Motorcycle taxis come to America

Dailies -



A new company in Los Angeles is offering businessmen in a hurry rides on the back of Honda Goldwings. Motorcycle taxis have been popular in crowded European cities for years now, easily transporting passengers through traffic that sees their four-wheeled equivalents bogged down. The idea takes the benefit of motorcycles as transportation and sells it back to a non-riding audience. In a twist for the large-living American audience, passengers packing tons of luggage can request their Goldwing turn up hauling a trailer.

The company is called Moto Limos Club and that “limo” reference should give you some idea of the market they’re chasing. You’re not going to be able flag a passing Goldwing from a curb, instead they’ll work more like New York’s ubiquitous car services. Got a flight out of LAX during prime rush hour? Book a Moto Limo and it won’t take you hours to get there, meaning that’s hours more you can spend in the office. The company tells us it primarily expects to be making airport runs and ferrying businessmen between cross-town meetings.

The Goldwing’s are also a hint at the audience being catered to. Not only will passengers ride in recliner-like luxury on the back of the big Hondas, but they’ll be provided with Bluetooth-equipped helmets so they can jabber on their cell phones or shout at the rider; Hit-Air airbag equipped vests to make them feel safe and weather proof jackets and trousers.

The riders being recruited to operate the bikes are required to have at least 10 years riding experience and clean driving records. Professional riders — such as motorcycle cops — are preferred and that’s where Moto Limos has been hiring from so far.

There’s some obvious hurdles to translating a successful European business model to the land of SUVs. For one, despite making noises about launching in New York and other major US cities, Moto Limos will only be able to offer its clients a unique service in California where lane splitting is legal and the inconvenience of being exposed to the elements and limiting the number of passengers and their luggage is offset by the ability to move through traffic jams. We spoke to them this morning and they say they won’t operate anywhere they can’t do so legally.

They’ve also obviously identified the psychological barrier to entry faced by risk-averse Americans. Most important businessmen and ladies that lunch will likely be too frightened to swing a leg over even an expertly operated Goldwing, even with its back and arm rests. That was apparently why they bough several Can-Am Spyders before realizing that machine’s inability to split lanes. The non-leaning reverse-trike might be less scary, but it’s also less convenient. Moto Limos describes that vehicle as “a mistake” a description which seems to fit more than just their purchase of it.

Moto Limos isn’t going to be cheap, necessitating both a membership fee and an hourly rate for usage. But, for people to whom time is money, less time spent sitting still in traffic is going to justify the cost. They’re already up and operating in LA with a fleet of four Goldwing with more of the new 2012 Honda Goldwings expected soon.

Moto Limos Club
via Bikes in the Fastlane

  • Brad

    I’ve seen the London airport moto services thrive, even with the weather there being similar to NYC.

  • adeysworld

    Wonder if they’ll allow me to join their fleet with my R1 for super late LAX trips;)

    • Wes Siler

      Ha, you’d have to give passengers sea sickness medicine or something first. They’d make their flights though.

    • stempere

      That reminds me of a time i had to catch a train with my lady friend a few years back, i had always ridden slowly with her, because she was scarred. With no time to waste to make it i had to go across paris doing around 85mph with her on the back. We made it, but my ribs still remember the pain.

  • Adam

    I had that idea 15 years ago. The problem with Gold Wing is that they can’t split much traffic as they are huge. Most of the people riding them sit in the traffic.

    • Wes Siler

      Nah. They’re not a Vespa or anything, but you can split on them reasonably effectively. Cops with experience on Harleys and R1200RTs will be just fine.

      • Devin

        Either these are retired cops looking for spending money or being a cop in cali doesn’t pay.

        Also, I read this on BITFL this morning, I like how you found out some extra info from that article to make it more than just a re-post.

        • Wes Siler

          We don’t do reposts :)

    • stempere

      From what i’ve seen here in Paris where there’s a lot of theme (and even more on big scooters like burgman 650′s) they can split lanes just fine (even tho it’s just tolerated here, not fully legal).

    • aristurtle

      This is what I was going to say. Maybe I’m just used to the narrow-as-fuck streets around me, but I wouldn’t want to lane split with anything that massive.

      • Kirill

        You can split, just not very aggressively. A Goldwing is only slightly wider than a KLR’s handlebars (based on what the internet told me), so if you can squeeze a KLR through a hole, you can squeeze in a Goldwing. Just have to be a bit more careful since the entire bike is wide, not just the bars.

  • gregorbean

    Cool idea, it’ll be interesting to see how this works here in the states…

  • John

    The Horrible LA Traffic makes this totally worth it, regardless of all the procedures and steps to even get on the friggin’ thing…if they could just relax the lane splitting laws in most of the major congested cities in this country you could literally cut the unemployment levels by thousands. Small business permits would increase significantly, I’ve seen it happen in the small town where I was born. There’s always plenty of idiots that’ll ruin a good thing, but I wish this company success in setting an example…

  • Uncle Fluffy

    I’ve ridden motorbike taxis in southeast asia, though they were somewhat less cushy. One even went down while I was on it. I hope Moto Limos has “the insurance”

  • Dennis

    The Can-Am Spyder, a mistake?! But I bet my whole 401(k)…!

  • evilbahumut

    WTF? How do you keep retard passengers from acting retarded and leaning all over the place when trying to come to a stop? If little mr. wanna-be-a-rebel-but-don’t-wanna-buy-a-bike tips over your taxi, I’m sure he ain’t gonna be seen trying to help you get that big as thing right-side up again.

    Man I’m in an optimistic mood this morning. I need some coffee.

    • Devin

      It might not matter as much as such a barge.

      “Hi, I’m your captain for the day. When we stop, don’t put your feet down, I’ll take care of that. Don’t move to much, just try to sit still and not rock the boat. I turn by leaning, so don’t panic when we tilt some. Welcome to L.A., enjoy the sights and sounds – lets roll.”

  • Chris

    If they’re not already looking into adding some of the new BMW K1600′s they should. Seems like the added technology, not to mention the roundel which as we all know is worth its weight in gold, would better appeal to their upscale clientel. It’s more compact dimensions surely wouldn’t hurt in the lane splitting department either.