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The MOTORCYCLE Australian Exhibit

Passion, Desire and Action

‘Curated by US-based design curator and physicist Professor Charles M Falco and writer and filmmaker Ultan Guilfoyle in collaboration with QAGOMA

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Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) opens the world exclusive exhibition ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ tomorrow, featuring 100 exceptional motorcycles from the 1870s to the present.

Queensland Art Gallery, Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Director Chris Saines said ‘The Motorcycle’, showing until 26 April, 2021 celebrates 150 years of motorcycle history and included multiple interactive experiences for all ages.

‘Curated by US-based design curator and physicist Professor Charles M Falco and writer and filmmaker Ultan Guilfoyle in collaboration with QAGOMA, the exhibition features pioneering motorcycles and classic commuters, off-road bikes and speed machines, as well as custom creations and numerous electric bikes heralding the future,’ Mr Saines said.

‘The exhibition has a green screen motorcycle riding experience, a motorcycle design studio for building and customising virtual bikes, and a mobile companion site which enables audiences to navigate the show and dive deeper into the history and stories behind each bike on display.

‘This is a must-see experience for bike and motor sport enthusiasts, and it’s equally accessible for anyone with a love of popular culture, design, technology and social history,’ Mr Saines said.

‘The Motorcycle’ will be accompanied by virtual talks and tours, storytelling events, trivia nights, and ‘Motorcycles on the Green’ on 27 February and 18 April 2021, featuring over 60 motorcycles from local community groups, live custom bike builds, DJs and more.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ was the first major exhibition to motor into QAGOMA since COVID-19.

‘As of last week, Queensland is the first state in Australia to open our cultural venues to significantly more visitors,’ Minister Enoch said.

‘This is a testament to the achievement of all Queenslanders who have listened to and followed the health advice.

‘The exhibition will be a drawcard for local visitors as well as those who are taking the opportunity to explore our state, that is now open for business,’ she said.

‘The Palaszczuk Government investment of nearly $60 million, including the $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package, is vital in sustaining the sector, supporting new work, re-opening our cultural venues, delivering digital programming and supporting COVID-safe audience experiences across the State.’

‘The Palaszczuk Government’s blockbuster funding for QAGOMA provides funding of $4 million over two years (2019–2020 and 2020–2021) to support exclusive exhibitions like this in Queensland, revving up our reputation as a must-see visual arts destination.’

On 19 and 20 March 2021, Up Late returns to GOMA for an after-hours celebration of ‘The Motorcycle’ and live music performances across two jam-packed nights.

Co-curator of the exhibition Professor Charles M Falco said ‘The Motorcycle’, presented across GOMA’s entire ground floor, would feature bikes ranging from the steam-powered 1871 Perreaux Vélocipède, the world's first motorcycle designed by Louis-Guillame Perreaux, to the electric-powered 2020 Savic C-Series Alpha, from Australian automotive designer Dennis Savic.

‘The show encompasses the span of motorcycle history, design and capability, from steam power, through internal combustion engines, and into the future with electric motors. Among the highlights are impressive speed machines, such as a Burt Munro 1920 Indian Streamliner, a record setting 1951 Vincent Black Lightning, an original 1974 Ducati 750SS and a rare 1994 Britten V1000, created by legendary New Zealand design engineer, John Britten. Sleek contemporary custom creations include Max Hazan’s 2016 'Black Knight', Daryl Villenueva's 2016 'Bandit 9 Eve Mk II', Craig Rodsmith’s 2018 'Corps Léger' and Bryan Fuller's 2019 Moto '2029',’ Professor Falco said.

Co-curator Ultan Guilfoyle said moving image was integral to the exhibition with many high definition video screens playing important examples of the motorcycle on film from the earliest days to the present.

‘The exhibition explores in depth the abstract world of avant-garde custom designs and includes the work of Australia’s leading motorcycle custom designer, Deus Ex Machina. It also highlights the important role gender has played in motorcycle history, with the inclusion of the Vespa and the Honda Cub, two bikes designed specifically with working women in mind, through to great objects of desire such as the Ducati Monster which was designed not only to look cool, but to be ridden easily by either men or women,’ Mr Guilfoyle said.

