You’d be hard pressed to imagine an upbringing better suited to foster the various talents necessary for custom bike-building greatness than that of Michael Woolaway. As he explains it, “half my family are physicists and the other half are artists, so I kind of fall right in the middle.” Woolaway grew up in Marin County and at one point his father was owner of Ferrari of San Francisco… not a bad place to cultivate a love for the finer things in life, not to mention an appreciation of raw, toe-curling power.
Growing up, “Woolie,” as he’s affectionately known by friends and colleagues, rode motorcycles all the time and eventually got into racing. He’s done flat track, GNCC, enduro, desert racing and plenty of road racing. Professionally he’s worked on Ferraris, submarines, restored vintage cars and created special effects for big budget movies. While working in Hollywood, Woolie ended up building some bikes for Orlando Bloom and it was through Bloom that he got in touch with custom builder shop Deus Ex Machina. The Australian-based company wanted to build a bike for Bloom, but couldn’t import it so asked Woolie to build it stateside. From there builds for guys like Ryan Reynolds, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel followed and eventually Deus owner/founder Dare Jennings decided to open a shop in the US. Woolie helped find the location of the eventual Emporium, Deus’ first outpost in America, and has since been running “Woolie’s Workshop.”
Since then Woolie’s been a very busy man.
“Every bike I build here is presold,” says Woolie. “I’m actually booked out for almost two years now.”
The Boodaak (left) and Dakdaak (right) are beautifully styled café racers powered by Honda off-road Singles.
Two of his most recent builds were recently unleashed on the public as a duo, though both will eventually reside in different homes. They have been named Boodaak and Dakdaak.
Woolie had the intention to build a super Single using a Honda XR650R engine well before the request for a “fast bike” (which eventually became the Boodaak) came through. So he pulled the street legal 650R he had previously bought out of storage and got to work. About a week after the “fast bike” request he sold another super Single and decided to produce them both with a similar aesthetic. The second, Dakdaak, is powered by a Honda CRF450X powerplant and both mills were prepped for performance by Jim Wood of Southland Racing.
Both machines are styled as stripped-down café racers, and the Boodaak proved particularly troublesome at times.
“I bought an electric start for that motor (the 650R) and we had to send the stator out to them so they could install their flywheel and drive gear and all of that,” says Woolie. “When they sent it back it didn’t work. I spent a couple of weeks just trying to get it to start and it wouldn’t.”
So he ditched the electric start and decided to go with a kicker instead, which required him to extend the kick-starter shaft by 2.5-inches.
“It all worked out and starts great with a kick. It’s actually much nicer in the end, I think, much cleaner.”
He also had to cut the intake runner off and fabricate a new one since they normally point off to the right on the 650R, which was right where the Boodaak’s shock mount sits. The exhaust, which is also custom-made by Woolie, proved a challenge as well.
The Dakdaak absolutely rips according to Woolie. It’s almost light enough to pick up by hand, but pulls hard at around 6000 rpm, with a redline at 12,500.
“There’s a whole second beast in there that’s ready to be unleashed,” explains Woolie.
The Boodaak is just as mean and quick and riders will have their knees on the ground before they know it, according to Woolie.
Little touches abound on both machines, with custom fabricated fender, headlight and tachometer mounts as well as a little leather on Boodaak to keep the battery secure. It’s part of Woolie’s process to pay attention to every detail of his builds, and to customize wherever possible. On Boodaak and Dakdaak both chromoly frames are custom-made, as is all the body work, exhaust systems and bracketing pieces. The things he can’t fabricate in house, he sources from American companies, such as the Beringer brake systems on both machines.
“The big thing I do with all of these bikes is to try to use as many American-made parts as I can, the shocks, the hubs the rims and spokes. One-hundred percent of the time, if I can do it, I use American parts.”
The Boodaak nods to Woolie’s past with Ferrari through the customized seat, designed to resemble the brand’s old-school stitching and leatherwork. The Dakdaak’s seat features a Porsche Speedster-style hump and seat design.
If you want to see the Dakdaak in person, head up to the One Motorcycle Show in Portland, Oregon February 7-9, 2014. The Boodaak may even be there as well, though according to Woolie its owner is planning on being in LA that weekend and is chomping at the bit to take it for a spin. We don’t blame him…