Here’s a look back at the Arch KRGT-1, a very impressive bike. American Iron Magazine editor Chris Maida wrote he was “very impressed” with both build quality and construction. And if he’s raving about the bike, there’s reason to take notice. Check out his review and ride with Keanu.
I’ve judged many bike shows over the years, and, of course, we’ve featured tons of one-off, hand-built bikes. The attention to detail and design of the KRGT-1 is on par with one-off custom bikes I’ve seen built by machinists.
Look at the intricate bracketry of the front brake calipers, rear axle adjusters, license plate, and many of the other components on the bike. Check out the gap between any of the parts, like the billet aluminum structural side support and the billet steel frame member above it. That gap is consistent throughout its arc. Though you can’t see it in these photos, even the slight marks left by the tooling that made the outer primary cover, for example, have been arranged to leave an attractive pattern. And even though all these parts are produced 10 at a time, if your bike is damaged, the new part will fit exactly the same as the original, thanks to the fact they’re CNC-machined right in the Arch facility.
All aspects of the KRGT-1 have been carefully designed with function, style, and ease of service in mind, so not only does the machine perform beautifully, any decent home or shop mechanic can service or repair the bike. Even something as basic as the front wheel spacers have been designed to be foolproof. These spacers are interlocking pieces that can only go together one way; they’re interlocked into the front wheel hub before you slide the wheel between the lower legs and send the axle through. (We’ll get to those wheels in a bit.)
Before I go deeper into the details of the bike, I should tell you a bit about the people responsible for its creation. Keanu Reeves, actor, avid motorcyclist, and exceptional rider, has been on two wheels for over 28 years. (In case you’re wondering, Keanu’s a regular guy, no “I’m a star” attitude at all.) In fact, motorcycles are almost always his mode of transport no matter where in the world he may be: on a shoot or home in LA. If on location, he buys a bike there, uses it during the shoot, and then sells it before heading home. The KRGT-1 exists because he went to Gard Hollinger’s LA County Choprods shop looking to get some minor custom work done to a 2005 Dyna Twin Cam 88 he had just bought. Gard told him that’s not what they do at Choprods and then asked Keanu what he wanted from the Dyna, which led to what did he want in a motorcycle? A prototype was built using the Dyna and that bike became the basis for the KRGT-1.
The end result — many discussions, CAD drawings, and almost five years later — is the KRGT-1. As for Gard, he’s been riding and building bikes for decades. His Choprod shop produces excellent bobbers and other customs for a wide range of clientele. Gard has also worked with production motorcycle companies, such as Saxon, so he also understands that aspect of the business. He’s assisted by another talented builder, Ryan Boyd, who’s also responsible for some beautiful two-wheeled machinery. Once the decision to produce more of Keanu’s dream bike was made, the two formed Arch Motorcycle and moved Choprods and Arch into a building in Hawthorne, California. Back to the KRGT-1!
As is my usual way, I’ll start with the powertrain. The KRGT gets its Go from an Arch proprietary S&S Cycle T124 (124″/2032cc) Twin Cam-style V-twin. S&S motors are known for their dependability, and this one provides plenty of grunt (a claimed 121 hp and 121 ft-lbs. of torque at the rear wheel) throughout its rpm range. No big surprise there; neither is the fact that throttle response is smooth at all settings, thanks to the downdraft S&S fuel injection and engine management systems.
The air cleaner is nestled between the billet aluminum gas tank halves, so it’s not in the way of your right leg. The intake ports for the air cleaner are alongside the headlight, so lots of cool, fresh air is sent to the unit’s K&N filter element, which is 40 percent larger than the one in S&S’ iconic teardrop air cleaner. Of course, the Arch crew added some of their own touches to the motor, such as the unique billet aluminum cam cover and rocker boxes. The exhaust is an Arch head pipe with a Yoshimura muffler.