‘Motorcycles on Screen’ is the major film program of more than 50 titles showing at GOMA for the duration of the exhibition. The free program features films from the silent era through to the present including classics Roman Holiday 1953, The Wild One 1953, The Great Escape 1963, Easy Rider 1969, Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991 and iconic Australian films Stone 1974, Mad Max 1979, Shame 1988 and Finke: There and Back 2018. Excerpts of many of these films along with rare archival footage and contemporary video artworks centred on the motorcycle will also punctuate each space in the exhibition.

Alongside ‘The Motorcycle’, some of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists respond to the motorcycle helmet in ‘Full Face: Artists’ Helmets’. Artists who have customised helmets in their own distinct styles for the showcase include Archie Moore, Brian Robinson, Callum McGrath, David Booth (ghostpatrol), Eric Bridgeman and Alison Wei, eX de Medici, Guan Wei, Kate Beynon, Madeleine Kelly, Monika Behrens, Nell, Reko Rennie, Robert Moore, Shaun Gladwell and TextaQueen.

‘The Motorcycle’ is accompanied by a themed exhibition store retailing an exclusive range of Deus Ex Machina x QAGOMA t-shirts, totes, caps and badges and a major hardcover book co-published by Phaidon Press celebrating the history and future of the motorcycle. The image-rich 320-page publication can be purchased at the GOMA Store or online at

For more information on the extensive public programs accompanying ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ or to secure your tickets to the exhibition please visit

'The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire' is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It's Live! in Queensland events calendar.


28 NOV 2020 – 26 APR 2021
Discover a whole new perspective of The Motorcycle.

Get your motor running… ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ opens the throttle on the ground-breaking designs that shaped one of the most iconic objects the world has ever seen.

Featuring radical concepts, record breakers and road icons, the fully-immersive exhibition showcases 100 of the greatest motorcycles ever assembled.

Show off your ride with #MotorcycleGOMA | Read more about the motorcycles


Tickets are also available to purchase onsite between 10.00am – 4.15pm. Visit our ticket information page for details on ticket prices, accepted concessions, companion cards, season tickets etc.

This world-exclusive exhibition, only in Brisbane will showcase the art, design and history of one of the most iconic objects of the last 150 years, the motorcycle.

Featuring more than 100 innovative and influential motorcycles from the 1860s to present day, it will consider the iconic vehicle from the perspective of social history, popular culture, design and technology.

The exhibition will tap into the appeal of this enduring object of design and art, looking at the motorcycle’s past, present and future.

This super rare Indian single has an amazing story. It was supplied from the Don Whalen/Richard Bunch collection in the US.
This super rare Indian single has an amazing story. It was supplied from the Don Whalen/Richard Bunch collection in the US.


Showcasing 100 spectacular motorcycles drawn from Australian and international collections, ‘The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire’ spans the history of this dynamic and versatile vehicle, from its humble origins as an engine bolted to a bicycle to the cutting-edge electric prototypes of the twenty-first century. The motorcycles on display trace this history of innovation and have been carefully selected for the technical achievements and aesthetic merits they represent.

The world’s first steam-powered ‘motorcycle’ was assembled in the late 1860s, more than a decade before the first automobile was designed, and by the early twentieth century all the elements of the modern, internal combustion engine-powered motorcycle had developed. Over the next 120 years, changes in design reflected developments in technology, engineering and manufacturing, as well as the motorcycle’s evolving functions as an inexpensive mode of transportation, racing and on- or off- road vehicle and as an expression of individual creativity. These innovations changed the face of transportation, and the motorcycle has not only become an enduring design icon, but also established its place in society through popular culture, literature and film.

This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see geographically and historically diverse motorcycles together in one place. From the hubs of motorcycle manufacturing in the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan to less likely sources of unique designs in New Zealand and Australia, ‘The Motorcycle’ showcases a machine at the pinnacle of design excellence and evokes a world of innovation, excitement and desire.


