Founded by Shinya Kimura in 1992, Zero Engineering is a world-renowned, Okazaki, Japan-based bespoke bike building outfit that specializes in handcrafting ultra-idiosyncratic custom motorcycles. One of the very few chopper-focused shops to survive the rise and fall of the mid-aughts WCC/OCC era, Zero Engineering has had a profound influence on the contemporary custom bike scene, inspiring some of today’s biggest names in the space. One of these shops is Deus Ex Machina, which, after years of looking up to Kimura, has recently been given the opportunity to modify an existing Zero Engineering Type 8 model, ultimately giving way to a one-off Harley that boasts signature design cues from both shops.
Dubbed the “Lead Head,” the bike is built around a Harley-Davidson Sportster-based ZE Type 8, though has received extensive custom work since leaving Okazaki, with pretty much the only original factory item remaining being the cruiser’s 1,200cc EVO engine — though even that has been modified. Constructed around ZE’s rigid gooseneck frame, the Lead Head sports a long, low stance, a springer fork, a twin-spring tractor-style seat, and a dead-straight, horizontally-running exhaust — all of which are hallmark traits of a ZE project.
Deus’s chief builder Jeremy Tagand has also treated the Type 8 to a variety of his own tweaks. This includes a 5.5” circular Posh Bates-style headlight, top-shelf switchgear from Purpose Built Moto, KustomTech brake and clutch controls, new stainless steel bumpers front and back, a Motogadget Motoscope Tiny display, Kellermann micro-LED indicators fore and aft, and bearings from Minebea — a company that routinely supplies parts to Formula 1 teams. Deus has also replaced ZE’s intentionally rough finish with a much cleaner look with ample exposed, polished metalwork. The project’s finishing touches include sawtooth-pattern tires, an air filter and oil tank combo item, and brown leather-wrapped that match the build’s custom saddle.
While this particular motorcycle is spoken for, both Deus Ex Machina and Zero Engineering are accepting commissions from clients — albeit both shops also have a lengthy waiting list… and for good reason.