Man, I hate to jump on news like this. At 4 PM Pacific this afternoon, the official Motus Motorcycles Facebook account announced in the Motus Owners Group Intl. (MOGi) Facebook group: “Motus is forced to shut down operations, effective immediately.” Reason: investors have pulled out.

Here’s the entire announcement:

To all Motus customers, dealers, staff, suppliers, friends,

After an amazing ten year ride, Motus is forced to shut down operations, effective immediately.

This week, Motus’ financial backers unexpectedly informed management that they will not provide sufficient capital to maintain operations and grow the business. We were surprised and disappointed, especially because we have been working so hard preparing an October 2018 product launch into a new and exciting segment as well as new features on the MST series. This is very unfortunate timing and we will work to quickly find a new path forward for Motus Motorcycles and our American V4 powertrain division.

We are very grateful to Team Motus, truly the finest group of professionals and people, who have each dedicated so much of their hearts and soul to Motus. We are also thankful to our dealers and the many customers and supporters who have cheered us on and put gas in our tanks along the way.

For Motus owners, hang on to those motorcycles. As you already know, they are heirlooms, unlike any other motorcycles ever built.

Very sincerely,

Lee Conn and Brian Case, founders

Even though I had yet to purchase a Motus myself—they ain’t cheap—I counted myself as a true believer in what Lee and Brian and the rest of the Motus team were doing from engineering and experiential perspectives, and sincerely hoped they’d succeed where previous American companies such as the various iterations of Buell failed. The Fuller Motus we rode and shot last year was one of the most exceptional motorcycles I’ve had the honor of riding, and the entire CityBike Wrecking Crew was looking forward to the coming-soon naked Motus. It’s also worth noting that both Fish and I own Buells, or “American Ducatis,” as An calls them.

Perhaps posting this announcement in the MOGi group was triggered by another post earlier this afternoon by Facebook user Jae Stutzman: “I just got a call from my dealer who said my MSTR is being refunded and Motus has closed their doors. Anyone know anything? It was built and ready to be picked up in a couple of weeks!”

Feeling heartbroken indeed, Jae.

I’ve reached out to Motus for comment, and will report back as I learn more. As we went to press, or whatever the hell we call it now, there was still no official announcement on MotusMotorcycles.com or the Motus Facebook page. So let’s all pray together and hold on to the slim hope that this is just some disgruntled intern putzing about with the Motus Facebook account, but as the magical eight ball says, “don’t count on it.”

Beyond that, I hope that “we will work to quickly find a new path forward for Motus Motorcycles” is a hint that there is some kind of feasible funding arrangement on the horizon. But no matter how I shake the eight ball, it keeps giving me shit answers like “Reply hazy, try again” and “Ask again later.”

35 Responses

  1. Jim

    Don’t blame the investors who finally had the good sense to pull out. No one is gonna lay out $40,000 for an ugly, over-promising, under-delivering POS unless it says “Harley Davidson CVO” on it. The market for overpriced motorcycles can’t work bc there are only so many rich fools out there.

    Reply
  2. Dick

    Greed.. that’s what led to the demise of this company. “Greed is good”.. Ha!

    Reply
      • Dick

        It’s pretty simple: Investors thought they were going to be able to get premium pricing (and returns) on an average bike whose only differentiating feature was that it was made in America. It didn’t matter (to them) that there were at least comparable (actually, better) products out there at between 30-50% of Motus’s asking price (K1600, VFR1200, SDR1200). The investors and management at Motus thought that if Harley sells bikes for 40K, there’s no way they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Well, they didn’t. Not because their bike is worse than Haley’s, the Motus is probably superior to the Harley in most respects, but because Harley doesn’t sell motorcycles; Harley sells a name and an illusion. The expected return on investment on an illusion is different than that on a motorcycle. The Motus illusion didn’t quite measure up and their motorcycle couldn’t command the illusory ROI.

      • Surj Gish

        Lots of assumptions there, Dick.

  3. Dick

    There are a few hard facts in there and only one or two assumptions. Here’s another fact: Most of the heavy development investment for Motus is done. If (big if) the bike is road ready and 99% of wrinkles ironed out, someone with industrial experience could just take over and simply manufacture it. There would be no R&D investments to recover this time, and (if not excessively greedy) a typical moto industry margin should keep the MSRP at 16K or below. The bike would probably sell, if the buyer thought the brand would last longer than vanilla ice cream on a sunny day in Death Valley.