Motorcycling’s celebrated history of technical and design advancement had modest beginnings in the Age of Steam. In 1868, Parisian inventor and engineer Louis-Guillaume Perreaux (1816–89) patented a steam engine small enough to be used in a motorcycle, and within a few years had fixed it to a frame modelled on the pedal-powered bicycle. Perreaux’s experiments, and those of a few other early innovators, marked both the beginning and end of the era of steam-driven motorcycles. Their inventions nonetheless sparked a thirst for two-wheeled transportation that led to further experimentation, and in 1894 the first commercial motorcycles went into production.\

The industry developed rapidly from there: in 1895 Count Jules-Albert de Dion (1856–1946) and Georges Bouton (1847–1938) produced a compact internal combustion engine in Paris and, a year later, were designing and selling tricycle frames fitted with an improved version of the engine. This configuration was so successful that it was adopted by a number of French, English and American manufacturers, including Cleveland in the United States. The de Dion-Bouton engine itself was also copied and improved upon and was soon powering vehicles such as the American-made 1908 Indian. Growing enthusiasm for the motorcycle as an economical means of transport led to other innovations, including the addition of pillion seats that accommodated passengers. One less successful example was the 1903 Minerva tricycle, manufactured in Belgium, which featured a Mills and Fulford Forecar. While the de Dion-Bouton tricycle had represented a significant advance, the limitations of the Minerva’s relatively heavy frame quickly made it obsolete. More manoeuvrable models soon followed.


When the first motorcycles appeared on roads at the end of the nineteenth century, it was inevitable riders would want to know whose bike went fastest, and who was the better, quicker rider. Thus, motorcycle sport was born and various forms of competition quickly developed – including road racing, cross-country, track racing and hill climbing – each prompting new and specialized motorcycle designs and configurations.

In 1907 a road race named the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) – a 60-kilometre, hair-raising race around the narrow roads and tiny villages of a remote island in the middle of the Irish Sea – was first run with racers touching speeds close to 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour. This race has become the longest running road race in the world, and still occurs annually to this day.

As early as 1908, motorcycles such as the Brisbane-built Spencer were racing laps of a dirt track at the Brisbane Cricket Ground (now the Gabba). By the 1920s, these races had evolved into a sport called speedway, which was pioneered in Australia and went on to take the world by storm.

In the 1910s and 1920s, board track racing became immensely popular in the United States, with stripped-back speed machines, such as the Indian 8-valve, racing around steeply banked oval tracks made from wooden planks.


During the first decades after World War Two, Japan produced small motorcycles that were not in direct competition with more powerful American or European machines. Slowly, however, Japanese motorcycles increased in capacity, sneaking up on the established markets. In 1969 Honda released its revolutionary CB750 with five-speed gearbox, disc front brake and reliable and easy-to-use electric starter.

Established brands struggled to keep pace. BSA, until recently the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, produced their new Rocket 3 the same year, but its four-speed gearbox, conventional front brake and lack of electric starter were hallmarks of a bike from the 1950s. The Velocette Thruxton was also trying to compete with the Honda with what was effectively a 1930s design. For not much difference in price, the customer had a choice between machines designed for the past, or the up-to-date and user-friendly Honda CB750. In what seemed like a heartbeat at the time, the motorcycle world had changed forever.

From the early 1970s onwards, the Japanese ‘Big Four’ – Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki – revolutionised the nature of motorcycle production internationally with sophisticated and adaptive designs, clever marketing and an unprecedented scale of production.


Whether across the high mesas of Arizona or the Australian outback, the point of motorcycle cruising is simply to get away from it all.

The early Indians and Harley-Davidsons displayed here exemplify the cruiser spirit. They are long-legged motorcycles designed to run steadily for many hours at a time, preferably in a straight line. For this journey, an Indian Chief or its Harley equivalent is the perfect alternative to a horse.


Design innovation has been closely associated with the motorcycle for most of its 150-year history. The earliest motorcycles, however, were not so much designed as built. Nonetheless, they embody characteristics that align with their countries of origin.

