Motus MST-01: America’s sport tourer

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These are the first pictures and video of the completed Motus MST-01 and Motus MST-R, 1,654cc V4-powered sport tourers from the tiny Birmingham, Alabama-based startup motorcycle maker. The bikes were shown for the first time at Pratt & Miller in Michigan, the auto engineering company designed the frame and transmission, while Corvette race motor builders Katech made the engine, based on their Le Mans-winning LS7.R V8. More to come.

Update: 5 new high-res photos.

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.

Motus revealed last night that, rather than the 140bhp/120lb-ft figures initially disclosed, the engine actually makes 160bhp and 122lb-ft of torque.

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.

Motus sees the MST-01 and Ohlins-equipped MST-R as a counterpoint to the traditional image of American motorcycles. “It’s core design principals are performance, comfort and range,” describes one of the company’s founders, Brian Case.


Unlike other sport tourers, this isn’t a de-tuned sportbike with high bars, it’s a ground-up design intended to offer superbike performance with all-day comfort. Hence the relatively limited peak output for the huge motor. Rather than chase meaningless peak horsepower figures, the V4 is instead intended to offer a huge spread of torque and power, beginning very early in the revs and carrying through to the redline.

“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,” continues Case. “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.”

Maybe it’s just the steel spaceframe and the thumping V4 engine sparking a few nearby neurons, but when seated in the high, upright saddle, the MST-01 feels most like a Ducati Monster that’s grown up and gained some responsibility; but with that responsibility came a middle management job somewhere with very ergonomically correct chairs. This bike is intended for a crowd that starting riding on knife-edged sport bikes in their youth and need to move up to something smoother, easier and far more vertical now they’ve got a gob of back pain or a beer gut but don’t want to slide into a betassled cruiser.

  • holdingfast

    when was this filmed? the 80s?
    the motor looks and sounds incredible. the rest. meh. Seeing that motor makes you think of… I expected something else. no?

    • thatdetroitandy

      What, you don’t like my VHS shoulder camera?

      • scottydigital

        Suits and bikes do not mix.

  • Mark D

    Everything is conservative, except that exhaust note! America; Fuck Yeah!

    Too bad these will be about $30k. It’s like a Buell and a VFR made sweet, sweet love together.

    • Surj

      I agree. I actually like the conservative looks of it, too.

  • Vinicio

    Either the rider isn’t experienced or the slow-speed handling of the bike sucks. He looks like a n00b on the first day of a MSF course.

    Love the sound of the bike though! And I wish them well.

    • Grant Ray

      Pretty sure that’s Brian Case, who designed the bike.

    • Mark D

      Leather soled business shoes probably aren’t the most confidence-inspiring footwear for moving your prized prototype to a photoshoot!

      • Glenngineer

        Almost dropped my bike at my wedding, in shitty rental tux shoes on wet cobble stones.

    • Ducky

      To be honest, I couldn’t stop laughing at his duck walk

  • slowtire

    Sounds nice! Just one question….. Is that the new three-piece Brooks Brothers riding suit?

  • Penguin

    An across the frame V4 doesn’t seem to me like a smart way to package a motorcycle – I mean, I’m no designer / engineer but it just seems to be a strange choice.

    Is it different for different’s sake or does it actually bring any benifits?

    • Surj

      See above:

      “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 thought it was odd when the Honda ST1100 came out with that configuration, too. But it seems pretty sensible to me now, especially when viewed in the context above.

  • brian

    Its my futura’s ‘roided up american cousin. I think I’m ready to stimulate the economy.

  • Brad

    is he wearing white socks with a suit / dress shoes?

    good lord.

    (watching this with much interest, thats a great motorcycle)

    • Eric

      He’s fully American, just like my dad (sigh)

    • Case

      The guy in the photos is argyles. I wish his bike showed as much style. I don’t really blame them though. Their target demo is conservative.

  • Eric

    Are the exhaust headers shielded in some way I don’t see from damage in a tip over?

    Congratulations to the Motus team!

  • Turf

    Mini LS7, Fuck YES!


  • michael uhlarik

    What an amazing looking engine/chassis package. I want to get a naked roller of this thing and restyle that motorcycle. SO many design possibilities, so many missed cues.


    • BeastIncarnate

      I’m going to play the “close my eyes and pray for design intervention” game.

    • Xenophya

      +1 Reminds me of our chat around the naked Kwak 1400 in Milan!

      • michael uhlarik

        Or the BMW 450 MX the same year. If only those pesky clients didn’t always get in the way…

  • Keith

    Those hard cases are way too high! It’s tough to swing your leg up that high to clear them.
    At least at my age :)
    ST1100 has a nice luggage setup

    • Wes Siler

      Sport tourer in the European sense, not a big touring bike like the Pan.

      • Glenngineer

        ‘like the Pan…’

        Pan European? The bike that came to Europe first?


  • JT Nesbitt

    Good job Brian. I am so proud of you!! You stuck with your vision, now gimmie a motor so I can turn a normal looking motorcycle into a weirdo and freak everybody out. — JT

  • zipp4

    What do we have under the red tarp?

  • noone1569

    This is what I imagine Erik Buell wanted the 1125R to be like.

    • jbennett111

      Maybe Erik can use this engine vs. Rotax

  • RWerksman

    60 lbs lighter than the K1300S and over 100 lbs lighter than the K1300GT. Word. Those headers seem way out there though…

    Any news on an availability date or dealer network yet?

  • Dan

    So how long before we can ride one? This looks like the foundation for a new American Motorcycle that can make history, not remember it! Brian, I have followed Motus since the word came out, Good Job!! The next one should consider taking Mama with you,A modern American Touring rig.Oh yeah, please hurry I’m 57.