    Reply
    • Surj Gish

      Well, you’re assuming you know the motivation and strategy of the company, Dick, but I can tell you—from a more informed position, having spoken with the team at length—that your assumptions are incorrect. I see that I’m unlikely to influence you and Jim’s POV on this, but since we’re not inclined to let the comments section of CityBike become pits of misinformation, I’ll provide more information.

      First, the “made in America” thing is not the only differentiator for the Motus bikes. Neither of you have stated that you’ve ridden a Motus, but I have—several CityBike crew members have. There’s exactly zero “overpromise / under-deliver”—the bikes are killer, from engineering to riding experience. There’s no “if the bike is road ready”—they’ve been selling production bikes for some time, and many have done a lot of miles on them, never mind things like Lee and Brian riding their early test bikes to Bonneville, setting records, and riding the bikes home.

      Second, the notion that the potential customer base is simply crossover from the Harley buyer pool is incorrect, and was never Motus’s strategy. Those aren’t even the same types of bikes. Dick, you’re on the right track calling out the (now out-of-production) VFR1200, K bikes, etc as better comparisons, but your price percentages are wrong. A K1600GT—pretty comparable given the premium customer and “mission” of the bike—starts at $25,595, and typically optioned-up will get closer to $30k pretty quick. The MST starts at $30,975, and the MST-R at $36,975. Neither of those are massively different for someone spending $25K+ on a bike, and not the 50-70% differential in your comment. Including the Super Duke GT makes sense, and it’s admittedly much cheaper, but again the “premium” customer of K1600GT (or even the RT) is a more likely and better target for Motus. Point being, the issues for potential buyers are likely more about dealer support and similar concerns than simply “too expensive.”

      There are certainly critiques to be made of whether Motus did enough to reach the right buyer—for example, here in the Bay Area there are a lot of riders for whom another expensive, unique motorcycle would be an inconsequential purchase, but Motus hasn’t had a dealer here for a while. If either of you examined the company’s actions before opining, you’d know they were working hard on expanding their dealer network—I’m privy to some of the recent activity here in the Bay specifically. But oversimplifying to “greed” and “only so many rich fools” as you and Jim have done here is simply incorrect and uninformed.

      Reply
      • Dick

        ” the “premium” customer of K1600GT (or even the RT) is a more likely and better target for Motus.” — I guess the customer failed to buy into that brilliant argument.

        Against all evidence you persist with the tired slogans of a failure. Fastest motorcycle at Bonneville? Speak about disinformation. You mean fastest pushrod-engine motorcycle.. They may as well have won the fastest pedal bike at Bonneville.

        They could have had a dealer on every corner of Frisco, they would still have failed. Read the reviews potential buyers have written, you know, those who vote with the wallet. You’ll find out they thought the bike wasn’t worth the asking price. Case closed.. as proven by their going out of business.

      • Surj Gish

        Listen, Dick. If you’re going to get all grandiose with statements like “Against all evidence you persist,” you’re going to need to provide some actual evidence yourself—beyond your opinions. Until then, all your cocksure pronouncements are just bluster.

        But here’s a bonus for you: show me where I said “fastest at Bonneville” and I’ll send you a t-shirt or a twenty to spend at your favorite lunch spot. If you can’t find that statement, consider it a lesson: source your shit or shut up. 😉

      • Dick

        The 2014 MSRP for the K1600GT was $21,500. Why would you need any options on top of the base to compare to the MST at $30,975?

      • Surj Gish

        What year is it, Dick?

        The reason the optioned-up price matters is because BMW doesn’t sell a lot of “bare bones” bikes in the more premium model ranges. Go ahead and hit all your local BMW dealers and see how many base model K16s you can find. Track the pricing for each one and average it out, if you like, and then we’ll talk. But even if I compare base to base, the original percentages you quoted don’t hold.

  4. Jim

    Dick, I think your comment, “Harley sells a name and an illusion. The expected return on investment on an illusion is different than that on a motorcycle. The Motus illusion didn’t quite measure up and their motorcycle couldn’t command the illusory ROI,” is spot on. I’m not a Harley hater (I own a 2013 CVO Breakout which is a beautiful piece of mechanical art) but I’ve NEVER owned a Harley that delivered the motorcycle function it “should” for the money. Of course, I never bought a Harley expecting function that matched the price. Remember, expectation is a premeditated resentment. So, Dick is right. Since 1984, I’ve bought seven new Harleys because I also bought into the illusion and mystique and on that score (and during that time period), I’ve always felt Harley delivered. My first Harley was a 1970 Harley XLCH and that was such a piece of junk it took me 14 years to be willing to give the brand another try. When I’m looking for function, I buy and ride a BMW or Japanese bike. When I want beauty, perceived build quality and something that makes me think I’m operating a two-wheeled Duesenberg, I buy a Harley. And I’ll be curious to see how Motus bikes hold their value. No one can argue that Harleys hold fantastic resale value.

