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Ronin Motorworks 47 Motorcycles – Jay Lenos Garage

Mike Mayberry, Co-Founder of Ronin Motor Works, stops by the garage to show Jay what the Denver-based motorcycle boutique created from the bones of the Buell 1125.

Well another episode of jay leno’s garage if you’ve been to this website you know we are huge motorcycle enthusiasts and uh something exciting has been happening in the motorcycle world last couple of years a lot of boutique manufacturers small guys designers engineers they get together and they produce essentially custom bikes and that’s what these are these are

Called ronins they’re out of denver colorado and they’re actually building them and selling them this isn’t a pipe dream where they built one you have to order it they probably sold 20 or 30 bikes already let’s meet mike mayberry mike come on in you’re one of the founders good to see you nice to see you see we have the same fashion consultant good good because the

Show is not about fashion it’s about cars and motorcycles so that’s exactly where we’re coming from so tell me how you founded this company where’d the idea come from well the idea originally came from it was a design exercise we were big fans of buell and we had seen as actually a magazine ad that came out a long time ago that showed the 1125 stripped down to

Its bear frame and engine and it was the first bike that people had come out with with a water cooled engine they had rotax design it was a great performing motor and we thought the the bones of the bike were quite gorgeous and then we got excited to see the finished bike come out and when it finally came out we they had covered most of it in plastic body work

Right right had kind of lost the the essence and you know the the lines of the bike have some original um cues from some of the vintage perimeter frame bikes back in the early 20s and we were always a fan of that and we were also big fans of the vinson black shadow and linkage forks see i don’t trust any motorcycle can’t see through you know i like to be able to

See daylight through i hate it when the whole bike is completely covered right with plastic you know unless it’s a dust bin fairing from the 50s and i then i go okay but yeah i see you have this sort of uh the vincent had what they call a grydraulic front end on it here’s here’s a picture of the vincent front end sure that looks like it looked like it’s two knife

Blades and the advantage of that was it kept the bike when you hit the brakes the front end didn’t dive it didn’t go down is this a true uh hydraulic type front end yup well it’s a four bar linkage for an end same basic construction and it does let you control what the fork does you can control the axle path you can control the dive the rise under braking it gives

You a lot of freedoms that you don’t get out of a telescoping fork um and and also a a a visual aesthetic that we thought balanced nicely with the bike but um i agree with you i like to see a bike where i can see all the parts right right now um is this using the build frame and you’ve changed the front end and some other pieces it’s a different frame no it’s

The dual fuel frame okay and the build rear swing arm okay and we’ve retained that and then everything else basically has been re i always found this fascinating fuel has what they call this perimeter disc brake and because is it because it’s it’s so big you don’t only need one on one side the idea was yeah a larger diameter right more than a singular caliper so

We’ve moved the radiator up to here correct okay so this this is a water cooler not that not an oil cool radiator that’s a yes that’s a water cooler okay it’s a radiator and you fill it right here which is correct pretty easy right yeah oh okay this is our speedometer intensified speedometers in the window and that’s attacked there yep then they’re switchable all

Your controls are on the left and right sides here um we redid all the air intake system these are all all the castings are done in colorado right um and um they’re all investment cast aluminum parts and then carbon fiber air box and carbon fiber so how does this work you buy a bunch of bules and then you modify them we bought 50 50 buells when harley-davidson

Finished the brand right they shut down the build brand as you know and we bought 50 bikes at that time that were new old basically new inventory bikes right okay and we warehouse them and we now pull them out of inventory and they get completely disassembled down to the down to the the jugs come off the engine and we rework the stators and we work the flywheel and

Then the motor goes back together and the whole bike comes back together so uh when when i buy one of these um do i have it obviously meets all government emissions and everything because you haven’t really modified the engine correct correct so there’s no 50 state compliant and all that kind of stuff yep yeah okay is it titled as a build or as a ronin it retains

Its original title now if i had a two or three year old buell could i drop it off at you guys you can modify it into this or you don’t do that we get that question a lot oh okay no no we’re only building 47 of them oh that’s it that’s it 47 and the extra we’ve got 50 bikes total the other three bikes are test bikes uh one of them’s here that we use as a as a test

Mule bike we’ll probably keep those when we’re done but it’s it’s sort of a it’s a moment in time the 47 bikes will get built and then we’ll close our doors and we’ll go up and down and everybody goes finds another job somewhere wow on the page yeah because it’s really more labor love building these things yeah yeah yeah it was a is the my partner said when we

