Bikes we love

What I want: Motus MST (MSTR)

Motus MST
I feel a little uncomfortable putting the Motus MST into the What I Want category because it lacks a key feature that is a priority for any bike I would consider spending my money on: anti-lock brakes. But, hey, we’re dealing more with the theoretical here than the practical. There are a whole load of bikes on the list that I will almost certainly never own nor seek to own, so let’s go ahead and include this V-4 from Alabama.
It’s the last two words in the previous sentence that should let you know from whence comes my affection for the MST: it’s made in America. And it’s not a cruiser. There’s a dearth of American not-cruisers, so I feel emotionally obliged to support just about every one that comes along. I realised this the other day when the new EBR 1190RX was announced. I don’t actually like the look of that bike and all its power would be completely wasted on me. But I am nonetheless supportive of this latest Buell initiative and really want it to succeed.
The Motus MST and Motus MSTR are indistinguishable from one another on sight, with the difference being that the MST has a slightly smaller engine, producing slightly less bhp. Both, though, have a fair amount of kick, producing 160bhp and 180bhp respectively. But already I’m boring myself with talk of specs. If you really care, you can find specs for the MST here and for the MSTR here.
The fact that those specs are offered in the form of jpeg files should tell you a little something about Motus: it’s a pretty small-potatoes company. They’ve been working on this machine for a number of years and have faced a few setbacks in its release –– the sort of thing that would make me a little cautious as a buyer.
But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere and I support an American company producing an American motorcycle that isn’t a cruiser. Don’t get me wrong, I love cruisers. I am crazy about the new Indians, have long been a fanboy of Victory and definitely wouldn’t turn my nose up at a Harley. But I ride a Honda sport tourer and find that I quite enjoy the feel and handling of such a bike, and would certainly like to see an American-made version. Apparently I’m not the only person thinking this, because that’s what Motus is offering: an American-made sport tourer. The engines come from Texas and the whole thing is put together in Alabama.
Beyond its heritage, there are a number of things to like about a Motus: the engine is a V-4, basically a Corvette engine that’s been chopped in half. I won’t pretend to know anything about engines but apparently this one makes the bike really move (lots of bhp and lots of torque). Additionally, the engine gives the exhaust a low muscle-car-like growl that is almost certainly more pleasing to American ears.

As far as looks go, I can’t complain. I’m not too sure about the front fairing, but the rest of the machine looks solid. I don’t think anyone really creams their jeans for the look of a sport tourer, though. The point of such a bike is performance and feel. And from what I’ve read so far it’s got that, along with an impressively tech-friendly dash.

There are some problems, though. First and foremost is the fact that the price ranges from $30,000 to $37,000, which is at least $10,000 more than I would expect to pay for such a bike. I mean, a BMW K1600 GT starts at $21,500. A Honda VFR, of which the Motus most reminds me, starts at $17,000.

Who will buy these?

And it’s hard to guess where the extra money for the Motus is being spent. Those “cheaper” bikes produced by Honda and BMW (which also come with the advantages of tested reliability and extensive dealership networks) come with things like anti-lock brakes, traction control and cruise control. The Motus does not –– not even as an option. I find it hard to fathom that a company would build a modern sport tourer without ABS.

By the standards of the three biggest American motorcycle manufacturers (i.e., Harley-Davidson, Victory and Indian), the Motus is relatively advanced (a), but by the standards of the machines against which it would likely compete Motus is far behind the curve. Also, for me personally, that front fairing is just too ugly. It makes the bike look several decades out of date.

So, I find myself feeling just a little bit sad when I think about Motus. I want so much for them to do well, and I would love to have an MST or MSTR to roar around on. Give me one and I’ll thank you profusely. But there’s no way I’d spend my money on one. And I can’t help but wonder who would.


(a) Performance-wise. Technologically, however, all three offer models with anti-lock brakes.