Sneak Peak: Motus MST-R

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In addition to the 1,645cc V4 Motus MST-01 “comfortable sportbike,” we can exclusively tell you Birmingham, Alabama-based Motus Motorcycles is also developing a lighter, faster, more performance-oriented version dubbed the Motus MST-R. Running prototypes of both bikes are currently undergoing final assembly and will be ready to begin nationwide road validation testing in January. That’s right, an American-made performance bike with a small block V8-derived pushrod V4 engine will be riding on a road near you starting in the new year.

We first showed you the Motus prototype back in July when the company released video and images of its engine development. The V4 at the heart of the project is a beast, kicking out something in excess of 140bhp and 120lb/ft. Those are likely conservative initial figures. The 1,649cc inline-six in the BMW K1600GT manages 129lb/ft and Motus tells us the MST-R will be even more powerful than the MST-01.

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This V4 is a scaled-down, four-cylinder version of the Le Mans-winning Corvette GT1 direct-injection small block V8 and is being built for Motus by Detroit-based Katech Engines on the same production line as the LS7R. Like that ‘Vette engine, it has a 90° V, is made from aluminum and uses nickel-silicon-carbide-coated linerless bores. There’s two pushrod valves per-cylinder. Unlike the LS7R, the KMV4 phases its crankpins at 75°, creating a big-bang-like firing sequence.

The KMV4’s single camshaft is mounted in the valley between the cylinders, actuating the valves through pushrods. This is an incredibly compact, simple and light arrangement, the benefits of which on a motorcycle should be obvious. Giving the engine a distinct visual character all its own are four individual 40mm throttle bodies fed by vertical intake trumpets.

In addition to providing Motus with the unique character of an American muscle car, the transverse V4 arrangement is also shorter and more rigid than an inline-four, allowing a relatively short wheelbase and making it a better candidate to serve as a stressed member in the chassis. The engine weighs only 130lbs and measures 18 inches at its widest point. The six-cylinder in that BMW? 22 inches.

The motorcycle that this monster engine is going into is, according to Motus’s Brian case, “Attempting to redefine what an American motorcycle could be. It’s core design principals are performance, comfort and range.” Don’t think of the MST-01 as a sport tourer, think of it as a sportbike that you can tour on.

“The entire Motus concept is basically a rebuttal or counter-point to everything that stereotypes American motorcycles — overweight, inefficient, gaudy, loud, unsophisticated, etc,” continues Case.

“The image you see here is one of our test mules being outfitted as the [MST-R],” says Case. “It is being built up and prepared for testing throughout the country, through all weather conditions, altitudes, etc. We will personally be riding these bikes all over the country to validate them, but also to demonstrate them for all of the independent dealers  who have contacted us and the new ones we hope to meet along the way. We’d like to hear from any rider-oriented dealer who has an interest in carrying a new line of American performance bikes.”

And what of the MST-R? “The MST-R is still a sport tourer,” confirms Case. “It is still a sportbike, just not in the sense of race replicas. They will be comfortable sportbikes equipped from the factory for touring.” As you can see in this sketch, that means things like luggage incorporated into the bike’s design as well as comfortable ergonomics, good wind protection and practical features like power ports for heated clothing and accessories.

“The difference between the MST-01 and MST-R is in trim and cost. Upgraded brakes, suspension, wheels, engine performance, etc,” says Motus presiden Lee Conn.  “We’ve focused on the actual street riding experience and, specifically, fun, usable power for sport touring. that means high torque over a wide rev range, a sporty wheelbase and suspension, appropriate weather protection for comfort and low fatigue over long distances, all in a 500lbs package. The engine we’ve designed should spice up the relatively mundane sport-touring market with the torquey characteristics of a big v-twin combined with the smoothness of an inline-four and an engineered sound unlike anything on the market.”

“Motus is up against enormous challenges, including an extremely tight budget, general economic malaise, intense competition from many other great brands, demographic trends, etc. What Motus has going for it is access to the highest level of development, engineering, fabrication and testing technology as well as backing by extensive research, passion and ambition,” states Conn. Motus hopes to being production of the MST-01 and MST-R next year.


Chromoly tubular trellis spaceframe; engine as stressed member.

43mm USD, fully-adjustable telescopic forks with 120mm travel.

Twin-spar chromoly swingarm, fully-adjustable pushrod monoshock with remote preload adjustment, 120mm travel.