    Reply
  5. Dick

    The Motus bikes will hold their value the way the 1990’s Excelsior-Henderson bikes did. I heard last year they were coming back…

    Reply
  6. Dick

    Surj : ” setting records”– What did you mean by setting records? What does a record mean at Bonneville, other than fastest? Send the twenty to the Lee Conn Golden Parachute Fund.

    Reply
  7. Jim

    “Uninformed and incorrect”? Actually, the marketplace (and Motus investors) have already decided, so this is all very academic and I would venture to say that all that is really evident in these comments and replies is a difference of opinion as to why Motus is dead but it’s still dead. You may be closer to the Motus experience and have more inside information but we are all just reading tea leaves and we know what reading tea leaves gets us. If we don’t know, we can ask the investors– oh! where’d they go?

    Reply
  8. Dick

    Greed.. that’s what led to the demise of this company. “Greed is good”.. Ha!

    Reply
      • Dick

        It’s pretty simple: Investors thought they were going to be able to get premium pricing (and returns) on an average bike whose only differentiating feature was that it was made in America. It didn’t matter (to them) that there were at least comparable (actually, better) products out there at between 30-50% of Motus’s asking price (K1600, VFR1200, SDR1200). The investors and management at Motus thought that if Harley sells bikes for 40K, there’s no way they wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Well, they didn’t. Not because their bike is worse than Haley’s, the Motus is probably superior to the Harley in most respects, but because Harley doesn’t sell motorcycles; Harley sells a name and an illusion. The expected return on investment on an illusion is different than that on a motorcycle. The Motus illusion didn’t quite measure up and their motorcycle couldn’t command the illusory ROI.

      • Surj Gish

        Lots of assumptions there, Dick.

      • Scat

        anti-lock brakes are common on $4000 japanese bikes, but not on the Motus…..case in point.

  9. Jim

    Don’t blame the investors who finally had the good sense to pull out. No one is gonna lay out $40,000 for an ugly, over-promising, under-delivering POS unless it says “Harley Davidson CVO” on it. The market for overpriced motorcycles can’t work bc there are only so many rich fools out there.

    Reply
  10. Dick

    There are a few hard facts in there and only one or two assumptions. Here’s another fact: Most of the heavy development investment for Motus is done. If (big if) the bike is road ready and 99% of wrinkles ironed out, someone with industrial experience could just take over and simply manufacture it. There would be no R&D investments to recover this time, and (if not excessively greedy) a typical moto industry margin should keep the MSRP at 16K or below. The bike would probably sell, if the buyer thought the brand would last longer than vanilla ice cream on a sunny day in Death Valley.

    Reply
    • Surj Gish

      Well, you’re assuming you know the motivation and strategy of the company, Dick, but I can tell you—from a more informed position, having spoken with the team at length—that your assumptions are incorrect. I see that I’m unlikely to influence you and Jim’s POV on this, but since we’re not inclined to let the comments section of CityBike become pits of misinformation, I’ll provide more information.

      First, the “made in America” thing is not the only differentiator for the Motus bikes. Neither of you have stated that you’ve ridden a Motus, but I have—several CityBike crew members have. There’s exactly zero “overpromise / under-deliver”—the bikes are killer, from engineering to riding experience. There’s no “if the bike is road ready”—they’ve been selling production bikes for some time, and many have done a lot of miles on them, never mind things like Lee and Brian riding their early test bikes to Bonneville, setting records, and riding the bikes home.

      Second, the notion that the potential customer base is simply crossover from the Harley buyer pool is incorrect, and was never Motus’s strategy. Those aren’t even the same types of bikes. Dick, you’re on the right track calling out the (now out-of-production) VFR1200, K bikes, etc as better comparisons, but your price percentages are wrong. A K1600GT—pretty comparable given the premium customer and “mission” of the bike—starts at $25,595, and typically optioned-up will get closer to $30k pretty quick. The MST starts at $30,975, and the MST-R at $36,975. Neither of those are massively different for someone spending $25K+ on a bike, and not the 50-70% differential in your comment. Including the Super Duke GT makes sense, and it’s admittedly much cheaper, but again the “premium” customer of K1600GT (or even the RT) is a more likely and better target for Motus. Point being, the issues for potential buyers are likely more about dealer support and similar concerns than simply “too expensive.”

