“You don’t need a therapist if you ride a Titan…”
Available from 2005-2012, the Yamaha MT-01 was a modern muscle bike, combining the stump-pulling power of the Warrior XV1700 V-twin with forks and brakes from the R1 superbike. Said Yamaha’s marketing material at the time:
“You get to ride a 1670cc v-twin-powered superbike with ultra-aggressive styling and stance. Exceptional torque right off idle and acceleration for effortless passing at any speed in any gear are just two of the features which will make you fall in love with this monster.”
Monster was right. The engine’s 90 rear-wheel horsepower peaked at just 4750 rpm, making the bike an absolute hoot on city streets, while the bike’s rigid chassis and aggressive steering geometry meant it could keep up surprisingly well in the twisties with modern supersports.
“Monster torque, neo-hooligan character and admirable handling in an extraordinarily distinctive package.” —Motorcyclist
Unfortunately, we never got to experience the mighty MT-01 on US shores, as Yamaha USA declined to import it — they claimed the market was too niche. In any case, we can watch from afar as builders abroad transform this aging muscle bike into custom creations.
Enter Thanh Ho Ngo (“Ho”) Shenfu and Michael (“Michl”) Siebenhofer of Austria’s Titan Motorcycles, based in Graz, the capital of Styria — the nation’s southernmost state, known for its castles, mountains, and forests. Michl is a qualified vehicle engineer, who customized Beetles, Porsches, and BMW motorcycles while he was in school, then went to work for Sebring-Remus and Mopar, where he was head of product planning for both Jeep and Chrysler before opening a shop of his own:
“He gave up his well-paid job at Mopar, swapped his suit and tie for jeans and a T-shirt, and with part of the severance payment as his starting capital, he dared to take the plunge into self-employment.” —Klassic Lust
Ho, the second “Titanist,” is not only an architectural engineer, but has earned top honors as a designer, artist, and cartoonist. He first walked into the workshop with his son in a stroller, and the two young men soon hit it off, deciding to take the plunge together. They focus on the restoration, customization, and service/repair of classic motorcycles, both for individual clients and design work for manufacturers. Ho says they are still influenced by the Bauhaus school of design — simple, linear elements without design frills or gimmicks:
“Exquisite simplicity as a concept — that is what makes Titan Motorcycles so successful. Every motorcycle that leaves the factory is a design manifesto of minimalism.” —Klassic Lust
Of course, the MT-01 you see here may seem like more of an exercise in maximalism, but that befits both the nature of the MT-01 itself and the desires of the client:
“It was clear that he wanted to have a brutal looking, martial bike.”
On the other hand, the duo were surprised to learn that the customer had zero intention of micro-managing them about the design — even the color choice was left up to them! Master designer Ho got to work immediately on a design, removing visual weight from the tail, changing the exhaust, and developing a photorealistic concept to show the customer, who loved it.
The bike is now rolling on Kineo wheels, has Motogadget switches, and the tail was formed using a 75-ton hydraulic press! The exhaust was a particular challenge, as they had to satisfy the Austrian’s government’s noise regulations while keeping the weight as low as possible — no easy task!
In the end, they’ve created one truly striking MT-01 that defies categorization. Is it a Scrambler? Streetfighter? Dirt Fighter? In the end, we don’t really care — all we know is we’d love to wring the throttle on this beast!
- Night Shots: Kooky Photography (@kooky_on_tour)
- White Wall: Klemens König Photography (@klemenskoenig.at)