Set up he’s like you know when we’re 80 years old we’ll look back and go oh we’re glad we did that and if we don’t then we will regret it okay now we have a do you have a couple of different models here are they all basically the same well there’s there’s the first production run of the silver and black bikes right and then we’ve got one of the the all black bikes

Which is the second production run and then this one’s the oddball this is the original prototype that was built back in 2009. i never understood why buell was not more successful i mean it’s a true american sport bike in the style of ducati or booster they were what eleven thousand five hundred dollars i think when they were brand new something i mean they were the

Eleven twenty five yeah i mean they were reasonable they weren’t they were priced with ducatis in there and he you know was a performance-minded guy and it was all about performance i didn’t did harley not like the fact that you’re using rotax motors is that it maybe or something i’m sure that didn’t help yeah yeah probably didn’t help at all no but uh no they’re

Fantastic performing but how about eric buell has he seen these does he give me any opinion on them we uh no not him directly we we keep contact with ebr racing those guys are great they’ve helped us out um they’ve helped us do some of the engine updates and um and get us parts when we need parts so they’ve been very helpful um but now we’ve never actually had a

Sit down with eric himself i certainly would be curious to hear what he has to say about it okay so your fuel is here right and this is correct this the the tank’s just this is airbox so these are yours yeah you’re not carrying anything up here well inside is filter and electronics yeah but i mean i mean what i’m saying is you yeah and that was part of his idea

Was mass centralization okay so you know we kept everything that we loved about his bikes and his designs and then redesigned the parts that we felt okay so this is new here the whole front and the steering wheel yeah this is nicely integrated where you put this uh the speedo yep into here this was actually inspired by an old lambretta that i that i had with the

Pressed tin handlebars that all integrated you know i would not tell the bike guys it was inspired by a lambretta that probably might you know it’s just it just kind of throws like lambretta i like lambretta’s but it’s a whole different image you’re true that’s true yeah yeah say motogp yeah okay inspired by motogp yeah very good okay and obviously this piece is

Now are you guys uh um is that what you did you went to design school is that what it was you guys yeah i’m an industrial designer by trade and um this was kind of a fun side exercise that we did and then when we when we decided we wanted to take the prototype and actually go and produce 47 of them we actually hired and assembled a team of guys that are all here

And we’ve got two other industrial designers and machinists and yeah i mean that’s fascinating how you come up with that business plan so do you guys what built this bike and then thought well people liked it maybe we should go into the business or was it to go into the business from the get-go it was to go into the business from the get-go it was basically to to

Put something out there that might last longer than we do yeah yeah see see where it goes very nice very nice okay now where are your do you have turn signals in this is that turn signals are right here on the bards oh so they’re all integrated into the mirrors everything’s integrated into there’s a there’s a control logic unit in the tail that manages everything

So there’s no mechanical relays it’s all solid state relays oh very nice and that drives the turn signals the high beams um all of the key electronics so let’s see what’s different from the prototype to the production bike obviously you went to a little bigger speedo yep the noticeable things are the integration of the headlights into the forks you can see this

Bike was built in eight weeks designed and built in eight weeks for and we took it to a trade show right so um there was a lot of refinement that had to be done in order to take something that was made once and actually make it producible all the all the cast parts had to be redesigned so that you could actually pull molds from them most of these parts are rapid

Prototypes now you notice this one you have the temperature gauge for the water but i know if that doesn’t that’s built into the into the head there this was actually this was for us to monitor when we were doing testing this one it’s integrated into the that’s made in germany by moto gadget okay now is this radiator bigger or smaller same size as build had or what

It is the frontal area is smaller but the core depth is comparable you’ll have two thin radiators we’ve got one the higher density core radiator okay very cool and then and then obviously cleaner flowing air over the front because i’ve got a build next door that i love it’s a fantastic bike yeah you know they’re great bikes they built a race motor and we got

130 135 horse out of it and you got to run race fuel but oh it’s a fantastic bike that’s the air cooled motor yeah yeah it makes all the right noises and it’s fast and yep you know it’s it’s very very cool well these are about 147 stock horse is that what it is yeah 147. i didn’t realize that high now what is this what was the stock buell was that right around

