Motus MST – First Ride Impressions.

IMG_0467motus logo crYears 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!) 109034_10621205_1970_Chevrolet_Chevelle+SS cropNow, 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, SS454 logoclearly 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.

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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.IMG_5263 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.IMG_5249 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.IMG_5272 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! IMG_0455The 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. IMG_0461The 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. IMG_5251And, 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.IMG_5260 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 Print

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Classic Motorcycles at the Simeone Now Till Sept 12th !

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again……We love all motorcycles. Large or small. New or old. That deep seated interest leads us to some extraordinary opportunities.  Like the 2014 edition of the Classic Motorcycles at The Simeone Museum. If you don’t know about the Simeone, you should. Located in a warehouse area in West Philadelphia not far from Philadelphia International Airport, this undiscovered gem houses one of the world’s finest collection of classic, racing  and sports cars. Check out their web site to learn more about the museum and the remarkable selection of vehicles that has been assembled by founder Dr. Fred Simeone. OK, but what about motorcycles?

Each summer for the past several years the Simeone has presented a month long tribute to classic motorcycles. This year Vincent and Brough Superior were chosen as the show’s featured marques along with a selection of sub 250cc bikes from the 1974 and earlier period.  Despite the fact that we at Martin Moto have never sold a Vincent nor ever  had a Brough Superior on our showroom floor, we have elected to become the presenting sponsor of the 2014 Simeone Show. With such sponsorships come privilege. Last Saturday evening we were invited to the Museum’s Classic Motorcycles Show kickoff party. What a fascinating event! Not only did we have the opportunity to stroll the display floor and check out the amazing machinery on display but we had the chance to shmooze with many of the owners and other like minded classic bike enthusiasts. Later in the evening we had the chance to hear the featured speaker – Matthew Bieberman, author of the 2009 book, “Big Sid’s Vincati” speak of his famous (at least among the  Vincent crowd) father Sid Bieberman and the family’s love for, and great adventures with, the Vincent brand. And, oh yes, there were bikes.

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Currently on display at the Simeone are some 30+ classic motorcycles, including two of the ultra-rare Brough Superiors and nearly 20 Vincents of various ages, models, and pedigrees. Interestingly, among the bikes at the Simeone, there are some half a dozen that have previously been shown at our own Modern Classics show.

Classic Motorcycles at the Simeone runs from now until September 12.  The Simeone Museum is open daily Tuesdays through Sundays  (closed Monday – just like bike dealerships!) For more information and directions go to http://simeonemuseum.org/  If the classic motorcycles virus is in your blood then you will probably want to put a visit to the Simeone on your calendar.

If you want to see some more classic bikes in action then plan on joining us for the Modern Classics Ride-In next Saturday, August 30 at Martin Moto!

 

 

 

Wanted Dead or Alive! The Search Is On For the 100 Stunning Classic Bikes That Will Be Presented at the 4th Annual Martin Motorsports “Modern Classics” Show, March 1, 2014.

?????It’s just over four months now until the Fourth Annual Martin Motorsports “Modern Classics” Bike Show. In just three years this one day, indoor show has has gained a hefty regional following and has even begun to attract some national attention. Check out what the local papers had to say about last year’s show HERE. Then take a look at the coverage in Modern Classics magazine.

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Do you want to even consider missing this year’s show? Uuhhhh, don’t think so!

So here are some important details. The showroom doors open at 9:00AM and the show runs until 5:00PM. As in past years, Modern Classics is an invitational show – entries are nominated to the show planning committee which then determines the 100 bikes that will be this year’s “Modern Classics.” “Modern Classics” is an unjudged show but there are Peoples’ Choice awards in both the primary group – classics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s as well in the featured supplemental class. For the 2014 show the featured supplemental class is Two Stroke bikes! The planning committee is soliciting the nominations of Two Stroke Classics from the same era, meaning the 60s through the 80s. The bikes that the committee is looking for are 2-cycle engined motorcycles offered for sale between 1960 and 1990. Historically significant bikes from slightly before and after this time frame may be considered if they are helpful in telling the story of two strokes and their place in motorcycle history. The show is primarily focused on “street” models but a limited number of off-road and racing models may also be considered. Thinking about nominating your bike? For all the information you need go  HERE.

2 stroke wantedposterHere are a few of the Two Stroke Classics we’re seeking for Modern Classics 2014. If you have one of these bikes or know where there is one that might be a candidate for the show, the by all means give us a shout. You can either go directly to the “want to show your bike” page or contact jack@martinmoto.com. Here ya go…….

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Possibly the Zenith of Two Stroke history? Of course we’re looking for a Suzuki GT 750 Water Buffalo. Or Steam Kettle if you prefer.