Dual 320mm floating discs with four-piston Brembo Monoblock radial calipers; single 2-piston rear caliper.

17 x 3.5” front; 17 x 6” rear.


Overall length: 84”
Wheelbase: 31”
Seat height: 31”
Rake: 26º
Trail: 4.25”
Dry weight: 500lbs (est)
Fuel capacity: 6gal

1645cc, liquid-cooled, dual OHV, pushrod, chain-driven single cam, hydraulic lifters.

Motus 6-speed sequential, unit construction, wet multiplate clutch.

86.5mm x 70mm


Intake: 44.5mm
Exhaust: 36.8mm
Stainless steel

Length: 24”
Width: 19”
Height: 20”

140bhp+ @ 7,800rpm
120lb/ft+ @4,500rpm
Redline: 8,000rpm

356-TS cast aluminum block and heads; forged steel crank, cam, rods; forged aluminum pistons; linerless Nikasil bore


TDC – 345º – 435º – 630º




There’s 30 images in this photo gallery.

  • Richard


  • DoctorNine

    I am seriously grooving on the modular approach here.
    This is more than just thinking outside the box.
    They burned the box for tinder.
    And look what caught fire!

  • Glenngineer

    Another company I’d love to work for. I hope these bikes see daylight, because they sound like the bike I’d like to build.

  • CG

    Hooboy, the VFR we wanted. The trick: Price. Several years ago some of the smarter pundits suggested that micro-manufacturing is the future. This is a taste of it. I just hope it ain’t $35k out the door.

  • mugget

    Next year – that would be awesome if they can manage production then!

    Generally speaking this is “not my sort of bike”, but reading about a sports bike that can tour… that is my sort of bike!

    The engine seems like it will be really strong as well. All good.

  • BuellDoc

    How is this better than the Honda V4 in their touring machine? Is this a glorified Moto Guzzi? (i know only 2 cyl but it was push rod and a V) And I think Mr.Buell should hook up with these guys!

    • Stacey

      How is it better? Lighter for one. Guzzis aren’t known for ripping up pavement, this bike is purposely designed to be hot-rodded. Honda don’t offer you that.

      I don’t think Mr. Buell is looking to partner up with anyone again…

  • noone1569

    This is interesting. I’m glad to see these sort of outside the box thinking from American companies. It is actually nice to see some good ole innovation from Americans again for a change.

  • GT

    My 2010 Moto Guzzi Stelvio 8V does not use push rods, single overhead camshaft driven by Morse chains!

  • jonoabq

    Although the bike I currently ride is uglier, the bodywork styling on the Motus is a bit pre-production goofy. Performance always seems to be the easy part. The hard parts will be cost, ease of servicing, range, and practical luggage. If I can’t get a helmet into a pannier and 200+ miles out of a tank of gas then its just another sport bike. An by the looks of things an expensive one.

  • John

    I just wish the R had an aluminum frame. I’d love to see how much lighter they could make one of these things, if possible.

    These guys make me proud to be a resident of Alabama. Between them and Barber Motorsports park, I may just have to pack up my things, move down there and beg for a job.

  • george_fla

    Good job Motus,you engineered and built a “Sporty Baby Boss Hoss”.

  • Your_Mom

    A longitudinally-positioned v-engine isn’t exactly new – re: ST1300 and Moto-Guzzi – but the sound of the engine is just exquisite. They are obviously going for the sport-tourer market but I can see a naked version competing with the V-Max, Diavel, et al.

    A sub 500 pound muscle bike with this engine might be successful……

  • je

    Looks expensive but damn it sounds amazing. Let’s just hope it sounds that good after all the exhaust bs to meet regulations.

    I really like but have a couple things I don’t like.
    Speaking of exhaust I think they should ditch the canister style setup and go with something like on the buell xb line. I don’t like the handle bars…

    It would be nice to see what price point they are shooting for.

  • scott

    Are those Speed Triple wheels in the first pic.?

  • Allan

    Motus has my deposit. I’m not concerned about the motors performance; 140+ hp in a 500 lbs. package, there is enough. I’m not that concerned about the handling. It seems they are sticking with tried and true geometry numbers and top-shelf suspension pieces and as long as the frame is stiff enough the thing will handle. I hope they have plenty of test days scheduled at Barber. The only thing(s) that will keep me from “pulling the trigger” will be an unrealistic price tag, bad aesthetics and a delayed production date.