Branded Custom Bikes

February 3, 2015

All Posts, News

The custom motorcycle business is alive and well! Just don’t expect to make any money at it. And it is not really about motorcycles. Consider, to start, the Arch KRGT-1.

The Arch, pictured above, weighs 538 pounds dry and is powered by a 124 cubic inch S&S Cycles, Twin Cam, V-Twin engine that makes about 121 horsepower. It looks fast. The foot controls are nicely kicked out. The seat looks comfortable. The rear view mirrors are fashionably tiny. It features a Baker six speed transmission, dual front brakes and a five gallon gas tank that is probably good for 200 miles between fill ups. According to the manufacturer, the gas tanks are hand made and each one takes 60 hours to construct.

Not that the size of the tank matters. It is purely a bar hopper. There is no place to put a woman or hang saddlebags.

Blah, Blah, Blah

That is because, “An Arch provides strength, connection and passage. Strength that comes from meticulous design and engineering. Connection between modern and classic, style and performance, custom and production. Passage from canyons to cities, down freeways to destinations bound only by the rider’s desire.” You’re guess is as good as mine about what that last passage of corporate double talk means. I think it means, “You’re not going to ride this thing to Sturgis.” Maybe it means, “If you can afford this you can afford to fly it to Sturgis.”

Because the Arch costs $78,000. There is a wait to get one and the bike is the dream of actor Keanu Reeves. Reeves, who may be most famous for playing a good natured moron named Ted, describes himself as “the voice of the long-time everyday rider.” Reeves first motorcycle “was a Kawasaki 600 Enduro, followed by the beginning of his Norton affair and the first of many he’d own over the years. Often away from home and his Norton’s, he got in the habit of buying a bike when filming on location and selling when the shoot was done. He’s owned a Suzuki GS1100E, Suzuki GSX-R750, 1974 BMW 750, a Kawasaki KZ 900, an ‘84 Harley Shovelhead, and a Moto Guzzi among others.”

The KRGT-1 has been on the market since September. It remains a mystery how many people have actually bought one. Some people are probably mystified about who might buy one. But Arch is worth mentioning now because it epitomizes the idea of motorcycles as symbols of brands.

Reeves collaborator in his motorcycle company is Gard Hollinger who is described by Arch as having grown up, “up in Los Angeles during the tail end of the mid-century modern movement, bombing around the Hollywood Hills on dirt bikes past buildings seemingly dropped from outer space. In fact he spent his formative years living in such a structure; a Lautner-designed piece up on Mullholland known as the Garcia House.”

What these guys are really about and the reason they talk like that is because they are building a brand.


The idea of motorcycles as art, as something entirely symbolic, began at the peak of the Harley boom in 1998 when the Guggenheim Museum in New York opened an exhibition called Art of the Motorcycle. Now, uniquely beautiful motorcycles are being used to publicize high end brands.

A Danish bike builder named Lauge Jensen has been building art bikes for years. Last month he announced a V-Twin production motorcycle called the Viking Concept which sells for about $50,000 depending on the relative value of the dollar and the euro. Jensen probably won’t sell many of them and it doesn’t matter. He is one of the heirs to the Lego fortune. What he seems to be doing is enhancing his own personal brand.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a Los Angeles custom bike company and “lifestyle brand” named Deus Ex Machina has lost money on custom bikes built for celebrities Orlando Bloom, Ryan Reynolds, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and Jason Mraz. Deus Ex Machina (which is an ironic Latin term from classical drama that means “God from the machine’) was founded by an Australian millionaire named Dare Jennings.

Jennings doesn’t expect to make money from his motorcycles. “That’s why we make clothing,” he said. “Otherwise, we’d go broke.”

The motorcycles are mostly symbolic – a component of Deus “branding.” In Los Angeles, Deus sells jeans for  $259 and hoodies for $220. The same shop sells surfboards, wet suits, motorcycle helmets, boots and gloves. The shop calls itself an Emporium of Post Modern Activities,

“It’s a lifestyle experience,” a Deus executive told the Times. “If we build a strong community, sales will come with that.”

