Dylan Brown is an emerging trailblazer with Terra Bikes, a brand that fuses cutting-edge technology and exploration. In an exclusive interview with Innovation & Tech Today, Brown shares the inspiration behind Terra Bikes, what makes it special, key design elements of the tech, and more.
Innovation & Tech Today: Can you share the inspiration behind the creation of Terra Bikes?
Dylan Brown: Terra grew out of my pursuit of always going beyond the next bend. Whether I’m hiking, taking photographs, riding my mountain bike, or touring with my dad on one of his classic Honda builds, I always want to go one more mile to see what lies beyond. I guess it’s a curiosity thing.
Take, for example, the EV world. We’ve given combustion engines over 100 years to be perfected. Yet, we’re still essentially using the same technology that came about for the first hand-crank engine of the 1900s.
In my opinion, it’s time to give battery technology a go. I know Lithium Ion batteries are not perfect, but we’ve only just begun exploring what’s possible. Part of the reason I built Terra was to lay the groundwork for a motorcycle that can swap any kind of battery, so as we progress. Specifically in the battery world, we can pop in a more efficient or more eco-friendly battery as it becomes developed. Plus, two wheels are probably the most efficient mode of transportation humans have ever created. I want to capitalize on that. EV bikes, motorcycles, scooters- all of them. To me, it’s a clear path to a cleaner urban environment.
I&T Today: What sets Terra Bikes apart from other electric motorcycles in the market?
Brown: To start, we’re not trying to skirt any laws to get our bikes to the masses. We took our time to make sure our bikes are fully DOT/SAE compliant, and we’re registered with the NHTSA, which means our bikes come to VIN assigned and ready to be licensed for on-road use. But we made sure the fun didn’t stop at the pavement. I live in Colorado and play in Utah. I designed the Terra Prime as a fully capable dual-sport bike, meaning it can tackle wild Colorado trails and messy Utah sand all the while giving the user ease of mind that they can license and insure the bike for their daily commutes.
I also believe that electrictrification should simplify the motorcycle, not complicate that. So what does that mean? Well, our builds are stripped down, only using completely necessary parts. Less is more when it comes to reliability and repairs. We still use a key, we are a direct chain drive, and our suspension is built around a single-pivot design. This also helps with the efficiency aspect of the bike. I designed the bike to be low-weight and very forgiving for even the most novice of riders. What that means is at sub-200 pounds and a standover height of 32 inches, nearly all rider heights, and weights can easily ride and maneuver the bike. We have a 5’2″ woman using the bike on a ranch in Montana and a 6’2″ man using a bike as a commuter in downtown Salt Lake City. The world is your oyster when it comes to how it can be used. And on top of it, I work with each customer to make sure they get the bike set up for their individual needs.
I&T Today: Can you explain the key innovations or design elements of Terra Bikes?
Brown: I designed Terra with utility in mind. And not in the sense that it’s full of racks and straps and looks like a cage with wheels, but I designed it to be easily repaired or customized. I made sure our fasteners were commonplace. I made sure our motor and controller could be swapped for off-the-shelf exchanges, and I made sure that if you need small part help (brake hose, new tire, new chain, etc), they can be found at your local bike and moto store or Amazon. This means no waiting for months for a proprietary part that is stuck on a ship in Long Beach.
I&T Today: What are the key specs of the bike?
Brown: Well, I designed this bike with the intention that it would be ridden off-road. So, I made sure that it had ample travel and progressive suspension to tackle serious terrain. So starting with that, it has 8″ of travel up front and 6.5″ of travel in the rear. It rolls on 19″ x 3″ dual-sport tires. The standover height is low at 32″, which means tiptoeing through a technical trail is a breeze, and at the same time, stopping at a red light is nice and comfortable for even the shortest of riders. We’ve partnered with Warp9 Racing out of Salt Lake City, so we use lots of their high-end components- everything from their wheelsets to the handlebars. Our motor is a 72v 3kw brushless motor with a direct chain drive that gets its juice from three optional battery packs – 32ah, 50ah, or 70ah – and peaks out at nearly 12.5kw. We have four drive modes: eco, city, dirty, and ludicrous (sport). Eco tops you out at 28mph, whereas dirty tops you out at 55mph.
