2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 First Ride

A custom American performance V-twin that actually lives up to the billing.

Arch KRGT-1
The updated 2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 is here—or at least the company is taking orders for it.Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

Arch Motorcycle’s KRGT-1 gets a host of upgrades, revisions, and redesigns for 2020, further staking its claim as a red-blooded American performance cruiser with composure and spirit. Our cruise on the updated 2020 KRGT-1 revealed a powerful, comfortable and competent hot rod with a stable chassis, endless power, and excellent brakes. But it all comes at a price.

Arch lean
The Öhlins inverted fork is adjustable for compression and rebound damping, and keep the rubber on the road without any undue wallowing. | Courtesy Arch Motorcycle |Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

“Don’t wad it, don’t wad it, don’t wad it.”

Those three words kept scrolling across my brainpan as I pushed the brand-new $85,000 Arch KRGT-1 around the first couple of tightly decreasing radius bends on Angeles Crest Highway in the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles. Yes, there was an $85,000 motorcycle underneath me, but more importantly, it was one of only three 2020 models on hand. Another twist? Arch co-founder Keanu Reeves was joining us on our jaunt through the hills, and there were hints dropped that maybe, just maybe I might be piloting his personal bike (he wouldn’t disclose it at the time). All those thoughts conspired to put a bit of a damper on my right wrist, and that was a crying shame because this particular motorcycle, I was finding out, liked to be flogged. And it was becoming more enjoyable as the day wore on.

That wasn’t how the morning started though. Call me cynical, but I came to the table with some preconceived notions, notions borne of prior experiences on bikes with 240 section rear tires mated to an oversize American V-twin. In the not so distant past, that combo didn’t necessarily deliver a solid recipe for a quick-handling motorcycle. At the pre-ride briefing, Arch co-founder Gard Hollinger tells me, right up front, that he’s used to getting that reaction from people.

Arch static
The 2020 Arch KRGT-1 doesn’t go with traditional American V-twin lines, opting for a short, stubby, upswept tail, equal parts speedster and cruiser.Courtesy Arch Motorcyle

A lifelong rider, mechanic, and designer, Hollinger has a design philosophy that has evolved into one of functional efficiency, purposefulness, and precision over the years, but always with a strong aesthetic statement. Arch Motorcycle Company, started by Hollinger and actor/motorcycle enthusiast Keanu Reeves in 2012, produces bespoke production motorcycles in a small state-of-the-art factory south of Los Angeles, and their latest offering is this new Arch KRGT-1.

It’s got a slightly new look this year, but the lines—the shoulders, the hips, the silhouette—of the 2020 machine still exude power and attitude that’s purely American, and not in an off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter kind of way. Arch calls the design retro-modern but it’s really its own thing, part café racer, part speedster, and part cruiser, and all muscle. The purposeful vibe fits the build execution, an amalgam of meticulously crafted billet aluminum, steel, and carbon fiber, supported by top-tier components and well-chosen finishes that flow exquisitely together.

Arch tank
The billet aluminum fuel tank’s contours were resculpted for 2020 to improve ergos, but it’s still comprised of two fuel cell halves.Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

The contoured 5-gallon billet aluminum fuel tank, for instance—split into two cells—is the crown jewel of the KRGT-1’s bodywork. The upper frame tube emerges along the top, an exposed raw-metal spine separating the two halves of the tank, and in between those you’ll find the cleverly hidden Arch Down Draft Induction System. Because traditional V-twin side-mounted intakes would interfere with riders’ legs and disrupt ergonomics, Arch, in conjunction with S&S Cycle, developed this system to fit between the two fuel cells, under the backbone. Intake dams under the cowling shunt air to the big 124ci mill, while also functioning as a support frame for the aluminum headlight housing. Around the tank, layout has also been reshuffled for a more relaxed riding position.

