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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An exclusive conversation with Motus President Lee Conn.

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Like many of you, we at Martin Moto have anxiously awaited the arrival of the stunning American V4 Sport Tourers from Motus. What’s not to be excited about? A comfy V4 powered sport tourer with a 100% American Pedigree manufactured in the great state of Alabama. We’ve seen, touched, and heard (but not ridden) both the MST and MST-R versions and we definitely like what we see.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

Lee Conn. President and Co-Founder at Motus.

As a Motus dealer we recently had the opportunity to corral Lee Conn, President and Co-Founder at Motus and ask him a few questions that have long been on our mind. Here’s some of what he had to say.

 

Q.   It’s reasonable to assume that your own personal riding experiences would impact the product decisions made during the course of Motus development. Can you tell us a bit about your own riding history?

A.   Sure. As far as bikes, I’ve had a bunch over the years: ’66 HD Sprint, Yamaha SECA 750, Guzzi Sport 1100 (carb), 1992 Sportster 883 (later bored to 1200), Fat Boy, Road King, V-Rod, Honda RC51, Aprilia RSV1000RR, Honda CBR600RR track bike, 1929 Douglas 600, 1928 HD Peashooter, 1926 Indian Prince 350, Yamaha YSR’s, 1986 GSXR 750, etc.

But, it isn’t all about the bikes, it’s about the ride. We live in Birmingham, at the very tail of the Appalachians, and love to ride up into the mountains for a few days (with or without our wives). At this point in our lives, we like to go fast, but we also like to go far. That’s why we built the MST’s that are comfortable sportbikes with accommodations for touring. They’re great on the unavoidable highway stretches, but really shine in the twisties.

072313-2014-motus-mst-04-583x389Q.   Early on, did you do substantial market research? If so, would it be possible to share what you know about the typical Motus purchase intender?

A.   Since the start, we’ve had a clear vision of what our motorcycles are, but yes, we’ve kept learning all along the way including a recent comprehensive poll of fans considering the purchase of a Motus. Early on, research helped confirm we were on track with the concept and helped dial in the optimal feature set- things like wheelbase, engine configuration, fuel tank size, wet weight, etc. Later research helped us understand our customers better in terms of their other hobbies, what they ride, drive, overall demographics, etc.

DSCN7633Q.   For a couple of years now, the motorcycle journalist community has held up bikes like the BMW K1600GT, Triumph Trophy, and Yamaha FJR as benchmarks in the sport-tourer community. What competitive products did you utilize as key benchmarks during the Motus Development process? Why?

A.   While we benchmarked certain performance characteristics and specs of many bikes, we mostly focused on building the best possible machine for the kind of riding we love to do. We studied bikes considered to be the most comfortable, most sporty, etc, but in the end, the Motus was designed to be crazy fun from 20-90mph and comfortable for long days of riding. Almost as important, we wanted our bikes to have a specific, unique character that is simultaneously bad-ass and refined. A real hot rod, but comfortable and practical.

072313-2014-motus-mstr-14-583x389Q.   Tourers and Sport-Tourers are often quite heavily outfitted with accessories. Have you actively worked with any aftermarket firms to facilitate the fitment of popular after-sale “farkles” like windscreens, luggage, seats, exhaust systems, etal?

A.   Great question. I’ve spent plenty of cash over the years fixing annoyances with mass produced bikes, so this is near and dear to me. Why not just design, engineer and equip build bikes with components that are not intended to be replaced immediately? Seems really wasteful to throw out parts when the manufacturer could have just offered a better product from the factory. At Motus, we don’t cut corners to save every penny. We engineer and build the best possible components to make the riding and ownership experience the best it can be. So, yeah, we’ve worked closely on the front end of the design/ engineering cycles with great companies like Sargent, Akropovic, Helibars, National Cycle, BST, OZ Racing, etc. Using the finest components makes our bikes more expensive, but when we can really discuss the value and attention to detail we are adding with this approach, most riders “get it”.

DSCN7635Q.  Because we all know that it can take literally years to bring products to market, are you currently looking at future Motus variants which could possibly appear in the marketplace 3, 4, or five years from now? Perhaps a “naked” version or a pure sportbike?

A.   We cannot confirm, nor deny other ongoing projects, but for now, we are focused on building comfortable American sportbikes.

motus-mstr-salt-01Q.   As you move close to production, perhaps one thing that will be on the mind of buyers is insurance. Have you been in contact with the insurance industry or any of the leading motorcycle insurers like Progressive, Foremost, or Geico regarding rating classifications or rates?

