Deus TT800: A New / Old Triumph



Deus ex Machina TT800

Moviedom’s greatest motorcycle jump ended in failure. You know the one: Steve McQueen, The Great Escape, a Triumph TT Special 650. McQueen’s an escaped POW who’s being pursued by Nazis, and the only thing standing between him and freedom is what looks like the entire German army and a massive barbed wire fence. So he does the most Steve McQueen thing possible:  jumps the fence on his stolen “German” military motorcycle, played onscreen by the aforementioned Triumph TT 650. He makes the jump and it’s awesome – and then he’s surrounded by the Germans and crashes.

Now, if you’re a fan of the movie, it’s hard not to wonder if McQueen would’ve fared better had he been on a more powerful bike. A little more power, and maybe The Cooler King escapes another stint in a Nazi POW camp. When I took a look at photos of the newest custom offering from Deus Ex Machina Motorcycles USA, the TT800, I wondered if builder Michael Woolaway was thinking the same thing. The company is an odd duck – they sell branded clothes, surfboards, and custom motorcycles – and their general aesthetic is retro, with a mid 60s to early 70s café’ racer vibe. So a build like this, recalling as it does one of the era’s great movies, fits right in.

Deus ex Machina TT800

According to the press release, the bike was built for a customer in coastal France who was looking for a “new, old Triumph” and will be used to “go to and from the beach”. While it sorta looks like a Triumph, the TT800 isn’t: the engine is from a Kawasaki W650, which Woolaway bored out to 800cc. The spec sheet says that the bike has a custom, Triumph-flavored exhaust, CR carbs, re-valved Öhlins forks, a custom gusseted swing arm, all wrapped up in a custom chromoly racing frame.

Deus ex Machina TT800

So…this is a beach cruiser? I suppose it could be. Maybe those knobby tires are good for zipping through the hardpacked sands of French Brittany. And there’s no rearview mirrors, but maybe one doesn’t need those when going to and from the beach. And there’s no speedometer that I can see, just a tach, but hey, no roads, no speed limit, right? Plus, if you’re going for a bike that’s built for casual jaunts, British Racing Green is an odd choice of color. My guess is that Woolaway meant for this badass machine to do a little bit more than make quick scoots down to the seaside.

Deus ex Machina TT800

The TT800 is a one-off bike, the latest in series of custom builds. It’s not available for order (yet), but if you’re interested in seeing some of the company’s other offerings – and have the cash to buy one – you can check out those out here.

Deus ex Machina TT800

  • rudedog4


    • JasonAvant


  • Randy Singer

    Kawasaki sells an 800cc version of this twin cylinder engine in a bike sold in Europe, the W800:

    However, instead of the bike being a Triumph knockoff, it is more of a homage to Kawasaki’s own twin from the early 1960′s.

    I’ve seen several lovely tracker customs based on this engine.

    • Davidabl2

      “However, instead of the bike being a Triumph knockoff, it is more of a homage to Kawasaki’s own twin from the early 1960′s.”
      I’d say it isn’t a case of either/or.. it’s a case of both/and ;-)

    • Mule

      The Kawasaki was a Brit bike knockoff in the 60′s. So the W650/800 is a knock off of their original knock-off. The Triumph is still just a Triumph.

      • appliance5000

        The triumph of today is a knockoff – and a far less elegant one than the Kawasaki.

      • Davidabl2

        A knockoff of a BSA twin (A-10 I think?) i.e. an knockoff of an extinct bike. And the Hinckley Triumphs aren’t knockoffs of the extinct Meriden Triumphs
        in true same way? The connection to the original is just about as tenuous, I’d say, except that they DO own the name. Same situation with all the “Indian’ motorcycle companies over the years since ’53.

  • Mr. White

    Yay, no stupid exhaust-pipe tape.

  • James Elk

    that tach is a motogadget chrono classic….the speedo is in the digital display

  • zion

    Well whatever it is, it’s a good looking bike.

    • JasonAvant

      Isn’t it? If you get the chance, check out some of Deus Ex Machina’s other builds. A commenter on another RA post (one about the cafe racer culture, I think) described the difference between a hipster and a classicist: hipsters are all about the aesthetics of an era, while classicists are all about the feel and mindset. I think these guys fall squarely in the classicist category.

  • juliansr

    I wonder why they would bother boring out a 650 to 800 when the 800 version is readily available.

    • Davidabl2

      I suspect that what really happened is that Deus sourced an 800 barrel, pistons and head as an 150mm increase in displacement seems too much to be achieved by boring alone(?)

  • Heeno

    So that’s where all the W650s are going, chopped, cropped and shopped. Whatever happened to ‘stock”.

    • Davidabl2

      Stock is too “wannabe Triumph” perhaps?

      • Guzzto

        Perhaps, but the stock w650 was a far better homage to the era than triumphs bloated ‘modern retro’ line.

        • Davidabl2

          True enough..Soon after they first appeared I went over to S.F.’s Munro Motors to see one in person. As a former Meriden Triumph owner i was absolutely shocked to see how “bloated” the new Bonneville was. Either they’ve become less bloated since then or maybe I’ve just gotten used to them over the years. Some interesting comparisons of the new/old Triumphs and the Kawasaki “Bonnevilles”(by folks that have owned all of them!) can be seen at the British site As well as a lot of other interesting stuff…

          Kawasaki seems to do “tribute bikes” like nobody else. While i’ve not been able to get my hands on one of the W’s I do have one of Kawasaki’s “Indians”

        • Davidabl2

          And they’re way less “bloated” than anybody else’s Indians.. This one’s the about the same physical size and weight as the 1940 Indian Sport Scout that inspired it.

          • Davidabl2

            …With a few more ponies. And better brakes ;-)

  • Davidabl2

    Why oh why doesn’t Kawasaki have a C.V.O. program that’d sell a few hundred or a few thousand W’s in this country? Presumably in tracker livery if the customer desired… I’d certainly rather have one over a Bonneville, Triumph Scrambler. Or over any available Sportster for that matter.