Functionally, motorcycle designs drew influence from a mode of personal transport they superceded: horses. British motorcycle design quickly evolved to place riders in an upright position that harked back to established horse-riding traditions and encouraged a straight line from the shoulders through the seat and ankles. Across the Atlantic, horse-riding was a more casual affair involving a laid-back posture, with feet thrust forward and neck reined in. American engineers designed their motorcycles according to this precedent, instigating a distinctly American style of riding suited to longer distances and the wide-open plains, exemplified by Harley-Davidson, Indian and Crocker motorcycles.

As markets for motorcycles diversified, the aesthetics of industrial production were influenced by art and design movements of the day. In France, Art Deco – with its emphasis on sleek, stylishly crafted luxury items that symbolised modern sophistication – touched every area of culture, including automotive design, as epitomised by the c.1929 Majestic. Similarly, the Bauhaus, founded in Germany in 1919, was dedicated to ensuring that the aesthetic form of an object was celebrated and guided by its function. The graceful curves and linear form of the 1924 BMW R32 can be seen as an early expression of these ideals. The post–World War Two demand for affordable mobility spurred designs that became mass-produced and internationally distributed on an unforeseen scale. The design of the ever-popular Vespa and Honda Supercub have changed little to this day.


Motorcycling on dirt goes back to the origins of the vehicle, because in those late nineteenth-century days many roads were unpaved. Rutted cart tracks, for the most part, presented various challenges for young motorcyclists in search of fun.

In Britain, scrambles and trials developed side by side. Scrambles were simple races of laps on a closed course, or point-to-point races over open land. Trials, a competition of balance and skill, involved various ‘sections’ which had to be navigated under the scrutiny of an observer. Scrambles and trials were often combined, with speed courses connecting the observed sections. In those days, it was not unusual for a rider to compete in scrambles and trials on the same bike, riding to the competition from home and back again.

With the rise in popularity of BMX bicycle racing, motocross became more and more spectacular and popular throughout the world, boosted by the annual X Games and riders such as Travis Pastrana and Jeremy McGrath, whose freestyle tricks and phenomenal skills made them international stars. In the last 20 years, extreme long-distance dirt racing, known as enduro, especially the Dakar Rally and the Baja 1000, has captured the public imagination. Queensland rider Toby Price is one of the world’s best long-distance racers, having won the Dakar twice in recent years.


It was not until Honda revolutionised industrial production in the 1960s that motorcycles started to be built to exacting technical standards. Prior to that, in Britain, Europe and the United States, new machines might only be a ride away from having a part break or fall off – commonly referred to as a ‘shakedown ride’.

Customization was born from this need to repair and maintain new motorcycles, but went further, to make motorcycles better, faster, louder, brighter and different to factory-produced models. So-called ‘cut-downs’ and ‘bob-jobs’, aimed at reducing a motorcycle’s weight, were the first customs to emerge in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s.

After World War Two, the terminology changed: custom bikes were now ‘choppers’, with exuberant paintwork, indulgent chrome, wildly extended front forks and high, ‘ape-hanger’ handlebars, famously featured in Dennis Hopper’s 1969 film Easy Rider.

Contemporary customs eschew the huge and loud V-twin engines and gaudy paint styles of American choppers. Sydney’s Deus Ex Machina made its reputation with a series of clever customs based on the modest, single-cylinderYamaha SR400 and 500 motorcycles. Chicago-based Australian Craig Rodsmith creates sculptural designs around the most insignificant engines; including the BSA Bantam two-stroke, one of the least celebrated engines in motorcycle history. These designers, along with Max Hazan, Bryan Fuller, Daryl Villanueva in Vietnam and others, are changing what it means to be expressive in a mechanical genre.

‘Where did you get the motorcycle?’
‘It’s not a motorcycle, baby, it’s a chopper.’ Pulp Fiction 1994


The motorcycles displayed here are unified by their capacity for speed – a quality that has become synonymous with the machine. From its inception, the motorcycle’s facility to increase the rate at which people experienced the world was one of its most alluring and mind-expanding features. The invention allowed riders to travel at velocities that altered their perception, transforming vision into a series of flickering shapes and images reminiscent of the cinema screen, and challenging existing understandings of time and space.