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Yamaha Catalina or Big Bear? Among the first of the “big” Japanese Two Strokes and we’d love to have a great example of either one. 250 or 305cc? Doesn’t matter.

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Was the Suzuki X-6 Hustler the first 250 capable of going 100mph? The debate rages. Nonetheless, if you have a nice example then please nominate it for our show.

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Kawi H2. Mach IV 750. “The Widowmaker.” By any name or alias, we’d like to see one. A nice Mach III 500 would be welcome too – especially a first year white one! Yeah we like 350s too.

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From the late 60s well into the 1970s two stroke enduros were a huge contributor to the explosive growth of motorcycling. Suzuki TS’s all welcome – 125, 185, 250 – we love ’em all. Of course the Yamaha enduro series is on our hit list too. Where is that one stunning white1968, first year DT1 we’ve been waiting years for? Kawis too – How about a nice Bighorn?

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It’s easy to forget Bridgestone was a major player back in the day. A 350GTR would be a great show addition as would any of the smaller Bridgestone offerings. 90s. 175s. Who learned to ride on a Bridgestone?

We're not just on the lookout for Japanese Two Strokes. Europeans figured mightily in the Two Stroke story. And a hefty part of that story was was scooters. Vespa? Lambretta? Harley Davidson Topper?

We’re not just on the lookout for Japanese Two Strokes. Europeans figured mightily in the Two Stroke story. And a hefty part of that story was was scooters. Vespa? Lambretta? Harley Davidson Topper?

Silk. The Ultimate Evolution of the old Scott 2 strokes from England. This would be a cool add!

Silk. The Ultimate Evolution of the old Scott 2 strokes from England. This would be a cool add!

All American Brand Harley even had two strokes badged as their own. They were really an Italian-American hybrid cooked up by partner Aermacchi.

All American Brand Harley even had two strokes badged as their own. They were really an Italian-American hybrid cooked up with partner Aermacchi.

We'd very much like to snag a Scott Flying Squirrel. Though produced considerably earlier than our target 60s through 80s time frame, these Brit Classics are important in telling the two stroke history story.

We’d very much like to snag a Scott Flying Squirrel. Though produced considerably earlier than our target 60s through 80s time frame, these Brit Classics are important in telling the two stroke history story.

So there you have a few examples of the kind of things that we are on the lookout for. Two Strokes. Smoke ’em if ya got ’em! You can review the entire list of two stroke candidate bikes for the 2014 Modern Classics by clicking HERE. If you know where these bikes are, or you have one, please nominate your bike!! And if you think there’s something we’ve forgotten, we’d like to hear about that too.

Just a reminder though – Two Strokes represent just a portion of the magic that is the Modern Classics. We are also trying to run down a new and exciting collection of all the rest of the 60s through 80s bike population. Here are just a couple of the bikes were looking to score for this year’s show.

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Long before there were Hayabusas and ZX14s there were Kawasaki Ninjas. Arguably the first hyperbike (Tom Cruise thought so in “Top Gun”) the first Kawasaki Gpz900 Ninja was introduced in 1984. Can it really be 30 years? And when will we score a first year Ninja for Modern Classics? Hopefully 2014.

A bike that we've had on our search list for all four years of The Modern Classisc - the Munch Mammut. Had kind of forgotten about this rare breed until we saw one recently. If there's one, there must be more. Help us find one for Modern Classics 2014!

A bike that we’ve had on our search list for all four years of The Modern Classisc – the Munch Mammut (Mammoth.) Had kind of forgotten about this rare breed until we saw one recently. If there’s one, there must be more. Help us find one for Modern Classics 2014!

So there you have it. Hopefully a preview of the sort of stunning bikes you’ll be seeing in just about four months. The 4th Annual MartinMoto “Modern Classics” Bike Show. It’s coming sooner than you think! If you can help us in any way find the classic bikes we’re searching for don’t hesitate to contact us! We’re as close as modernclassicsbikeshow.com

More is Better. Or Perhaps Simpler is Better. Which One Is It?

We’ve all seen the series of AT&T TV ads themed “More is better.” Seriously, how can you miss ’em – they seem appear on network TV about every 30 seconds.  In the off chance you’ve been in captivity lately, you can see what we’re talking about BY CLICKING HERE. Cute kids. No?

Anyway, the reason to bring this up is a question that’s recently been rolling around in our heads. That is, do the product planners at the various motorcycle manufacturers subscribe to that “more is better” concept? Or, do they believe Leonardo DaVinci who “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Clearly there are a variety of approaches out there. Case in point – Kawasaki. Just last year they introduced an “improved” version of their ZX14-R hyperbike. More power. More torque. More displacement. More performance. Better?

Kaw ZX14-r. Bigger. Better?

Kaw ZX14-R. More. Better?

