how you’re acquainted with NSMB?

Hello Internet!

I'm Kaz, a photographer/videographer/editor/mountain biker/car and ramen enthusiast. I got involved in the world of NSMB.com when I was a wee grom at the ripe age of 18. I went to Crankworx for a few days the year before and fell in love, and really wanted to go back the next year. At this point I barely mountain biked, and I worked 9 hours a week while studying at BCIT so I made nowhere near enough money to go up to Whistler for Crankworx for a whole week. So I started scheming up ways to get up there and decided my best option was to use my 3 years of experience of holding a camera and offer up some photos in exchange for a place to stay. I hit up Cam McRae, and asked for some accommodation in exchange for a week's worth of Crankworx coverage photos. Honestly, I was surprised he responded that he was interested. We met up to chat, and boom, I was in the NSMB Crankworx house. 


"I've always liked older cars and trucks, and the first gen Tacoma just has that look that screams 90's that I love. I also love how small it is - parallel parking is still a breeze."

Tell us about the history of this vehicle? We’ve heard it has a back story.

This is actually my 2nd first gen Tacoma. My first one was a base model white 1999 with no power windows, manual door locks, manual transmission (though that was a plus in my eyes), over 550,000km, and a frame that was patched up. I had it for a little over a year, and put some love into like new shocks, new leaf springs, front coils (for a lift of 1.5" in the rear and 2" in the front), 33" tires, JDM wheels, and a steel bumper.... until an old lady decided to turn left in front of me on the Sea To Sky on a green light. The impact totaled her car, and my truck, and thus began the process of going back and forth with ICBC. After a few months, they cut me a cheque and sold me back the truck (with the implication it could be never be insured again), and I spent a couple of months looking for another first gen until I came across this one. A bone stock 2001 TRD model with power windows (my first vehicle ever with those!), locking rear diff, power locks, and manual transmission. I bought it for less than what ICBC gave me, and managed to swap over the entire suspension from my old truck which was completely unharmed in the crash (rear leaf springs, shocks, and coils). 3 of my tires were fine (just under 6 months old) so I bought 2 more of the same tires, 1 for a full-size spare, and bought a new set of wheels as one of the wheels on my old truck was completely obliterated. I guess in the end there was a happy ending to the collision.


It's all in the subtleties. Custom paint was among the first things done to the new rig.


Kaz's trucks are always up for some dirt surfing.

Why did you become a Tacoma guy?

I've always been a Toyota guy. My parents were Toyota people, my dad has had a SW20 MR2, Crown, Aristo v300, and even met my mother while they worked at a Toyota Dealer. When we moved to Canada, they bought a Corolla which ended up becoming my first car. I've always been into cars my entire life as well, and my dream was to have a Japanese 90's car, in manual of course and was also always drawn to older trucks like the boxy Hilux. But after moving to Whistler and being a mountain biker it seemed more and more practical to get a truck, and when the white 1999 Tacoma was offered to me I realized it was a combination of what I wanted - a manual 90's Japanese car and a truck. 


Functional upgrades.

Any mods and repairs?

The first thing I did was swap my suspension over, which I accomplished in my driveway. I wanted to keep the tuner side of myself alive and it made sense to slap on some Japanese tires and wheels - on went the 33" Falken Wildpeaks on Motegi wheels (I love spoked wheels). And the general fluid change-up, wide-view mirror and of course, a Chromag shifter. I also bought some seats from a Tacoma Limited which come with some small seat bolsters - I found myself sliding left and right on the stock seats while driving the Sea To Sky.


The good life.


Can't go wrong with a 3.4.

What’s the future hold for this vehicle (mods or upgrades)?

Up next for the truck is definitely a frame re-paint before any major rust happens, and ideally some more armor as we get into adventure season - sliders, skid plate, and bumpers. And maybe even further into the future, it'll get some long travel.


Grip it and rip it, baby!

Any particular stand out moments that made this one just as special as Snow White?

Every adventure I go on in this truck I just love it more and more. And not having to roll down my windows is such a blessing. All black as well? You can't beat that.