S&S Cycle T124 twin-cam V-twin
Arch co-developed the 45-degree S&S Cycle T124 twin-cam V-twin for the KRGT-1 so that it could pass CARB/EPA and Euro 4 emissions regulations this year.Courtest Arch Motorcycle

If the tank takes center stage, the Arch and S&S Cycle 124ci mill is a close second, just on sheer size alone. The 2,032cc signature 45-degree V-twin is now EPA/CARB-certified (thanks to Arch) and Euro 4 compliant as well, a massively complex process that both Hollinger and Reeves say was mind-melting. Serious power is on tap, but how much for this build has not been shared. Past versions of the Arch have delivered a claimed 122 hp and 122 pound-feet of torque (at the rear wheel, not the crank). Exhaust gases exit via a twisty, Arch-designed 2-into-1 stainless steel header system capped by a Yoshimura carbon fiber muffler.

big V-twin
The big V-twin cleverly hides the Arch Down Draft Induction System, which Arch developed with S&S Cycle. The system fits between the two fuel cells.Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

2020 Arch Motorcycle KRGT-1 Ride

Like I said, my initial contact with the bike wasn’t seamless. Those pesky preconceptions kept haunting me even as I heaved the KRGT-1 off the sidestand (there’s some weight to the thing). Turning the key, then the first twist of the throttle—then a backfire. Not to worry; as you’ve already read, 30 minutes into our route along the sinuous Angeles Crest Highway, I made my peace with the KRGT-1. The S&S engine had by then settled down into a throaty growl, with the expected big-twin vibes coming through at idle. Once underway the shakes diminished and it was business as usual.

As we rocketed out of each turn I grew to understand the bike’s manners. The KRGT-1 is heavy, but turn-in isn’t the armful I expected it to be; handling is purposeful and you learn to understand front-end feel after just a couple of miles. I figured out pretty quickly that high-speed sweepers are where the bike is in its element, with the 48mm Öhlins fork helping to deliver a solid, crazy-stable feeling that urges you to push harder. And if an unexpected twist shows up, the dual radially mounted six-piston ISR calipers are there to haul you down with one-finger stopping power. That’s not hyperbole—the ISR components combined with the two-channel Bosch ABS shed speed with ruthless efficiency. In every possible scenario we threw at them, braking power and feel was superb. The bike wants to stand up under heavy braking in corners, but its behavior was predictable and the bike never felt unsettled.

Arch brakes
Dual 320mm ISR floating rotors with six-piston ISR calipers up front and two-channel Bosch ABS comes standard on all 2020 KRGT-1 models.Courtesy Arch Motorcycles

For consecutive corners, some muscle definitely comes in handy—the KRGT-1 does roll on a 68.0-inch wheelbase and an 8-inch-wide rear tire after all—but after four hours of pretty consistent flogging, my shoulders didn’t feel the least bit worked. It’s a testament to the KRGT-1’s approachable manners that it’ll go where pointed. Pick your corner, stick the line, and the rest will follow. That’s simply not the norm for a big-wheel, lazy-raked, long-wheelbase American twin. This chassis is unwaveringly stable in any speed and never strayed off the line, with the beefy new Öhlins suspension keeping the rear end composed in rough stuff with ample support even at the stock settings, and the Michelin Commander IIs gripped determinedly at every hard turn.

Arch seat
The redesigned tailsection holds a newly reconfigured seat which figures into the improved ergonomic equation.

I wasn’t sure about the super-scooped saddle at first, but it turns out that high back sets you up in a good position to attack turns. You’re not on top of the motorcycle, you’re in it. Even the riding position was all-day—or at least half-day—comfortable, which isn’t always the case with forward-control machines. The bars had me hunching ever so slightly forward but seating was mostly upright, which proved to be a good combo for the kind of riding we were doing.

As the day wore on and we learned to trust the bike more, the default setting became charge the corners and flip it in. The bike’s behavior was steady and consistent, and you could afford to brake as late as you wanted with those excellent binders. As Reeves said at the pre-ride briefing: “You don’t have to ride this bike hard—let it ride you. It can do a lot of the work for you.” He was (mostly) right.

