You hear plenty of stories about what a stand-up guy Keanu Reeves is when the cameras aren't rolling – and now it makes sense. Turns out he's a madly passionate motorcyclist, which in my books makes him a superior human being. Reeves isn't short of a dollar, so together with chopper whiz Gard Hollinger he's built the bike of his dreams, and started a company manufacturing them. Arch Motorcycle Company has just released its first bike, the KRGT-1, a US$78,000 chopper-inspired sports naked with a giant 2-litre S&S v-twin engine and a body that's basically all hewn from billet aluminum. No word on whether it explodes if you go less than 50 miles an hour, best keep the throttle open just to be safe.
Ageless movie star Keanu Reeves, as it turns out, is one of us: a motorcycle tragic who's only ever owned two cars in his life. A daily rider who rocks an open-face lid even though his face is worth millions, and whose garage has known a cavalcade of Kawasakis, Suzukis, Beemers, Harleys, Guzzis – and his true love, Nortons.
I know if I was sitting on top of a teetering pile of dollars, the first thing I would do would be … well first I'd buy a Speed Triple. But the second thing I'd do would be to get together with somebody who knows their sh*t and start planning to build a motorcycle tailor-made for me.
And that's exactly what Keanu has done. After experiencing abject failure and "ruining a motorcycle" trying to modify it (a feeling I'm deeply familiar with), Reeves wandered into the workshop of master chopper builder Gard Hollinger and had the following wonderful conversation:
Reeves: Can you build me a sissy bar?
Hollinger: We don't build sissy bars.
Reeves: Oh, then what do you do?
Hollinger: We make motorcycles.
Reeves: Well … Are you interested in making a motorcycle?
Bollinger: I don't know, what sort of motorcycle do you wanna make?
From there, the pair sat down, started a conversation and started throwing sketches around, and a few months down the track they started a business together: the Arch Motorcycle Company. And Arch has just released its first bike, the KRGT-1.
The bike's design is a bit of a mishmash. It's clearly got the heart of a cruiser, with its whopping big 124 cubic inch v-twin engine. That's 2,032cc in metric, and it rides a gigantic 122 foot-pound wave of torque up to a 122 horsepower peak. Those are rear wheel figures, apparently, not 'at the crank' figures like you get from most manufacturers, so add in a healthy 10-15 percent to give yourself a good mental comparison.
It's got the forward foot controls of a cruiser or chopper, which manifests in that laid back, king-of-the-road type riding position. It's also got a very fat, 240-section rear tire, and just about everything is carved out of billet aluminum. But the chopperisms stop abruptly where the header pipes combine into a wickedly sporty exhaust, with a triangular profile that shouts "lean me over!"
The forks are fully adjustable Ohlins units, the shock is fully adjustable by Race Tech, the wheels are ultra-light carbon fiber jobs and the brakes are twin ISR 6-piston monobloc radial monsters. These are not the specifications of a show bike – this thing is made to be ridden, and ridden hard. I particularly like the small touch that in the press photos of the silver KRGT-1, the tires aren't brand new – in fact, somebody has gone out and whittled the chicken strips on the edges down to about 5mm.
Keeping the bike narrow, the engine air intakes are positioned above and behind the bike's billet headlight housing, which I think looks fantastic. The tank is split into two fuel cells, both hewn out of aluminum, which allows the tube frame to be exposed right from the headstock down to the seat. The single seat unit looks a little too … intimate for me, and while it echoes the tank line I reckon it looks a bit awkward from the side. I'd prefer a flatter, shorter seat – and I'd be prepared to sacrifice some billet if it helped keep the weight down, because 538 pounds, or 244kg, is about 50 pounds north of a sporty ride in my books.
But this isn't my bike, it's Keanu's. And it could be yours, too, if you have a spare US$78,000 burning a hole in your pocket. It's expensive, sure, but then the tank alone takes some 66 hours to carve out of a giant 534-pound block of billet, and the detail and finish on these things is stunning.
Everything I've heard about Reeves tells me he's an honest, genuine and sweet guy, which makes sense when you learn he's a passionate motorcyclist. Good on him for sinking some movie money into making the bike of his dreams, and sharing it with the rest of us.
Source: Arch Motorcycle Company.