While the earliest motorcycles could barely move at the pace of a horse, advancements in technology quickly saw this limitation surpassed. In the twentieth century, the target was to ‘do the ton’, or to travel at 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour or more – a speed that the bikes in this section of the exhibition can exceed many times over. For example, the Britten has reached speeds approaching 320 kilometres per hour, and land-speed racer Kim Krebs has driven her Suzuki Hayabusa across Lake Gairdner, South Australia, at 342 kilometres per hour, making her the fastest female motorcyclist in Australia.


The introduction of today’s battery-powered engines has changed the fundamentals of motorcycle design. Although internal combustion engines have driven most motorcycles since the first commercially produced models entered the market in 1894, even then visionary inventors recognized the benefits of electricity over gasoline. In subsequent years, however, electric motorcycles were only considered at moments when gasoline became scarce – as exemplified by the 1942 Socovel Electric on display in this room.

Throughout the twentieth century, such innovative designs could not compete against the internal combustion engine. Fifteen litres of fuel in an average-sized tank always offered more stored energy, lower cost and greater range than any battery of the day.

Fortunately, in the twenty-first century, barriers to an electrically powered future are disappearing rapidly. Viable electric powerplants now present new design opportunities. Many conventional components of the traditional motorcycle – fuel tank, radiator and exhaust pipes – are suddenly redundant, and a new set of design questions emerge: What should motorcycles look like and, importantly for many riders, how will they sound? Who will embrace these revolutionary new designs?

Today new forms of personal electric transport are proliferating, and our collective appetite to embrace them is growing at an exhilarating pace.


Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede1871Collection: Department of Hauts-de-Seine / Museum of the Departmental Domain of Sceaux / Photograph: OlivierRavoire
Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede1871Collection: Department of Hauts-de-Seine / Museum of the Departmental Domain of Sceaux / Photograph: OlivierRavoire

Perreaux Steam Velocipede 1871
Country: France
Engine: 30 cc steam @ 3.5 kg/cm² (50 psi)
Power: 1–2 hp
Designer: Louis-Guillaume Perreaux
Courtesy: Department of Hauts-de-Seine/Museum of the Departmental Domain of Sceaux, France

This velocipede*, made by Frenchman Louis-Guillaume Perreaux, is generally regarded as one of the first motorcycles ever built, with different sources citing its date of creation as between 1867 and 1871. This incredible feat of mechanical ingenuity is a modified ‘boneshaker’ Michaux bicycle powered by a steam engine. With wood and iron-banded wheels, flimsy handlebars and a high seat perched precariously above the brass-plated boiling steam engine with an alcohol fuel burner, the Perreaux was capable of about 14 km/h and would have been an uncomfortable, yet revolutionary, mode of travelling Paris’s cobblestone streets.

Though groundbreaking, this early motorcycle was almost immediately made redundant by the invention of the combustion engine. This is the only known example. * The word velocipede drives from Latin, via French: velox (swift) and pes (foot).

Majestic c.1929Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum© Haas Moto Galleries LLC. Photographer: Grant Schwingle
Majestic c.1929Collection: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum© Haas Moto Galleries LLC. Photographer: Grant Schwingle

Majestic c.1929
Country: France
Production range: 1930–33Engine: 500 cc OHV single
Power: 11 hp
Designer: Georges Roy
Courtesy: Bobby Haas and Haas Moto Museum, USA

The Majestic is perhaps the greatest of all French motorcycle designs, although it had little impact upon its release. Designer Georges Roy was inspired by Art Deco to create the motorcycle’s flowing lines, and its curvaceous pressed-steel bodywork enclosing the entire frame and engine, standard in car manufacturing, was unheard of in motorcycle design at that time. When all motorcycles were black, Roy also offered the Majestic in several bespoke color schemes.

