Test Rides : Motus MST and BMW K1600GT

Motus MST

Motus test ride
Motus MST

I test rode this Motus MST motorcycle (http://www.motusmotorcycles.com/mst), a demo bike from NobleRush Cafe in Redmond, Washington. Here are some impressions of the bike.

“The 1650cc MV4 Baby Block® is the heart of every Motus MST. Delivering 160+ horsepower and 120 ft lbs of twist, the Baby Block is a nod to American muscle car culture, but has a character and exhaust note unlike anything before it.”

Even at idle, the engine exudes character; sounds from the underlying mechanical components are louder than you might expect, and the copious vibration is more akin to a v-twin on a Harley than the boxer engine on my ride. I’m not used to being self-conscious about the noise I’m making at a stop light, but I was today. More than a loud exhaust, the engine noise had the cagers glancing over from their air-conditioned isolation. Vibration through the handlebars was moderate throughout the RPM range. Neither the noise or the vibration should deter those looking for a sport bike with incredible pull and ability to accelerate. Roll on the throttle and this bike moves – wow.

This is truly an American Muscle Motorcycle – a hot rod for the two-wheel world.

The demo ride did not include any higher speeds or particularly twisty roads. That said, the suspension felt stiff but compliant on the older surface streets. The Brembo brakes were easy to use in city traffic, powerful but not twitchy.

“A premium Sargent® seat is standard on all MST models. Designed for comfort and performance, the MST has two distinct seating positions. The ultra-narrow front position encourages transitions/weight shifting in spirited cornering. Slide back slightly and the wide, contoured rear position offers all-day touring comfort.”

The two seating positions of the Sargent seat were definitely distinct, and are as described above. Fitment, at least with the adjustable handlebars setup as they were today, only made the narrow front position a comfortable option with regard to reach. My early impressions is that it would require handlebar adjustments to really take advantage of the two position seating design. The rearward position felt too far back and a little bit higher necessitating a longer reach to the bars, something that wasn’t comfortable. The seat itself was comfortable in the short term and I expect is comfortable for longer rides.

“The Motus MST: an American-made touring motorcycle with the personality of a high-performance, canyon-carving machine. “

I’m not sure this isn’t backwards. The bike is more of a high-performance, lighter weight, canyon carving machine with adjustable handlebars, a comfortable saddle, a windscreen and a reasonably upright riding position. It really isn’t a touring motorcycle to me, based on riding my RT some 55K miles in the last few years. That is only a criticism of the marketing, not the motorcycle.

At all times, the bike was solid underfoot, including in the corners. What was unexpected with regard to handling, the bike seemed to not want to fall into the turns without higher levels of input than either my RT or the K1600GT.

The high-color display handles all communications with the rider. It was easy to read, bright and wasn’t thrown off by the bright reflections of my hi-viz vest I was wearing.

A fun bike to ride around town, and I can only imagine how amazing this bike would feel on a track where its potential can be explored.

Would I swap my R1200RT for a MST?

No. The MST isn’t a fit for the long-distance riding I’ve been doing the last few years.

Thanks to Todd Krider at NobleRush Cafe for arranging the test ride.



K1600GT test ride

I test rode the K1600GT recently, as well. This is a new 2016 that was significantly marked down in price. Equipped with the Premiere option package, the 2016 is almost identical to the 2017 models so I thought this might be the time to trade.

This is BMW’s flagship touring motorcycle, but is sometimes placed in the sport touring genre. Larger than the RT, this platform would be ideal for long distance travel on interstates as well as the twisties. Good ground clearance, comfortable seating, all the touring amenities I would expect a touring motorcycle to have. This bike weighs 150 pounds more than the RT, but it is still easy to flick about when moving.

The inline six cylinder engine is smooth and powerful, producing similar power and torque to the MST, but in a far more refined package. That is to say this engine is quiet and smooth.  Though I never exceeded 6,000 RPM, power seemed available everywhere. Some engine vibration can be felt through the handlebars, at higher RPMs.

I found myself immediately familiar with the feel of the ride – very BMW. The bike feels well connected to the road. Lots of room for everything but my left foot where the lower fairing seemed to limit my movement. Perhaps adjusting the shift lever position would eliminate that issue. The windscreen and fairing together seemed to produce a slightly smaller bubble of quiet air around me, but since I didn’t get to use the freeway, I couldn’t be sure I would come to the same conclusion at higher speeds.

This was my first experience with a fly-by-wire throttle. Response seemed immediate and linear, but it would take a little time to smooth out the initial throttle turn. The clutch and brakes felt very similar to those on my bike. The dash was a measured improvement in readability and, combined with the “whiz-wheel” made quick work of changing settings.

Would I trade in my current bike for a K1600GT?

Yes, if everything else worked out. I’m still considering whether to sell the RT or keep it long-term. Stay tuned.  🙂


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