Even the lowly Ninja 250 was made “better” with 50cc more displacement as it morphed into the Ninja 300. That approach is not, however, universal. Take Honda for example.

Honda CB500F. Simpler. Better?

Honda CB500F. Simpler. Better?

Their 2014 new product lineup includes a complete series of CB 500cc bikes – a displacement class that has in recent years been nearly neglected in favor of 600s, 800s, and other “middleweights.” Smaller. Less expensive. Simpler. Better?

So, which approach is better? You can almost imagine two wildly different boardroom debates. “The economy is coming back and we need to continue offering the American buyers the faster, more powerful, larger bikes that they have always loved so much. Now that the marketplace is coming around we need to be there with ‘bigger is better’ stuff.” Or maybe this – “The marketplace has been fundamentally changed over the past few years. There is less disposable income and the baby boomers are aging out of the riding population. We need an entirely new series of bikes to sustain the new customer base into the future. Simpler. Cheaper. Easier and more economical to operate. Smaller and less intimidating.”

To be fair, no manufacturer is putting all of their eggs in either one of these baskets but you can see clear examples of each thought process in the stream of new product introductions. Like Yamaha’s chosen path in introducing their new 950cc cruiser, the 2014 Bolt.

Yamaha Star Bolt. Simpler. Better?

Yamaha Star Bolt. Simpler. Better?

It’s another example of simpler, smaller, and more affordable in the cruiser world. BMW has entered the maxi-scooter market with their C650GT and -S twins

BMW C650GT Scooter. Simpler. Better?

BMW C650GT Scooter. Simpler. Better?

and even Suzuki has jumped on the econo bike bandwagon with it’s recently introduced GW250. On the other side of the ledger we find Triumph coming off a record year in the US market by introducing the 2013 Trophy SE, a full-boat 1213cc sport tourer equipped with all the toys and a price tag making a frontal assault on the $20,000 benchmark. Is that better?

Triumph Trophy SE. More. Better?

Triumph Trophy SE. More. Better?

Examples of each philosophical approach roll into motorcycle showrooms daily. Have you got an opinion on which approach is likely to prevail over the next several years? We’d love to hear what you think about where the marketplace is heading.

Thoughts on Lane Splitting…All In? Or Maybe Not.

Lane-Splitting

You may refer to it as “lane splitting” or “lane sharing”. Perhaps even “filtering.” In any case we’re all talking about the same thing – moving between lanes of four wheelers on our bikes and scooters – hopefully in the same direction.  It’s not exactly a common practice in the USA as it’s  legal only in the State of California (Which, of course, doesn’t mean we haven’t seen it elsewhere. Booya!) It is, however, legal and widely practiced in Europe, Japan, and much of the rest of the world. Thought we’d spend a few moments here chatting about the rationale for, and against the practice.

The leading argument for lane splitting centers around the concept of reducing traffic congestion by allowing use efficient use of that empty space between lanes of traffic. In particular by those vehicles that can readily fit in the space i.e bicycles and motorcycles. As a corollary, it offers reduced travel times for commuters willing to utilize those smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient modes of transportation. Ponder this for a moment. BMW recently introduced a pair of 650cc Maxi Scooters to the world and pitched them as one of many solutions to urban traffic congestion. How’s that going to work in places (like most of the US) where it’s not possible to filter ahead through rush hour congestion. Doesn’t that just leave bikes and scooters as yet another vehicle mindlessly waiting in line, albeit colder and wetter than the folks in the Toyota Sequoia ahead and the Ford Focus behind? There is also some body of data which may suggest that lane splitting reduces the incidence of rear end collisions for bikers.

628x471 lane split 3The “against” arguments tend to center on safety issues.  And it isn’t just the issue of “mad” bikers whistling through traffic, between lanes, at majorly extra-legal speeds. We all know that happens anyway – laws or not. It’s more about the low speed stuff. Bikes filtering through stationary traffic at 10 or 15  MPH and being whacked by a suddenly opened door or mowed down by an unexpected, and un-signaled, lane change or turn. There’s another issue too. Confinement in one’s “cage” in stopped traffic tends to be a blood pressure raiser. Agitated drivers, seeing others “succeed” at moving when they cannot can become belligerent. Sometimes the excitement escalates well beyond raised middle fingers and the next thing you know, someone’s laying on the ground. Sad to say, but true. One handy way to avoid such confrontations, safety advocates say, is to avoid laws which allow preferential treatment for a single class of vehicles.  Ergo: no lane splitting for motorcyclists.

What do you think of lane splitting? Like it or not, we’d be interested in hearing your well considered opinion.

Modern Classics Bike Show Tomorrow…….A Sneak Preview!