That yeah no the i mean the this the stock build 1125 motor oh wow yeah kind of a cool exhaust system did you guys make that is that aftermarket what is that that’s all our design oh nicely done yep let’s hear how it sounds can we fire it up sure so we power up right here okay so it’s not too loud you got it i think it’s time we went for a ride about ready to

Go for a ride where’s this bike weigh anyway right around 400 pounds oh okay cool 50 pounds down from stock oh all right like the bar in mirrors very nicely done now you’re hiding something behind your back what do you have there uh this is the owner’s tool kit nice and what is that oh is that like a it’s a little magnetic key that opens it for you and i say and

Then inside you’ve got a tool that basically lets you work on any any fastener on the bike um or take your aggression out oh it’s oh i see and then oh i see we’ve got little various pieces in there it just fits in there very cool and then your key and uh your owner’s manual see every time you ride you have your man give you the box thank you and you seal seal

The box then you go for it yes well let me ask you about the ronin name where does that come from um we named the bike after the uh the ronin legacy of the 47 ronin which were uh a ronin’s basically a samurai warrior that’s lost its master and when when they closed buell you had all these bikes roaming the street that had sort of lost their master and okay it’s

Sort of an homage to eric buehl and his legacy all right very good well our fuel was a great engineer and these are great motors so i i do this and i’m ready to go right yep and then i just hit the start button put my helmet on let’s see how she goes well the first impression is i really like the seating position you know i like this english style handlebar

You know cafe bikes look cool but you know in traffic when you’re hunched over whereas this it’s a nice comfortable riding position the wind holds you up so it takes all the weight off your arms so that makes it really nice it’s kind of fun to watch that front end work when you hit the brakes kind of watch it moving up and down actually you should be watching

The road you know i like seeing an american-built sport bike i mean i like cruises as much as the next guy but when you ride english bikes and ducatis and stuff like that it’s fun to have a bike that handles and it’s kind of cool to have one that’s made in america like this and this perimeter break works fine you know i can’t remember what the engineering idea

Was behind i guess you get the bigger disc more surface area i guess uh because i know old japanese bikes that had a disc brake just on one side you know you’d wear the seal out you’d blow the seal on this side because the bike would always do that when you hit the brake but this one doesn’t seem to do that but i’ve got a uh eric fuel bike with this front brake

On it i love it i like these bars this really is a comfortable riding position because at this speed we’ll be going about 50 55 two-lane road the wind holds you up you don’t get a lot of pain as i said before on your shoulders even in high years you got plenty of ball all the controls are very very tight it shifts very nicely you’ve got all kinds of torque no

Matter what you’re in you know this seat is really firm but it’s not uncomfortable i thought it might be a little hard for us buttercly challenge guys but it’s it’s not it’s actually quite nice this is a great sunday morning go for a ride bike you know you just pull it out you go blast up into the hills you know california really a motorcyclist paradise because

So many beautiful roads like this i mean it’s still winter in every other part of the country what is it 75 degrees here today fantastic boy this is really a nice fight ride you know it’s got money performance and everything just works okay so what do we got here well it’s a very nice riding bike let me shut off my uh fuel pump my electric fan here there you

Go you know a lot of times you have engineers that design bikes and they handle good but they look pretty awful and then of course on the other side you have designers who design bikes and they look great and then you take them out on the road and they’re all over the place i’ve had a couple answers to that where designers bring bikes by i get on the brakes don’t

Work and the front end is all screwed up what you have here is you have eric buell who is the engineers engineer designing essentially a race bike for the street a true sport bike and then you give it to these guys who are designers and they take his thing one step further and make it look unique a lot of people might think this is controversial but i like stuff

That looks different you know we motorcycles are pretty conservative we like a standard fork and all this kind of just regular stuff i remember the honda 750 came out he said electric store well i mean this is the future i mean i think that’s not a great looking bike more importantly it’s a lot of fun to ride you know all the r d has been done on this engineers

Went through it it shifts it handles it stops it doesn’t overheat and of course you add this unique design element to it of which there are only 47 and you come up with a really interesting product i’m not going to tell you how much it costs you can go to their website and ask them because one-off stuff is expensive but you have something here that i think is uh

It’s pretty cool and it’s it’s nice the guys take a chance and do a short run of something like this and there’s only going to be 47 of these and this is one of them so i’m glad i got a chance to write it thanks a lot mike terrific job nice job nice job see you guys next week uh

Transcribed from video
Ronin Motorworks 47 Motorcycles – Jay Leno's Garage By Jay Leno’s Garage