The Motus Story – Part One: Validation

A new series of stories from the pen of moto-adventurer Neale Bayly.

Record-setting machines leaving a trail of salt from UT to AL.

As night fell on the Rocky Mountains close to two miles high into the cold, crisp air, two motorcycle riders pulled into a gas station for coffee and a fill up. Dressed in light summer gear, the pair, close to freezing and exhausted, took stock of the situation. With only 100 miles to a hot shower and comfortable bed in Denver, they decided that instead of calling it quits, they would push through the night, with the last of the adrenaline from the previous days’ adventure on the famous Bonneville Salt flats still coursing through their veins.

To the untrained eye, two slightly-built guys approaching forty years of age had ridden a pair of modern sport-touring motorcycles into a gas station and quickly left. A motorcycle aficionado though would have seen the founders of Motus Motorcycles, Brian Case and Lee Conn, riding motorcycles they had conceived, produced, and brought to market. Two motorcycles that had just taken production land speed records at Bonneville.

Somewhere in Missouri about 19 hours in on a 30+ hour ride.

Still covered in salt, with the ink of their achievement not even dry in the history books, the story they could have spun to the press was one of the two heroes riding hard and fast for 2,000 miles in 33 hours to show the durability and comfort of their record-breaking machines. The simple truth was that they missed their families and just wanted to be home as fast as they could.

The decision to race at Bonneville was pre-ordained long before Motus was born. Brian grew up with salt and gasoline in his veins as a ten-year-old boy attending the famous races with his motorcycle-riding father. Lee also watched his father set unlikely land speed records on Moto Guzzis. Graduating from the school of “Grit and Determination,” it wasn’t enough to spend six years bringing their dream of building the first American V4 sport-touring motorcycle to market. They wanted to prove themselves on the salt, so it was just a matter of time before they went in search of that often-elusive timing slip.

MSTRs staged for for tech inspection and engine teardown to verify displacement. 

As the Motus crew prepared for Bonneville, the mission was clear. Take two MSTRs from the demo fleet, and with some preparation similar to what you need to ride at a track day, unload them, race them, and come home with a record. Lee and Brian would each enter a bike in a separate Production class so they could compete for their own record. The motorcycle gods were clearly pleased, after all it was the 100th anniversary of the famous time trials: within a few difficult runs on the tricky salt, both bikes set records in their respective classes. Brian took 1650cc P-PG at 163.982 mph and Lee came in at 1650cc P-PP at 165.813 mph with top speeds of almost 170 mph.

The van caught fire due to an unfortunately placed alternator. Mercedes had not considered customers driving through 10″ of salt water. Master tech Matt Bright hopped on an MST and rode to Salt Lake City to pick up the replacement. 

Back in Birmingham, Alabama, Lee and Brian put the record-breaking motorcycles back in the test fleet, hung the race posters on the wall, put the plaques on the shelf, then quickly rolled up their sleeves and got back to work. The new sport-touring motorcycle they had designed was able to go to Bonneville, claim land speed records, be ridden home, and slip back into the demo fleet as if it had never been gone. A production Motus later topped 175 mph in a standing mile on asphalt, but the point had been made. Both bikes had the durability, reliability, and massive power from the big-bang V4 to deal with the wet salt, and the stability and comfort to run long distances at speed on their cross-country ride home. All proven in one mad adventure. The Motus MSTR.

Motus V4 Factory Racing went 2/2 in its first event.