It doesn’t seem to be much different than what Harley-Davidson has been doing for decades; using the symbolic value of overpriced motorcycles to sell clothing. You can decide for yourself what it all means.

, , ,

28 Responses to “Branded Custom Bikes”

  1. Whitepride Says:

    I’d much prefer an old FXR or FLH that I built myself for short money. It may not be worth much but there’s nothing like putting something together yourself and building it the way you want it. I’m definitely no “artist” but it’s a damn good feeling putting something together and kicking it over for the first time and listening to your work. Throwing $78,000 on something like that is for fools and tools!

  2. Johnny Rotten Says:

    this is 3500 dollars
    everything built by me…
    and i bet it runs better and longer than that overpriced shitbox…

  3. Loser Says:

    @ Johnny Rotten: I would take your $3500 bike over both of those custom scoots any day of the week.
    It seems like these bikes are for rich people who want “outlaw” status symbols or for Hollywood brats who like to think they are on the cutting edge. I don’t need a bike that looks like something out of the movie Tron (which is where this custom shit will start heading). America just loves wiping away any trace of history unless it’s in a museum. Classic style bikes have continued to be manufactured for a reason. If the entire country’s skylines became brightly lit and built by Ikea, those classic style bikes will still be burning rubber on the streets, while an Arch or Deus Ex Machina would still be sitting in some high rise and wonder what it feels like to actually touch pavement.

  4. Tooj Says:

    They did a great job of making it look like a customized Victory. Hit the link if you choose.

    Scott has taken a 106″ and bored her to 124″, so he’s got that shit covered too. As long as there are folks who make way more money than they need…

    Mr. Rotten, I have never enjoyed being flipped off more! Fine looking mo-chine.

  5. Phuquehed Says:

    Just more of the same old overpriced garage-ware. Trailer queen material or ridden by the owner *ONLY* if the skys are bright and shiny and the weather is supposed to be 75 degrees to 85 degrees and the destination is only 2 miles away and the destination also has a place to put it that’s out of the sun and weather.

    Just fancy bullshit to show off to someone who might actually care somewhere by people with more money than sense.

  6. Wolfenlover Says:

    Shovels forever.

  7. Forever Says:

    it Looks like a “sportified” but albeit “weird” FXR knockoff – but the forward controls are Ludicrous (unless yer 6’5″) and that huge ass “wasp tail” rear end & combination tiny ass passenger seat DO in fact make it an impossibly uncomfortable ride with a passenger who weighs a bit over 100lbs. (Glad My Lady is a tiny lil cute thing )
    And ….Yes theres NO room for saddlebags – or the YET TO BE DESIGNED Bags that I’m sure Ness or a few others will be certain to design and market….but I Digress .

    Being an owner of 3 FXR’s and two of them with S&S 117 & 124 C.I. Motors and BAKER 6 Speed LSD Transmissions along with fork braces and steering dampeners and Chain driven rear wheel modifications and West Coast T Bars ….( as well as Original MID Controls ) I can see this model being extremely attractive to the Rock Store/Jay Leno crowd that prowls Mullholland wanting to be captured on digital memory for the minions.

    As far as I’m concerned it’s a “Poseur” motorcycle aimed at the upper affluent-never held a wrench in my hand crowd ~ and My local “Guy’ does all my work for me Motorcycle….and his cousin is a stagehand@ Universal and HE says it’s a Bitchin ride.
    Nothing i’d buy even if I was more affluent than the assclown Hollyweird crowd.

    Eric Buell is saying to himself: if ONLY H-D had listened to Me….!!!
    The Motor Company has a very Savagely Dedicated & Rabid Following for the FXR & earlier Dyna Models that can be had for a song nowadays-especially in the early Winter Months.
    That Thing in the above article is a Hunk of junk (Besides the S&S Motor and BAKER Drivetrain Components)

  8. Diocletian Says:

    That weird Keanu Reeves bike is available with forward or mid controls actually, not a bad looking bike if thats what youre into.

