Taking It To The Source—Cafe Racer Edition | Cycle World

Taking It To The Source—Cafe Racer Edition

We take our cafe racers to Deus Ex Machina to see what Woolie thinks of the pair

Unlike most people’s visits to Deus Ex Machina’s Venice headquarters, my first stop isn’t the coffee bar but the gray door around back. Behind it lies master builder Michael “Woolie” Woolaway and his two shop dogs Bowie and Gigi. Woolie has building cafe racers since before they were cool and his bikes are built with a delicate balance of beauty and brawn. Curious for his take, we asked him to take a break from the Hyper he’s building for next year’s Pikes Peak International Hillclimb (347 pounds full of fuel, 180 horsepower at the rear and no traction control, and I get to ride it this week) to talk production cafe racers and our BMW R nineT Racer and Triumph Thruxton:

cafe racer

The BMW R nineT Racer and Triumph Thruxton.

Jeff Allen

“Whoa man this thing is pretty (looking at the BMW)! It’s crazy how good BMW’s design team is, they just don’t miss a thing...well almost. That snoot of an air intake I’ll never understand. You know I designed a bike for them once and their only piece of criticism was that it was missing that snoot? I was like yeah, it’s for a reason.”

“Seriously though, we keep talking but that thing just keeps catching my eye. It’s weird seeing it next to our building and the Triumph and your helmet, because it shows how blue the white really is; it’s so unique.”

Woolie Sean MacDonald

It's hard not to stare at the R nineT Racer

Jeff Allen

“Overall though, I’d still prefer the Triumph. I know people give it crap for the fake fins or fuel injectors that look like carbs, but I think they did a great job with both of those and actually like them. I prefer the motor configuration and the stance for sure, it’s just way more capable.”

“Between the two, I’d opt for the Thruxton to do a cafe racer build on. Strip it down and cut those exhaust lugs and the gauges and everything else you don’t need and give it some special treatment visually and performance wise and that thing would be insane!”


After being initially wooed by the BMW, it was the Thruxton that won Woolie's affection.

Jeff Allen


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