Motus Motorcycles, Part Deux

Brian Case, the chief designer of the new Motus Motorcycles has written me, and he offers the following response to my previous blog post:

We have not set a production price yet and will not be able to determine pricing until engineering is closer to completion. Our goal will be to set an affordable price to a wide range of motorcyclists. The Motus will be a premium motorcycle with premium components and the highest level of engineering. What does that mean? It means we can’t publish a price. We wouldn’t want to promise the public a price and not be able to meet it.

I can tell you we would like our motorcycle to show up on the radar of a rider looking at a fully-loaded K1300GT. However, we know BMW sold over 11,000 GT’s in the US last year and we will not likely sell that many in our first year. So, it may take a new brand like ours a couple of years on the market to reach higher economies of scale. We will be offering a base model (MST-01) and premium model (MST-R) right from the start and we feel that the respective price points will be crucial to the success of the launch. We don’t believe a startup motorcycle company can compete on price with established giants like Honda or BMW, so we have to pick other battles and at the same time not price ourselves out of a market.

You’ll notice the sketch I drew on our website. Yes, it is a teaser but only because we are more comfortable showing progress after we have completed it rather than creating false expectations. I overlayed this sketch on top of an actual CAD model of our powertrain and chassis designs that are in development. We chose to orient our proprietary V4 engine transversly in the MST-01 chassis as oppossed to longitudinally like a VMax, or the upcoming VFR1200. This has afforded us the opportunity to design a very unique, purpose-built and compact sport touring platform that will easily stand apart from even the latest mass-produced OEM sport tourers. The highly visable dual headers will extend down from the exposed cylinder heads on each side of the machine to symbolize the unique design statement of the transverse V4. Our next major announcement will be to unveil a running prototype of the liquid-cooled V4, and the sound, the sound we hope will be nothing short of spectacular.

He further comments:

Also, I forgot to mention, there are indeed side hard bags proposed in the concept and the bike will be suited for two-up riding. The rear trunk will be optional, which will include a back rest for the passenger.

Everything he wrote to me sounds quite reasonable.  Manufacturers of new motorcycles are always in a bind, of course, because without millions and millions of dollars in capital–and I mean miiiiiiiillions–they can’t even have a glimmer of hope at reaching economies of scale in production that any of the major players can achieve.  That inevitably means a high price.

That’s just an economic reality, especially if you plan on making a high-quality product, which Mr. Case, et al., clearly are.

I’d be really interested, though, in seeing just how close they can get to something like an affordable price.  If we are indeed talking BMW GT range, that implies $24k or thereabouts.  And, of course, a Gold Wing can run you well into the thirties all maxed out with bells and whistles, so $30k wouldn’t be too far out of line.

I really like the idea of the V-4 engine.  It’s a strong platform as Aprilia has already shown, and as Honda is planning to show.  You can pull monster torque and HP out of V-4, while maintaining a smooth engine feel.

I’m rooting for these guys, and I’d really like a test ride when they have one ready to go.

Motus Motorcycles takes A Step Towards Reality

I mentioned back in April that a new US Sport Touring motorcycle was being created by a new company called Motus Motorcycles, with Brian Case as the chief designer.  After that, absolutely nothing seemed to happen.  The web page was a single landing page with the company logo, and a message saying that they were working on a really neat sport touring motorcycle.

Well, that has now changed.  The web site is now three pages, and the front page shows this:

Motus Motorcycle Artist Concept
Motus Motorcycle Artist Concept

Obviously, this is some sort of artist’s concept of the Motus.  It must be.  Clearly, those exhaust pipes can’t actually brush the ground like that.  This is the most information about what the thing is supposed to look like since the initial announcement.

I’m not seeing a pillion seat there, so this looks like a sport tourer for the moody loner.  Come to think of it, I don’t see any saddlebags there, either, so now we’re looking at a sport tourer for the homeless moody loner.

So, let’s take the picture with a grain of salt.  We’ll probably all be happier that way.

In any event, there seems to be some movement, because the Motus web site’s “News” page now links to a press release from motorsports pros Pratt & Miller, which says:

Motus Motorcycles’ decision to partner with Pratt & Miller Engineering for development and manufacturing of their new motorcycles further confirms their commitment to delivering highly engineered and reliable machines.

Pratt & Miller Engineering’s 20 year history of success in motorsports was a determining factor in this partnership with Motus Motorcycles. Pratt & Miller Engineering has won numerous championships in the American Le Mans Series, Rolex Grand-Am series, NASCAR and six 24 hours of Le Mans victories in the GT1 category. In addition to motorsports, Pratt and Miller Engineering has played a prominent role in automotive, commercial, aerospace, and defense projects such as unmanned vehicles and the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

“With their vast experience developing high performance, lightweight vehicles, we quickly identified Pratt & Miller as the perfect partner to engineer our lightweight, high-performance motorcycle,” said Brian Case, VP and Design Director of Motus Motorcycles.

Motus MST series motorcycles will incorporate many of Pratt & Miller’s race proven technologies such as a balanced and optimized 4130 chromoly space frame and lightweight carbon composite bodywork. A combination of computer aided engineering tools such as CAD, finite element analysis, and multi-body simulation will be implemented throughout the design process. All prototypes will be developed in house using the latest rapid prototyping techniques and many proprietary processes that Pratt & Miller has developed.

“These advanced engineering tools integrated with our advanced manufacturing capabilities will help set Motus apart in terms of performance, safety and durability,” said Pratt & Miller spokesman Brandon Widmer.

Long story made short: Motus seems serious about producing a top-notch motorcycle.  Whether they can do so at a price that competes with the FJR1300 or Concours14–or even the BMW RT or GT bikes–is a question that is still unanswered.  If they end up with a $50k price tag like the Roehr 1250, then I’m pretty much uninterested.

New Honda V-4 Seen In the Wild

We’ve seen pre-production spy shots.  We’ve had technical details released.  Now, motoblog.it has captured what looks like a production version of the motorcycle tooling around in the wild.  Click the thumbnails below to enlarge.

It looks nice, and has interesting tech.  So, how much torque and horsepower?  Inquiring minds want to know.

The front headlight still looks like a mutant frog, though.

I’m Baaaaack!

I‘ve been to Alaska, and seen the glaciers, bears, eagles, whales, and about 30 inches of rain.  But, now I’m back, and regular blogging about motorcycle goodness will begin in due course.

In the meantime, I leave you with this little video I slapped together earlier this evening.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOucq5yQGp8