TAKING IT TO THE SOURCE
Unlike most people’s visits to Deus Ex Machina’s Venice headquarters, my first stop isn’t the coffee bar but the gray door around back. Behind it lies master builder Michael “Woolie” Woolaway and his two shop dogs, Bowie and Gigi. Woolie has been building café racers since before they were cool, and his bikes are created with a delicate balance of beauty and brawn. Curious for his take, we asked him to take a break from the Hyper he’s building for next year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb (347 pounds full of fuel, 180 hp at the rear, and no traction control, and I get to ride it next week) to talk production café racers:
“Whoa, man, this thing is pretty [looking at the BMW]!” Woolie exclaimed. “It’s crazy how good BMW’S design team is; they just don’t miss a thing… well, almost. That snoot of an air intake I’ll never understand. You know I designed a bike for them once, and their only piece of criticism was that it was missing that snoot? I was like, yeah, it’s for a reason.
“Seriously, though, we keep talking but that thing just keeps catching my eye. It’s weird seeing it next to our building and the Triumph and your helmet because it shows how blue the white really is; it’s so unique.
“Overall, though, I’d still prefer the Triumph. I know people give it crap for the fake fins or fuel injectors that looks like carbs, but I think they did a great job with both of those and actually like them. I prefer the motor configuration and the stance for sure; it’s just way more capable.
“Between the two, I’d opt for the Thruxton to do a café racer build on. Strip it down and cut those exhaust lugs and the gauges and everything else you don’t need, and give it some special treatment visually and performance-wise, and that thing would be insane!”