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Kawasaki W650 – Deus ‘Moto Grigio’

Posted on November 9, 2012 by Scott in Café Racer. 42 comments

By guest writer Ian Lee.

The Italian language is a beautiful thing. It takes words we would usually find dull, like four-door, snail and cheese, and turn them into quattroporte, chiocciola and formaggio. The problem is changing Italian words back into English, once translated you are left with a plain sounding term that doesn’t quite sound so sexy. When Deus US motorcycle design director, Michael Woolaway, needed a name for his new project, he settled on ‘Moto Grigio’. A passionate sounding name, until you discover it basically means ‘grey motorcycle’ in English. But this is definitely not your standard ‘grey’ motorcycle.

In all fairness, this isn’t just any grey though. It’s a vintage Ferrari paint which appears to have different hues in different light – always having a slightly different look to the last time you saw it. Michael Woolaway made a wise choice in picking this colour, but it comes as no surprise, because you don’t get his position by punching out boring bikes. Following on from his last build, the American 1200, Michael has chosen the Kawasaki W650 as a base platform to showcase his skills.

Taking the stock W650 engine, Michael and the guys at Deus blew the cc’s out to 800, FCR flatslide carbs feeding the stroked engine. Stainless steel headers have been matched to a Supertrapp exhaust, all hung from handmade exhaust bracket. A CBC custom bike seat follows the lines of the custom fuel tank, just enough to look good, but not enough to look like it fully flows.

Deus bikes don’t usually use run of the mill brakes, and Moto Grigio is no exception. A flat track rear brake setup consists of a Grimeca caliper controlled by a Brembo master cylinder. Braking at the steering end comes courtesy of Beringer 6 pot caliper clamping down on a Brembo rotor. Front end stability comes assisted by a Durelle Racing offset triple clamp, working with black anodized Ohlins forks, which are re-valved, re-lengthened and re-sprung to suit this mobile art form. The rolling stock consists of Sun rims, Buchanan stainless steel spokes and nipples, the knockoff hubs also being sourced from Durelle racing.

All this means naught without controls, and Michael has found an aesthetically pleasing setup in that area. A Motion Pro Revolver throttle brings the noise, brake lever is Brembo, clutch lever courtesy of ASV, all perched happily on a set of Woodcraft clip-on bars.

Taking inspiration from Classic TT bikes through to modern Moto2 racebikes, Deus has once again come up with the goods, and with talented guys like Michael Woolaway as head of design, that’s probably not going to change anytime soon.

As for me though, I am beginning to see grey in a different light. Maybe grey really is the new black?

  • arnold

    Very purdy li’le thang, ain’t she?

    • arnold

      I don’t understand the front axle offset though. Part of the triple tree rearrangement? ald

      • Stats

        The point is to shorten the trail to give the bike a more dynamic handling character, without changing the rake. That’s normally done by increasing the offset on the triple tree, but doing so compromises the compact look of the front end. Plus, if they’d done that, they wouldn’t have been able to put tank dimples on.

        • arnold


  • revdub

    Absolutely beautiful.

  • Oldroadie

    Revolved forks? Methinks maybe that’s meant to be re-valved instead. Pretty bit of work and I’ll bet it is a fun ride.

    • Yes, Re-valved. It’s been updated.

      • Davidabl2

        I want one. Since this designer’s more pedestrian 800cafe costs 18K I shudder to think what this one will cost…

        • JimmyR14

          See that’s the beauty of just looking. It doesn’t cost anything. 🙂

          • Davidabl2

            Sure. But then there’s also that old saying “nothing ventured,nothing gained.”

  • madmusk

    Very balanced and subtle bike. Nice! Only things I’d change are somehow flush up the front of the seat with the tank (probably lose the suede too), and somehow match the look of the two brakes better.

  • itsmefool

    Me likey!

  • Jacob Speis

    Can anyone identify that digital cluster?

    • Blueline

      it’s a Motogadget unit, that’s all I got.

    • Um, out of place on this classic looking bike?

  • bjax

    Nice ass!

    • Hmmm. You may be looking at the wrong website.

