Arch Motorcycle 1s | First Ride Review
Pragmatic riders may scoff at a motorcycle like the new Arch Motorcycle 1s. After all, there are several sporty cruisers on the market that offer better value. A Ducati Diavel V4 is a worthy machine, as is Triumph’s massive Rocket 3 R. Harley-Davidson’s Sportster S is similarly enticing.
Related: 2023 Triumph Rocket 3 R | Road Test Review
Related: 2021 Harley-Davidson Sportster S | First Ride Review
But none of these capable bikes holds a candle to the glowing 1s, an ultra-premium roadster from the company founded by superstar actor Keanu Reeves and longtime bike builder Gard Hollinger.
Arch Motorcycle handcrafts limited-production bikes featuring exquisite detail elements like CNC-machined aluminum chassis sections and lightweight carbon fiber components wrapped around gigantic air-cooled V-Twins from S&S Cycle.
Arch’s first model, the KRGT-1, is a performance cruiser that debuted in 2015, and I was one of the lucky few who got to test ride it. More recently, I found myself in the hills of Malibu, California, aboard the “sport cruiser” 1s model.
“Going into a turn,” Reeves told me before our ride, “the input is the thought. Turn your head, look where you’re going, and you don’t push the bike but let it kind of respond and you feel it move. You’re super confident as you lean in, lean in, lean in.”
And Reeves wasn’t just blowing smoke. The new 1s handily exceeds performance expectations for a bike with a 2-liter V-Twin thumping away between your legs and a steamroller-sized back tire. The entire machine is magnificent, and the 1s delivers on the promise demanded of its lofty price tag.
The Arch Motorcycle 1s is how much?!
“If you have to ask,” the old saying goes, “you can’t afford it.”
Yep, you’re looking at a motorcycle with an eye-popping MSRP of $128,000 – that’s enough dough to buy a Diavel V4, a Rocket 3 R, and a Sportster S and still have nearly enough left over to buy one of each for a friend. A price tag that steep demands incredible attention to detail and premium components, and the 1s delivers. Giant blocks of aluminum have been whittled down with computer-controlled milling machines to create intricate frame elements, the single-sided swingarm, and the curvaceous tailsection.
Indeed, every component is spectacular – from the insanely light BST carbon-fiber wheels to the high-end Öhlins suspension to the intricate carbon-fiber airbox that allows downdraft induction and doubles as the fuel tank. Each part on the 1s is worthy of second and third looks, so it’s easy to see how its build cost quickly adds up.
Helmet: Arai Ram-X
Jacket: Alpinestars Hoxton V2
Gloves: Alpinestars GPX V2
Pants: Alpinestars Copper V2
Boots: Highway 21 Journeyman
I had previously ridden with Reeves during the KRGT-1 launch in 2015, and his personality is nearly the opposite of what one might expect from a big-time celebrity. He is humble and down-to-earth. Most importantly, he just loves to ride motorcycles. At a trackday a few years ago, I watched him participate in more sessions than any other rider at the event. His passion for motorcycles is undeniable.
“I think probably at the core of it is just loving to ride a motorcycle and loving the aesthetics of motorcycles,” Reeves told me. “I like how they look, how they feel, how they smell.”
Gearing up for our ride, the guy once known as Neo from The Matrix films straddled a KRGT-1. Gard took a seat on a red and black 1s, while I saddled up on a black and gold one. Customers can order up whatever livery their hearts desire.
“I think it’s a really beautiful, unique-looking motorcycle,” Reeves stated.
Related: 2020 Arch KRGT-1 | First Ride Review
Keanu and Kev’s Excellent Adventure
A trio of 124ci S&S motors fire up and broadcast air-cooled V-Twin thunder through carbon-fiber mufflers. As burly as the motors are, they’re also remarkably refined. Throttle response is predictable, and the hydraulic clutch offers a reasonably light pull. The transmission shifts nicer than most big-inch V-Twin gearboxes.
