ARCH KRGT-1 (2020) Review - We ride the heavily revised 2032cc ARCH KRGT-1 in California.

Adam Chad Child Bio Pic
By Adam (Chad) Child
Adamchildchad Forties, 5'7, has been professionally bike testing for 20-years and has attended more than 350 bike launches and covered over a million road test miles. International road racer, with race wins at Oliver's Mount, podiums in NZ and two top ten TT finishes. Chad is just as happy off-road or on a classic bike.

 

The Rolex of the bike world

ARCH was created back in 2011, set up by co-founders, bike builder Gard Hollinger and Hollywood star Keanu Reeves. They launched their first bike, the KRGT-1. Now for 2020 the small but dedicated team based in California have created the new 2020 Euro-4 KRGT-1. The new version receives 20 major changes showcasing 150 newly designed components and we travelled to Los Angeles to test the new 2032cc powered, bespoke, handmade machine. What is the £89.995 exclusive performance cruiser like to ride?

The lengthier you gaze at the ARCH the more you notice the changes and appreciate the craftsmanship behind it. There is billet aluminium everywhere – 1200lb of aluminium is used to produce one bike. The in-house machined side plates are beautiful, equally so are the fork bottoms that accommodate the six-piston ISR monobloc calipers ($1500 per side). From the tailored seat to the Magura levers, which are $1000 per lever, every detail has been thought about to a Rolex level of detail and precision. And everything is CNC machined in-house, with some items requiring more than 15 hours of machine time alone.

 

Time for a change in 2020

Some of the changes – like the re-designed rear mudguard, or fender as they say in California – have been forced upon the team to meet Euro4 homologation. Other components have been changed or tweaked to improve the handling and performance or simply to add aesthetic value. Some do all three. Examine the lovely five-spoke carbon wheels and new ‘race-inspired’ billet aluminium swing-arm, which increases rigidity and reduces weight compared to the old arm.

There are visible changes throughout the bike. New digital clocks, for example, with more information; updated bodywork; a re-designed billet aluminium fuel tank – yes, I did say billet aluminium fuel tank – that is truly extraordinary. The tail section, which is also billet, is all-new, as are the seat, suspension, ABS… the list goes on.

 

Arch KRGT-1 (2020) Review

We ride the updated-for-2020 Arch KRGT-1, designed by Keanu Reeves and his partner Gard Hollinger, in its spiritual home of Los Angeles.

 

Getting nervous

I am one of the first test riders to try the new KRGT-1 and to add to the pressure, co-founder and designers Gard Hollinger and Keanu Reeves are observing and will be joining us on the test ride. Oh, and let’s not forget its power-plant: a tweaked S&S 2032cc V-twin delivering drive to a colossal rear carbon wheel wrapped in 240-section Michelin Commander 2 rubber. This is no ordinary bike on no ordinary day.

The fresh, digital and slightly retro dash illuminates with a turn of the rather large central mounted key. One press of the starter button and that huge 2032cc air-cooled V-twin wobbles and barks into life, along with a bespoke exhaust designed in partnership with Yoshimura.

The vibrations are as apparent as Donald Trump’s wig and the new clocks shake charismatically as I blip the throttle. Arse perched on the comfortable seat, bar-end mirrors positioned correctly, into a surprisingly slick first gear on the forward-set controls – and we’re away.

 

Time to ride – what a surprise

As we leave the hotel car park I’m immediately aware of the taught Öhlins-suspended chassis which is on the firm and sporty side for a cruiser. Öhlins have been heavily engaged in the KRGT-1’s development and, like so much on the bike, the rear shock and forks are not off-the-shelf items. The ride isn’t overly harsh though, and the seat is comfortable but the lack of rear sag certainly takes me by surprise.

 

 

Down Town

Even in LA, where celebrities and supercars are around every corner, the ARCH turns heads at every intersection. The two-into-one Yoshi’ exhaust has a charismatic bark, while on open throttle openings you can hear the K&N air-filter gasp for air. The bike’s melody is unique and soulful without being offensive, popping on the overrun too, but you can certainly leave home without waking your neighbours.

As I ride through LA I notice that the gearbox is far smoother than anticipated, a far cry from the agricultural American gearboxes of old. The clutch is lighter and easier to use too. The dash is clearer than before though not the full-colour display you might expect on a high-end cruiser. The bar-end mirrors give just enough vision behind and the two heat shields on the exhaust also reduce the amount of heat reaching the rider.

 

Onto the motorway

Up onto the freeway and the KRGT-1 is in its element, snorting up to speed without fuss. Acceleration from 1500rpm in any gear is like riding a tsunami of torque. Without passing 3000rpm I’m already up to 80mph and breaking the speed limit. Away from the eyes of the law she’d hit 100mph with only a tickle of the throttle and continue climbing, but as the police are armed over here I’m not keen on trying the ARCH flat out.

Now cruising on the freeway and the ergonomics feel natural. I’m comparatively short, yet the bars and feet-forward controls aren’t a stretch. That firm suspension doesn’t jolt me out of the seat on bumps and undulations as I was expecting, in fact the ride quality is remarkable. At 75-80mph the motor is ticking over smoothly around 3000rpm, giving a sense of vibration through the bars which is noticeable rather than irritating. With its 19-litre fuel tank you could easily go touring on the new ARCH, no problem – the only detail lacking in this respect being a fuel range indicator.

