Southeast Motorcycle Touring

Motorcycle Reviews


Motus MST at Barber Vintage Festivel

To start with let me make it clear that I did not set out last weekend to gather info for a motorcycle review. I didn't arrange to officially interview anyone so none of the folks mentioned here knew this was going to be published including me. I was just looking at the Motus display during the Barber Vintage Festival and asking random questions of the attendant when another Motus uniformed fellow took over answering my questions. When I asked about the configuration of the final drive he prefaced his answer by telling me he was the designer of the bike. At that point I started to pay close attention. Although we where not formally introduced I now know that I was talking with Brian Case from his picture in various Motus presentations.

I appreciated his answer to my final drive question possible because my objectivity is suspect. I have been living with chain drive for a long time and appreciate it's simplicity but I wanted to know why they had not gone with shaft drive. The short answer to my question was a simple "because it's a sport-bike". But there was a "long answer" as well. Brian told me that during the design stages he tried a shaft drive layout but came to the conclusion that a longitudinal engine and transmission together made for an over long power unit and it limited his ability to adjust wheel base and weight bias to find the optimum configuration. Making the transmission transverse solved that issue and that then led to a chain final drive. And then he pointed out that while a bevel gear is inevitable with a fore/aft crankshaft. On the Motus MST it is between the engine and transmission which is a much more rigid structure than the rear hub where it is on any shaft drive motorcycle. That reduces unsprung mass as well as any power loss due to flexing in the rear end housing. To me this answer makes a lot of sense but I think there will be some folks who won't like the idea of a sport tourer with chain final drive. Too much the pity for them.

Motus MST

I nicked this photo from the Motus web site because I forgot my camera in B-ham

I had seen several reviews of the Motus before setting eyes on one myself so I had some preconceived notions. The first being that it would be big, heavy and cumbersome. Well I have not ridden it but all those thoughts went right out the window when I saw it and threw a leg over it as I was invited to do straight away. In short I was expecting Boss Hoss but got sort of Ducati meets Buel instead, which is to say "sweet." It makes my Ducati ST2 of a few years ago seem big, a little bit characterless and well kinda plastic. The seat is made by Sargent and was narrow at the front which made it a very easy to touch the floor. And the adjustable handlebars and foot controls look trick rather than bulky. And the whole bike has a lean feel to it. I can't wait to ride one. But that will have to wait as I have no weight to push around.

I did get to ride next to one (I know sounds sad doesn't it) but I'll take what I can get. The sound is right, the look is right, and judging by the briskness of the ride the performance is right. Lee Conn the sales side of Motus and Brian led a small group of us from Barber into Birmingham to an Motus event they had planned that night. I got to see some good roads in the area and a great local pizza joint at the end of the ride. I did notice a little smoke out of one of MST's but that was the test mule and I presume it has seen it's fare share of abuse during testing.

After the ride I asked Lee about a price tag and what market research had told them about their potential customers. His answers seem to downplay scientific measures like that. He told me he didn't know yet what the price would be. They still have a lot of finalizing of production components and procedures to work through. What he did say was the first years production should be about 250 bikes and a fair number of engines alone because they where developing markets for just the power-plant. the prices would be what it cost to make them plus enough profit to keep the lights on and the fridge full. I don't know how much of that was him trying to avoid the question or make a potential customer feel good. But he and Brian both told me independently and more than once that they were in this for their passion for the bike. They say they are building the bike they want to ride. And that if they get it right the customers will be there. I believe that not only do they know what they are doing but its what they love and that can't help being reflected in the final outcome.

John Binns
October, 2011