The process of creating a motorcycle is art, at least it is at Arch Motorcycle. These beauties are bespoke bikes, made like sculptures for an art gallery. They’re shaped and molded from raw materials, taking form one sexy curve at a time. They’re elegance on two wheels, and some only available in limited editions.
Topanga Journal conducted a Q&A with Arch Motorcycle’s talented designer, Gard Hollinger, to find out how these sleek bikes are created.
By Kriss Perras & Josh Hastings
PERRAS: Can you take us through the process to build an Arch motorcycle? Most especially the robotic machine you have to make parts like the gas tank, I believe?
HOLLINGER: The machines you’re referring to are our Haas Automation vertical milling machines. They essentially shape the material, in our case primarily aluminum, by removing all the excess material from a solid billet which starts from a geometric shape that’s slightly larger than the final part size. The machine is guided by a program which our R&D Manager, Ryan Boyd, creates. The machine responds to numerical code commands that dictate everything from which cutting tool is used to the path the tool moves across the material as it cuts away the unwanted excess.
PERRAS: How are you able to customize the bike so easily?
HOLLINGER: The bikes are designed on a proven mechanical platform to optimize performance, ergonomics and quality which at the same time was created to accommodate ease of adjustment to fit the customers desired riding style and ergonomic comfort, as well as to allow nearly endless color, finish and livery options. I wouldn’t exactly describe it as “easy,” but it is, I believe, one of the most satisfying parts of the process for both us and the customers. In the end, you nearly never have two bikes exactly alike, making each one unique to its owner.
“In the end, you nearly never have two bikes exactly alike, making each one unique to its owner,” said Hollinger.
HASTINGS: Why is the arch frame built like it is?
HOLLINGER: The combination of steel and aluminum structure is the result of design and engineering combined. The result is a very rigid chassis which is the foundation of the bikes great handling. Every attempt was made to have the fewest number of parts serve the most functions. This is the reason for things like, the right side gas tank doubling as a structural member, or the lower seat cowling pieces functioning also as a structural link between the backbone and the frame side plates as well as the rear shock’s front mount. Things like the exposed backbone and it’s circular details are mostly design driven, but its arched shape is primarily driven by the need to create space for the downdraft intake system components.
PERRAS: Can you explain your “unique downdraft intake system for the KRGT-1” you were sharing on Instagram?
HOLLINGER: It’s quite simply designed to move the entire intake system and its components away from the side of the motorcycle, and place it between the fuel tanks so that it’s not a hinderance to the rider. It also allows us to keep the motorcycle very slender feeling and balanced.
HASTINGS: Tell us about the unique materials you use to design the bike, like the gas tank especially?
HOLLINGER: I don’t know how “unique” the materials are but the way they are manufactured, and often used, I would say are unusual. We try to use the best materials available for each component we make, like 6000 series billet aluminum, carbon fiber, stainless steel, etc.
HASTINGS: What makes the Arch bike so unique from other well-known bikes?
HOLLINGER: I suppose it is a number of things, for example, the unique idea to create a production custom motorcycle. A motorcycle that is at once original to each owner yet designed and built on a platform which we’ve spent countless hours and tens of thousands of miles to maximize performance, reliability and a unique riding experience. There’s also the fit and finish which I believe is at a level rarely seen in a motor vehicle.
HASTINGS: How did Arch Motorcycle Company come into existence?
HOLLINGER: Keanu and I met at my previous business, LA County Choprods, when he asked me to modify a Harley Davidson Dyna he had. I was impressed by his artistic eye and his passion for the riding experience. As we got into the project, the combination of art and function that we were aiming for began to look familiar, much like a concept motorcycle might look. After the completion of this first bike, later serving as the first KRGT-1 prototype, we knew we had something unique to offer the motorcycle world. The real work began when we formed the company in 2011, building the infrastructure of the company and forming a great team including our right hand, Ryan Boyd, who worked by my side helping to redesign the original bike to be even better, more proprietary and easier to manufacture.
PERRAS: How did the collaboration between Suter Industries and Arch Motorcycle come into being? And why?
HOLLINGER: It was quite fortuitous. We were introduced to Suter’s CEO, Maurizio Baumle, by a mutual friend during one of his visits to California to deliver a new MMX500 to a customer. The meeting developed into a conversation about both the similarities and complimenting differences between the two companies. After which, the conversation about how much we might achieve together began.
PERRAS: What can we expect from Arch in the European market since you have a new partner, it seems?
HOLLINGER: We just returned from the EICMA Motorcycle Exhibition in Milan where we were able to connect face to face with many of our European customer base and announce the partnership with Suter Industries. The response was extremely positive worldwide, not just in Europe, and it further proved the vast potential this market has for us. We are in the process of finalizing the Euro4 compliance on our new and existing models, and we look forward to welcoming more European Arch owners to the family.
PERRAS: What does the acronym KRGT stand for? It doesn’t match Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger. I’m curious.
HOLLINGER: Keanu was very much against this originally. We always wanted and want the brand to come first. It’s not the Keanu Reeves or Gard Hollinger Motorcycle Company. KRGT-1 was a pet name I had for the first model as it was in development. When it came time to decide what to name the first model when going to market, it won out against a healthy list of other names. So he lost to the democratic process, if you will.
It’s sort of like the lyrics to a song, they can mean different things to different people.