The Third Annual Modern Classics Show is tomorrow and there is an absolutely phenomenal collection of bikes gathering in the Martin Motorsports showroom in Boyertown, PA. This year’s show features both street bikes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s as well as competition bikes from the same basic era (with only a couple of stunning outliers.) Just about 100 bikes of incredible pedigree make up our “Museum For A Day.” For example right now there are five, count ’em – five, MV Agustas sitting on the showroom floor. Where else can you see that on a Saturday in March?
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Here’s a sweet Triumph X75 Hurricane

As a kind of preview of the sort of things you might see, we’ve picked just one entry as a sample. Here’s the placard writeup for Tom Johnson’s 1973 Triumph Hurricane and a pic of an X75 to enjoy. Come on out to spend the day with these classic rides.

Here’s what Tom had to say about his Triumph X75:

In the early 1970s the British motorcycle industry was suffering desperately. Looking to improve their prospects, Triumph turned to American designer Craig Vetter. First shown as a concept in 1970 (and featured on the cover of that September’s Cycle World) Vetter’s concept created a firestorm of excitement. This three cylinder 750cc machine, with its distinctive exhaust, tiny gas tank, wild paint, and near “chopper” proportions was unlike anything previously seen from the British Isles and perhaps offered competition for the Japanese bikes that were sweeping through the marketplace.

From the moment I saw the Vetter Hurricane on that Cycle World cover I knew someday I would own one. I was in the motorcycle business when it was productionized by Triumph in 1972, but because I was so engaged in work and flat track racing I couldn’t focus on my street ride. Then, in early 2000s I happened upon a basket case Hurricane with restoration potential. I was fortunate to have found a matching frame and motor and became totally absorbed in creating a rider. A restorer helped me through the recreation, and in 2010 another 1973 Triumph X75 Hurricane was born! I recently added the final touches with OE tires it’s now working to a tee.

Looking for New Places to Ride? Look Here. Online Ride Resources!

OK, so the snow has been shoveled (or it melted), the sun is shining brightly, and the groundhog has assured us that spring is on it’s way. This, in turn, may cause you to begin turning your thoughts to the spring riding season that is headed your way at warp speed (or so you hope.) Anyway, thoughts of riding often lead us to the eternal question, “Where to today?”

Where to indeed! We all have our favorite local ride roads but the thought of venturing further afield is often on the agenda as the days get longer and warmer. Even if the warm weather isn’t REALLY here yet this is a great time to imagine rides to new and interesting places. And here are three of our favorite online resources to go to check out the prospects for great ride roads almost anywhere we might want to go.

http://www.motorcycleroads.us
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Need more info on some 3200 riding roads spread across the nation? This could be your source. A single click on front page map of the USA will carry you directly to any of the 50 states. Also included is a section entitled “Nifty Fifty” that will take you to a showcase ride in each of the states. Not necessarily anyone’s choice of “best” mind you (no doubt to avoid violent controversy) but a typical great ride nonetheless. For our home state of Pennsylvania they have conveniently chosen PA route 842 which winds it’s way through Chester County, not more than about 30 miles from the Martin Motorsports showroom. http://www.Motorcycleroads.us utilizes Google maps as well as verbal descriptions to help us along the way. Check it out.

http://www.motorcycleroads.com

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Similar in concept to motorcycleroads.us in that it uses Google maps, the entirely separate motorcycleroads.com brings slightly more appealing graphics along for the ride. It is also different in that it maintains a (free) membership scheme. You can freely scope out the reviews as a guest but if you want to enter your own “great ride road” submission” you’ve got to join some 9800 others as a member(easily accomplished from the home page at no cost.) They also offer a mobile app for iPhone and Android and have their own branded swag for sale. Motorcycleroads.com carries commercial advertising but not in an invasive way. Lots of routes for Pennsylvania and neighboring states!

http://www.bestbikingroads.com

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Dreaming about making a lap through Kazakhstan rather than heading out to Ephrata on a Sunday?
In that case http://www.bestbikingroads.com may be the preferred destination for you. They claim to be able to fix you up with 309,980 miles of great roads in 76 countries. A truly global site – Bestbikingroads has almost 21,000 contributing members and nearly 9000 individual route reviews. Have no fear though. They can help you Bestbike roads pa 287
out with US domestic rides too, including this one, a favorite from north-central PA. As with the other sites here, Google maps comes into play and the writeups and directions are comprehensive. They also incorporate a rating system for the ride routes with various important factors like scenery, road condition, and presence of the Gendarmes. A mobile app is also available. Because of the massive amount of content and the international angle, you can easily kill an afternoon on this site, just daydreaming of epic rides to come.

There a numerous other sources that can keep you amused for an afternoon. Let us know if you have one that you especially like. Ride Safe!