The decision to get creative with rules and regulations is in keeping with the all-bike-brands-welcome spirit experienced at all Deus get-togethers. Another big plus was not only the variety of bike flavors – from small-displacement chittychittybangers to rorty Laguna Seca-ready hyperbikes – but also the wide spectrum of people who helped rev up the energy level. So, for this coverage, we do a little adapting as well, with a focus on five of the machines entered into the competition and then some handing out of my own non-official citations of excellence. Strangely enough, most of my early pix also scored with the judges. Yeah, great minds thunk alike.
Best of Show According to Official Rules – First Place Winner
Says Josh Deardorrff, “I left Portland Friday at 6:30 in the morning. Why did I ride all the way here? Well, I saw the event posted on Facebook and thought it would be fun. When will I ride back … when I feel like it. Maybe hang around L.A. for a little while.”
Josh is a metal fabricator by profession and built the bike in his afterhours. He’s actually originally from SoCal, where he had been building off-road race cars before moving up to Oregon to get into more industrial work. His bike project began with a 1982 Honda CX500 he bought for 350 bucks off Craigslist.
The long ride was worth it since the Deus judges picked his bike as number one. So, it will join the other top winners at Deus bike shows taking place almost simultaneously in Sydney, Tokyo, Bali, Milan and the other Deus locations internationally. All the First Place winners will then be judged by the public online to choose Deus ex Machina’s Numero Uno bike and recipient of the People’s Choice Award.
Paul’s Pix for Best Bare Naked Metal Bike and Official 5th Place Finisher
When my eyes glammed onto David Miezal’s Moto Guzzi 850T café racer, I knew it was, well, a Guzzi with gusto. It turns out that David, a professional photographer by trade who’s also into bikes and plane design, found the 850T all choppered up with reach for the sky ape hanger bars, fishtail exhausts, a red paint job, a huge seat and assorted bad-to-the-bone gnarly stuff. So he got to work, metal fabbing being a hobby. Turning a chopperized Moto Guzzi 850T into a slick café bike, David hand-formed all the metal, even designing his own handlebars. Everything unnecessary was removed, with the upgraded electrics and small lithium battery hidden under the seat helping to give the stripped down sleek look. The metal parts were wire brushed. All told, the whole ground-up project was completed in just six weeks.
“The inspiration for the bike was the land-speed bikes and records made by the great Ernst Henna in the 1930s,” says Miezal. “Also, I wanted to build it recycling as many of the original parts as possible, like cutting and reworking the rear fender, all to spend as little as possible.”
Another Italian bike, a Ducati Scrambler custom built by NorCal rider Chris Marleau scored the Deus judges’ Second Place Award.
Official Show Winner – 3rd Place Best of Show/Paul’s Pix Canister Design
This jewel of a café racer was based on a Honda CL70 and built by the youngest builder at the event, 14-year-old Haven Jarel, who, with some help from his dad, produced this winner. It also took my fictitious award for Best Canister Exhaust Design.
Paul’s Pix for Wunderbike and Deus Special Mention
Bryan “Woody” Wood took special Honorable Mention/Fourth Place after the judges agreed that he had created the most bizarro bike at the event. Based on a 1980 Honda CM400T, Bryan wrenched it together in 30 days.
“When I first found the bike, it had been sitting in the back of a trailer for 20 years.” Wood explains. “The guy I got it from didn’t know where the fairing came from. I made the plastic windshield from a catering tray I found at a restaurant supply store. I built the pipes, the pieces from Pep Boys plus some mandrel bends I had done at Summit Racing. It’s actually way too loud to ride around on.
“It was inspired by the Japanese biker gangs who ran around on loud bikes swinging chains and baseball bats,” Wood continues, “but they faded out, so now some of the Japanese kids sort of follow that look with their bikes. It’s a style pretty much unknown in the U.S. I don’t even have a name for it as I ran out of time trying to get the wiring done so I could get it here for the event from where I live in Van Nuys.”
Best of Show Not According to the Rules
My vote for sweetest looking bike, Suzuki or otherwise, went to Nick O’Kane for his TL1000R transformation. Originally from the U.K., Nick’s now a mover and shaker at K&N. Red Bull is not a sponsor, but the can looked cool as an overflow container. The official judges also picked it as a winner, awarding it Best Bike Way Beyond the Minimalist Rules of the Competition but Too Cool Not to Award.
And now a look at the rest of the show:
Not a Judge
Best Non-Manikin Stylin’ Award Winners
Best Band without Real Snakes
Menu of the Day Did Not Include Tongue Sandwiches
Best Organically Grown Gas Tank Award
Another BMW, This One Enrolled In Best Weight Loss Program
This Garson award went to Lance Henderson of Revisited Motorcycle for trimming 85 lbs. off a BMW K100RS and turning it into a nimble freeway flyer. Lance rode it to L.A. from his home in Arizona just to attend the event.
Early BMW K bikes always took back seat to classic airhead models, but are now becoming more popular. They offer 100-hp performance, 200,000-mile reliability, and affordability, the latter at least for the moment. Lance says he went through nine seat designs before he found one comfortable enough to spend an entire day on. He also lowered the bike three inches, a good thing since K-bikes’ seats are tall.
Best New Breed of Moto-Café Racer: Brian Nelson’s Palm Tree Honda
Johnny Jump’s Honda Ascot
That’s his real name, for real. The bike started out as a 1984 Honda VT500 Ascot. Asked why he picked the bike for his project, Johnny says, “Because I like the thump of a Twin and the simplicity of it. I like it because I’m a motocrosser and because it has a more upright riding position. Plus motocross bars make it very comfortable, very agile.”
Johnny changed the complete rear cowling to more of a dirt track look, made the custom seat pan, powdercoated the wheels, rolled on dual-sport tires, plumbed the full D&D exhaust, lowered the bike three inches in the front, two inches in the back, added Progressive shocks in the back and their springs in the front, bolted on motocross-style handlebars, switched out the instruments and headlamp, bolted on a motocross shifter, brake pedal and pegs, and built the air intake assembly with oversized K&N filter. Johnny says it’s as much fun as it looks. “It’s a very light bike, about 390 lbs. and puts out 48 hp, so it has a good power-to-weight ratio.”
It’s a Tie for the Best Best T-shirt
Best Fairings: Another Tie for Best Face Forward
Splintering the Wind
The Real 21st Century Mad Max Launch Vehicle
Yes, that is an ice tray melded onto the helmet, and, yes, those are aircraft skid shoes. It’s something that leaped from the mind of Los Angeles designer/builder/rider Mark Dugally, who breaks all the rules with whatever he touches – from radical home architecture to radically built motorcycles. In this case his creation is based on a 2006 Yamaha 125cc scooter. He calls it the Blemmye (pronounced Bleh-me or pretty close to ‘Blame Me.’)
“The Blemmye was a mythical creature from ancient Greece,” says Dugally. “It’s an unnatural creature with a human body but with no head. Instead its face is set into its chest. And all the bikes I built are pretty unnatural.”