Winging It: Deus Japan reworks the obscure Honda GL400

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
They couldn’t have picked a worse time, but our friends at Deus ex Machina Japan have finally managed to open their new store in Tokyo’s historic Asakusa district. And they’re celebrating in style—with a very sharp and slightly offbeat Honda GL400 street tracker.

If you’re not overly familiar with the GL400, don’t worry—it’s not a particularly well documented model. Officially designated the ‘GL400 Wing,’ it was effectively a downscaled CX500, sold only in the Japanese market. So it came with the same transverse-mounted V-twin motor, and the same awkward silhouette.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
This one started out as a 1980 model GL400 Custom: a model that, just like the CX500 Custom, had a teardrop tank, stepped seat and swept-back bars. But Deus Japan’s head wrench, Tomoyuki Soeda, has done a stellar job of shedding the Honda’s 70s pseudo-chopper styling.

The only bits that still point to the original bike are its distinctive 80-degree cylinder heads and Comstar wheels, but Soeda-san has even managed to make those quirky hoops work to his advantage.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
The biggest trick here is how well Deus Japan have reworked the GL400’s stance. Gone is the original low-riding twin shock rear arrangement, replaced by a new mono-shock system. To achieve this, Tomoyuki shaved the original shock mounts off the Honda’s OEM shaft drive swing arm, welded in new mounts, then bolted in the rear shock from a CB550.

Equal consideration was given up front, with a set of upside down forks from a Suzuki SG 350 Goose. Tomoyuki modified the Suzuki triples to fit the Honda, then fabricated a custom mount for a scalped Brembo front caliper.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
The GL now stands taller on its 19F/18R Comstars, which have been given a two-tone finish and wrapped in knobby Bridgestone AX41 tires.

Next up, Tomoyuki set about slimming down the GL400’s bodywork. The only OEM part left is the fuel tank, but it’s had some tricky cutting and shutting done to it, to make it more lithe.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
Just behind it is a white diamond-stitched seat, sitting on top of a deceptively elegant hand-made subframe. The tail’s capped off with a hand-beaten aluminum cowl, with a neatly integrated hand-made luggage rack bolted to it.

LED tail lights from Kellermann sit on a custom license plate bracket, to keep things street legal.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
Tomoyuki’s intricate metalwork at the back is matched up front, with a hand-formed nacelle that flows over a peculiar twin headlight setup. Beautifully executed, it’s the sort of subtly eccentric detail that we’ve come to expect from him.

The rest of the cockpit’s finished off with an aftermarket analog speedo, and a set of chromed vintage motocross handlebars with new controls, grips and bar-end blinkers.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
Further down, Deus Japan have trimmed the wiring, ditched the Honda’s air box, and installed a pair of cone filters. The flowing twin exhausts are completely custom, and feature removable tips that allow you to take out the optional internal baffles.

They’re capped off with another hand-formed part: an aluminum heat-shield to protect the rider’s leg.

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan
Finished in monochromatic tones that include a fresh coat of black on the motor, and a two-color finish on the tank, Deus Japan have dubbed this one ‘The Gray Ghost,’ referring to it as a “low flying bird of prey with spooky yellow eyes.” (And they later discovered that it’s a reference to an obscure Batman comics character, too.)

We’d like to extend a virtual high five to Soeda-san for his craftsmanship here, but also to our friends in Tokyo for forging ahead with their new store opening. If this is a sign of things to come, they should be in for a great ride.

Deus Japan | Facebook | Instagram | Images by Toyohiro Zenita

Custom Honda GL400 from Deus Japan