Motorcycle taxis come to America

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

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