Motus motors in production

Yours for $10k – but that’s just for the engine

THE V4-powered American-made Motus sports-tourer is one of the most ambitious new bike projects to emerge over the last few years – a ground-up new machine from an unknown firm aiming at one of the most competitive and competent classes in the world of bike design.

While small American bike firms come and go with a fair level of regularity, they usually follow a well-worn formula, combining an off-the-shelf V-twin with a custom-cruiser chassis. Motus, with its modern sports tourer, aiming at the best Japan and Europe can offer, is in a different league. 

While the bike still isn’t ready for production, the all-new engine that powers it is now on sale as a stand-alone unit – ready for anyone who wants to build a frame around it. A 1650cc V4 with pushrods, two valves per cylinder and 160bhp might not sound like a cutting-edge piece of engineering, but once you grasp the firm’s unique way of thinking it makes sense. Pushrods, with a single camshaft buried in the block, mean it’s tiny in relation to its capacity – no bulky DOHC heads to worry about. So while 1650cc is ‘big’ the motor is actually very compact, smaller and lighter than some 1000cc DOHC designs making similar power. And of course the additional capacity means there’s torque in abundance. 

Based on the design ideas of the legendary Chevy small-block V8 – another engine that’s far smaller and lighter than its huge displacement would suggest – it represents a way of thinking that’s leagues away from European and Japanese ideas that are firmly focussed around getting maximum power from minimal capacity. It’s even high tech, in its own way, as the first four-stroke bike engine to use direct fuel injection. 

Ready to run, the new engine is on sale now for $10,220 (£6500) including ECU, wiring harness, ride-by-wire throttle and fuse box – basically everything you need to get it up and running. Now we just need some enterprising bike builders to slot the motors into something a bit more attractive than the yet-to-reach-production Motus MST.