The motorcycle is not only an aesthetic marvel but also a technical triumph. The hub-centre steering is an example of Roy’s mechanical prowess – looking forward, as it does, to modern-day Yamaha, Bimota and BMW steering and suspension designs.

All of this bravura thinking was expensive to produce, and the Majestic failed to sell in significant numbers. Today, we look it with a sense of wonder.

Spencer 1906
The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection
Photograph: Penelope Clay
Spencer 1906 The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection Photograph: Penelope Clay

Spencer 1906
Country: Australia
Production range: 1903–10
Engine: 475 cc side-valve single
Power: 2 hp
Designer: David Spencer
Courtesy: The Australian Motorlife Museum – Paul Butler Collection, Australia

This motorcycle is one of only two surviving examples of at least 10 motorcycles designed and manufactured by David Spencer in Torwood, Brisbane, between 1903 and 1910. Spencer made wooden patterns by hand to produce the iron castings to make its engine and parts, and this is one of very few early examples of a motorcycle made almost entirely in Australia. Although it would have been easier to use proprietary components – such as brakes, carburetor and various levers – sourced from a variety of overseas manufacturers, Spencer made most of them himself.

Spencer was successful in various competitions while riding his own machines, and they were well regarded at the time. The Queensland Police Force requested 50 of his motorcycles; however, Spencer was not in a financial position to undertake such a large order.

Indian Chief with sidecar 1940 Arundel Collection Photograph: Anne-Marie De Boni
Indian Chief with sidecar 1940 Arundel Collection Photograph: Anne-Marie De Boni

Indian Chief with Sidecar 1940
Country: United States
Production range: 1922–53
Engine: 1207 cc side-valve 42° V-twin
Power: 30 hp
Designer: Charles B Franklin
Courtesy: Arundel Collection, Australia

The Indian Chief is a classic icon of American motorcycling, first released in 1922. In 1940, the model was upgraded to have a large, skirted fender and new sprung frame that was superior to rival Harley-Davidson’s unsprung body. While sidecars were always offered as a complement to the Chief, their streamlined design did not achieve the same iconic status. However, sidecars allowed a passenger to travel comfortably across great distances.

Vincent Black Lightning 1951The Peter and Frances Bender Collection© Bonhams Auctioneers
Vincent Black Lightning 1951The Peter and Frances Bender Collection© Bonhams Auctioneers

Vincent Black Lightning 1951
Country: United Kingdom
Production range: 1948–53
Engine: 998 cc 50° V-twin
Power: 70 hp
Designers: Phil Vincent and Phil Irving
Courtesy: The Peter and Frances Bender Collection, Australia

The Vincent Black Lightning developed from the 1936 Vincent Rapide, a V-twin designed by Englishman Phil Vincent and Australian Phil Irving that was the world’s fastest productionmotorcycle for its time. The innovative design has the engine ‘hang’ from a stiff backbone, rather than be surrounded by tubes, lowering the motorcycle and thereby improving its handling. In 1948, Rollie Free set the United States speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, at 241.85 km/h on a specially tuned Vincent V-twin. Subsequently, Black Lightnings set national speed records in Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as in Australia.

Only approximately 30 Black Lightnings were ever made. In 1953 this particular machine was used by Jack Ehret to set the Australian speed record at 227.7 km/h on a short stretch of road near Gunnedah, New South Wales.

Britten V1000 1994
Image courtesy: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Britten V1000 1994 Image courtesy: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Britten V1000 1994
Country: New Zealand
Production range: 1991–98
Engine: 999 cc DOHC 60° V-twin
Power: 165 hp
Designer: John Britten
Courtesy: Private Collection, New Zealand

Created by design engineer John Britten, this may well be the greatest motorcycle ever made. The Britten V1000 was conceived, designed and built to be raced arrow-fast, and displays superb design features, such as the lipstick-pink-and-powder-blue colour scheme, unheard of in the macho world of motorcycles.

