Deus Ex Machina W650 Street Tracker: Initial Report

HFL, Positions -

By

dues650ST-IR.jpg

Deus Ex Machina is finally selling bikes in America (this one’s available at Smith+Butler) so we figured it’d be rude not to beat the piss out of one and tell you how it performs. We took this Deus W650 Street Tracker to Montauk to ride it on the beach. Can a custom based on the humble Kawasaki W650 really justify the $17,500 price tag?

Click below for the feature:
Initial Report: Deus Ex Machina W650 Street Tracker

  • Mateo

    No. Get a sense of personal pride & ownership and do it yourself or have a local professional do it for you. This is kinda like paying a premium for torn jeans or faded jeans – buy a pair and do it yourself if you can.

  • bells

    I need that jacket, bad.

    • s0crates82

      as do i, but for nine hundred bones, i can deal with my motoboss swift for a lil longer.

  • http://www.desmoworks.com anthony

    Humm, not sure that’s how I’d like to see a bike I’m buying (in salt water). Love Deus though…

  • Matt

    No way would I ride a bike that pretty. I wouldn’t mind Deus bringing over a batch of gray market W650s, though I suppose it would work against their goal of selling custom W650s here.
    I have no doubt that they will be able to sell the extremely limited number of bikes that they sell here; they’re not overtly flashy but the are really attractive bikes. Except for that Sportster cafe racer.

  • Ken

    Can I ask how it goes on an actual road? They’ve got ‘em here in New Zealand and I’m tempted but nervous. When you’ve finished driving past shop windows does the performance and handling leave you a bit flat? I’m a trifle sentimental about performance and handling.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Well, on the road it performs like a W650 with a little more top end, a little less weight and a little better suspension. If you want outright performance and handling, they’ve got more road-focused models too, plus, they’re a custom builder, if you want something specifically, just go in and talk to them about it.

      • Ken

        True. Thank you Wes. I had a bit of a chat with them last time I was in Auckland. They’re very cool guys.

  • http://greatjoballweek.blogspot.com/ Case

    It would be better to build your own or get a local guy to do it for you, but that’s a hell of a lot easier said than done. If you can’t do that then I think this is an acceptable alternative.

    My first thought when I looked at the picture of this bike was, “It looks like it’s trying to be a supermoto; I can get a used supermoto that will eat this thing’s lunch for 1/3 the money.” But I agree with your Remarks: it is a beautiful motorcycle (I loved the air filter cover and the crosshatch on the rear brake lever) and I bet it’s got a nice supermoto-fun type feel.

    Motorcycles are an emotional purchase. This bike is designed to elicit an emotional response, and I think it succeeds in that regard (at least with me).

  • dez

    Its just like what mateo said above^
    Deus are to motorcycles what Tsubi are to jeans,
    a fashion statement for those that don’t have the wrench skills but want a bike that looks like they built it in their garage.
    I like the look but would not buy one for myself
    There factory/shop/showroom/cafe here in Sydney is cool though
    great concept uber cool inner city hangout.

  • Levi

    $350 for jeans, $900 for a jacket, and $17,500 for a W650. Are people seriously this obtuse?

    • Matt

      When I consider that those jeans cost 11 times what my Levi’s cost and that Jacket cost 7 times what my jacket cost, the fact that the bike only cost 4 times as much as my bike really makes it the standout bargain of the review.

  • http://gogogarage.blogspot.com gogo

    “No. Get a sense of personal pride & ownership and do it yourself or have a local professional do it for you. This is kinda like paying a premium for torn jeans or faded jeans – buy a pair and do it yourself if you can.”

    well said, thank you.

    everyone of these bikes ive seen detailed pictures of fails to impress. the whole backbone set up on this bike with the exposed coil and horn is bush league. there are a thousand better, more tastefully built, bikes like this cruising around japan with someone riding on the bike who actually put the time and effort into building it himself.

  • Sean Smith

    I got as far as staring at the pic for a few seconds before my (slightly drunken) friendly lady demanded that we get tasty food, and then make sweet sweet love. Having said that (and having momentarily distracted her), I want this thing. I want all W650′s, but this one especially. Rad.

  • Ray

    Well the bike is around the corner from my house, and I saw someone riding it a couple of days ago; I was underwhelmed by the sound, sounded like a low compression flathead motor. Dropped in at the shop today with my kid to look around again, and I’m thinking the Dexy’s Midnight Runners/Depression chic style is a bit too easy to emulate with Walmart and Carhartt purchases at a fraction of the cost. And like it’s been said above, I think the bike’s in the same boat. Why not a Hinckley Trumpet street tracker with parts from Omar’s? There are a hell of a lot nicer designs using vintage Yamaha XS 650s even. Check out their repro Nortons built on the XS platform. Tons of interesting platforms, why a kwacker? Kinda custom lite.

