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.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.