Lock Baker’s Modern Motus Chopper
For the first couple of years I knew Lock Baker, this Motus engine sat in the middle of his shop. Mounted in a jig he had no doubt made around the engine as he uncrated it, the red heads of the MV4 sat cocked just slightly forward —exactly like they do in the stock bike. “When are you going to build this thing?” I would ask every time.
“Not yet. That’s the bike I’m going to die on,” he’d reply with a little smile. “I’m not ready to build it just yet.” Joking but knowing that there’s some daunting possibility of truth to it.
Baker is the sole proprietor of Eastern Fabrications and Lockhart Knives in downtown Los Angeles, where he builds absurd motorcycles and hand-forges masterwork-level knives. One wildly unique build after the other, he’s found his niche with overengineered V-twins (and one V-4), often machining internal engine components and getting much deeper into the builds than any spectators would ever know. While he started out building far-out choppers, his work has grown more and more functional over the years, reaching its pinnacle with this build: Red Asphalt.
Named after the scare-you-straight videos we were all forced to watch in driver’s ed class, Red Asphalt earned its moniker by its terrifyingly awesome weightto-power ratio—the same one that had Baker fearing for his life before he even started the build. The Motus production model MSTR has a claimed dry weight of 500 pounds with 180 horsepower and 126 footpounds of torque, and saw top speeds of over 168 mph at Bonneville. Now imagine that with 100 pounds stripped off and the intake and exhaust uncorked.
“The power is insane,” Baker says, sort of giggling and leaning in across the table. “You really have to take some time to learn to control your right hand. If you sort of grab a little jab of it and you’re not completely prepared and pointed in a safe direction, it can get you into trouble pretty quick. So that’s the only problem— and it’s not a problem. And the more I ride it, the more I learn to control it. You’re easily tagging 100 in third, and it’s a six-speed. The stock bike, bone stock gearing and everything went out at Bonneville, and set a pushrod world record right out the box.” His eyes are lit up. You can see that even after the three years he has spent building and modifying this bike, it still gets his heart pumping. Maybe it’s that there is that untapped potential, and knowing that it’s right there if he wants it.
From the beginning, he knew he wanted to build his vision of a modern chopper. Something radical with a low seat, footpegs a little farther forward, and high handlebars, but other than that, this was going to be, as Baker described it, “a sort of futuristic racebike meets chopper.” The bike is entirely computer
controlled through a small panel full of toggles and readouts on the left side. Sensors measure internal and external temperatures, as well as intake and exhaust to manage the fuel injection for maximum efficiency. In fact, Baker claims that you can hold your finger behind the open pipe while it’s running, and you won’t catch any soot.
“It’s like...it’s perfect. It’s perfectly smooth computercontrolled power. It’s efficient. It has a complete start and run sequence. It needs no input from you other than powering up the panel.” Every time we talk about riding the bike, he gets the same distant smile, like he is imagining being on it. He comes back: “It’s taking its own temperature as it rides so it’s perfect. It’s got exhaust sensors, ambient-air sensor, crank-position sensors, timing—it takes care of everything.” Which means that that tiny little envelope of a 1.5-gallon gas tank lasts him an average of about 100 miles.
From the rocker boxes to the riser clamp, there isn’t a piece on this bike that wasn’t thoughtfully engineered and constructed. Pieces were redone if they weren’t done right—in fact, the rear suspension took three forms before the Vincent style you see here. Whether it’s to make it lighter, faster, more efficient, or stronger, everything was done for a reason, and done right. HB
RIGHT The no-frills control panel has toggles and readout for all the important components of the motorcycle. Ambient air, intake and exhaust sniffers, speed, revs–it can all be seen, controlled, and navigated through this section on the side.
TOP RIGHT A window under the slim gas tank allows air to access the filter for the intake.
ABOVE Brembo brakes and Öhlins suspension keep the rubber on the road and stop it on a dime.