Billy Joel on his new Deus

Dailies -


Bill_Joel_Deus.jpgYesterday, we showed you the new Deus Ex Machina Sacred Cow, turns out the New Yorker who bought it is Billy Joel. We asked him a few questions about it, here’s his answers.

Us: Why a W650-based custom?
Billy Joel: I had purchased a Kawasaki W650 as soon as my local dealership here in Long Island had it in stock. I recognized it as a beautifully engineered tribute to the iconic British air-cooled twins of the sixties. I already owned a number of Harley-Davidsons and other well-known makes and I wanted something different, something lighter and more European than an American V-Twin. To my eye, the W650 looked more like the old classic Triumphs than the new Triumphs did. I thought it was such a great machine that I purchased another one while on tour in Japan a few years later. I know that Kawasaki was disappointed in the U.S. sales numbers and therefore discontinued their sale in America, but it’s now appreciated as a unique, one-of-a kind motorcycle by knowledgeable riders and collectors alike.
Why hardtail?
Since I wanted to build a classic ’60s-era style ‘Bobber’, I needed to
find a hardtail frame that would be light and have a good amount of
flex to absorb shock. I’m not particularly a hardtail fan myself, but
Deus had just such a frame that they had incorporated into their other
Bobber models.

How’d you hear about Deus?
While on tour in Sydney, Australia I saw a Deus cafe racer parked near
where I was staying and I looked up their address online. I went over
to their shop and I loved what I saw. Since I have a motorcycle design
company of my own in New York (20th Century Cycles) I immediately
appreciated the work they were doing there. It was almost like visiting
a shrine to Steve McQueen. I commissioned them to build a bike for me
the same day. I own 35 motorcycles – most of them new bikes that I have
designed and had built to look like vintage machines. “A Modern Ride
With Classic Pride” is our motto.

Is it going to be a rider?
Hell yes, it’s going to be a rider. But I won’t be riding it in
Manhattan or Brooklyn as some of your readers have wondered about. This
bike will be used out on the east end of Long Island where there’s
plenty of twisty back roads, beautiful natural scenery and picturesque
fishing villages. I also intend to transport it by ferry up to places
like Newport, Cape Cod and the Atlantic coast of New England. It will
be more of a town bike than a highway cruiser. It’s still a hardtail.

What were you hoping to achieve with the build?
I was hoping to build a true classic Bobber like the tough but elegant,
streamlined machines I remember seeing back in the 1950′s and 60′s -
before the whole “look how bad I am” ‘chopper’ craze took over. I think
this bike is unique because of the mix of old design and new technology
which makes it faster, more responsive, lighter, more reliable, and
safer than the Bobbers they used to build back in the day. I don’t
believe that too many of the original performance aspects of the stock
bike were compromised by giving it a custom look like this. I  once had
an Indian Bobber built for me by the crew at Orange County Choppers and
let me tell you, it was a pain in the ass trying to get them to build
the simple bike I wanted instead of the heavy, stretched-out,
melted-tank, ape-hanger, flame and skull-covered, neon-colored,
pointy-spiked, over-chromed bike THEY wanted to build. I give very
specific directions about what I want and the guys at Deus got it right

Why “Sacred Cow?”
Since a Moto Guzzi is a ‘Goose’, a Ducati is a ‘Duck’ and a Harley is a
‘Hog’, a Kawasaki is a ‘Cow’. And since it was built by a company
called Deus – well, that makes it a ‘Sacred Cow’ doesn’t it?

  • Matthew

    Excellent. See you on the road, Billy!

  • DC

    Sheesh, why does Deus get so much play on blogs? Yes, they make cool little street-going bikes, but so do a million other shops. Also, they charge an exorbitant amount for everything they sell.

  • Jérôme Pierre

    Did you thought about asking him where was the accelerator on his new machine?
    I’ve closely examined the beautiful photos in your article yesterday, and I wasn’t able to found this fucking command.
    Sorry, I’m a bit doubtful… and curious too.

    Greetings from France.

    • Wes Siler

      It’s an internally-routed throttle cable.

  • Jérôme Pierre

    It could be, even if none of its two grips seems to rotate to me, you must be right.
    Thanks for your answer in any case.

    Greetings from France.

  • Ben

    Look out, here comes Billy Joel!

    Great read. :)

  • Kidchampion

    I’m happy to hear he’s sometimes on a motorcycle and not always wrecking cars and collecting DUIs. Stay sober, Piano Man!

  • Woody

    “I once had an Indian Bobber built for me by the crew at Orange County Choppers and let me tell you, it was a pain in the ass trying to get them to build the simple bike I wanted instead of the heavy, stretched-out, melted-tank, ape-hanger, flame and skull-covered, neon-colored, pointy-spiked, over-chromed bike THEY wanted to build.”

    HAHAHA, greatest quote of the whole article.

    • amsterdam

      May’be Billy can be a guest writer when you guys are abroad racing. Hell, he loves bikes and he’s a wordssmith…Holy Cow.
      Carefull with them twisty back roads Billy!

    • Mucci

      I’d cosign that.

    • April

      Agree Woody— I wanna steal it but when in life will I get the chance!

  • Cameron Baum

    It seems Billy and I have vastly different views on what makes a good motorcycle. That’s fine with me. He probably wouldn’t like my bike either ;)

  • chili sv

    You gotta respect the guy. Hell, he was stranded in the combat zone, walked through Bedford Stuy alone, and even rode his motorcycle in the rain.

  • DoctorNine

    Actually moves my opinion of Mr. Joel up a notch or two. Anyone who has thought this much about what kind of bike he wants, and can articulate why he wants it so well, obviously has put in sufficient time on two wheels to earn my respect. Thanks for the info on your new steed, Billy.

