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18th November 2005

Deus Ex Machina

Looks a bit like an old Brit, rides like your secret dreams. Trevor (Ozboy) Brooks investigates what the Deus Ex is going on Down Under...

Not so long ago I was seriously considering an 1980's Yamaha SR500 or a 2001 Kawasaki W650. I was attracted to the combination of retro looks and modern reliability. I roamed the web devouring pics of the bikes modified to café racer and street scrambler modes. Then I made a list of the things that I wanted to modify and the parts I'd need to acquire, high pipes, pod filters, small lights and so on. Then I fell for and bought a 1969 T100C, the REAL thing.

Let's face it though, the real thing is not for everyone. It helps if you have a high pain threshold, physically, emotionally and financially. Or if you're just plain crackers. Apparently I fall into the latter category. Yet, even though (perhaps because) I have the REAL thing, I still hanker for all the plus points of the modern machine. And I'm not alone.

I'll take two of everything please.

So, if you're one of those seemingly increasing number of riders who recognise the virtues of modern bikes modified to resemble their classic forebears you'd do well to get yourself down to Deus Ex Machina*. This is one seriously cool new bike shop in Camperdown, close to Sydney's inner-city designer and Uni belt.

A dog. Farting.Deus Ex Machina was recently featured in the Australian Financial Review magazine under the simply fab heading of 'Boys Own Barn.' I love it, a post-modern space to deconstruct the motorcycle. However you describe it, Deus has some jaw-droppingly beautiful motorcycles on display and for sale.

Deus is the brainchild of Dare Jennings, long time motorcycle enthusiast and founder of international surf wear company 'Mambo' (remember the famous farting dog?). Now, what's a bloke to do after he's sold out of his $50million company? Well, team up with a few other bike mad mates, acquire a voluminous art-deco shed and fill it with sensational machines. Of course!

Dare's mates are ex-stuntman / racer Nigel Begg, m'cycle dealer Rod Hunwick who designed and built his own V-twin 1500cc water-cooled, fuel-injected bike, and creative designer Carby Tuckwell who once modified the family ride-on mower with a straight-through exhaust. So, plenty of motorcycle cred, and canny businessmen all, hence the attention from the Financial Review.

Japanese Designer Cool. There's a TW200 in there somewhere...

These lads see modern sports bikes as truly amazing designs but in many cases simply too much bike for the road. There's a market they say for simpler, rideable bikes which retain the excitement of early Brit machines but do without the oil leaks, vibration, constant rebuilds and drain on the wallet. They aim to provide new bikes with the authentic feel of their forebears but with none of the pain. Authentic in attitude if not strictly so in the metal. Deus is where you can stop suffering for your art and mix Brit-bike tradition with Japanese designer cool.

The premises are part showroom, part gallery, café and exhibition space. Amongst the T-shirts, leathers, helmets, books and custom parts there are surfboards in the upstairs space and the odd D-Type Jag on the floor. There's a mix of attitude too, a certain zen-echo residing comfortably somewhere between 'studied rat' and 'designer urban'.

Dare and his mates call it a 'house of enthusiasm'

Don't bother to wrap them up.

Ambience is assisted by a Manx Norton, AJS 7R, MV Agusta, H-D Flatracker, Ariels, Velos and a gorgeous Rudge Ulster amongst other fine machinery. The Hunwick Hallam V-twin sits close to the leather lounges and parts area. There's certainly plenty for a bloke to get enthusiastic about.

Deus is importing spanking new Yamaha SR400 and TW200 bikes along with Suzuki DR650s as the basis for their creations. I've long wondered why no-one has brought in the TW, it's a great city street machine. Chunky 18-inch front, 14-inch rear balloon tyres, a light compact chassis with a punchy air-cooled motor for big fun, happy on sand and street. If the ultra user-friendly TW doesn't suit you for size or you want more punch for out of town jaunts, take a look at what they can do with the larger machines.

All the bikes conform to Australian rego requirements and carry full warranties. Once the bikes are in Sydney, Deus can make them anything you want them to be. There's a heavy influence from the cool, trendy kids of Tokyo and Osaka, from shops such as Brooklands and Moto Shop Goro. Not so much extreme, but with that typically Japanese custom look, which can certainly seem somewhat 'whacky' to western eyes, but here is re-focused with a quotient of Brit-style purposefulness. Somehow it all seems to work in an amazingly cohesive way.

Of course, you can also take the bike you already have, or maybe pick up a pre-loved W650, and have the lads at Deus transform it from staid and dorky original to high WOW factor custom bike with attitude. On my visit the guys on the floor were welcoming, knowledgeable as well as enthusiastic.

Random Yamaha SR Stuff on

Not convinced by the clip-ons, but otherwise...

Australians aren't known for their forgiving nature towards old bikes. Sure they're admired, collected and ridden, but they've also got to go strong to earn their keep.

When I was trawling the Net for a W650 I came across a comment which went something like: 'the experience and joy of old bikes is mostly better remembered than re-lived.'

If that strikes a chord, Deus is waiting for you.

Less is more. Enough said.

*If you know what this phrase actually means, give yourself a Gold Star** and feel very smug

**But ideally not a B25SS***…

***Oh, suit yourself then!


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