    Maybe if they built an ice racer.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Ray, I won’ argue with your comments about the bike, but the majority of labels carried by Smith+Butler are some of the oldest extant workwear garment and boot manufacturers in the US. Filson, Key Industries, Wolverine, etc., all make stuff with the same quality, ruggedness and precision they’ve been selling for the past century. Will I sacrifice (a lot) now to buy stuff that will last a lifetime while supporting what’s left of American manufacturing? Yep.

      The same goes for the gear Wes wore for the shoot. Those jeans and that jacket are hand-built in Japan on reconditioned American equipment that was abandoned decades ago to streamline costs and raise profits at the expense of the consumer. Ironheart and SugarCane use decades old, slow methods for every piece they make for the sake of quality, not just fashion. Definitely not cheap, but the most durable gear I’ve ever owned and worth every penny. I don’t baby my Ironhearts or that jacket, I roll around in the dirt, gravel and grease while working and they still look new. Ditto for the Redwings, an American workwear boot maker I first wore back in the mid-90s during college in the metal shop.

      Sure, you can mimic the look in Walmart, but the turnover due to wear, tear and the eventual failure of cheap goods will cost you the same over a lifetime, if not more.

      And that was me on the bike, btw, returning it from the shoot. Were you expecting something louder because it was custom? That was my first reaction too before realizing “custom” should not equate to a bike’s ability to set off car alarms. Just curious.

  • http://setthemfree.tumblr.com Sasha Pave

    The W650 was one of the most under-appreciated bikes of it’s time. I’m glad to see its resurgence, especially such a sexy one. It makes the bike infinitely more interesting than the same thing with a HD sporty engine.

    Cheers for the “fuck you i’m riding a $17k bike in salt water” attitude. Someone’s gotta do it.

  • Tony

    It looks cool. It will be practical, but…..
    If you buy this bike you are a complete fashion victim ! It will be unique, it will demonstrate that you really love motorcycles and it will be a project you can get some satisfaction from.
    To buy this overpriced yuppie “street tracker” you will truly show you have more money than sense.
    I’m Australian, but I have to say that nearly every other new motorcycle on the market has more integrity and soul than this bike.

  • Tony

    My comment was changed
    INSERT after victim!: Build your own custom…it will be unique etc..
    Hell for Leather must be getting a buck to plug this bike.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Tony, nobody touched your comment. You posted at 430am my time while I was sleeping. HFL had a major glitch on Monday, though, so what’s missing from your post?

  • PeteP

    Meh.

  • Kerry

    As someone who builds his own bikes as well I can fully appreciate the comments abot build it yourself, etc… However, any argument that advocates build it yourself because you will save money is not a very strong one.

    Let’s assume you take an average person, not a motorcycle person or an old bike person with tons of spares lying around and a tool collection to rival most NASCAR teams, but a guy with a standard sears box and an empty garage space. Just running through the Parts unlimited catalog and the Deus catalog and really only totaling up the parts I could see (seat, tank, fenders, lights, paint, shocks, etc…) I come up with a parts cost of close to $10K including the cost of the bike, and not counting the labor or the little details (polishing, cost to drill the covers, airfilters, homemade parts, etc).

    Could you shortcut building this bike for cheaper? yes you could. Instead of a $1200-$1600 alloy tank you could have used a fiberglass tank for $500, or instead of $800 for anidozed black alloy rims and stainless spokes on polished hubs you could paint the stock steel rims black. But you would not end up with this quality and caliber of motorcycle.

    Also building it yourself is something you finance over time – $500 here, $1000 there, it adds up over time so you don’t feel the cost as much as say pulling $18K out of your savings, but with a name like Deus you are more likely to have the used value fall less rapidly than if you did it yourself.

    If you are able to build it, and I mean you have the skills, the tools, the space, the time, the drive, and the disposable income, then by all means building your own bike is a rewarding expirence that everyone should try at least once. But if you are the guy who has only owned new bikes and can’t do much beyond lube a chain and maybe an oil change, and you don’t have the time, but you want a vintage style riding expirence without the hassles of it actually being vintage, then buying a Deus gets you on the road quick and enjoying the riding part of the hobby rahter than the bleeding from the knuckles part.

