What do you know about Arch motorcycles? Chances are, you’ve already heard some of the hype, especially if you’re a bike guy! Even if you aren’t, an international movie star, like Keanu Reeves, attaching his name explicitly to a motorcycle is bound to cause some hype. So what’s it all about?
Usually, when superstars endorse products, red flags shoot up faster than a BrahMos missile (world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile [Mach 5.0, or almost 4,000mph!]). You have to wonder; how good are Lil’ Romeo’s “Rap Snacks?” (Yes, it’s a thing). Why is Snoop Dog singing “Pocket like it’s hot,” for Hot Pockets? Does George Foreman really use that thing?
Good, but not worth it; he must be broke (or just really likes Hot Pockets); and no, Foreman doesn’t use a gosh-darn Foreman! He uses a Weber, like a man! (What’s wrong with you?)
While we’re conditioned to be wary of the “hype,” one would be grossly mistaken to assume that Arch motorcycles should fall into the cliché celebrity-endorsement category. The truth is, Arch came about purely by a chance encounter and almost didn’t happen. But this chance encounter, between Keanu Reeves and expert motorcycle builder Gard Hollinger, was destined to evolve from a simple bike modification, into one of the most revolutionary motorcycles anyone has ever seen!
Don’t believe us? They cost nearly $80,000! Yet, nobody’s making a stink about the price tag. Rather, everyone seems to be entranced by the killer styling that mashes a cruiser with a street bike, resulting in a buck-wild hybrid street fighter, unlike anything you’ve ever laid eyes on! Check it out!
20 The Zen Motorcycle Design
They say it takes a village to raise a child; what then, does it take to raise the ultimate motorcycle? It appears as if Hollinger and Reeves have already nailed that objective squarely on the head; the tsunami of overwhelmingly positive reviews speaks for themselves – one went so far as to cite it as, “The Zen of motorcycle design.” Want some Zen? Neiman Marcus partnered with Arch to promote a $150,000 riding “experience,” fit for a star.
It’s a two-day ride with you, a friend, and your new Arch KRGT-1, though the Santa Monica Mountains and Angels Crest National Forest…accompanied by Reeves and Hollinger in the flesh!
19 What Is Zen?
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism; it’s commonly understood to be a state of peaceful relaxation. To the non-rider, it’s hard to picture hanging off the handlebars of a “performance cruiser” (aggressively carving canyon hairpins and S-turns) as a Zen-like experience. For most, it gives them anxiety. But for the astute rider, it opens the floodgates for a new level of performance, not native to many bikes.
Reeves and Hollinger pride themselves on creating what they perceived to be the ultimate riding machine – and despite the same hefty price tag as an AMG C63 Mercedes, praise and accolades couldn’t be more heartfelt. Most reviewers only matter-of-factly mention the $78,000 price.
18 How To Make Zen
The two founders, Reeves and Hollinger, have put all of their own money and time into the project so far. No outside investors, just countless hours of labor – a labor of love – to cultivate and tune an obscure feeling, one that’s hard to define. “It has to make you giggle when you ride it,” Hollinger says of the Arch riding experience.
The simple fact that a veteran motorcycle builder (and seasoned rider) would use the word “giggle” to describe sensation he wanted to feel is extremely telling. One simply does not venture to “giggle” for no reason. Laugh, maybe; giggle – not so much!
17 How To Make The Bike
The gorgeous body lines are only a part of what makes Arch motorcycles special. The entire package had to be perfect. Each component was meticulously planned, studiously designed, and tastefully coated with a variety of beautifully contrasting finishes that look strikingly modern.
Over 200 different components are required to build the KRGT-1; while that may not seem like a lot, most of them are fabricated in-house, in Hawthorne, California. Arch may very well be the first motorcycle company expressly produced in the Los Angeles area since the Croker V-twins from the ‘30s. (Interestingly, Cocker would eventually sell his company to Borg Warner.)
16 Is It Really That Hard?
“So, what’s the big deal?” you say, “How hard is it for a veteran bike builder and a passionate (and highly solvent) investor to create a production bike?” “That’s the thing,” Reeves states, “it’s a push-pull process. Gard does all the building…so it’s easy for me to say, ‘hey, here’s [an idea].”
While Reeves may take a sideline to the actual engineering, his intuitive feedback is invaluable to the design process. When Reeves suggested they put turn signals on the bike, for example, it was a revelation for Hollinger, who hadn’t yet considered them. The team started to build the first prototype in 2007.
