2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 Review – by, and for, the Hollywood superstar

 

In a world where prestige, exotic and unique goods are the life goals for those who spend as much time in custom tailored dinner suits as they do deciding which colour their hand-crafted leather seats embossed with the family crest should be for the back of the Rolls, the size of the required cheque is often irrelevant so long as the result is personal. And for those who are looking for the motorcycling equivalent, then they should look no further. It’s no longer good enough to ‘keep up with the Joneses’, nowadays it’s all about smashing them into smithereens.

Yes, riding modes, wheelie control parameters, seat heights and suspension settings maybe present and therefore customisable on many of the latest and greatest sports and adventure bikes but what about hand-crafted engine covers? Did the exhaust company design the silencer specifically? How about the ABS system, was that developed just for your ride? Doubt it. But from Arch Motorcycle (not plural), co-owned by one the Hollywood greats, Keanu Reeves, comes the KRGT-1 - the motorcycling counterpart of the, so often rapped about, Gulfstream IV.

A £90,000 ‘performance cruiser’ with 120bhp and a tank range close to 300-miles, this bike is a work of art with a level of detail that could reduce any person with even the mildest understanding of engineering to tears. Tears of joy and astonishment in appreciation of the sheer quality and precision of every nut, bolt, sprocket and engine casing.

Taking the Hollywood star out of its glitzy Californian homeland, we spent the day roaming around the English countryside setting of Leicestershire and Rutland for a little performance cruising.

 

 

2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 Price

All this workmanship and use of quality apparatus comes at a cost and at £90,000, this “performance cruiser”, as Keanu calls it, is out of most rider’s budgets.

However, you get what you pay for, and if a custom tailored American-esque production brute packed full of the highest of high-end components and a thumping great S&S V-Twin is on the cards, there aren’t many in mind that fit the bill. Exclusive? Unique? An easy yes. If you fancied a green paint job fading into black with a peg position under your hips and a red dashboard surround (including matching key) then that’s what the seven employees of Arch will create for you, so long as it fits the brand essence. You won’t just be advised against pink with blue stripes, they’d flat out refuse to do it – there are standards after all.

And speaking of those trick parts, it’s not just an off-the-shelf exhaust system, oh no, Yoshimura have worked with Arch to refine their own version. Same for Ohlins, S&S, BST and Michelin. They’re all tailored their goods for Arch. Now you start to understand what your 90-grand covers.

Power and torque

The monstrous S&S motor pumps out a claimed 120bhp which translates to more like 93.5bhp at the rear wheel, though with a hatful of torque to the tune of 163Nm, stacks more than any modern day sportsbike, the acceleration of the big 224kg (dry weight) machine is fierce. It’s typically American with a low, throbby rpm translating into lots of torque. For the size of the machine and its whopping motor, the throttle is sensitive enough but give it a fistful and it propels the narrow, sporty-ish cruiser into battle while the huge 240-section rear Michelin wrapped around the custom-made BST carbon fibre 5-spoke wheel grimaces for mercy… and that’s just in a straight line.

The vision of company owners, Gard Hollinger and Keanu Reeves, was to explore what they called “almost a new category” by “taking a big American V-Twin performance cruiser, a motorcycle you can be comfortable on for the long cruise but it also corners well in the twisties. Then when you stop it doesn’t look like anything else. (We) think we’ve created a motorcycle with an amazing soul,” said the duo.

 

 

Engine, gearbox and exhaust

In the flesh the KRGT-1 really is impressive, but that’s no surprise when you consider the workmanship that has gone into it. The frame is a steel backbone, but just about every other part is absolutely top-draw. The two-part fuel tank is made from billet aluminium, as is the seat unit, swingarm, engine cases, footrests, you name it. And where it isn’t aluminium it’s carbon, with BST carbon wheels and carbon mudguards.

The factory in California is where the magic happens. Beginning with 500lbs of solid billet, once shaped, the two-part aluminium fuel tank takes around 30 man-hours to CNC machine weighing just 18lbs per side when fitted. Heavy metal might be the musical choice of the stereotypical cruiser owners but there’s a delicacy and an engineering precision to this example of metal. The massive 2032cc S&S engine has been tuned for Arch with a specific down-draft style air induction system that provides more grunt and noise – it’s a thumping great old school motor nestled low in its much more modern-day chassis to keep the centre of gravity down.

