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2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 – Ride Review

Photos by Megan Harris

"I've had a look at this motorcycle of yours whilst you were having your supper," my wife's grandmother says upon my return from the pub.
Grandma, as she allows me to call her, is upper-middle class and English to the core. She is naturally wary of Americans and has been known to suddenly burst out laughing at the idea of my being able to make a living writing about motorcycles. Add to this the fact she is somewhat deaf, a condition not helped by my natural Texas mumble, and it's easy to see why she and I don't chat a lot. When my wife is around, Grandma prefers to deal with me in third-person terms: "Now then, Jenny, does Chris want tea?"

My wife isn't around this time, though. I've ridden the 2017 Triumph Bonneville T100 down to Devon on my own, staying the night, so I can get meet photographer Megan at the beach the next morning before tourists arrive. Without my wife as interpreter, Grandma and Grandad (who is also…

What I want: Motus MST (MSTR)

Motus MST
I feel a little uncomfortable putting the Motus MST into the What I Want category because it lacks a key feature that is a priority for any bike I would consider spending my money on: anti-lock brakes. But, hey, we're dealing more with the theoretical here than the practical. There are a whole load of bikes on the list that I will almost certainly never own nor seek to own, so let's go ahead and include this V-4 from Alabama.

It's the last two words in the previous sentence that should let you know from whence comes my affection for the MST: it's made in America. And it's not a cruiser. There's a dearth of American not-cruisers, so I feel emotionally obliged to support just about every one that comes along. I realised this the other day when the new EBR 1190RX was announced. I don't actually like the look of that bike and all its power would be completely wasted on me. But I am nonetheless supportive of this latest Buell initiative and really want it to succeed.

The Motus MST and Motus MSTR are indistinguishable from one another on sight, with the difference being that the MST has a slightly smaller engine, producing slightly less bhp. Both, though, have a fair amount of kick, producing 160bhp and 180bhp respectively. But already I'm boring myself with talk of specs. If you really care, you can find specs for the MST here and for the MSTR here.

The fact that those specs are offered in the form of jpeg files should tell you a little something about Motus: it's a pretty small-potatoes company. They've been working on this machine for a number of years and have faced a few setbacks in its release –– the sort of thing that would make me a little cautious as a buyer.

But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere and I support an American company producing an American motorcycle that isn't a cruiser. Don't get me wrong, I love cruisers. I am crazy about the new Indians, have long been a fanboy of Victory and definitely wouldn't turn my nose up at a Harley. But I ride a Honda sport tourer and find that I quite enjoy the feel and handling of such a bike, and would certainly like to see an American-made version. Apparently I'm not the only person thinking this, because that's what Motus is offering: an American-made sport tourer. The engines come from Texas and the whole thing is put together in Alabama.

Beyond its heritage, there are a number of things to like about a Motus: the engine is a V-4, basically a Corvette engine that's been chopped in half. I won't pretend to know anything about engines but apparently this one makes the bike really move (lots of bhp and lots of torque). Additionally, the engine gives the exhaust a low muscle-car-like growl that is almost certainly more pleasing to American ears.

As far as looks go, I can't complain. I'm not too sure about the front fairing, but the rest of the machine looks solid. I don't think anyone really creams their jeans for the look of a sport tourer, though. The point of such a bike is performance and feel. And from what I've read so far it's got that, along with an impressively tech-friendly dash.

There are some problems, though. First and foremost is the fact that the price ranges from $30,000 to $37,000, which is at least $10,000 more than I would expect to pay for such a bike. I mean, a BMW K1600 GT starts at $21,500. A Honda VFR, of which the Motus most reminds me, starts at $17,000.

Who will buy these?
And it's hard to guess where the extra money for the Motus is being spent. Those "cheaper" bikes produced by Honda and BMW (which also come with the advantages of tested liability and extensive dealership networks) come with things like anti-lock brakes, traction control and cruise control. The Motus does not –– not even as an option. I find it hard to fathom that a company would build a modern sport tourer without ABS.

By the standards of the three biggest American motorcycle manufacturers (i.e., Harley-Davidson, Victory and Indian), the Motus is relatively advanced (a), but by the standards of the machines against which it would likely compete Motus is far behind the curve. Also, for me personally, that front fairing is just too ugly. It makes the bike look several decades out of date.

So, I find myself feeling just a little bit sad when I think about Motus. I want so much for them to do well, and I would love to have an MST or MSTR to roar around on. Give me one and I'll thank you profusely. But there's no way I'd spend my money on one. And I can't help but wonder who would.


(a) Performance-wise. Technologically, however, all three offer models with anti-lock brakes.


  1. I'd love to see a more reasonable price point for an american made sports bike. Between the Motus and the new Erikbuellracing sports bike, they seem to be twice what I would pay for a top of the line bike in most other bigger brands.

    1. Actually, I think Buell is hitting it in terms of price point. At $19,000 the 1190R is $10,000 less than the Ducatio 1199 Panigale R, which it has beaten in dyno tests. Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki don't produce a like-for-like machine but their biggest and fastest (all of which would be way too fast for me) run in the $15,000 to $17,000 range. So, I'd think Buell is spot on in its pricing.

  2. Issue with price points is they are all about compromises. Motus went for top of the line components all the way around. Wheels, front and rear suspension, brakes handle bars, seat, and engine are all going to do something the others do not or do not offer. Skip the trip to the dealer for shim under bucket valve checks every 8000 miles like the BMWs require figure #300.00 dollars and over the life of the bike (my bike has 230 000 plus miles) and your eliminating more than 7000 dollars. Oil filters from Napa instead of buying them at what ever the other makers are charging will be another big savings. Components are big and under stressed so ease of ownership should be good. The power curve looks good on the engines. The design looks like it will be a pleasure to own and to ride. In my case form follows function the bike looks practical, comfortable, has cruse control, long range, and carrying capacity.

    As to base price vs options by the time one adds all the upgrades to a BMW or a Goldwing or a similar long distance machine you are in a very similar price group and down on cornering ability and performance. With this bike one drops two to three hundred pounds, adds at least 50 horsepower, and forgets about lots of maintenance at the dealer, which looks like a real bargain. As to the lack of stereo, gps and weather reports, a ram mount and tablet can give you all of that for less than adding it to the bike and have the option of going with you and having internet access via your data link via cell towers.

    I suspect my next Bike will be one of these.


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