Arch swingarm
Race-inspired swingarm and chassis side plates are all designed and machined in-house. Virtually all metal work is precision-cut billet aluminum; nothing is stamped, cast, or forged.Courtesy Arch Motorcycles

And that engine—there’s no mistaking this is a full-blooded, heavy-beating American V-twin. The burly 124ci-er is every bit as powerful as it sounds, with torque coming low but never really petering out at the higher revs. You won’t hear the words “buttery smooth” in this description, but then it should be plain that’s not what this bike is about. This is a motorcycle that doesn’t need to be revved out or ridden at high rpm, though it’s entertaining to hear all the snapping and cracking when you do—the sound is soul-stirring nirvana for musclebike aficionados.

Motogadget Motoscope Pro Digital display
The uncluttered cockpit features a Motogadget Motoscope Pro Digital display with info shown in retro red LEDs.Courtesy Arch Motorcycles

As we wound up our four-hour ride and dismounted, the smiles came out. Hollinger and Reeves pulled up behind us, and we stood around chatting. “You know what? It’s not at all what I expected.” Hollinger laughed and said, “Yeah, I hear that a lot.”

DOT-legal rear lighting
DOT-legal rear lighting? Interestingly, there’s no plastic here; instead, Arch integrated this elegant polished metal with a reflective element, which houses LED lights inside.Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

The phrase “performance cruiser” gets bandied about a lot these days, mostly by big OEMs keen to capitalize on a segment of the market that shows a thirst for style and speed. But within that term you’ll find many variations on the theme, with everything from the VMAX “power cruiser” to Harley’s FXDR 114 “muscle cruiser” to Ducati’s X Diavel “sport cruiser” defining the category. The Arch KRGT-1 is in some way all of those things and yet also none of those things. It takes burly American-style performance to a level of its own. And if you don’t like that, well then don’t buy it—that’s fine with Reeves and Hollinger, who by every measure are really as nice and humble a pair as you’d ever want to meet. They’re passionate about their creation, but recognize that it might not be everybody’s bag. And they’re cool with that.

Each Arch motorcycle is built to be unique, and the team works closely with the customer over a 90-day build process to tailor aesthetics and ergonomics to personal tastes. The final product is not your typical high-end custom mash-up bike dripping with chrome. It’s just pure metal artistry, with a strong dose of performance. The KRGT-1 manages to hit a level of refinement, superior fit and finish, and power and handling that earn it a unique position in the world of exotic motorcycling.

rear BST ultralight carbon fiber wheels
The 19 x 3-inch front and 18 x 8-inch rear BST ultralight carbon fiber wheels reduce unsprung mass to enhance ride and handling characteristics, says Arch.Courtesy Arch Motorcycles
carbon-fiber muffler
Arch says it worked with Yoshimura to integrate this carbon-fiber muffler with their 2-into-1 exhaust system. The exhaust note is impressive.Courtesy Arch Motorcycle

Gear Box

2020 Arch KRGT-1 Specifications

MSRP $85,000
Engine 2,032cc, 45-degree Arch/S&S T124 V-twin
Transmission/final drive 6-speed/chain
Fuel system Downdraft fuel injection
Claimed torque 121 lb.-ft.
Frame Tubular steel/aluminum subframe
Front suspension 48mm Arch/Öhlins inverted fork; fully adjustable
Rear suspension Arch/Öhlins monoshock, fully adjustable
Front brake 6-piston monoblock calipers, dual 320mm floating discs w/ ABS
Rear brake ISR 4-piston monoblock caliper, 240mm ISR disc w/ ABS
Front tire 120/70ZR-19 Michelin Commander II
Rear tire 240/40R-18 Michelin Commander II
Rake/trail 30.0°/5.0 in.
Wheelbase 68.0 in.
Seat height 27.8 in.
Fuel capacity 5.0 gal.
Claimed dry weight 538 lb.
Contact archmotorcycle.com

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