      • Tony, you need the special polarized glasses that Andrew sells – then you can see the hot chicks that bjax sees. Sorry, Andrew, was I not supposed to let Tony in on the secret? My bad. ;^}

  • The sfondo bianco thing is getting vecchio.

  • Christophe

    Nice bike, but a bit boring, isn’t it? Feels like I’ve seen it a hundred times before in Pipeburn, BikeEXIF, etc…

    • Ugh

      Uh huh. I think Deus should name their next bike the Cookie Cutter.

      • JimmyR14

        Yeah but it’s a cool cookie you end up with. Actually I was thinking that this one is quite different from the Aussie Deus product. Kinda shinier and less “bratty” or something. I think it’s beautiful.

        I guess if you just look at the bikes online it’s a lot easier to get bored than if you have to actually come up with the ideas and make what customers want.

    • I hear ya, man. It’s like looking at the same ol’ sunrise or same ol’ ocean over and over. I’m sick of seeing hot brunettes, too. I just wish all these things could be different.

      • I’m telling ya, Tony, you need those special glasses.

        • First rule about Pipeburn glasses is that no one talks about Pipeburn glasses…

  • This is one of Deus’ best builds and the best w650 I’ve seen in a long time. The tank and seat are certainly works of art and are perfect for this bike. W650s tend to look a little on the top heavy side but this one looks light and nimble. Reminds me in a way of Rickmans from the 60’s/70’s.

  • adie.mitchell

    something about the height and proportion of the rear hump and seat dont work for me. I liked the American 1200 much much better.

    also, does anyone know if that license plate bracket angle is legal in the UK (or even the US, for that matter)?

  • Krylov

    This bike not only excellently looks the cafe racer part,
    but also has brakes, suspension and proper tires to boot.
    I would love to ride this!

  • AndrewF

    Very pretty bike, I love the curves of the tail and proportions of the tank. The colour looks good to me but I suspect it would be even more attractive in real light. Which brings me to my one complaint which has nothing to do with the bike, but Deus in general: guys, for the love of God! Take your bikes outside for photo shoots and stop using those plain and boring white backgrounds all the time. Yes, they make the detail stand out perhaps so they might have their place but only when used in small doses. They are unnatural and boring, boring, boring!

    • I hate to rain on yr parade, but it looks like the bike WAS shot outside. It’s the same way Deus in Sydney shoots; they take the bike outside and shoot it on a white backdrop. See the trees and the clouds reflected in the tank?

      • AndrewF

        Fine but inside or out, my beef was really with that background – I just think a bike should be shot in its natural element, and that isn’t a white void 🙂

        • I agree. The white background thing is very cold. So much time goes into building them and they end up shot and deep etched like a toy in the Target catalogue. I’m guessing the reason they do it is these photos will be placed on their website with all the other bikes on clean white background. Unfortunately It would look very busy if all the bikes where on different backgrounds. Having said that, they usually shoot some ‘insitu’ shots, just not this time.

        • Geez people, it’s meant to be about the bike. These shots allow the art of the engineering and the depths of the detailing to show through. You arty farty types remind me of the “B Ark” in Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy; you would be the ones delaying the invention of fire because you couldn’t decide what colour it should be.

          • arnold

            Now that I can see the photographers reflection in one of the shots, I must rethink my enthusiasm for this build and for Kawasakis in general.

  • NuttyGreg

    A photo of this now hangs in the shop above my painfully stock W650.
    All I really need is a new gas tank to get the ball rolling…….

  • That’s not grey! It’s purple…

  • XRV

    how do knockoff hubs work on a bike? I thought knockoff hubs were another name for the car wheels secured with a central spinner?

    • cagivarider

      In this case it’s not the hub itself but the brakedisc

      and sprocket(?) that are fixed with knockoff nuts.
      See what I mean? (2nd pic from bottom)

      Best regards

  • db

    I’m going to say it. The tank and tail section don’t work together. At all.

  • bryan kerswill

    Looks great. From the right side the engine has a little of the bevel drive Ducati about it. The whole bike flows so well….i,d bet its a hoot to ride.

  • Luke

    …and as usual, they screwed up. Americans *always* do that when trying to use foreign names for their products.
    In this particular case they used "grigio" (masculine) to describe a "moto" (feminine). The thing should be called "moto grigia".