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Motus Test Ride: Torque, Power and Finesse
Let me be clear: I've ridden a lot of fast bikes. It's my thing. My last motorcycle was a 2002 Kawasaki zz1200 and, at one point, the third fastest vehicle on the planet. I used to refer to it as "the locomotive" because it just never seemed to run out of power no matter how fast you were going. She was a real kick in the pants to ride on the open road.
“The Motus has torque and horsepower in bulk. Riders should understand before releasing the clutch that this thing demands the respect of an attentive rider.”
The Motus advertises itself as a sport tourer. It definitely looks like most other sport touring bikes but don't let it's (perhaps generic) traditional looks fool you. It's essentially a high-performance American hot rod on two wheels. Starting with the engine, a V4, this motorcycle's chassis cradles half of a Corvette power plant, complete with push rods and hydraulic lifters.
It also includes a standard Akapovic exhaust, Brembo brakes, braided lines and a slick shifting six speed transmission, all performance oriented stuff. Each bike is hand made, getting a thorough two-day ride and shake down before the final bodywork is fitted.
The Motus representative stressed that the bike is purposely simple. Aside from the electronic instruments and the torque managing transmission to keep the engine in check, there are very few bells and whistles. The windscreen is adjusted manually and there's no radio or GPS navigation.
There is, however, a cruise control and one accessory outlet (more are optional). The bike is chain drive with a 20,000 mile warranty. The option list is quite short: two top cases, auxiliary LED driving lights, your choice of four colors, heated grips/seat and standard or touring windscreens.
It's a really solid and well thought out design. The Motus rep expounded on the platform that "less breakable bits" is a major selling point. The Motus is reliability based on simplicity.
Before the ride began we were given a short orientation. The rep sternly advised that we "take it easy at first", referring to the Motus as a "Corvette on two wheels". In my head, my response was "which Corvette?" (there have been some dogs over the years).
So, What's The Ride Like?
Starting it up, I felt the engine pulsing and shaking like a big V8 and quickly realized she was of the '67, 427 variety. My first comment has to be that the Motus has torque and horsepower in bulk, a truly visceral experience. You understand before you even let go of the clutch that this thing demands respect and an attentive rider.
Pulling out of the parking lot echoes contractual stipulations for a light touch. The subtlest hand is mandatory if you want to keep things under control. I have to say, it's one of the few motorcycles that initially scared me (the other being the original 2004 Kawasaki 10R, a lightweight, overpowered, twitchy bastard that really should have been left on the track and never sold to an unsuspecting public).
There's a lot of engine pulse and feedback on a Motus. It feels just like the hot rod it is. I really hadn't experienced anything like it since the '70s when I drove a 428 Mustang. While inline fours (Suzuki GSX, BMW K, Honda CBR, etc) build linear power and big twins have low-end torque with less top-end, The Motus has power and pull immediately ... pretty much all of the time.
At first, it's power seems borderline uncontrollable but once you get acclimated, it's rather cool and intoxicating. Like that wild rock and roll chick you once dated. You knew it was dangerous but you just could not stay away.
Getting on the highway was pretty damn entertaining as that's where the Motus "hot rod" nature shines. Opening up the throttle felt like the motor was saying "finally", the bike pulling hard and quick. As I said before, there's torque in spades and as this motor growls, there's a noticeable yet pleasant, pulsating cadence that you can only get from pushrod engines.
Once you're in fifth or sixth gear, the engine settles into a nice, manageable hum. Things smooth out but you always feel the engine beneath you. The Brembo brakes were outstanding as usual, needing only a feather pull to work especially at slow speeds. I first thought that for $30k, you should at least get a radio but you don't need it. The engine makes its own music.
Overall the bike is better than comfortable to ride. The posture/position is more on the upright side and the bars are adjustable to get the fit that's best for you. The OEM Sargent seat is comfortable but with all of the bike's torque and power, it needs to have a deeper cut with more of a bolster toward the tail. When I rolled on the throttle, I felt as if I was going to slide off the back! The digital display is nice but in my opinion, it could be bigger. A lot of information gets lost.
So, Who Is The Motus For?
If your idea of sport touring is silky smooth power and things like shaft drive, power windscreens and lots of personalization, especially from the aftermarket, the Motus is not for you. Being a speciality bike, you're pretty much stuck with how it comes and the limited options they make available. When comparing it to fast cars, it's not a BMW M5 but more of a refined, comfortable and updated '67 Vette, with brakes and handling that actually work.
It reminds me of the fun, exhilarating feeling you can only get from riding a motorcycle. The Motus has been designed and engineered for the joy of riding and for that purpose, it's damn near perfect.
What Motorcycles Have You Test Ridden Lately?
There are a lot of innovative bikes on the market. Which ones do you prefer? What do you like about them and why? Your input is invited. Leave a comment!