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July 25, 2016

Actor Keanu Reeves and his side project: building motorcycles

Action star Keanu Reeves is known for immersing himself in every detail of his roles, and now he's doing the same with his new business venture — making motorcycles.

With his partner Gard Hollinger, Reeves has redefined the American-made motorcycle with Arch Motorcycle Company, which the duo co-founded in 2011. The company's bikes are handcrafted dream machines that have become cult favorites for their combination of elegant design, workmanship, monstrous power and handling.

Keanu says motorcycles have long been one of his chief passions: "For me, riding is a kind of freedom. Just the sound, the feeling of it. The connection to the road, to riding, to the environment, to the journey."

Reeves has been riding motorcycles since he was 22, and almost always takes two wheels to his movie sets. But he never planned on going into the motorcycle business. In 2006, he brought one of his Harley-Davidson's to Hollinger, an L.A. chopper guru, to customize the seat. Hollinger refused to fix the seat, and instead wound up designing Reeves an entirely custom-made motorcycle.

Reeves was so inspired with the result of the four-years work that he suggested they start a motorcycle company. At first Hollinger demurred, recalling other fleeting vanity projects by Hollywood celebrities. But Reeves insisted they could build something big — and lasting.

Arch produces just one model, the KRGT-1. Yet the duo anticipates creating more models in the future. As Reeves explained, their motorcycles are more like works of art than modes of transportation — from the hand-stitched leather seats to the gleaming, in-house engine parts that look more like pieces of jewelry. The swooping gas tank, carved from 534 pounds of billet aluminum and welded together with intricate precision, takes 66 hours to make and could easily pass for a multimillion-dollar Jeff Koons sculpture.

It's also a beast on the road. Its V-Twin, 2032 cc engine, made by S&S Cycle, can deliver 122 horsepower to push the 538-pound bike to more than 130 miles per hour. Motorcycle reviewers describe it as the best of both biking worlds: the power and performance of a sport bike, but the comfort of a touring bike.

Reeves and Hollinger plan to keep production small, in the dozens rather than hundreds of bikes a year. Their chief mission is not to make money, they said, but to make a motorcycle that buyers ride and collect for decades.

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