Keanu Reeves is building high-end motorbikes – using wheels and parts from Joburg

Business Insider SA
Keanu Reeves. Source: Arch Motorcycle
Keanu Reeves. Source: Arch Motorcycle
  • Motorbike enthusiast and film star Keanu Reeves launched his own motorcycle manufacturing business five years ago, and from the start used South African-built wheels for his high-end ARCH bikes.
  • Blackstone TEK builds carbon-fibre parts at a factory in North Riding in Johannesburg. 
  • Of late, the company has been supplying other parts to ARCH.
  • For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

When film star Keanu Reeves launched ARCH Motorcycle five years ago, his high-end motorbike company turned to a South Africans manufacturer to supply the carbon-fibre wheels.

Blackstone TEK (BST) is a world leader in the design and production of carbon fibre wheels for motorcycles. 

The company was founded by Gary Turner, a South African motorcycle racer, who later managed European and American motorcycle race teams before he started designing and building his own custom bikes. Turner started experimented with carbon fibre, which is five times stronger than steel, but much lighter. Microscopic threads of carbon (a nonmetallic chemical element) are woven together to create the material.

Turner eventually opened a factory in North Riding, Johannesburg, where he builds wheels and other parts for motorcycles and cars across the world.

Read: The Maritzburg company that helps make Tesla cars, now brings wifi to millions of air travellers

“We make the most amazing parts out of carbon fibre – it’s the perfect material for engineering when you really know what you’re doing. It’s light and strong and makes perfect sense when your goal is to reduce weight and increase strength,” says Terry Annecke, co-owner of the business.

Turner and Annecke met Reeves’ business partner, the American motor-cycle designer Gard Hollinger, some years ago. Hollinger became a fan of BST wheels, which he used for his own custom-made bikes. This relationship continued after Hollinger founded Arch with Reeves, and all their bikes used BST wheels from the start.

“They both just love the work we do – it’s beautiful, very smart, and meets their very specific requirements, and we deliver great value. No-one else can do what we do, and they recognised this early on,” says Annecke

ARCH Motorcycles, based in California, builds high-end bike priced at a minimum of $78,000 (R1.1 million) each.

Its flagship model is the KRGT-1, or the “Keanu Reeves GT, model 1”, with a 2,031cc twin cam engine that produces 121 horsepower.

Arch's KRGT-1.
Arch's KRGT-1.

Of late, BST has also supplied Arch with other carbon fibre parts, including fuel cells (which are used in tanks), frames and fenders.

These parts are included in Arch’s new S1 and KRGT bikes.

The BST-manufactured wheel on the new KRGT1.
The BST-manufactured wheel on the new KRGT1. Photo: ARCH Motorcycle/Instagram

Annecke says the Arch designs are “really out there”

“They need real specialists who can translate that into beautiful, functional carbon parts. That’s BST and we’re their chosen technical partner and one-stop-shop for all their carbon fibre work. 

“Their latest work of art is the turbine design wheel which we make for them – that’s a real stretch of the imagination.”

Photo: ARCH

Reeves (50) has been a motorcycle enthusiast since his early twenties, and owns an impressive collection, including a number of Nortons and Suzukis, a 1974 BMW 750, a Kawasaki KZ 900, a 1984 Harley Shovelhead, and a Moto Guzzi racer.

Reeves also rode bikes in some of his films including "Chain Reaction", "My Own Private Idaho", and the latest instalment of the "John Wick" film series. He also owns a 2004 Ducati 998 that was part of a chase scene from "The Matrix Reloaded".

Earlier this month, in a GQ interview about his bikes, Reeves highlighted the South African parts in ARCH bikes: 

The YouTube video received more than nine million views in two weeks. 

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