A.   Yes, Dairyland Cycle Insurance has approved Motus and we’ll get approved by other insurers prior to motorcycles shipping to the public. It’s a relatively simple process.

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Dennis Martin astride the Motus MST-R

Q.   Motorcycle warranties seem to be all over the map. The Japanese offerings are most often one year, Triumph and others are two, and BMW is three years or 36,000 miles. Can you share what you anticipate for Motus Warranty Coverage?

A.   At Motus we’ll offer a 24 month warranty with unlimited miles.

072313-2014-motus-mst-10-583x389Q.   You’ve recently spent literally thousands of miles in the saddle while riding the Motus production validation units from coast to coast. In that time I’m sure you’ve developed some very strong feelings about the bike. When potential customers finally get the opportunity to ride a Motus for the first time, what is the one thing that you anticipate will most “surprise and delight” them?

A.   People comment on how satisfying a Motus is to ride. On the street, many high performance bikes can be more frustrating than fun, with power that is not really accessible on typical roads. We’ve worked hard to make the Motus excel for its intended use and from 20-90mph, there isn’t much around like it.

072313-2014-motus-mst-r-fAs you can see from Lee’s thoughtful answers, the gang at Motus has a clear vision of the bike they intend to bring to market and is currently focused on that singular task. Lee’s  a real rider who has surrounded himself with a team of like minded individuals and we all look forward to the time, hopefully in the next few months, when we can see, ride, and purchase production versions of the MST and MST-R. Hats off to Motus for all their hard work in bringing this mega cool product to the streets of the USA! Stay tuned! When there are further developments we’ll be prepared to immediately share.

 

 

 

Motus Motorcycles. A Couple of Interesting Facts That You May Not Know.

motus logoAs a Motus Motorcycles franchised dealer, we at Martin Motorsports watched with great interest last week as the Motus team rode pre-production examples of the MST and MST-R sport tourers across the country from their Alabama headquarters to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. There, they presented the bikes to the press and public at the Red Bull US Grand Prix and from everything we can tell they looked and performed absolutely great.We’re really excited in anticipation of receiving our first unit sometime this fall (please, oh please!) By the way, if you want to learn a whole lot more about Motus Motorcycles, check them out at http://motusmotorcycles.com/   Or just enjoy these pics!

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2014 Motus MST-R

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2014 Motus Motorcycles

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2014 Motus MST

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2014 Motus MST

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2014 Motus MST

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2014 Motus MST

Many know the basic story of Motus’ quest to create high-performance, American V4 sport-touring motorcycles that combine heart-racing performance with uncompromising comfort. Powered by the mighty MV4 and MV4-R Baby Block engines, the MST’s are a reinvention of the traditional sport-tourer. They’re comfortable American sportbikes with accommodations for touring.

Several little “snippets” of information that many might not know contribute to a great Motus “back story.” Like these. Did you know that……..

  • A substantial portion of  the initial development of the Motus MST and MST-R bikes, and that unique 1650cc V-4 “Baby Block” motor, were done under the eyes of Pratt & Miller Engineering as well as noted engine developer Katech.  Concerned that a pushrod, 2-valve motor in a trellis frame might be a little outdated? We don’t think you should worry – didya know that Pratt & Miller and Katech represent much of the technical might behind the all-conquering Corvette Racing Team – 7 time winner at the 24 Hours of LeMans and ,most recently, victors in The American LeMans Series just a week ago at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Ontario.
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Early Motus development partners Pratt & Miller and Katech. They help these guys too.

  • Motus President Lee Conn comes by his sense of adventure and willingness to take risks legitimately. His father, Sidney Conn, once flew a balloon over the North Pole and was also an integral part of the Cooked Goose Racing team that set several land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats on Moto Guzzis (pushrod vee engines – see a pattern?) High performance is clearly in the Conn gene pool!logo_28
  • Motus co-founder and design chief Brian Case  spent part of his professional lifetime as the production designer at boutique bike builder Confederate Motorcycles. There he was responsible for transforming Confederate’s “over the top” 2007 custom, the Wraith from a brilliant concept by creator J.T. Nesbitt into a production motorcycle .
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    2007 Confederate Wraith

    Motus – It’s a fascinating bike and it’s a fascinating group of people. We’re really looking forward to laying our hands on a production bike and meeting more of the people who have brought this groundbreaking new brand to life.