Years ago, while in college, I had a friend who drove a 1970 SS 454 Chevelle. Riding “shotgun” in that car, and very occasionally driving it, are among the most pleasant memories of that period in my life. I’ve long since lost touch with my old buddy, and I’m sure that big block monster has gone on to the great junkyard in the sky (or possibly brought a high five figure sale price at some collector auction!) Now, four plus decades later, my overall recollection of that car is somewhat sketchy. Sure, I remember that it was black, had bucket seats, and was equipped with a four speed and posi-traction. I do, however, clearly remember that motor. The distinctive big block rumble is indelibly etched in my long term memory, as is the signature vibration and sense of endless power and torque that was transmitted through the floorpan and seat. And, when you pinned the throttle, well…….. Even today, If I close my eyes, I can recapture the sound and fury at will. Several days ago I had my first opportunity to ride a Motus MST motorcycle. I can honestly say that that the unique sound and feel of the 1650cc Motus “Baby Block” MV4 instantly transported me back to the aforementioned big block Chevy. Motorcycle version. If you are a product of that muscle car era and you have the chance to ride a Motus, then you will know exactly of what I speak.
Motus, a Birmingham , Alabama based startup has been working toward the introduction of their comfortable large displacement sport tourer for several years. The story has been well documented in the powersports press – the unique 1650 cc pushrod “Baby Block” MV4, an all-american pedigree, premium specification equipment across the board, and performance levels somewhere up in the stratosphere. Now, with a series of dealer sponsored demo rides and the impending shipment of production bikes, it seems that the time has finally come. It was definitely worth the wait. The bike I rode was the MST version – the lower of the two price classes available from Motus. It lacked the carbon fiber wheels, Ohlins rear shock, Brembo monoblocs, hotter engine (cams, Ti valves, 180hp!) and several other premium features found on the pricier MST-R version. Do not, however, mistake the MST for anything other than a magnificent and fully equipped sport tourer. For example, every Motus comes with electronic cruise control, integrated hard luggage, Sargent Seat (regular and “low” available), and the MST also features almost infinitely adjustable Heli-bars capable of accomodating a wide variety of rider sizes, shapes and riding positions. Speaking of rider accommodation, the Motus was a very comfortable ride for my smallish 5’8″ (and 29″ inseam”) self. The available low seat, coupled with the extraordinarily narrow frame allowed me to easily flat-foot the bike at standstill – something I typically have no hope of doing on full size sport and touring offerings (and potential competitors) like the big BMWs or the tallish Kawi Concours. Other standard amenities include adjustable brake and clutch levers and a manually adjustable windscreen – available in standard or touring variants. In a side note, the body and chassis fit and finish were excellent on the high mileage development motorcycles that we had the opportunity to inspect and ride. A 20+ minute ride on mostly country roads, led by Motus founder Lee Conn, left me with these initial impressions. First of all this bike works! The clutch is light, feel and modulation is excellent, and fueling is nearly spot on. And with so much torque available, launching the bike is a no-brainer. Under way, the sense of massive, and linear, torque delivery overpowers everything else. The gearbox’s six speeds are nicely spaced and with both 5th and 6th being overdrive ratios, warp cruising speeds at modest engine rpms are readily achievable – though I had no chance to test that conclusion on this abbreviated ride. The bike’s performance in the twisties belies it’s nearly 600 pound fully-fueled weight. Sharp transitions are the norm and throttle changes mid-corner (like when you get in a little “hot”) upset the chassis not a whit. Due credit to the Pirelli Angel tires, chassis tuning and to the pushrod engine design which concentrates weight considerably lower than overhead cammers can manage. And, as one would suspect, the Brembo brakes are more than capable of snubbing the big scooter from any legal (or extra-legal) speed one might choose. If I had one complaint it would be this – in their interest in providing a maximum amount of information via the multi function/multi colored dash display screen Motus may have arrived at some symbology and characters that are a bit small for these old eyes. Pretty minor stuff, huh? Otherwise this is a very fully developed and well executed motorcycle. Now reflecting on my brief ride in the fullness of, well, just a few days, my thoughts run along these lines. The Motus is a handsome, contemporary, and well executed machine. It features an extremely competent chassis. It comes loaded with great hardware and features. But when the day is done, the one thing that will stick with me is that engine – a living thing that simply screams prodigious power and torque. It looks great. It sounds great. It delivers on its promise in every tactile and visceral way. And it is now, I suspect, indelibly etched in my long term memory. Right along side that old big block Chevelle. Martin Moto is one of only 17 Motus Dealers nationwide. Visit us in person, or online at martinmoto.com for more information