Kaz's 2023 Trek Fuel EX

Alright, now the steed, whatcha rocking here?

This is my current favourite bike, a 2023 Trek Fuel EX. I like having high-rise bars and keeping the stem low to preserve the reach, and wanted to experiment with 31.8mm bars again after riding 35mm on everything. As my do-it-all trail bike I've up-forked it in the front by an extra 10mm to 160mm, and slapped on some DH casing tires for maximum grip and protection - and it still pedals like a dream!

Kaz's Trek Fuel EX specs

Size: Medium, 140mm travel 
Fork: RockShox Lyrik set to 160mm
Shock: RockShox Super Deluxe Ultimate
Cockpit: Chromag FU40 bars cut to 770mm // Chromag HiFi 40mm stem // Chromag Palmskin grips
Post: Reverb AXS // Saddle: Chromag Lift
Pedals: Chromag Dagga
Drivetrain: SRAM GX w/ AXS Derailleur
Brakes: SRAM Code RSC Brakes (F 200mm, R 180mm)
Wheels: Bontrager Line Elite 29" Wheels
Tires: Bontrager G5 DH Tires


Could you summarize riding the Trek Fuel EX?

The Fuel EX is definitely my current favourite bike. I’ve been reaching for it more and more compared to my longer travel Slash, even on days where we’d be riding some bigger hits. Having a longer fork, DH tires, and slack head angle makes sure confidence is at an all-time high. Being a shorter bike than I’m used to (but still having the same reach) it’s easier to throw around to get the back wheel pointing where I want it to.

Thanks Kaz!

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+1 Kaz Yamamura

"I like having high-rise bars and keeping the stem low to preserve the reach"

Plus it looks great! Especially with contrasting bars.

(I'm disappointed in myself for getting my 30mm rise Renthal bar in black this last time. Might have been all that was available...)


0 Justin Lantz Kaz Yamamura

"I've always like older cars and trucks, and the first gen Tacoma just has that look that screams 90's that I love”. 

while leaning against what can only be described as a current Taco….

How friggin old am I?


+5 ElBrendo BarryW dhr999 Mammal Kaz Yamamura

In fairness, 'current gen' may be a stretch given it's from two decades ago...


+2 ElBrendo bishopsmike

Don't blame Onawalk, blame Toyota's update cycle.


-1 Justin Lantz Kaz Yamamura bishopsmike

Maybe you missed what I’m saying here Pete,

Toyota, and their update cycle is akin to Porsche and their 911.  Don’t give me the “if it ain’t broke” statement, cause, well Taco frames……

Secondly, as a whimsical commentary on the passage of time, this young gent is leaning against, what to me, appears to be a current gen Taco.  Like I’m sitting here looking at what “is” a current gen taco, cause I’m stuck in a period where that is what a current gen Taco looks like.

Have I made that more confusing?


+3 Mammal bishopsmike Gabriel Barbosa


It's not being "old", or even commentary on passage of time, you're straight up ignoring the passage of time. That's a first-gen Tacoma, and there have been 2 more "gens" since that. Calling this one "current gen" is either facetious, ignorant, or stupid. I'll let the reader decide which.


-2 Justin Lantz Justin White Jotegir Gabriel Barbosa

You ok man?

Like it was a joke, a commentary on my ignorance of the time thats slipped by.

Prolly not something to get too worked up about, 

but you do you boo…



Nothing hits better than an all black Tacoma with a bike that's worth more than the wheels that take you to the trail head


+6 Gabriel Barbosa doodersonmcbroseph Mammal BarryW Andrew Major Spencer Nelson

Don't look up  old Tacoma prices in the Sea to Sky...



Awesome truck, and it is actually practical unlike most pickups nowadays, which are oversized monsters that are only practical if you are towing something massive.

I need to hit up Cam McRae and see if I could help contribute and in return get some experience (https://www.instagram.com/sethsimonyigindele/, https://sethsimonyi-gindele.myportfolio.com/work).


0 Justin Lantz bishopsmike

What’s impractical about my 1 tonne, long box, crew cab diesel?