  9. Ipsick Says:

    The Arch KRGT-1 will look great plastered into a tree along Mulhollund with a RUB broken up next to it. Too much motor for those guys.

  10. vikingtrotter Says:

    If I had that much money to spend…well I know I will never. but of those types of brand bikes. I like the Exile bikes made by that brit that had did some of those bike build shows…very minimalistic. But still hopefully overpriced.

  11. Paladin Says:

    People ride for different reasons. I ride because I’ve always felt more alive and at ease, while being an integral part of the environment that I’m traveling through. As has been said, “Only a biker knows why a dog sticks its head out the window of a car”.

    Successful actors are those that are better at pretending to be someone other than who they really are. A good example of this is Liam Neeson. Mr. Neeson makes a lot of money, starring in gun violence based movies, yet insults this Country’s gun owners and the NRA. Michael Jackson wanted to become Diana Ross, and Bruce Jenner wants to try his hand at becoming an old woman.

    Between jobs of pretending there isn’t a lot of time for introspection, so actors attempt to buy an identity through the purchase of expensive cars, boats, houses and motorcycles. When this doesn’t work, a lot of actors turn to drugs, which always works.

    I’m sure that because Keanu Reeves spent a lot of money to have someone construct him a “one off” motorcycle, he now believes he’s a biker / industrial designer / ? This is the same logic used when insisting that 2 + 2 = 5.

    I’m eternally grateful that the motorcycle riding Walter Mittys that inhabit the area in which I live, are too busy acting, filling cavities, selling insurance, etc., to be riding during the work week, and are relegated to their foolishness on the weekends.

    Long May You Ride (to those that deserve to),


  12. Stevo Says:

    In England these dip shit wannabes are called ‘hipsters’. Their custom toy bike is not as important as their brand new tattoos, $300 dollar designer flannel shirts and trendy beards. Even my teenaged daughters are tougher than them, and fondly refer to them as ‘wankers’! Don’t worry, when they move on to the next tend the market will be flooded with mega buck stops custom sleds for us to pick up on the cheap.

  13. L-Frame S&W Says:

    Forever said: “Eric Buell is saying to himself: if ONLY H-D had listened to Me….!!!”

    I agree, I still have my ’99 Buell M2, and recently told someone I’ll never part with it until I die, or get too feeble to ride it, then I’ll give it my son.

    These overpriced, unrideable pieces of iron are just built for posers who have more money than brains.


  14. CN Says:

    With all due respect, I’ve always believed & still do that its not what you ride but more how & why you ride. I could’nt care less what other people do or don’t do, what’s cool or old school. I’ve got an old FLHTC and a new VRSCDX. One is old & great for touring while the other goes 0-60 in 3 seconds. I ride what I want because I’m the one making the payments and screw anybody whose got a fucking problem with any of that. Y’all have a nice day if at all possible.

  15. Jim666 Says:

    Johnny Rotten Says:
    February 3rd, 2015 at 3:13 pm
    this is 3500 dollars
    everything built by me…
    and i bet it runs better and longer than that overpriced shitbox…

    Sweet shovel Johnny Im w/ ya on that, Id much rather have your $3,500.00 Shovel than that other junk, Also something you build yourself you know it inside and out, you kinda become part of the bike.
    Fuck brands !

  16. bcnasty Says:

    I also believe in your life ride what you want. However, I do reserve the rite to laugh. All that being said, my three bikes together would not fetch $20,000.00 1976 Shovel beater, 1979 Ironhead rigid and 1998 Dyna FFXD, and still not would even give thought to trades for a $78,000.00 bike. Shit, I think 20,000.00 is too darn much for a bike.I am thinking on the new Indian Scout but need a ride first.
    Sweet ass ride Johnny Rotten. Man after my heart still running points.

