Profile: Arch Motorcycle & the Performance Cruiser
Arch Motorcycle is a luxury American motorcycle manufacturer based in Hawthorne, California. The company was founded in 2011 by actor Keanu Reeves and bike designer Gard Hollinger. Together, the duo and the rest of the team at Arch Motorcycle create exclusive and bespoke machines for discerning customers.
Though the company was officially founded in 2011, the history of Arch Motorcycle dates back a little further.
In 2007, Reeves met with Hollinger for the first time. Reeves was looking for a custom builder to work on his Harley Davidson, installing custom handlebars, a big sissy bar with a throne seat, and all manner of custom paraphernalia. At the time, Hollinger said no, but this initial meeting between the two marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Over the years, the pair discussed their own philosophies about motorcycle riding and what a motorcycle should be. Eventually, Hollinger relented and started work on a custom bike for Reeves. During the process, the project evolved into something else.
As soon as Hollinger finished the actor’s custom, and after the pair had taken it for a ride, Reeves wanted more.
Reeves was so impressed that he insisted that his exceptional motorcycle should be unleashed on the world.
Again, forever the pragmatist, Hollinger wasn’t immediately enthusiastic. However, after Reeves had explained his reasoning about creating something exceptional as a lasting legacy to the motorcycle industry, Hollinger agreed, and the ARCH Motorcycle Company, LLC was formally founded in 2011.
“I want a production custom motorcycle you can ride,” was the brief that Reeves gave to Hollinger and his crew when ARCH began brainstorming their first production model. It must have the fit, finish, and quality of a luxury motorcycle, and simultaneously give each customer a true custom experience. And of course, it needed plenty of traditional American flavor.
The result was the KRGT-1. Described as an American performance cruiser, ARCH’s first production model set the standard for the rest of their range. It’s an American motorcycle with all of the traditional elements associated with the American motorcycle industry: a big v-twin engine, cruiser ergonomics, and bold design. It features the comfort of a modern cruiser, but it also boasts the performance of a sports bike.
To give an ARCH Motorcycle a performance edge, the company worked hard to design and engineer their own hand-crafted performance parts. By using top quality materials and precision engineering, every ARCH performance cruiser has the nimbleness and agility of a sports bike, but the solid feel of a traditional heavy cruiser.
For parts that can’t be manufactured in-house, the team at ARCH has worked hard to develop partnerships with leading suppliers. For example, S&S engines, Öhlins suspension systems, Yoshimura exhausts, BST carbon fiber rims, and Michelin tires, featured on all ARCH motorcycles. The rest of the bike, including the frame, are handmade by ARCH’s engineers. The combination of high-end parts and handcrafted components are at the core of ARCH Motorcycle’s design philosophy.
ARCH Motorcycle: The Philosophy
As Arch Motorcycle’s overarching philosophy is to develop and redefine the American cruiser, the brand takes a unique approach when designing and building each motorcycle. Despite being a production motorcycle brand, each ARCH bike has a custom, tailored touch. To help develop these bespoke motorcycles, the brand relies on three distinct principles: elegant and innovative design, precision engineering, and a hand-built process.
ARCH’s design mantra consists of three words: simple, elegant, and efficient. Though that sounds like standard PR-speak, it’s actually true for ARCH Motorcycle
Simplicity is the key to ARCH’s motorcycle design. This isn’t just about the aesthetic, which certainly has a simplistic “less is more” nature. Instead, the simplicity comes from clever design. Instead of a simple aesthetic, it’s about practical solutions to common problems. For example, the KRGT-1 does away with a conventional shock absorber and replaces it with a simple, direct mount unit. The result is one less component to worry about.
Other examples of smart design include the addition of carbon parts where necessary to keep unsprung mass to a minimum, improving handling and performance, and considered ride geometry for comfortable cruising and sharp handling alike. Most design decisions do focus on function over form. However, every ARCH motorcycle has an undeniably appealing aesthetic at the same time.
Meticulous engineering lies at the heart of every ARCH Motorcycle product. To engineer each bike to the highest possible quality, ARCH uses cutting-edge CNC technology. To give you an idea of how far the company goes, a single fuel tank takes 30 hours to produce, using nothing but billet aluminum.