15 The Red Pill
Reeves is a man of diverse interests and affinities – but they all culminate into a cohesive image of a man with exceptional character and aptitude. He’s been a bass player for multiple bands (and even has some albums floating around); he acts, obviously; he can stop a flurry of 9mm rounds by mad-dogging them.
He’s also a very avid rider; one who chose to take the red pill. His affinity for bikes was ingrained into his DNA, but it spurred to life when a young girl (with an enduro) would teach him how to ride while he was filming in Munich, Germany. He was 22 years old.
14 The Real Deal
The simple fact that Reeves has been heavily into bikes since his early-‘20s speaks volumes to his moto-credibility. It’s like when Jerry Seinfeld opens his mouth about a Porsche – you’d be well-inclined to hang on every word.
Reeves doesn’t just like bikes, he’s obsessed with them! He’s noted for buying a used bike just to have around for pleasure jaunts while filming far away from his native collection. Usually, he intends to sell them afterward. But sometimes, the bike digs its claws into his heart, and he can’t bear to part with it. He’s done that with at least five, possibly 10 motorcycles now.
13 Arch KRGT-1
There are two types of people in life – those who work hard to buy the things they want and those that can’t find exactly what they want, so they build it themselves. (There are other types, but does anybody really care about any of them?)
The Arch Motorcycle Company isn’t just a trendy moniker wrapped around a watered-down celebrity endorsement to boost sales; the Arch name was chosen by Reeves to convey the core values that went into the design and craftsmanship of each motorcycle. Arches, in his words, “provide strength, connection, and passage.” The more you know about Arch motorcycles, the more you can’t help but respect them!
12 Arch KRGT-1 Side Profile
A quick glance at the KRGT-1’s profile hints at echoes of the bike-building methodology around the turn of the century. It features a sport-cruiser design, denoted by the relatively steep “head angle,” or the steering axis plane (basically, the angle of the front shock tubes).
Shallow head angle designs have the tendency to lean heavily into turns, if not compensated for with the appropriate “trail” (tire footprint behind the steering axis) and “offset” (the wheel hub’s offset from said steering axis). Reeves put a considerable amount of development into precisely tuning the bikes fork geometry to promote very aggressive riding, while still maintaining exceptional rider comfort.
11 The Vision
Reeves is a big dreamer, but he has the drive (and the capital) to see ideas through the way he wants them. The vision was a bike that was purpose-built for aggressive riding, first and foremost. Reeves is a rider; and not a Sunday one, either.
Riding is his life! Being said, he decided to tackle the impossible challenge of creating a bike that was not only powerful, reliable, and comfortable – but one that could form all of those qualities into a materialization of exceptional beauty. Usually, you can have only two of those qualities. Not Reeves; he was out to build the ultimate bike!
10 Dream Team
It takes two to tango, and although Reeves may have been able to make something happen on his own, two heads are better than one; especially if that other head is Gard Hollinger. Hollinger runs L.A. County Choprods and has been customizing motorcycles for over two decades. Reeves walked into his shop wanting some work on his 2005 Harley Dana Wide Glide done.
The meeting could have very well been nothing more than a simple bike mod; wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am. But the relationship that was developing between Hollinger and Reeves during the creative brainstorming showed the two men that they actually collaborated very well together; there was a natural give-and-take dynamic that allowed ideas to flourish between their two brains.
9 Making It Happen
“We wanted to offer something unique; not only aesthetically, but also [with respect to] the pleasure of riding,” Reeves asserts. It would take the fine navigation of ideas between the two men to successfully arrive at the Arch you see today.
Reeves’ passion for riding provided the driving force behind Hollinger’s decision to surmount the enormous challenge of creating a production bike. “His thoughtfulness and passion for riding,” Hollinger says of Reeves, “was a huge part [of] what caused me to commit to doing it. When we talked about the riding experience, I was struck and impressed with how in-tune he was.”
8 The Fine Details
The back and forth brainstorming between the two men proved to be nothing short of spectacular once translated into its tangible form. Whatever they did from the drawing board to the end of the “assembly line” (if we dare to be so bold) seems to have lost very little (if any) of the personality that started out on sheets of paper.
The bikes look dope from afar, but you can’t even begin to appreciate the intricate detail characterizing just about every square-inch of Arch unless you stick your face right up inside of it! Traces of carbon fiber are interlaced with a myriad of milled parts in a variety of different finishes that culminates into nothing short of an engineering masterpiece.
