What’s it like to ride a 1979 BMW R100S CAFE RACER?

Ok, now begins a new phase of Ride of the Week. Let’s call it “Leveling Up.” Or maybe ROTW Ver2.0. And what does that mean?

It means that, although four wheels are cool, two can be cool, too. In fact, taking a ride in just about anything in Malibu is completely awesome and I’ll be proving that in the next few weeks when I take a spin in Malibu Engine 70’s Fire Truck for a 5Minute Drive upcoming episode. 

But for now, welcome Matthew Burgess and his 1979 BMW R100S. A re-imagined Café Racer custom built by Deus ex Machina in Venice. It’s so cool, that Matthew even gave it a name — Complexus ex Simplex; Latin for “complexity from simplicity,” and with a nod to “God from the Machine.”

As an Internet entrepreneur, Matthew is a complex guy. Just describing what he does gets my ears a-twerkin’. Most recently he co-founded a company which uses a proprietary analytics platform to optimize high volume e-commerce sites and marketing campaigns. (See, I told you. I can see your ears moving like a hummingbird finding a 12-foot flower.) 

“We embrace an approach where complexity can emerge from simplicity,” Burgess said. “Where both creative and analytical modes of thinking work in harmony to accelerate testing, learning and improvement of ROI. I call this approach Creatalytics.” I call it wow for short.

Me? I just act like an dork and get paid for it. 

But Matthew, despite his double sized business card, is an altogether different individual when he’s on two wheels. He becomes a hyper-centered, laser pointed spiritual seeker of curves. Like riding a big wave, there’s no room to be distracted in cruising a two wheeled demon. You have to commit or get swallowed up, which is why my wife lays down the law to four wheels for me. But Matthew’s passion for what Venice’s Deus ex Machina built for him rivals true art.

A spectacular piece that would otherwise belong parked or hanging on the wall in your living room.

“I’d been talking with the folks at Deus about building a bike for some time, since before they opened the shop in Venice. I love the 1970’s BMW R-series, and Deus hadn’t yet customized a BMW. So we talked about building a café racer from a vintage BMW,” Burgess said.

“I searched the country for a good donor bike for the project, and I finally found it in Prescott, Arizona a couple years ago. I flew out to buy the bike and ride it back. After an overnight side trip to Sedona (it was love at first ride), I rode it back to LA, and to Deus ex Machina, where we planned its transformation.”

He continued on to say that it was a bit heart wrenching to tear down such a beautiful R100S, which is something of a legendary bike. But he was energized by the vision of Michael Woolaway (the lead builder for Deus in the US) to create a one-of-a-kind BMW. So off it went to Woolie’s Workshop in Venice.

Matthew describes that the rear brake was converted from a disc to a drum. Pretty much all the components on the bike were handmade by Woolie: The battery was relocated under the seat. A NASA-developed 1,200-degree heat shield was added under the seat, protecting both the battery and my man parts from the heat of the engine and exhaust.

“As a member of the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club, my heart is with vintage bikes. Although I ride it frequently into Venice, it’s not really the best commuter bike. It’s tight and fast with an aggressive stance; endless fun in the canyons around Malibu. Complexus ex Simplex is ‘complexity from simplicity,’ the emergence of beauty and elegance from simple things/forms/patterns, as embodied in the Fibonacci sequence of numbers, the golden ratio, and as seen throughout nature.

This concept is representative of something that has always helped me get my head around the great unknowns of our universe and guides me in life: the empirical truth that great complexity in nature emerges from simplicity. Riding a motorcycle is an experiential manifestation of this: the joy, the peace, and the complex, textured richness of life’s experiences that often come from the simplest of things. Surfing has this same effect on me.”

With his wife Shana and their two-year-old son, Gavin, they moved to Point Dume last year after a dozen years in Venice. They spent a good amount of time in Malibu over the years, surfing and riding motorcycles through the canyons, getting to know the neighborhoods, people, etc. So he’d known for some time that he wanted to raise his family here.

“Every day we are filled with humility and gratitude for the opportunity to live in this amazing place. We’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of others and open arms of the community.”

It kind of makes you feel like getting on a bike, eh? But isn’t that the way of the universe? Isn’t that what we love about our big, little town? A connection with beauty, passion and inner peace… and don’t forget all things cool. 

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