I've got high hopes for these guys.
This was taken from a publication (nytimes?) a few days ago....sorry I dont have more details.
March 4, 2011, 4:47 pm
Motus Motorcycles: Sport-Touring, American Style
By LINDSAY BROOKE
Brian Case and Lee Conn, co-founders of Motus Motorcycles, stand with the MST-01 prototype at the Pratt & Miller engineering firm on Thursday night.
So you want to start a motorcycle company? Better do your homework first, because the list of those who have succeeded in recent years is short indeed.
Among American brands trying to cheat the odds, only Minnesota-based Victory Motorcycles has managed to really make a mark. But Victory’s product range — all heavyweight cruisers and touring bikes with V-twin engines — doesn’t stray far from Milwaukee tradition in terms of style and performance.
Enter Lee Conn and Brian Case, co-founders of Motus Motorcycles, based in Birmingham, Ala. Their business model is essentially a rebuttal to the stereotype of the traditional American motorcycle.
Avid riders and entrepreneurs — Mr. Conn is company president and Mr. Case is vice-president and design director — the two founded Motus (Latin for “motion”) in 2007 to develop sport-touring bikes that are designed, engineered and built in the United States but pay no homage to the century-old format of Harley and Indian models.
At a low-key media event near Detroit on Thursday evening, the duo introduced the Motus MST-01 and MST-R — two 1,650 cc sport-touring machines scheduled to enter low-volume production later this year. The bikes are powered by an all-new V-4 engine that is fundamentally half of a Chevrolet Corvette V-8.
The MST-01 is the base model, with standard 43-millimeter Marzocchi fork and Hayes brakes. The R model features premium running gear, including an Ohlins fork and top-of-the-line Brembo brakes. Both come standard with direct fuel injection, a feature that bolsters performance and fuel efficiency — still relatively new in automobiles and a motorcycle-industry first from Motus.
“From our first discussions and sketches we knew we didn’t want to do another air-cooled V-twin,” Mr. Conn said at the unveiling. “We designed our motorcycle from the ground up to provide all-day riding comfort with hot-rod performance.
Discussions with hundreds of veteran sport and sport-touring riders, who tend to favor BMWs, Honda STs, Aprilias and Ducatis, helped establish the MST’s design specification. The bike’s target curb weight of 520 pounds — the engine and gearbox total less than 200 pounds — is enabled by the use of carbon fiber in the fairing, fuel tank, seat unit and front fender. The trellis frame, a type long favored by Ducati, is fabricated in chrome-moly tubing by Pratt & Miller. The bike’s 17-inch forged aluminum wheels are sourced from the Italian supplier Marchesini and wear Michelin’s new Pilot 3 radial tires.
The big V-4 engine is mounted longitudinally and sits forward in the chassis, tipped slightly toward the fork, for what Mr. Case asserts is the optimum for balance and handling. It is fitted with dual balance shafts for smoothness. The rear wheel is driven by chain, rather than by drive shaft as is common on BMW and Honda sport-touring bikes.
“Our first prospective customer is like me — an aging sport-bike rider who loves the performance but can no longer endure the cramped riding position, particularly on long-distance rides,” Mr. Conn, 37, said. “The second prospective customer has owned American V-twins and appreciates comfort, but is seeking higher performance.”
Motus’s business plan is to build and sell “in the hundreds of bikes per year, not thousands,” Mr. Conn explained. The plan is reflected in where the bikes were shown — the Michigan headquarters of Pratt & Miller, an automotive engineering firm famous for having built General Motors’ factory Corvette racers. Pratt & Miller was chosen by the Motus founders to lead the bike’s engineering, development, testing and validation work.
The bikes’ auto-industry connection also includes two other Michigan-based companies known among car racers and auto engineers: Katech, which designed the 160-horsepower Motus V-4 engine and is handling its dynamometer testing, and Liberty Gear, which collaborated with Pratt & Miller to develop the MST’s 6-speed cassette-type gearbox.
“We pretty quickly concluded that the best resources serving the U.S. auto industry can help us do it,” Mr. Case said. He and Mr. Conn “got in the car and drove up to Michigan, bringing only a PowerPoint presentation and a lot of determination.”
A small fleet of prototypes is currently undergoing testing and validation. The Motus executives will next stop at Daytona Bike Week, which runs from Friday to March 13, for another unveiling before embarking on an cross-country ride with Pratt & Miller engineers to evaluate the final prototypes, visit prospective dealers and proudly show off their new take on the American motorcycle.