  • Charlie

    +1 on the good DoctorNine. Any motorcycle enthusiast is ok by me. Interesting bikes make the world go round

  • piano man

    buying a bike off of Deus is hardly “building” a bobber Mr. Joel.

    • yipY

      Deus bikes assembled from imported Japanese aftermarket catalogue parts are not “builds”,they are “bolts”.

  • Case

    I don’t much care for the bike, but credit to the man for identifying what he wanted and getting it done.

    Isn’t that what we’d all do if we had the money? (Excepting those that would build their own, of course.)

  • Adrian

    I’m a little bit over Deus, nice bikes but nothing special or exciting any longer.

    Oh, and if you are tree in LI, watch out for Billy’s bobber

  • Chuluun

    I saw that episode of American Chopper and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look less impressed than Billy Joel was. But the really funny part was that the junk/joke bike they threw together as a prank really wasn’t much worse than the ‘real’ thing.

  • Theosticles

    To Kidchampion – F.Y.I. Billy Joel has never been accused of, charged with or convicted of D.U.I. Stop believing everything you read in the tabloids. And to ‘piano man’ – He’s not a mechanic, he’s a designer. And without a design nothing gets “built”.

    • BigMick

      He’s neither mechanic or designer – he’s a wanker. His ersatz jazz rock sucks as well.
      A good match for the Deus, a company founded by an Australian clothing designer trying to be cool by making trendy expensive motorbikes.

  • Rick Maiman

    I see no gain in replacing the front disc with what looks to be a much less capable triumph/bsa style twin leading shoe front brake.
    Mr. Joel’s whole premise for his “2oth Century Cycles” business endeavor is to keep the modern technology, vis a vis brakes, et al and give the bike a more retro look. I think Dues should have left the front disk. I own a 2001 W650 and plan to keep it stock, save for it’s early style Craven
    Panniers and black german rack I installed. Nonetheless I salute Mr. Joel for his involvement in the sport, just like messers Brad Pitt and George Clooney.

  • Erik

    +1 on ChiliSV.

    Riding that bike on a real road would certainly give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.

    Glad he’s a rider. But he is a deushebag. Sacred Cow Tyrd is what he should have called it. Lay off the sauce Billy.

    • Argos

      The correct spelling is douchebag, Erik. And it’s terd, not tyrd. Maybe you’ve been hitting the sauce – or are you actually that stupid when you’re sober ?

      • chili sv

        Though I can’t get behind his sentiment because I don’t know Mr. Joel personally, Erik’s spelling of “deushebag” was pretty funny and apparently a few levels over your head.

    • Wes Siler

      Come on now guys, contribute something useful, insightful or funny. I don’t want to have to start deleting comments and banning people.

    • Cameron Baum

      Riding that bike on a real road would certainly give you a heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.

      Regarding the hard-tailed frame I don’t know about a heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack, but if he can’t ride anymore because of a broken back, at least he can polish the fenders…

  • Still have a thing for her

    I’d much rather see Christie Brinkley astride that svelte machine than the piano man

  • will

    Not a fan of the music, but mad props to the man for having taste. Between this and owning a 2CV.

    • Adrian

      Plus one on the 2CV..fantastic vehicle.

  • Ray

    Love the cubist graphic lead in.

  • Ray

    As for moto-animism, a Kawi is a kwacker as well. And the airhead BMW is a “gummi-kuh”: “rubber cow,” Cagiva and its Elefant. At one point Guzzi claimed to be a different breed of cat – surprised no one’s claimed that. Triumph and its Tigers? Hellcat refers to a plane, not an animal. Wombats? Maybe the Deus bobber’s a latter-day Flying Squirrel, the best of them all? And they’re all equine, as Wes pointed out a week or so ago in his electric bike manifesto.

  • chopsnyc

    Deushebag — ha! Brilliant!

  • pdub

    Big up Mr. Joel. Since I was one of the groaners about the hardtail in BK I have to retract my cynicism. A bike like that in the city would be style over sense which certainly doesn’t stop some but a fine idea of a bike for the little back roads & towns where he intends to ride it. Sounds like he knows what bike he wants and what he wants to do with it & got it. I don’t see a problem here.

  • pdub

    oh, it’s us impossible to please or impress internet bitches. That’s the problem. Good thing he doesn’t have to buy a bike to please us.

  • Wide

    Looks good,but
    imo the European bikes are over estimated.
    The same story,perhaps even worse, for European cars,like BMW & Mercedes-Benz.

  • powermatic

    I’ve never understood the appeal of a hardtail bike-seems to be the epitome of style over substance-and I’m puzzled by Deus Ex’s direction with the faux-crappy tanks-everything else about their bikes is very well done (look how well the exhaust follows the frame rails) and their neat-as-a-pin shop reflects their eye for detail. But in the end beauty is in the eye, and if DEM has found a clientele despite my misgivings, more power to ‘em.

    And as someone else mentioned, BJ’s reaction to his new bike on that OCC episode can only be defined as ‘damned by faint praise’. Hilarious stuff.

  • Emmet

    umm, I’m pretty sure this motorcycle blog is written by Deus Ex?

  • Erik

    Glad someone got the humor in my spelling of “Deus-hebag”. Great to see Chill SV and some others have still have a sense of humor and don’t take themselves as seriously as some other “Argos-ant” people do..

  • Ben

    He should have just built his own, just seems weird he would get someone else to make one considering he has his own freakin MC company.

    • Rex Havoc

      Well if Billy has his own shop and still chooses to get Deus to build it, that tells you something about the quality of the bike and the esteem Deus are held in by people who actually know anything about them.

    • Phil

      20th Century Cycles isn’t a builder/manufacture company. It’s a design company that sub-contracts to different builders. Deus is one of those.