For a few short years, we could buy a made-in-America sport-touring halo bike, a machine from a daring startup that was built around half of a Chevy LS engine. Though it offered a muscular alternative to a BMW or a Harley-Davidson, at nearly $40,000 the Motus MST-R was either too expensive for this world — or simply too good for it.
It was the kind of machine that few riders aspired to own, fewer got to ride and fewer still took home. The bike was in production very briefly, from 2015 to 2018. During that time Motus made the downscale MST that started at $30,975, while the MST-R started at $36,975. The high prices and subsequent low sales ultimately led Motus to cease operations, proving that the bikes cost too much.
And yet the MST-R was an impressive machine. Katech and Pratt & Miller, of Corvette Racing fame and eight-time Le Mans champions, jointly developed the engine and chassis. The motor was a 1650cc pushrod V4 that is famously based on the Chevy LS small-block and was officially called the MV4 Baby Block.
The Motus crew even set land-speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Instead of telling you what else the bike had, I’ll tell you what it didn’t, because that list is shorter. The bike had neither ABS nor traction control. That’s it. Whatever else you could want, whatever you’d have replaced with an aftermarket part, came standard. And it was handmade in Alabama. Thus, the price.
Enthusiasts are unfazed when supercars cost more than an average home in the Midwest. But when a motorcycle exceeds $20,000 we resent the audacity of its maker. Sometimes rightly so, sometimes not. The MST-R was not unlike a Harley-Davidson CVO or an ARCH Motorcycle. H-D is still in business and so is Arch. Wealthy riders do exist, but not enough of them bought a Motus.
I’d still tour on the MST-R. It was an American sport-tourer more interested in actually touring than fitting in or making noise. Hell, I would tour both Motus bikes cross-country one after the other, just to tell you whether the carbon fiber was the worth the price hike after all. In fact, I would tour while wearing iconic American gear to keep the theme.