    …just one more thing….a supermoto is a different type of bike from a flat tracker or street tracker. While there is an overlap of the bikes used and some of the parts, a tracker is a really narrowly purpose built bike – basically slide sideways on dirt, where as a supermoto has to contend with varying road surfaces, jumps, hard left and right cornering – basically they are more dirt bike than street bike. An HD would be at home as a a tracker where as it could never pass as a supermoto (too heavy). Is it a subtle difference? maybe too a little too subtle but riding a supermoto vs a tracker is a completly different expirence.

  • DD

    A exercise in taste and style for certain. Contemporary artists with bike building skills no doubt. Anybody could build a better bike for the money sure, but then again I can make a Jackson Pollock for like $20.
    I know I am a sucker, but I like to see it covered in sand and saltwater. Like seeing a beautiful bikini model in the same type of mess.

  • HoboMike

    W650′s are excellent bikes out of the box. I took a stock bike off-road to Mike’s Sky Ranch in Baja without a hiccup. And I suck off-road. The Deus looks good (I do like most of their bikes) but I have a hard time justifying $17K when a lot of it is just chucking stuff off the bike or catalog shopping.

  • Ray

    Grant,

    You bring up excellent points in response, and I have long appreciated RedWings, Johnson wool pants, etc. I like having said shop in the neighborhood. And I like seeing Walker Evans/Bravo/Bresson books next to Moto Guzzis. Your sound comment was dead on too, I was expecting a more triumph-like pop.

    But.

    I guess it’s like when you had to figure out where to buy a leather jacket if you were going to wear one – one used to have to live the life to figure it all out, now it’s on a silver platter, carefully arrayed, for a price. It’s like punk after EmpTV. I guess it’s a geezer thing… Being an insider vs. buying in, the “I got there first” mentality; now that everyone else is there, one has to move on. Daniel Boone said he knew it was time to move when he saw smoke from his neighbor’s chimney. Born in VA, died in MO. I think I smell smoke again, but I can live with it.

    Love your openness to hashing it all out. Keep it up. Hope you test an ice racer this winter. I’d like to see that in person. Living vicariously through your antics… And throw a winter party too.

    Best,

    Ray

  • Sean Smith

    After having throughly read it all, I’ve got this to say: Grant, I freaking hate you. Why is it that you get the awesome japanese jeans? The sexy bike, those alpinestars gloves that I’ve never seen before, and the coolest riding jacket of all time? This is bullshit. I want all that awesome stuff for myself.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      That’s me in the photos ;)

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        Wearing my jacket and gloves, we know. I can’t exactly shoot myself riding through the surf. What’s the matter? Your suit w/ custom armor didn’t come today?

        • Sean Smith

          I wish I had custom armor; until I do though, I’ll stick with my well worn Astars gear. Nice pics by the way, my designer lady-friend approves.

  • http://www.bikeexif.com Chris Hunter

    I think we’re over-analysing things here. The bike is both functional and aesthetically beautifully. It might not be the fastest or the cheapest, but it has considerable merits in other areas.

    There’s precious little beauty in life as it is, and Deus’ bikes give many folks lots of pleasure. That’s good enough for me. You don’t necessarily have to build something yourself to validate your ownership.

    There are lots of bikes out there that don’t appeal to me at all, but I don’t begrudge the enjoyment their owners get out of them.

  • http://www.thereviewsite.info Hipolito M. Wiseman

    Good post mate!! Keep ‘em flowing!

  • VetteWrecker

    ~$17k for “style over substance?” Crack pipe all the way. There is absolutely nothing about this bike that justifies that price.

  • Eric

    Loved post and comments.
    I remember liking some of their SR 500 rebuilts, too.
    However, I ride my 1987 86000k Tenere…

  • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

    hmmm. fast eh? not the one Stacie was riding last night. At 60mph on the 110 the rear wheel was visibly wobbling. A friend tugged it side to side and it totally jiggled. The wheel, not the tire. It was downright creepy.

  • oldblue

    Here in Australia the small ads are littered with Deus bikes and pleas along the lines of “Immaculate condition, paid $19,000, just 2,000 kilometers on the clocks, need room in garage, must sell, asking $15,000″

    (long silence, staring at shoes, glance at phone, awkward shuffling, more silence.)

    Yup. Style over substance alright. I had hoped for so much more from Deus, but they’ve simply become a big price tag hipster brand that’s all about the look. Motorcycles as fashion items.

  • rvltng_bstrd

    As long as it’s not a H-D the price might very well be justified, will you all understand that already?