Its lines flow effortlessly from the tip of its dragon’s nose, through the intestinal twists of its twin exhaust pipes to the end of its cantilevered tail. The front cowling, almost a mudguard, tightly hugs the front wheel and forks; the second cowling smooths the airflow past the engine; and the third hugs the rear wheel – all creating downforce as they do so. In a final flourish, there are the four stars of the New Zealand Southern Cross on the tank, and John Britten’s signature.

Deus Ex Machina ‘The Drover’s Dog’2009 Courtesy: Joseph Mildren / Deus Ex Machina, Sydney Image courtesy: Deus Ex Machina
Deus Ex Machina ‘The Drover’s Dog’2009 Courtesy: Joseph Mildren / Deus Ex Machina, Sydney Image courtesy: Deus Ex Machina

Deus Ex Machina Drover’s Dog 2009
Country: Australia
Production dates: Custom
Engine: 399 cc SOHC 2-valve single
Power: 35 hp
Designers: Dare Jennings and Carby Tuckwell
Courtesy: Joseph Mildren / Deus Ex Machina, Australia

Dare Jennings and Carby Tuckwell, founders of Australian custom motorcycle and fashion brand Deus Ex Machina, bring both Bondi cool and characteristic Aussie humor to the many custom designs that have emerged from their workshop in Camperdown, Sydney, since 2006.

The Drover’s Dog – named after the working dogs on outback sheep farms – is based on a Yamaha SR400, and has a surfboard attached. The motorcycle’s brilliant engineering is evident in its stripped-down frame, low-slung exhaust pipe with a shorty muffler, huge Brembo front disc and tank graphics.

Deus bikes eschew the big, bulging, macho custom designs being made in the United States and are eminently rideable, beautiful designs for the rider who is cool, and wants to stay that way.

Savic C-Series Alpha Model 2020
Courtesy: Savic Motorcycles
Photograph: Jason Lau
Savic C-Series Alpha Model 2020 Courtesy: Savic Motorcycles Photograph: Jason Lau

Savic C-Series Alpha Model 2020
Country: Australia
Production dates: 2020–present
Engine: Electric motor with 11 kWh battery
Power: 60 kW (80 hp)
Designer: Dennis Savic
Courtesy: Savic Motorcycles, Australia

The motorcycle industry is embracing electric technology, with electric vehicles entering the market at an increasing rate. Savic Motorcycles founder Dennis Savic describes the Savic C- Series – Australia’s first full-size electric motorcycle – as ‘a unique offering with the most advanced features and functionality that the materials, engineering, electronic controls, electrical technology and 3D printing can offer today’.

The Savic C-Series combines advanced technology with the classic styling of a café racer – a type of custom motorcycle that first appeared in 1950s and 1960s Britain. These motorcycles were prominent in the Rocker or ‘Ton-Up Boy’ youth subculture of the time, and were used mainly for short trips between popular cafes. In postwar Britain, many people were unable to afford a car, and motorcycles offered an alternative means of urban transportation. As the country became more prosperous in the late 1950s, the cafe racer became more symbolic of speed, status and rebellion. Today, the cafe racer is known for its stripped-down style, which makes it a lightweight, powerful motorcycle optimised for speed and handling.


The Motorcycle: Design, Art, Desire b y Charles M Falco and Ultan Guilfoyle. An impressive 320-page hardcover book published by Phaidon accompanies the exhibition. It’s an essential and compelling exploration of the design, history, and culture of the motorcycle – an icon of the machine age. Written by internationally renowned motorcycle experts and co-curators of the exhibition, Professor Charles M Falco and Ultan Guilfoyle, the book showcases 100 superb examples of motorcycle design from the late 19th century to the present day and beyond to the technological innovations of the future.

Beautifully illustrated with newly commissioned photography and archival ephemera, this visually arresting survey is a compulsory read for design lovers and motorcycle fans alike.
All the bikes published on these pages were shipped from the Don Whalen/Richard Bunch Collection in California to this exhibit in Brisbane. Photography by Markus Cuff.
All the bikes published on these pages were shipped from the Don Whalen/Richard Bunch Collection in California to this exhibit in Brisbane. Photography by Markus Cuff.


RRP $79.95 – but available at Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) for the special exhibition price of $62.95.

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