Akrapovic Morsus: If Carlsberg built custom bikes...
First rides & tests
27 December 2011 14:00
Factory customs don’t get any more ‘factory’ than this. Say hello to Morsus, a unique custom machine built for aftermarket exhaust giant Akrapovic. They commissioned specialists Dreamachine Motorcycles of Slovenia to build a bike to promote Akrapovics new range of custom exhausts.
Morsus is the result. And what a result. It went from drawing to finished article in just two-and-a-half months and went on to win major European custom show championships culminating with an entry to the AMD World Championship of custom bike building. In the Freestyle class, where anything goes, Morsus was placed 11th out of 43 of the best customs in the world. The winning bike from Japan took over three years to build and had an unlimited budget.
So far, only the men behind Morsus have ridden it – such is its value. Both Dreamachine and Akrapovic say Morsus is priceless. MCN, then, is the first – and probably the last – publication to get a ride…
The name means sting
Morsus is Latin for ‘sting’ or ‘bite’, which is very apt considering Akrapovic’s logo is a scorpion, but the imagery doesn’t end there. The clip-on style handlebars to the mirrors are intended to mimic a scorpions arms and claws. The curvature of the middle section is the arachnid’s body, while the sweeping upright seat cum tail section firms the poisonous tail sting. In all it’s a brilliant translation of idea to finished product.
Of course, that brings a few problems riding it. I eye it with a combination of admiration and caution as it looks to have a sting in the tail. The seat is carbon fibre with nothing more than grippy strips of material to cushion my backside. And it gets worse because Morsus is a rigid framed ‘hardtail’ with no rear suspension whatsoever. Where’s the nearest proctologist?
Gingerly I squat on the seat taking care to ensure jacket zip or anything else doesn’t scratch expensive carbon fibre or carefully applied titanium lookalike paint. Then, to my surprise, the seat gives a little.
Underneath the saddle, bolted between frame and seat, is a small Fox air shock. The whole seat unit reaches forward either side of the frame’s upper spine to a pivot point close to the headstock. This pivoting motion is damped by the shock. It’s simple but very effective. Meanwhile, the reach to the bars is a stretch and accentuated by low footpegs positioned somewhere near the rear wheel spindle. It’s time for Morsus’ enormous 26-inch wheels to move.
Designer Tomaz Capuder explains where the hidden starter button is located while at the same time turning the ignition key on. I thumb the button and twist the throttle to wake the single S&S Shorty carb that splits to feed the two big cylinders.
A million atomised fuel droplets explode
Krakatoa’s 1883 eruption surely had nothing on this. The noise of a million atomised and compressed fuel droplets explode as one to overpower me. Ye gods, it’s loud. Akrapovic has a reputation for legal yet power-producing exhausts, but there’s definitely no silencing material at any point in the Morsus’ two swooping, hand-made titanium pipes. There’s a butterfly valve inline somewhere but its effect of straining out thunder is minimal.
At running pace the palm of my hands are hurting with all the body weight heaped on them. Better to go faster and get some supportive air under my chest.
The 1852cc air-cooled twin is claimed to give up to 140bhp with a shedload of torque. In reality, it’s more like a warehouse full. The thin and tall 120/50-26-inch Vee Rubber rear tyre skips on the cold Tarmac before digging in and Morsus punts forward with the thrust and noise of Concorde at take-off.
I toe up another gear and all is well. With the throttle barely opened Morsus is simply ticking along in third gear. Hook fourth and the exhaust note is now barely a burble. Small throttle movements have no effect, whereas a quarter-inch turn in either direction gets it leaping forward or instantly slowing due to the immense engine braking.
Morsus has no instruments to clutter the beautiful the beautiful, flush-finished top yoke or block the view of the spinning front tyre. I guess we’re doing 70mph around Akraprovic’s test track and it’s natural to short shift through the remaining gears.There’s no need to rev the engine and stress it. Just make sure use of that kick-hard torque. Capuder’s words of caution flash back into my head as a corner approaches: “Morsus is a show bike; it is not a sports bike but ride with feel for what is natural.” I take ‘natural’ to mean ‘Don’t f*** up’.
I soon realise that 26-inch wheels have a lot more gyroscopic rotational force than anything I’ve encountered before. Basically, this means the Morsus wants to go straight on. It’s a battle to steer the bike through even a simple curve and a great deal of counter-steering is needed to keep the bars turned. It its wheels were made if anything heavier than ultra-trick, lightweight carbon-fibre/sheet ally, I’d have ended up with Popeye’s arms or a huge repair bill.
As a result, slow entry speed is everything with exaggerated upper body lean at mid-corner and a fistful of throttle on the way out, complete with a huge smile. Morsus is also one of those bikes where you can forgo comfort because of what it is. It’s a showpiece; a headturner; a rolling example of creative design and art.