  17. swampy Says:

    I was immediately reminded of Confederate Motorcycles that started out in Baton Rouge, La., moved to New Orleans, before Hurricane Katrina washed them up into Birmingham, Al. I believe their “Fighter” model goes for over 100 grand. Yeap, it’s all about a rich man’s toy that he can display next to his Maserati, Lamborghini and a 150,000 dollar “theme bike” built by OCC. When I watched the second video and the guy said “we’re gonna’ grab a cup of coffee”, I thought he meant they were trying to give Starbucks a run for their money – I guess that will be next – HD brand coffee.

    Johnny Rotten, I hate that I was not able to view your bike; computer issues on my end.

  18. tommy Says:

    For that amount of money Id rather buy a new vette!

  19. ChongRRMC Says:

    $78 large, huh ? That would pay off my mortgage, and then some….
    Ya know I dont begrudge a man who has it better then I do…
    I do however laugh my ass off at their excess and the thought process behind it.

  20. Ricky Redneck Says:

    There is nothing new under the sun (I believe Solomon wrote that). The Arch bears an interesting resemblance, appearance wise, to the Hellcat Speedster from Confederate Motorcycles.

    The Confederate is a bargain at just under $70,000!

  21. Wiscokid Says:

    This cafe racer, skater, hipster, queer with a beard, flannel, wearing woman’s jeans shit is just gayer than aids. I have to laugh at these trendy wannabe’s. I wouldn’t pay $3000 for that bike. I can buy and old KZ for $1000 if I wanted that look, and it will walk all over that pos. I shouldn’t say pos, but for that price it is. I understand the history of the cafe racer. It was about simplicity,light weight,speed and most of all getting the most out of your machine with what little you had. $78,000, I think they added one to many zero’s. I could fill a small warehouse with bikes for $78,000! Stevo you said it best when this trend is over, there will be lots of treats available. Keyano Reves got rid of his harley for one of these?? He ruined his wide glide by tinkering with it?? If that doesn’t show you how out of touch Hollywood is then…………

    Johnny I’ll give ya $3500 for that shovel today!! Sweet ride!! Shovels for life
    Respects to all that deserve

  22. Mad Matt Says:

    Ditto on the mortgage pay-off. Maybe for these rich bastards with no bike under the car, scratch that bike port. Up here we don’t have fags in women’s pants riding iron, they prefer 10-speed bicycles. And the trendy beards?

    “I’ve got more gray in this than your mum’s bush, hipster scum!”

    FTP FTF and FUCK skinny jeans!

  23. northernrider Says:

    I think we all have our own reasons to ride and what to ride, I just stay in my lane and watch out for half blind car drivers at stop signs.. I ride a Buell also , and a xr1200 (my best bike and ever) but if we wouldn’t have 10 Month winters I would spend on a victory, or triumph. I hope some of you live where it’s warmenough to ride it’s -41c here (around -18f)

  24. COS_Flyer Says:

    Who exactly is the target audience for these things? Most of the yuppie crowd with ballsack-compensation syndrome isn’t going to want these things, they’re going to want a loud bigass Harley.

    I also have to point out that Keanu Reeves is most famous for playing an introverted shut in who realizes who is living a computer simulation……and it was a damn good movie in spite of his shitty “acting”.

  25. Merlin Says:

    A Buell XB12 will walk all over that bike on the street, and fly off into the distance on the track.

    And you can have 15 Buells for the price of one Arch

  26. dirtyfxd Says:

    78 thousand clams! Jesus Christ, if I had that kind of money I’d buy a fxr and give my old dyna a breather. And that would leave 74 thousand clams to blow on strippers, beer, hotels etc etc…. I suppose that’s why I don’t have that sort of money bah hahaha. Oh well ya can’t buy heart!

  27. Danny Evelyn Says:

    Been riding since I was 6 Years old. What a piece of junk I wouldnt pay $3000 for that sad excuse for a bike. Like Wiscokid said I could get an old KZ1000 and destroy that Hollywood crap! 78Large Really

Leave a Reply