  • Glenngineer

    Sounds good, looks bad, dissapointing luggage. I really want one.

  • rohorn

    Finally – fairings that weren’t overstyled with pointless scoops/vents/ducts/trim/ornaments. Different color(s) are going to greatly effect how it looks.

    • Devin

      I’m with this guy, I think it looks just fine.

      • motoguru


        Is that a Two Bros exhaust can…? :(

      • Emmet

        +1, I don’t agree with the ‘meh’ status others are throwing out there. It’s pure function, no styling cues meant to make you think you’re riding a rocket ship. Maybe it’s the standard silver color that’s uninspiring, but I think satin black would look raw.

      • Random

        I agree the bike has a distinct style, but maybe the silver is just too conservative. The carbon fiber black/ohlins gold one, however, just shows how beautiful is the motor/chassis combination.

  • Roman

    The naked version looks very promising. Kind of like an American V4 Brutale….with hard bags!

  • fasterfaster

    Looks fantastic. Love the focus and sense of purpose. Love to see American companies getting into the game. Assuming the thing actually handles, I’d definitely take one over a multistrada, sprint, viffer, K12, or R12. When I’m old and rich enough to own a touring bike, that is.

  • andehans

    Shame about the design, what a missed opportunity. Why design this uniquely engineered bike to look like a generic 90′s sports tourer?

  • Nick

    I like it, the styling is a bit odd but overall not bad. What I really want is that engine dropped into my xb12 ;)

  • Barry

    Technically and aurally, neat. Visually, that engine sitting in the frame really looks like a car designer given a motorcycle to stuff something into. I’m thinking that some sexing up on the exhaust-sides of the engine, and some less boring headers, and you could have something at least handsome, if not sexy.

  • Beale

    It’s a little bland compared to the conceptual drawing they’ve had up on thier site:

    The bags are sitting pretty damned high. I think the belly fairing would help the look a bit. It looks much more stretched out than the drawing.

    • motoguru

      The bags don’t look any higher than those on a 1050 Tiger or Sprint…

  • MotoRandom

    I’m kind of glad they didn’t go with some funky love it or mostly hate it styling. Silver can make just about anything look bland but will show off the shape and details pretty well. Black looks awesome on just about any vehicle but will hide a lot of the detail work in the design so I can understand why they went this route for the intro. I think we can all cut them a little slack on the unveiling. Thess guys are engineers with new company. They aren’t going to have the marketing experience for this sort thing just yet. They built a hell of an American motorcycle that’s not mining nostalgia for it’s primary appeal. Clean, unbusy design and half a Vette motor. What’s not to love?

    • jbennett111

      Here, here!

  • DoctorNine

    Absolutely beautiful. I can’t wait to try one out.

  • Ray

    Now you got to get Potus and Flotus to take inaugural rides on the Motus.

  • dux

    Looks and sounds good to me! Styling is for pussies.

  • bruce

    Hyd. valves, low weight, low service costs ….. what’s not to like?

  • jonoabq

    Commuter from oh hell yes!

  • Daniel

    Direct injection! Awesome engine, cant wait to see properly the naked bike version :)

    I dont like that fairing, but the rest of the bike looks great.

  • John

    Wow, how can you NOT love this bike? This is freaking awesome. I want one. Gimme ABS and I’m in for sure.

  • Rick

    What a feeling it must be, bringing your project to where it simply draws breath at all, but now their uphill struggle gets very steep- almost vertical: translating this vision into a dynamically functional motorcycle.

    Others with deeper pockets and far more experience have tried and failed miserably. Ask Aprilia, who commissioned F-1 engine specialist Cosworth to design and build a MotoGP motor for them. Apart from being wildly powerful the RS3 Cube did almost nothing well and was far off the pace.

    Making a successful motorcycle requires design elements that even highly successful automotive engine suppliers cannot just conjur from thin air. I hope some REALLY top motorcycle engineers are involved with Motus, and from the earliest moments. While not a racing motorcycle, the MST-01 will be pitched against highly developed street machines from vastly experienced manufacturers.

    Let’s pray it does far more than post impressive dyno numbers with an evil growl.

    I sure am.

  • Keith

    “The bags don’t look any higher than those on a 1050 Tiger or Sprint…”
    Doesn’t change the fact they look too high on this bike.
    I don’t see the point of having them up that far when the bike is designed for street use and the exhaust is fairly low on the bike.
    It’s not like this is an “adventure” type bike like the Tiger.
    Pushes the COG up and , in my opinion, spoils the lines.
    I know it sounds like a nitpic but if you are making a sport / touring bike, these things matter.
    However, if it performs as good as it sounds, luggage won’t be on your mind :)

    • bruce

      Bags look high because the production exhaust system will be large and take up the space now open between the bottom of the bags and the aftermarket pipes used during testing……i’m guessing……Bruce

  • slash5alive

    I think it’s pretty sweet looking. Yeah, something needs to be done with those givis. Never was a big fan of the looks of those. But the basic bike is awesome. That near naked black bike in the background looks better in my opinion. But the sound! Awe inspiring. I’d love to take it for a spin.

  • mugget

    That is one hell of a nakedbike. More photos of that, please!

  • jbennett111

    Great job Lee and Brian! Go Motus go!

    Will be fun to see it live at Bike Week!

  • apriliajoe

    Sweet! I worry though that running it would burn my legs. The exhaust headers being inches away from my legs seem like I’d need asbestos pants? Any feedback?