Make sure the kids/dog/neighbours aren’t in bed when you start the burly yet relatively narrow KRGT-1 up because the vibrating engine and custom-made Yoshimura exhaust system combination will soon have them crying/barking/emotional with the deep burbling soundtrack that’s like a pissed-off growly bear. Beware though, the junction where 2-becomes-1 gets extremely hot so watch your right ankle when stationary. It barks aggressively and even pops on the over-run, a glorious noise when sauntering through town as I immaturely blip the throttle just to prompt a bang-bang from the silencer. I’m sure the ladies on their lunchbreak in the local cafe would have been impressed… if they weren’t too busy rolling their eyes at me.

Climb on board and nestle into the soft, plush saddle yet the pulsing continues through the seat and pegs offering reassurances of being on a true man’s bike – in the old-fashioned sense of the term. Rugged yet refined, like a lumberjack at a society wedding.

The massive clunk of each gear change is courtesy of the enormity of the effort. Shifting the big old cogs around is a regular occurrence given the pre-ride advice that not more than 5,500rpm is required, even though the numbers on the LED dashboard lead you to believe there’s more like 10,000 revs to play with. While the bike is pitched as performance cruiser, there’s no need to rev the nuts off it, in fact 2500 – 5500 rpm is where most of the riding needs to be done and this still keeps things lively in the corners.

There’s a certain solidity about the bike, reassuring me that its hand-built with as much precision and attention as if it where the Arch employees own child. If most of the bike is made up of the engine then I want to be able to hear and feel it – ok, it’s hard to miss the sound but with such a style of machine I don’t want a quickshifter or a spongey soft change. The effort required to select a gear neatly associates itself with work the engine is doing nearby – it’s as in-tune as the Birchill brothers on a flat out TT lap.

 

 

2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 Economy

A claim of 285 - 300 miles from the split 18.9 litre tank suits the idea of being able to head off into the Californian desert with your tent and some pals and not have to fill up every hour as is the case with some custom cruisers. These figures translate to a surprisingly good 68.6mpg but with no fuel gauge nor mpg read-out on the dashboard there was no way to tell on our test ride.

 

Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

At 6ft tall and 14-and-a-bit stone I’m kinda built well for handling 244kg (dry) motorcycles but usually when sat on a so-called cruiser for anymore than half-an-hour and I’m aching to get out of the seat i.e. Triumph Bobber and Harley Street Rod.

The motor is a great big lump sitting proudly but low in the frame below its steel backbone. It feels oh so butch – pulling away and cruising through the towns and villages of rural England aren’t its spiritual home but it’s adaptable enough to any road condition, strutting around with its head held high and chest all puffed out in a stylish and sexy way without being too ostentatious and arrogant. Feet forward (a customisable part of course) and with your hands far enough apart to handle the more dynamic turns but not too far that it becomes uncomfortable, the Arch bosses the road. And as for handling, you almost wouldn’t believe the pace at which it gets around especially given it weighs more than an R1250GS and it has that massive 240-section rear Michelin. ‘Performance cruiser’ is the expression used on the website, in the videos and the UK importer’s representative and the term can be certainly be implied. I mean they aren’t two words that usually frequent each other’s company yet mix 120bhp and 120 ft-lbs with all those classy ingredients and the finished recipe is Michelin-starred. The suspension works better than any other American bike I’ve ridden, devouring the British bumps and proving plenty of comfort along the way.

The long wheelbase doesn’t shout ‘cornering prowess’, nor do the array of scrapeable parts at any kind of lean yet the lightweight wheels make turning in easier than expected, just don’t go barrelling into blind bends thinking this could be a match for an R1.

Bar-end indicators are a stylish touch, as are the Rizoma handlebar and mirrors. The Arch oozes style and makes you feel like you’re riding on the crest of a wave, it’s not a bike for the shy and retiring. It’s a motorcycle that shouts, “oi, look at me. I’m the King of the road… now like my feet.”

 

 

2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 Brakes

The huge six-piston radial units from Swedish firm ISR are as gleaming as they are powerful, although a little squeaky when warm. My test bike, the same one used at Goodwood Festival of Speed last summer, didn’t have an ABS system but I was told Bosch are developing one especially for the Arch – just like to many of the other components.