The fuel tanks aren’t the only feature of the motorcycle to enjoy scrupulous engineering. Almost every part of an ARCH motorcycle is expertly fabricated, from the frame and swingarm to the subframe and seat pan.
Top-quality processes and quality materials work together to produce this exclusive customer experience.
A Bespoke Experience
The most important part of ARCH’s philosophy is to create a bespoke motorcycle tailored to an individual rider. This process is a collaborative experience that gives customers a genuine “custom” treatment.
To do this, ARCH ensures that each motorcycle is handmade by a single technician. As one person assembles each motorcycle, that particular technician is responsible for the overall fit and finish of a certain motorcycle, from the beginning to the end of the building process. This allows for a technician to set up and adjust parts for the rider and provides scrupulous quality assurance.
During one production year, ARCH Motorcycle produces no more than 100 motorcycles. This ensures that each motorcycle gets the care and attention it deserves. It’s what makes ARCH a truly exclusive brand.
The Current Line-Up
Only three models are currently in production: the KRGT-1, the KRGT-1S, and the Method 143.
From the very beginning, Reeves and Hollinger only had plans to create three models. However, those plans could change in the future.
The name “KRGT-1” stands for Keanu Reeves GT, Model 1. It was the brand’s first model. A unique performance cruiser that wrapped sports-performance in a traditional cruiser shell.
Each KRGT-1 model features a 2031cc T124 twin-cam V-twin engine from S&S Cycles. The engine joins a 6-speed gearbox and is mounted in a tubular steel frame with billet aluminum features. The rest of the rolling chassis features Dual ISR 6 piston monoblock calipers and floating discs, with 43mm Öhlins suspension, BST ultralight carbon fiber wheels, and titanium components.
Altogether, the KRGT-1 produces a blistering 122 horsepower and 122 lb-ft of peak torque.
Each model is made to measure, and each motorcycle is distinctly unique.
The ARCH 1-S
The ARCH 1S is an evolution of the KRGT-1. Though it takes plenty of cues from traditional cruiser motorcycles, the ARCH 1S pulls in a different direction. It’s sportier and performance-focused.
Though it shares a lot of DNA with the KRGT-1, there are some significant differences between the two models. For example, the ARCH 1S boasts a single sided-swingarm made from billet aluminum. It also features mid-controls rather than front-sets, and a more aggressive riding position. This new arrangement makes the ARCH 1S a difficult motorcycle to classify. It’s not a sports bike, but it’s no humble cruiser either.
Up front, the 1S has a revised rake and trail to the KRGT-1. It also has a shorter wheelbase, and extra goodies equipped as standard.
It’s a model that defies usual classification, bridging the gap between a sports bike and power cruiser.
The Method 143
The final motorcycle in the ARCH line-up is the ARCH Method 143. It’s a curious motorcycle in the fact that it’s both a production and a concept motorcycle at the same time. It’s a limited-edition model designed to test ARCH Motorcycle’s boundaries.
Given that it’s a concept, something that members of the public can’t usually buy, but also a production bike, it’s quite the oddity.
However, it’s only odd in terms of classification. The rest is pure engineering enthusiasm.
Built around an ultra-light carbon fiber mono-cell chassis, the Method 143 is an engineering marvel. It’s made from carbon fiber, aluminum, and expensive leather. It features a larger engine than the other models in the line-up.
A 2343cc V-twin engine provides power, and many other top-quality components have been carefully added into the mix. They include a MotoGP-inspired exhaust system, ultra-thin carbon fiber wheels, and more.
Limited to only 23 examples, the ARCH Method 143 is about as exclusive as you can get.
ARCH & Exclusivity
Any bike wearing the ARCH Motorcycle emblem is going to be expensive. But for the prices asked, you get a lot of motorcycle. Each bike is exclusive, and designed and engineered to fit an individual rider much like a tailored suit. The materials used are of the highest quality, and the parts brought in from other manufacturers are nothing less than top of the range.
Unlike many other custom shops, every single ARCH Motorcycle product boasts a warranty. This includes concierge-style one-on-one support, anytime, anywhere.
When you consider the level of engineering and enthusiasm going into every build, and the quality of support from the moment you put down a deposit until long after your motorcycle has left the factory floor, ARCH’s prices are more than fair. And that’s the cost of exclusivity. Nothing less will do.