Lock Baker’s Mod­ern Mo­tus Chop­per

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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’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.

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