      There are certainly critiques to be made of whether Motus did enough to reach the right buyer—for example, here in the Bay Area there are a lot of riders for whom another expensive, unique motorcycle would be an inconsequential purchase, but Motus hasn’t had a dealer here for a while. If either of you examined the company’s actions before opining, you’d know they were working hard on expanding their dealer network—I’m privy to some of the recent activity here in the Bay specifically. But oversimplifying to “greed” and “only so many rich fools” as you and Jim have done here is simply incorrect and uninformed.

      Reply
      • Dick

        ” the “premium” customer of K1600GT (or even the RT) is a more likely and better target for Motus.” — I guess the customer failed to buy into that brilliant argument.

        Against all evidence you persist with the tired slogans of a failure. Fastest motorcycle at Bonneville? Speak about disinformation. You mean fastest pushrod-engine motorcycle.. They may as well have won the fastest pedal bike at Bonneville.

        They could have had a dealer on every corner of Frisco, they would still have failed. Read the reviews potential buyers have written, you know, those who vote with the wallet. You’ll find out they thought the bike wasn’t worth the asking price. Case closed.. as proven by their going out of business.

      • Surj Gish

        Listen, Dick. If you’re going to get all grandiose with statements like “Against all evidence you persist,” you’re going to need to provide some actual evidence yourself—beyond your opinions. Until then, all your cocksure pronouncements are just bluster.

        But here’s a bonus for you: show me where I said “fastest at Bonneville” and I’ll send you a t-shirt or a twenty to spend at your favorite lunch spot. If you can’t find that statement, consider it a lesson: source your shit or shut up. 😉

      • Dick

        The 2014 MSRP for the K1600GT was $21,500. Why would you need any options on top of the base to compare to the MST at $30,975?

      • Surj Gish

        What year is it, Dick?

        The reason the optioned-up price matters is because BMW doesn’t sell a lot of “bare bones” bikes in the more premium model ranges. Go ahead and hit all your local BMW dealers and see how many base model K16s you can find. Track the pricing for each one and average it out, if you like, and then we’ll talk. But even if I compare base to base, the original percentages you quoted don’t hold.

  11. Dick

    The Motus bikes will hold their value the way the 1990’s Excelsior-Henderson bikes did. I heard last year they were coming back…

    Reply
  12. Jim

    “Uninformed and incorrect”? Actually, the marketplace (and Motus investors) have already decided, so this is all very academic and I would venture to say that all that is really evident in these comments and replies is a difference of opinion as to why Motus is dead but it’s still dead. You may be closer to the Motus experience and have more inside information but we are all just reading tea leaves and we know what reading tea leaves gets us. If we don’t know, we can ask the investors– oh! where’d they go?

    Reply
  13. Dick

    Surj : ” setting records”– What did you mean by setting records? What does a record mean at Bonneville, other than fastest? Send the twenty to the Lee Conn Golden Parachute Fund.

    Reply
  14. Jim

    Dick, I think your comment, “Harley sells a name and an illusion. The expected return on investment on an illusion is different than that on a motorcycle. The Motus illusion didn’t quite measure up and their motorcycle couldn’t command the illusory ROI,” is spot on. I’m not a Harley hater (I own a 2013 CVO Breakout which is a beautiful piece of mechanical art) but I’ve NEVER owned a Harley that delivered the motorcycle function it “should” for the money. Of course, I never bought a Harley expecting function that matched the price. Remember, expectation is a premeditated resentment. So, Dick is right. Since 1984, I’ve bought seven new Harleys because I also bought into the illusion and mystique and on that score (and during that time period), I’ve always felt Harley delivered. My first Harley was a 1970 Harley XLCH and that was such a piece of junk it took me 14 years to be willing to give the brand another try. When I’m looking for function, I buy and ride a BMW or Japanese bike. When I want beauty, perceived build quality and something that makes me think I’m operating a two-wheeled Duesenberg, I buy a Harley. And I’ll be curious to see how Motus bikes hold their value. No one can argue that Harleys hold fantastic resale value.

    Reply
  15. Batshitbox

    Remember the Vindian? Vincent engine in an Indian Scout frame?

    All I’m saying is there’s a lot of dirt cheap GL1000 / 1100 chassis out there that need ridiculously expensive carburetor rebuilds, and some Motus powerplants gone wanting… and Dirtbag Challenge.

    Reply
  16. Scat

    what killed Motus was the lack of anti-lock brakes, 6-axis stability/braking wizardry, and computer controlled suspension – that’s what people with ‘that’ kind of cash want……granted, the engine was an exciting beast, but the styling, chassis and drivetrain were of the 1990’s……

    Reply

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