Prolly gets better gas mileage than any 1/4 tonne pickup out there.

Can haul anything, including the mail.

Pulls loads of AWD SUV things out of snowy ditches

I can park it anywhere, except for parking garages, but who wants to go in there anyway….

There’s nothing impractical about a larger vehicle, just cause it’s not always being used to its full capacity.  Willing to bet your car seats aren’t always full either


+2 Justin White Jotegir

I don't think that was a direct comment about your truck/usage pattern.


+2 Mammal bishopsmike

I was meaning a pickup truck like the new F-150 or rams, almost no one will be towing 14,000lbs. You also would definitely have trouble parking it along most streets in Vancouver, especially more downtown. 

It might get slightly better mileage than a petrol one, but with the current price of diesel that small difference is negligible.

It also sounds like you actually use the truck, at least in Vancouver most people who own one have it for the image not because they need it. I can assure you, that our Honda Odyssey or Rav4 is almost always filled to the brim due to having 7 people in our family and two dogs.


0 Justin Lantz bishopsmike

I’ll give you the occupancy if youve got 7 in the family, but in reality theres very little difference between a F-150 going down the road with 1 person in it, than a Nissan Murano or Toyota Tacoma.  

Price of fuel doesn’t mean anything other than it costs me more, I still get better mileage, even in my big truck, so I’m burning less, consuming less.

I do use my truck, I work with it, it earns me money.  But if we are talking practicality, a truck is still the more “practical” choice, as it has the most versatility, whether you use it to its full potential or not.

Spent loads of time in Vancouver, I have never had an issue parking.  I might have to walk a block or two more, but that doesn’t bother me, it’s nice to get stretch the legs.  I have friends that constantly remind me how much of a pain in the ass it must be, and honestly, i park a couple stalls further away in parking lots, it’s not that big a deal.  And having the versatility of my truck is way more valuable to me.  

Hell, I’ve been thinking of getting a Mega cab long box conversion, that would be great!

Maybe Ill take some pics, and do a write up for Pistons and Pivots!



I sold my '04 Tacoma because it was pretty impractical. Couldn't tow much and the extended cab was really just a cargo area (which is a function, I admit). The '02 Tundra I replaced it with is much more practical. Its an extended cab, fits my kids seats in the back, gets the same highway mileage at the Tacoma, can fit a reasonable load of firewood and pulls our ~4000 lbs fiberglass camper trailer nicely (something I definitely wouldn't do in the Tacoma - people look at towing capacity without thinking about payload and overload their little trucks all the time).  People who own first gen Tundras know that tacomas are way overrated. The 4.7LV8 is a motor that is becoming legendary in it's reliability and longevity and the tundras are way more useful trucks... calling a 1st gen tacoma practical is actually pretty hilarious when I think about it... maybe as a commuter for people who want a truck but none of the practical uses of an actual truck.... so yeah the taco is a fine city truck but has limited practicality in my opinion.



Those first gen tundras look smaller on the outside than the newer tacos anyway!



I don't know about the 3rd gen tacos but the 2nd gens still had jump seats inside and were definitely still smaller than the 1st gen tundra. Now extended cab is the exception instead of the norm so it's not worth comparing since most people buy 4 doors now. Also, the 4L V6 in some of the early 2nd gens Tacomas might have been even worse on fuel than the 4.7L V8. Lastly, the tundra has a bench seat in the front which is amazing. and has come in handy when you want 5 adults inside with 5 bikes in the back for a shuttle. Try that in an extended cab tacoma!



cool truck and bike, but you have to pay me a lot of money to ride a reverb dropper ever again... #ptsd


+2 dhr999 Gabriel Barbosa

The axs reverb dropper is gold compared to the regular ones which could be described more as poop.



Those are definitely not Code RSC’s



Damnit I screwed up



My first Toyota was a 1976 Landcruiser FJ40. I've been a Toyota fan ever since then. I've had a few Corollas and quite a few pickups over the decades. Current rig is a 2018 Tacoma. But I really dig those first-generation trucks.


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