As a sport cruiser, the rider is placed in a forward crouch with relatively high footpegs, but the position isn’t nearly as folded up as a proper sportbike. At 31.5 inches, the seat is 3.7 inches higher than the KRGT-1’s. The engine’s proprietary downdraft induction keeps the midsection narrow, unhindered by a sidedraft intake that eats up space for right legs.
“It’s still really comfortable,” Reeves related, “but you’re not sitting in the bike, you’re on top of it. I think of it like almost equestrian, like the way your feet are underneath you on a horse – that kind of hip-ankle-shoulder relationship, with the torso angled a little more forward. So you’re feeling really balanced on the motorcycle.”
Impressive power is available at all times, with a torque curve so vast it feels like a mighty electric motor aside from the rumbling vibration emitted from a pair of giant 1,016cc cylinders. Ride quality from the fully adjustable Öhlins suspension is excellent, as is the response and power from the ISR brake system with Bosch ABS.
Instrumentation is delivered via an AiM Sports TFT gauge pack, and the bike features an adaptive LED headlamp, bar-end LED front turnsignals, and a cove-reflective LED taillight. The only element that doesn’t scream premium is the generic switchgear on the bars.
The 1s is surprisingly agile when carving corners for a 600-lb machine with a 65.4-inch wheelbase and a 9.4-inch-wide rear tire. The gold-accented 1s turned out to be considerably sharper in its responses than the red one due to customizable setups available with the platform. The red one also had a shorter seat with a bum stop perfectly placed for my small physique.
The stout chassis of the 1s invites extra-deep lean angles, but cornering clearance proves to be plentiful. I managed to touch down the sidestand foot when exploring the bike’s capabilities, but other journalists reported no clearance problems during their rides. Reeves noted the 1s prefers to be guided rather than manhandled.
“We’d been developing the KRGT-1,” he said, “taking this leap into the 1s and trying to maintain the ride – the feeling of confidence, the responsiveness, the planted-ness – mixed with extraordinary components and finishes. To me, these are the best motorcycles that have ever been ridden.”
Taking It Home
I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. – Morpheus, The Matrix
Properly evaluating a six-figure motorcycle is vexing. The price automatically removes practicality from the purchase equation, as there are plenty of attractive and capable motorcycles available at a fraction of the cost. It’s well beyond the reach of mere mortals, so it’s human nature to want to criticize it.
But to see it through the eyes of a well-heeled moto enthusiast who already has a collection of motorized toys, the svelte and stylish 1s offers a unique riding experience that comes with a compelling backstory.
What do all men with power want? More power. – The Oracle, The Matrix Reloaded
Riders who appreciate thumping air-cooled V-Twins and are fully flush with cash won’t think it’s as impractical as most of us. There is truly nothing else like it in production. It would look marvelous parked next to your Harley CVO Road Glide, Corvette Z06, and P-51 Mustang.
“Sometimes I’ll close the garage door and I’ll just stand there after a ride and stare at the art,” Reeves rhapsodized. “It’s just like, ‘Oh god, that’s beautiful.’”
You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. – Morpheus, The Matrix
Arch Motorcycle 1s Specs
Base Price: $128,000
Engine Type: Air-cooled, transverse 45-degree V-Twin, twin-cam pushrods w/ 2 valves per cyl.
Displacement: 124ci (2,032cc)
Bore x Stroke: 4.125 x 4.625 in. (104.8 x 117.5mm)
Horsepower: 93.5 hp @ 5,200 rpm (claimed at the rear wheel)
Torque: 115.3 lb-ft @ 3,200 rpm (claimed at the rear wheel)
Transmission: 6-speed, hydraulically actuated wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Wheelbase: 65.4 in.
Rake/Trail: 25.2 degrees/4.0 in.
Seat Height: 31.5 in.
Wet Weight: 600 lb (claimed)
Fuel Capacity: 4.5 gals.
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