 

 

Handling

As we leave LA and head for the hills and the famous Angeles Crest, a series of endless curves which goes on for 50-miles and more, I’m salivating with anticipation, waiting to push the sporting potential of the new bike. As you’d expect with a wide rear tyre, long wheelbase and a lazy raked out front end, stability was never going to be in question.

The initial turn is a little slow, but once passed five-degrees of lean the ARCH rolls into corners with predictability and grace. You can then just keep leaning and leaning. And unlike most sporty cruisers, I’m not dragging foot-pegs and the exhaust on the apex.

I push on a little harder, lean a little further and it’s the same result. The ARCH delivers with almost sports bike levels of lean, the stuff Harley riders can only dream about. Put some more rear-set pegs on this bike, drop the bars and you’d have a knee down mid-corner cruiser. Ish.

That quality Öhlins suspension holds the heavy chassis extremely well. There is very little sag in the rear shock and because the rear isn’t sitting down as expected, nothing touches the road, even when a few unexpected undulations are thrown into the equation. Notwithstanding the lack of squat, you can still dial in fistfuls of torque and feel the grip. Eventually, without any rider aids like traction control, that fat Michelin will break free but you’d need to be devilish with the throttle or have a cold tyre to do so.

 

Brakes

The uprated six-piston ISR calipers are sports bike-strong and free of fade, which is impressive given they have to haul down 244kg plus rider. (The brake system itself has been updated for the new model with a new reservoir and twin-channel ABS developed in partnership with Bosch.)

 

We ride the heavily revised, 2032cc ARCH KRGT-1 in California.

Above: (l-r): Hollinger, Reeves and Child - Hollywood’s finest meets Yorkshire’s best.

 

Getting into the groove

In the infinite twist and turns of the mountains what impresses me the most, aside from the class-leading ground clearance, is the bike's ability to switch from one corner to the next without any dramatic counter steering input or pushing on the pegs. Again, the control of the Öhlins suspension helps – you don’t have to pull the bike upright, lift it over the shock and force it back down the other side – and the ride is far more flowing and effort-free than I’d anticipated.

 

The boss joins us for a ride

At the halfway point we’re joined by ARCH co-founders: legendary bike builder Gard Hollinger and Hollywood star Keanu Reeves. It’s rewarding to hear them discuss the bike, the setup and explain the changes they’ve made. Gard is the accomplished bike builder, but Keanu isn’t just there for the publicity, he’s a genuine biker and often used as a test rider. He’s clocked up more than 50,000 test miles, and some of the chassis adjustments, the sporty steering, and increased rigidity from the rear were at his request.

For the remainder of the ride, both Keanu and Gard ride with us down the mountains back to Pasadena in LA. Riding a valuable bespoke bike is intimidating enough, doing so under the noses of the men who made it takes things to another level.

Keanu follows my wheel tracks and as we up the pace he’s still there in those bar-end mirrors, following my every move. The pace is brisk and he’s having fun as we push the legality of our riding. Now and then we all give a thumbs-up, we’re all enjoying the road, the bike, and each other’s company. Amidst a cacophony of noise, I can see LA rising from the smog in the distance and conclude that if ARCH has designed the KRGT-1 to make you feel good then they have succeeded.

 

 

Verdict

The level of workmanship and the man-hours that have gone into this bike are inconceivable. The level of the components, the CNC machine work, the creativity and craftsmanship are all first class. The pictures don’t do the bike justice.

Producing a bike from scratch and getting it through European and US testing is no easy task. But after years of painstaking testing and re-designing, it’s worked. Looks and appeal are subject to interpretation, of course, but I like the style and the polished look and feel. And from images I posted on social media, the verdict is an unquestionable ‘yes’. For a performance cruiser, the KRGT-1 handles, stops and certainly has some go. The elephant in the room is its price: at £89,995 it’s not realistic or achievable for most, simply a poster bike like a dream sports car like an Aston Martin or an America muscle car. But luckily, I did get to ride it and thankfully it blew away my expectations.

 

Three things I loved about the 2020 ARCH KRGT-1…

  • Exclusivity
  • Power and performance
  • The attention to details and craftsmanship

 

Three things that I didn’t …

  • Price, I’ll never be able to afford one
  • Lack of TFT dash with connectivity
  • Will probably never get to ride on again

 

2020 Arch KRGT-1 spec

New price

From £89,995

Capacity

2032cc

Engine layout

45-degree fuel injected S&S V-Twin

 

Engine details

Type 4-stroke air-cooled

Power

93.54 bhp (69.8kW) at rear wheel

Torque

121 lb-ft (164Nm)

Top speed

110mph plus (not recorded)

Transmission

6-Speed – Chain Drive

Average fuel consumption

68.6mpg claimed

Tank size

18.9itres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

285miles

Rider aids

ABS standard

Frame

ARCH tube steel, billet aluminium members, swingarm billet aluminium

Front suspension

48mm inverted, fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Single Ohlins rear shock, pre-load adjustment

Front brake

320mm disc, ISR and 6-piston

Rear brake

240mm disc, ISR and four piston

Front tyre

120/70 x19 Michelin Commander 2

Rear tyre

240/40 x18 Michelin Commander 2

Rake/Trail

30°/127mm

Wheelbase

1727mm

Seat height

706mm

Kerb weight

244kg (dry)

Warranty

2 years

Website

www.archmotorcycle.com

 

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