Adam 'Chad' Child is a multiple UK record holder, international road racer and has been professionally bike testing for 20 years.
This isn’t like any other production bike. This is a bespoke, handmade machine that takes 90 days to assemble and costs £90,000.
Arch is a company created by Keanu Reeves (yes, him) and Gard Hollinger, and the KRGT-1 is the latest machine to roll out of their small factory in LA. For 2020 there are 20 major upgrades and 150 newly designed and manufactured components.
Some of the changes – like the re-designed rear mudguard, or fender as they say in California – have been forced upon the team to meet Euro4 homologation. Other components have been tweaked to improve the handling and performance or simply to add aesthetic value. Drool over the lovely five-spoke carbon wheels and new ‘race-inspired’ billet aluminium swing-arm, which increases rigidity and reduces weight.
There are noticeable changes throughout the bike. New digital clocks, for example, with more information; updated bodywork; a re-designed billet aluminium fuel tank that takes a week to produce. The tail section, which is also billet, is all-new, as are the seat, suspension, ABS… the list goes on.
There is billet aluminium everywhere – 544kg/1200lb of aluminium is used to produce one bike. The in-house machined side plates are lovely, equally so are the fork bottoms that accommodate the six-piston ISR monobloc calipers (£1,440/$1,500 per side). From the tailored seat to the Magura levers, which are £760/$1,000 per lever, every detail has been thought about to a Rolex level of detail and precision.
The new digital, slightly retro dash illuminates with a turn of the rather large central mounted key. One press of the starter button and that huge 2032cc air-cooled V-twin barks into life, along with a bespoke exhaust designed in partnership with Yoshimura.
The vibrations are as apparent as Boris Johnson’s incompetence, and the new clocks shake charismatically as I blip the throttle. Bottom perched on the comfortable seat, bar-end mirrors positioned correctly, into a surprisingly slick first gear on the forward-set controls – and we’re away.
I’m immediately aware of the taut Öhlins-suspended chassis, which is on the firm and sporty side for a cruiser. The ride isn’t overly harsh, though, and the seat is comfortable, but the lack of rear sag certainly takes me by surprise.
Even in LA, where rubber faced celebrities and supercars are around every corner, the Arch turns heads at every intersection. The two-into-one Yoshi’ exhaust has a charismatic bark. As I ride through LA I notice that the gearbox is far smoother than expected, a far cry from the agricultural American gearboxes of old. The clutch is lighter and easier to use. The dash is clearer than before, though not the full-colour display you might expect on a high-end cruiser.
Up onto the freeway and the KRGT-1 is in its element, snorting up to speed without fuss. Acceleration from 1500rpm in any gear is like riding a tidal wave of torque. Without passing 3000rpm I’m already up to 80mph and breaking the speed limit. Away from the eyes of the law she’d hit 100mph with only a tickle of the throttle and continue climbing, but as the police are armed over here I’m not keen on trying the Arch flat out.
Cruising on the freeway and the ergonomics feel natural. I’m relatively short, yet the bars and feet-forward controls aren’t a reach. That firm suspension doesn’t bump me out of the seat on bumps and undulations as I was expecting, in fact the ride quality is inspiring. At 75-80mph the motor is ticking over smoothly around 3000rpm, giving a sense of vibration through the bars which is noticeable rather than annoying. With its 19-litre fuel tank you could easily go touring on the new Arch, no problem – the only detail lacking in this respect is a fuel range indicator.
As you’d imagine with a wide rear tyre, long wheelbase and a lethargic, raked-out front end, stability was never going to be in issue. The initial turn is a little sluggish, but once passed five degrees of lean the Arch rolls into corners gracefully. You can then just keep leaning and leading.
The Arch delivers with almost sportsbike levels of lean, the stuff Harley riders can only dream about. Fit some more rear-set pegs on this bike, drop the bars and you’d have a knee down mid-corner cruiser.
That quality Öhlins suspension holds the heavy chassis extremely well. There is very little sag in the rear shock and because the rear isn’t sitting down as expected, nothing touches the road, even when a few unexpected undulations are thrown into the equation. Despite the lack of squat, you can still dial in fistfuls of torque and feel the grip. Eventually, without any rider aids, that fat Michelin will break free, but you’d need to be devilish with the throttle or have a cold tyre to do so.
The front 48mm fully-adjustable Öhlins forks are also on the sporty side, while the uprated six-piston ISR calipers are sportsbike-strong and free of fade, which is impressive given that they have to haul down 244kg plus rider.
The level of workmanship that has gone into this bike is mind-blowing. The components, the CNC machine work, the creativity and craftsmanship are all unmatched.
For a performance cruiser, the KRGT-1 handles, stops and certainly has some go. The elephant in the room is its price. At £90,000 it’s not realistic or achievable for most; simply a poster bike, a dream. But it blew away my expectations. Time to cash in the pension of the kid university funds?
A budget alternative...
If £90k is out of your price range, but you're really set on a masterpiece from Keanu Reeves, may we recommend Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-Ray? *guitar solo*