7 Test Rider One
Reeves (being the infinitely-more popular one of the two creators), naturally takes the spotlight of the Arch legacy; but in reality, he’s always quick to transfer credit to Hollander, a man he feels he’d be lost without. “I’m test-rider number two,” asserts Reeves with a smirk, when asked how it felt to be the primary test pilot for the prototypes.
Whenever Hollinger is in earshot of hearing this phrase pipe from Reeves’ lips, he’s quick to correct the record, “Truth be told, he rides it more!” The two have a playful banter together that’s indicative of a healthy working relationship, underlined by a good friendship – and forged by the love of riding.
6 Teamwork Makes The Dream Work
Despite who gets to ride it more, the two have found a good grove that complements the very core of the Arch mission; to build the ultimate bike! “I’m not a mechanic; I don’t have any engineering experience,” admits Reeves, “[just] a little bit of seat time, so I can talk about that.”
However the duo managed to construct this devilishly-good looking machine, they must be doing something right. “You’re on a sweeping turn, at an extreme lean angle, and you’re [completely] comfortable; there’s no machine…that does that.” For the veteran actor, rider, musician, and entrepreneur, that’s what it’s all about!
This is the bike that kicked it all off; the flagship model that would ride so well, Reeves had to have more! It’s nothing short of a testament to both Reeves’ vision, and Hollinger’s aptitude. The 45°, fuel injected, downdraft, twin-cam, V-twin bikes feature proprietary engine management components, a 2032cc displacement, and over 120ft/lbs of torque!
The billet tubular-steel frame contains a CNC-machined aluminum sub-chassis, with a proprietary six-speed drivetrain tucked inside. A fully-adjustable set of FGRT series forks hang radial-mount calipers over the ISR floating disks in the front; while a four-piston setup squeezes the ISR semi-floater in the rear.
4 Method 143
If you think the KRGT-1 is a bad bike, get a load of the Method 143; it’s the first concept production bike to feature a carbon fiber mono-cell chassis. The stately craftsmanship is aggressive enough to challenge any bike who dares pull up next to it – if not for speed and dominance, for the simple fact that: A) It looks stupid sick (and supremely confident), and B) production will only be limited to 23 units.
That means, if you ever see one of these out in the streets, you’d better take a picture of it and save it in the archives – you won’t likely see it again!
Still maintaining similarities with the roots of its “performance cruiser” origins, the 1S is sport-oriented design, focused more on aggressive riding. A generous application of carbon fiber wraps lovingly around CNC-machined aluminum components, making a definitive statement anywhere you take it.
It’s hard to refrain from using the word “masterpiece” when soaking it up from the various angles; each of which is required to fully appreciate the intricate craftsmanship that was infused into every contour. It’s a brilliant symphony of sexy body lines and sturdy materials, all coming to a crescendo as you step back and reexamine it as a whole. (It’s hard not to want one, isn’t it?)
2 Arch Almost Died Before It Was Born
With such a ridiculously rad bike, it’s hard to picture it not being written in the stars; but like many of man’s greatest achievements, tenacious determination played a pivotal role in seeing the initial idea through to even the design stage. Reeves originally had Hollinger build what would become the first prototype, only after being refused the sissy bars he wanted to put on his Harley.
Reeves loved it so much, he wanted to make more – lots more! Hollinger, however, wasn’t on board with the idea at first. Reeves, not one for taking no for an answer, didn’t drop the idea of a production bike until Hollinger relented; and the rest is history – in the making. Arch was born!
1 King Of The New Age?
By now, you’re probably chomping at the bit to get your dirty little hooks on one, right? Well, you should be! The gentle flowing body lines are as fluid as water. Adjustable foot control mounts allow either a mid-mount or a forward-mount position, depending on your proclivity. Either way, the design encourages the “cruiser slouch,” while still leaving room to “tuck it in” when you need to.
The T-124 V-twin is one of the biggest ones out there, specially built by S&S for Arch. It’s a Harley twin-cam clone (sort of), fed by a proprietary downdraft fuel injection system, causing a collision between two distinct bike building methodologies. Arch is calling out choppers, cruisers, street fighters – and anything else on two wheels – to step their game up…way up!
Sources: Cycle World, Red Bull, Arch, Calfee Design, Riders West, Road and Track.