Deus Ex Machina Bike Build Off 2016


Category: Event

This year the Boundless Enthusiasm Bike Build Off switched from a morning in springtime, to an evening in September, plus they added a few more categories, and it was bigger and better than ever. Bikers and builders gathered at five Deus Ex Machina locations worldwide, Sydney, Milan, Tokyo, Bali, and Venice Beach California, the latter of which is where RideApart was able to attend and bring you a glimpse of these amazing motorcycles.


Whether or not you love the style and hipness of Deus, or hold them personally responsible for the pipe wrap fad and Firestone tires, there is no arguing with the fact that Venice Beach is a nice place to spend a few hours on any given Saturday. Speaking of Firestones; Firestone Walker brewers were the official beer sponsor of the event, and their 805 brew is a massive improvement over the Pabst Blue Ribbon which previously had a hammer lock on every previous shows. Mmmm...Beer.


A big change from last year's event had organizers splitting the bikes into classes instead of judging everyone together. There were classes for invited professional builders, small displacement bikes (below 125cc), race bikes (not street legal), and the various others we can't seem to recall. Between the invited builders, the new classes, and the change of date/time, the show layout seemed to be about twice the size of last year and the bikes seemed to be even better too.


Looking over the entries, and judging by the winners, we may finally be at the end of the balloon-tired "Cafe Racer" trend. Not only were there more dirt-oriented bikes here than Cafe style, for the first time I can recall, none of the winning bikes fit into that trendy segment. In fact, this crop of bikes were all over the place stylistically, and most of the winners showed creativity that has alluded previous winners (in my opinion). My personal favorite was the Honda Trail 90 converted into a motorized BMX Cruiser by Jay Lossa. Basically, he retainied just the steering stem and downtube from the original bike frame, creating a cool, clean cycle replete with bicycle footpegs, rigid frame and a seat meant for very short distance rides. His effort won the prize for Best Small Displacement motorcycle. He wasn't the only winner with this theme.


Another motorized bicycle creation was the Wolf Board Track bike, powered by a hot rodded Briggs Stratton lawnmower engine. It's a super-minimal bike design, with Wolf choosing to incorporate a modern mountainbike-spec disc brake on the back and shock on the springer ront end. In a twist of fate, these components actually make it more advanced than the bikes it emulates from the 1920s. Good thing too, because the converted lawnmower engine now puts out more than 10hp, thanks to a race cam and custom Billet aluminum head. This bike was impressive enough to win first in the Open Class.


The Best Race Bike class winner went to a custom BSA flat tracker, built by Adam Sheard from of Speed Deluxe in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who drove for two days to get to the show. Sheard did all the work himself, from fabricating the aluminum tank and seat, to laying down the paint. And as nice as this bike is, it's still meant to be a functional flat track racing bike. Based on a 1967 BSA 250cc Single, it looks like a lightweight, fun to ride bike that can be hosed-off and hung in your living room afterwards. When the aluminum looks this good in the raw, you know you are dealing with an expert metal worker. Mr. Sheard, we salute you!


Second place in the Open Class was a nicely modified Yamaha RD400 built by Anthony Scott of Enginethusiast out of Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately, I failed to snap any pictures of that bike, but you can see it here. I did get pictures of the 3rd place Open Class moto though, because it was a sparkly, purple Ducati which was hard to ignore. This Italian started off as a simple classic Ducati before the builder, Colin Stinson added Ohlins suspension, sprinkled with modern LED lighting, brakes some period correct paint to go along with various other minor updates that culminate in this little gem you see here. Stinson, a self proclaimed artist and craftsman who likes preserving history was keen to point out that in addition to looking very retro cool, you can ride his bike until it runs out of gas. Apparently, it doesn't have a fuel gauge?


Lastly, the winner of the People's Choice Award is a stripped down flat track inspired Yamaha Seca 400. This bike started out as a build for another contest, the IV League Flat Track Junkyard Build Off, and was raced hard and put away dirty. The current owner David Wong, and the builder Michael Fröelich reworked it, made it street legal again, and turned it into a cool bike that struck a chord with the attending crowd. It certainly is the bikethat represents the spirit of doing the more with less.


Now, you can have your say too, because the worldwide people's choice voting has opened on the Deus Build Off site. You can browse through the Top Five bikes from each of the contests that Deus held in 2016, and vote for your favorite. The global winner will be announced at the EICMA motorcycle show in Milan in December, and hopefully winning it means the builder gets a trip there. There are more pictures in a big gallery on my personal site: Boundless Enthusiasm Bike Build Off 2016.


I'm always game to go out and look at cool bikes, so drop us a line if you know of a cool show, or race, or other event you think we should cover.

Learn more about Bryan and the rest of RideApart's excellent staff here: The RideApart Team

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