The transmission is an Arch proprietary, right-side drive BAKER six-speed that performed as all BAKER transmissions do — perfectly! Shifts were an easy click into gear, and neutral was easy to find in all scenarios. The engine and tranny are connected with an enclosed Arch proprietary Bandit dry belt drive and compact clutch pack. The sprocket cover and inner and outer primary covers are Arch components CNC-machined from 6061 billet aluminum. The hydraulic clutch’s action was smooth and solid, and without surprises. The rear drive is via a continuous 530-series O-ring chain (no master link), which can be changed in less than 20 minutes, thanks to the bike’s design. On to the chassis!
As with the powertrain, all the chassis components are top shelf. Take the BST carbon fiber wheels, a 3.00-19″ up front and rear 8.00-18″, which weigh less than 10 pounds each! That substantially drops the bike’s unsprung weight, resulting in excellent handling. The wheels are wrapped with a Michelin 120/70ZR-19″ and Michelin 240/40R-18″, respectively.
The brake systems consist of dual ISR six-piston calipers gripping IRS floating rotors up front. Out back, a single four-piston ISR controls an IRS semi-floating rotor. As stated, the mounting brackets are Arch components. Holding said wheels and brakes to the front of the frame is an inverted, fully adjustable Öhlins front end with 43mm tubes. Out back, the rear wheel is kept tight to the pavement via a large, fully adjustable Race Tech rising-rate monoshock and billet aluminum modular swingarm with titanium axle adjusters. I weigh in at about 180 pounds in riding gear, and the suspension settings were perfect for me on both of the test bikes I rode.
Both the front and rear suspension systems can be dialed in easily and hold the road well. Even when we hit some rough pavement during our test rides in Malibu Creek State Park, the front and rear suspension systems kept the wheels in close contact with the road surface. Note how the foot controls (both forward and mid-controls are available), exhaust, etc. are all positioned out of the way for a great lean angle? You can use all but the last 1/4″ of tire tread before anything will touch the pavement! Even though the rear wheel is a wide 240, the bike drops right in to take a line smoothly. I didn’t have to drop in and then correct for the wider rear tire like I’ve had to do on other fat rear tire bikes.
Holding it all together is an Arch proprietary frame that’s made of 1-1/2″ steel tubing and billet steel sections, as well as billet aluminum structural members. This frame design and that super-strong rear swingarm eliminate any chassis flexing. The arch in the frame’s backbone (one of the reasons for the company’s name) is exposed between the two halves of the 5-gallon gas tank. That tank is cut from about 240 pounds of 6000-series billet aluminum and then welded together to form a structural member of the bike.
The oil tank (with sight glass) and stainless steel line system (the only rubber line is a vent tube) are designed to give the oil returning from the engine time to cool off and defoam before it’s returned to the engine. Even the smaller components, such as the bike’s hardware (all 12-point stainless steel), ISR metric-style hand controls, and (all) LED lights are on par with the quality of the main components.
Lastly, let’s talk about the KRGT-1’s ergonomics. As stated earlier, the bike comes with either forward or mid-controls. Two handlebar pullback riser heights (2″ and 3″) as well as two footpeg positions (narrow- or wide-mounted) are also available. Being 5’4″ on a good day, I found the mid-controls with the wide pegs and 3″ risers very comfortable. And then there’s Keanu who’s 6’1”.
Bottom line: the KRGT-1’s handling capabilities are beyond mine! This machine is definitely one you can improve your riding skills on and enjoy every second of the experience. As for the long haul, I could easily ride the bike across the country. I can say that since I’ve done the trip many times on Dynas and Softail. The KRGT-1’s suspension makes the one on the Dyna I rode to Arch seem harsh in comparison. Of course, I’d have to wear the same clothes every day since the carry capacity of the KRGT-1 is about the same as my pockets, but it’ll still be an excellent adventure.
Sorry, Keanu, I couldn’t resist at least one movie pun. RC
[This article originally appeared in American Iron Magazine.]