A short yet sturdy and solid multi-way adjustable lever requires just a two-finger pull to slow the mammoth KRGT-1 enough, and with real purpose too, I had no issues with the feel of the twin 320mm discs although the engine braking from the V-Twin offered plenty of help too. I’m not much of a rear brake user but when the ABS is absent then who can’t resist a little rear wheel skid now and again!

Comfort over distance and touring

Remarkably, for a cruiser style motorcycle with the foot pegs in the feet-forwards position, the ride comfort was surprisingly good. Ok, we only covered a matter of 25-miles in any one single journey in between photostops but usually on that kind of bike I’d be gagging for a set of traffic lights for some coccyx relief. Even with that super saddle and top spec Ohlins offering the road support, I can’t imagine being able to sit there for the full tank range worth of miles.

In the UK it’s the kind of machine that’ll see the light of day for a few Sunday’s each year, which is probably why the trickle charging point is so beautifully crafted in the section under the seat.

 

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

With a raft of top class bits and pieces adorning this open-framed motorcycle, there’s little else you’d need to satisfy its purpose. The Ohlins front forks are adjustable as are the clutch and brake levers. The foot pegs can be set wherever you want them, although the feet forward position suits the bike. So many parts of the Arch are customisable, there’s no need for an accessory brochure.

 

2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 verdict

To ride the KRGT-1 is a stunning experience. To feel the pulsating S&S V-Twin shuddering you around while arrowing through the twisty country roads that it clearly wasn’t designed for, yet still handles with plenty of composure, makes you feel the emotional side of riding; connecting with the bike and its soul. Those high-spec Ohlins, BST wheels, Michelins and so on, all gel well to form a striking and eye-catching package, performing to the best of their abilities ensuring the quality of the ride is as good as their reputation, whereas the absolutely beautiful attention to detail with the finish is sublime. On the down side the styling might not be to everyone’s taste – there are plenty of gaps and holes on the bikes side profile. And the dashboard is a little too ‘Knightrider’ for me, nor does it contain useful info like a fuel gauge or gear indicator.

Yes, yes, £90k is a whole heap of cash but like I said earlier, you get what you pay for. And, to top it off, customers get to join in an annual ride in LA alongside Keanu. It’s the made-to-measure suit of the motorbike world.

Every sensible enquiry (and yes, there are those who just feign interest in an attempt to get Keanu’s mobile number) has a video call with company co-owner Gard Hollinger meaning every sales experience is a personal one. You don’t just buy an Arch, they want you involved in the brand. From call to delivery including shipping from the USA takes around 3 months with each bike being hand built. Head to www.archmotorcycles.co.uk for more info.

 

Arch KRGT 2020 Review Price Spec

 

Three things I loved about the 2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1…

  • The dominant feeling of exclusivity
  • Humungous amount of theatre from that S&S engine
  • First class workmanship

 

Three things that I didn’t…

  • Price, obviously
  • Styling won’t be to everyone’s liking
  • Lack of fuel gauge

 

2019 ARCH Motorcycle KRGT-1 spec

New price

From £89,950

Capacity

2032cc

Engine layout

45-degree fuel injected S&S V-Twin

Power

93.54 bhp (69.8kW) at rear wheel

Torque

115.31 lb-ft (156.3 Nm) at rear wheel

Top speed

+100 mph

Transmission

6 speed

Average fuel consumption

68.6 mpg claimed

Tank size

18.9 litres

Range

285 miles

Frame

Billet and tubular steel frame with CNC machined aluminium sub-chassis

Front suspension

New Ohlins / Arch proprietary FGRT series fork, fully adjustable

Rear suspension

Ohlins / Arch proprietary rear shock with reservoir, hydraulic pre-load adjustment, fully adjustable

Front brake

320mm discs, New ISR dual six 30mm piston Monobloc radial mount calipers with ISR floating dampened discs

Rear brake

240mm disc, Single ISR four piston Monobloc radial mount caliper with ISR semi floating disc

Front wheel/tyre

BST Carbon Fiber 5 spoke wheels, 19”, Michelin Commander II

Rear wheel/tyre

BST Carbon Fiber 5 spoke wheels, 18”, Michelin Commander II

Rake/Trail

tbc

Dimensions

tbc

Wheelbase

tbc

Ground clearance

tbc

Seat height

706 mm

Weight

244kg (dry)

Warranty

2 years

Website

www.archmotorcycles.co.uk

 

Photos: Double Red

 

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