It’s a glorious day in the hills of Malibu, California. I’m making passes for cameras on the most expensive production bike I’ve ever ridden, the new ARCH 1s. Observing me is Gard Hollinger, the bike’s designer, and Keanu Reeves, Arch’s co-founder and one of the top A-list actors in Hollywood.
After several laps on a twisty stretch of road, I’m feeling more comfortable on this sleek machine. I charge into a downhill left-hander where “John Wick” is watching from a roadside turnout. I confidently bend the 1s onto its left side and am startled when its sidestand bites into the asphalt, which levers up the rear tire and causes it to jump sideways.
In an instant, I’m sliding on the pavement and into the dirt turnout as CNC-aluminum bits are scraped and bent, ending up in a cloud of dust next to Keanu, who exclaims: “Whoah!”
Okay, I’m grateful to say that last paragraph didn’t actually happen! Although the sidestand decked out, the bike’s fat back tire quickly regained grip, and I merrily continued making photo passes while being watched by a guy who makes a heckuva lot more than I do performing in front of cameras.
“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.
“If you have to ask,” the old saying goes, “you can’t afford it.”
Yep, you’re looking at a motorbike with an eye-popping MSRP of $128,000. 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 complex 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.
After visiting the ARCH facility in Hawthorne, California, and interviewing Gard and Keanu, I met up with them for a ride in Malibu the following day.
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: 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.
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“I think probably at the core of it is just loving to ride a motorcycle and loving the aesthetics of motorcycles,” Reeves tells 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 straddles a KRGT-1. Gard takes a seat on a red and black 1s, while I saddle 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 states.
Keanu and Kev’s Excellent Adventure
A trio of 124ci S&S motors fire up and broadcast air-cooled V-Twin thunder through a funky carbon-fiber muffler. 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.
ARCH terms the 1s as a “sport cruiser.” As such, the rider is placed in a forward crouch with relatively high footpegs, but it’s not nearly as folded up as a proper sportbike. At 31.5 inches, the seat is significantly higher than the KRGT-1. The engine’s proprietary downdraft induction keeps the midsection narrow, unhindered by a sidedraft intake that eats up space for right legs.
Related: ARCH Introduces New KRGT-1
“It’s still really comfortable,” Keanu relates, “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 adroit 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 was 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.
Cornering clearance is plentiful, but the stout chassis’ capabilities invite extra-deep lean angles – as evidenced in this story’s introduction. Keanu notes the 1s prefers to be guided rather than manhandled.
“We’d been developing the KRGT-1, 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, 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 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 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 rhapsodizes. “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 1s Specifications
- Type: Air-cooled, 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.
- Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
- Fuel Delivery: Proprietary downdraft intake, fuel injection
- 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, hydraulic clutch
- Final Drive: Right-side chain
- Frame: Steel tubing w/ billet-aluminum structural members
- Swingarm: Single-sided billet-aluminum w/ titanium axle adjusters
- Rake/Trail: 25.2 degrees/4.0 in.
- Wheelbase: 65.4 in.
- Seat height: 31.5 in.
- Suspension, Front: Öhlins inverted 48mm; fully adjustable; 4.6 in. travel
- Suspension, Rear: Öhlins shock w/ remote reservoir and hydraulic preload adjustment; fully adjustable; 3.9 in. travel
- Brakes, Front: Dual ISR 6-piston monoblock radial-mount calipers; 320mm floating rotors, Bosch ABS
- Brake, Rear: ISR 4-piston monoblock radial-mount caliper; 240mm rotor, Bosch ABS
- Wheels (F/R): BST carbon fiber; 3.5 x 17 in., 8.5x 17 in.
- Tires (F/R): Michelin Pilot Power 3; 120/70ZR17, 240/45ZR17
- Dry Weight: 563 lb (claimed)
- Curb Weight: 600 lb (claimed)
- Fuel capacity: 4.5 gallons
- MSRP: $128,000