There's a strong contingent of riders always asking the same questions, "Why build every new motorcycle with a big engine? Why not build something smaller, affordable and light that still looks cool? We want a real motorcycle, not a scooter." OK, check out the Vento 400 Cafe GT from PTS Motors. If you think a light (348 pounds), nimble commuter with a 34 horsepower 400cc 3 cylinder engine and 5 speed transmission might be just the ticket, look no further, here it is.
You may recognize that engine. It was designed by Ian Drysdale of Australia back in 2004 for PTS Motors to be used in an upcoming Vento Reptile ATV which entered production in 2007, but to some, the engine really looked like it should be on 2 wheels.
Back then, Nic Butti was working at PTS Motors as a Project Manager for the company’s motorcycle projects. He began thinking about putting the 400cc ATV engine in a bike and PTS management gave the go ahead to come up with ideas. Nic worked with Mario Cisneros of Vento to generate concepts and Richard James of The Model Citizen for technical details. They worked together via email and skype from three locations around the world.
Unfortunately, PTS and Vento decided to concentrate on the production of the 400cc engine and ATV so the bike project was canceled. About then, Nic left PTS and traveled to Australia for a holiday. Nic and Richard discussed the bike project and decided that it was too good to let die and continued the development of the bike using their own funds and time.
Meanwhile, Ian Drysdale was looking for a frame to put a triple engine into to show the potential of the design. After a quick discussion he agreed to lend an engine from a preproduction ATV to Nic and Richard to help them with their design and they began production of a prototype at the Drysdale Motor Co workshop.
The first prototype was shown to Vento in early 2008. Vento agreed to go ahead with the project and a preproduction prototype was commissioned. Nic and Richard joined forces with DMCo to refine and detail the original and completed the second prototype mid 2009.
Vento's Mario Cisneros traveled to Australia to evaluate the design and after days of riding around the Dandenong Ranges, East of Melbourne, and Philip Island, he approved it. As a result, PTS Motors will now manufacture the motorcycle with, as yet, unnamed parters.
Vento wanted as many “off the shelf” Chinese components to be used wherever possible to keep production costs low. With Nic situated in China, it was possible to select and coordinate with suppliers for many parts, including the tank, foot peg brackets, foot pegs and controls, forks, rims, brakes and of course, the engine, which was already in production.
Note: Prior to Nic and Richard beginning their own work, a mock up of the engine was sent to JT Nesbitt of Bienville Studios for a motorcycle concept evaluation as noted on the Bienville website and previously mentioned on The Kneeslider. The Vento / Bienville project was eventually canceled.
From the press release:
400 Cafe GT: easy fun (have a good day, officer).
Handling, balance and reactivity are all you need to commute in an urban scenario where hundreds of horses (hp) have nowhere to run. And if you let them go, your driving license will follow at the same speed. We designed a compact frame, a strong and sexy tubular structure, with quick (but not radical) steering geometries and a riding position that makes young riders and female riders feel equally comfortable and relaxed when sneaking through traffic, with a gentle touch on its wide clip-ons.
400 Cafe GT: simple (and clear).
Less than 40 bhp and it… moves! It even lets you grin behind the visor every time you turn your wrist. How’s it possible? How come all “the others” offer at least twice as many bhp?
Three inline cylinders are there to pull you out of troubles with a smooth power delivery and a crisp throttle response. No magic. Only old-fashioned low end grunt provided by the 2 valves per cylinder 392cc engine.
400 Cafe GT: style ain’t water (cooled).
Air + oil cooled engine, with wide cooling fins and a fat, tough profile, wouldn’t have matched a race replica styling with straight lines and sharp edges, nor a full fairing dress promising astonishing top speed performance. It was quite a natural choice: we styled a body that fits what the engine can give,with an extra touch to make our bike stand out from the plastic crowd of every parking lot.
It looks like a Café Racer, and its name reminds of those days, but we designed something different: not a stripped down racer, nor a copy of some model from the seventies. This is how we redefine today’s concept of Café Racer: a friend’s waiting for you downtown for a coffee?
Riding your 400 Cafe GT to your appointment and parking it there will let you feel (and look) better. Lock the helmet on the side of the removable passenger’s seat cover (production feature) and forget about scooters.
400 Cafe GT: THE Voice.
Hitting the starter button evokes a sound that is reminiscent of an early Porsche 911 Turbo. Apologies to our Bavarian friends, this result was unintentional!
In the production model, the rear subframe will have adjustable height. Also interesting is that the final design was approved by Tony Foale. The 400 Cafe GT is proposed as the first of a range of motorcycles based on this engine, each model will be styled for a different market segment. There's no mention of price or actual production dates and availability, but I'm guessing this will be pretty affordable. Your thoughts?