I&T Today: How has your background as a commercial photographer influenced the design and aesthetic aspects of Terra Bikes?
Brown: I’ve been working with brands for nearly 15 years to craft and tell their stories through photos and videos. Content creation has been a fun career, and I plan on continuing that passion into the future. How these two blend was quite simple: I know what looks good, so I designed something that looks good. As a commercial director, I have to manage big and small teams and build those teams around a vision. Terra was built around those principles: find partners that share your passion for TERRA and the e-moto future, and together we’ll build a brand and bike that influences the world.
I&T Today: How do you see the future of electric motorcycles, and what role do you believe Terra Bikes will play in shaping that future?
Brown: I traveled extensively in my 20s for work and leisure. I spent time backpacking through India, lounging on the beaches in Thailand, and studying abroad in Europe. One thing I saw in those countries that I think is profoundly important to consider with a brand such as TERRA is urban congestion, the types of roads, and simply how people commute. The majority of people in foreign metropolises get around on two wheels- many of those same cities have cobblestones (looking at you, southern Europe), dirt roads (south America), and tight and congested streets (all of the world, really). So, the future of motorcycles needs to be green, needs to be EV, not just because of the air pollution, but because electric motorcycles are insanely simple: battery, controller, motor. That’s it. There’s no mixing of fluids, there’s no belts, there’s no rattling — there’s pure energy, a key, and a throttle. I’m over-simplifying, but in reality, e-motorcycles should be the future. If built properly, there is zero maintenance. When there is, it’s going to be brake pads, new tires, and a new chain. And if something beyond that breaks, it can only be one of only a handful of things.
I&T Today: Can you share any upcoming plans or developments for Terra Bikes, whether it be new models, features, etc?
Brown: I’ve been told I’m a dreamer, so yes, there are always new developments, but my most exciting one is a potential partnership with the Aspen Police Department. They’ve asked us to design a TERRA to be used as their town and mountain patroller. But with that comes a lot of accessories and the need for speed and battery range. I won’t go into too many details, but in conjunction with APD, we will be offering a larger motor (up to 90 mph) and a plug-and-play external battery pack that can be used in parallel with the internal pack (allowing for up to three times range).
We’re also putting on the final touches for our rack system, which is how all the bikes will be delivered. We will still offer the original low-profile tail light fixture, but the rack will be standard on all orders moving forward. And, of course, it’s all interchangeable, as that’s a big part of our design ethos.
I&T Today: As an entrepreneur and innovator, what advice do you have for individuals aspiring to enter the electric bike or sustainable transportation industry?
Brown: In my opinion, we’re on the precipice of a big movement. I believe that we are in this wild-wild-west experimental stage of energy development. We have lithium-ion battery production ramping up and hydrogen cell development, and we still rely heavily on fossil fuels. We’re exploring and fine-tuning all of these energy sectors, but not one of these has completely wowed the world. But we are trying. We are no longer fully reliant on fossil fuels, but at the same time, we have not lost all respect for them either.
I think now is the time to think outside of the box- how we commute, how we store energy, and what toll it takes on the environment for us to have “fun”. It may feel overwhelming to tackle these topics on a global scale, but locally, as entrepreneurs and consumers, we can support and explore ways that push boundaries and conventions. I think it’s only a matter of time before we will have a huge battery breakthrough, and with TERRA, I want to be ready to capitalize on that. Specifically, I want my bike to be able to use any technology that comes about for years to come. “Buy now, have a bike for life.” That’s my motto.
I&T Today: Is there anything you want our readers to know that we haven’t covered?
Brown: I’m not trying to replace the traditional motorcycle. If you want to go 100 mph+ down the 5, there are plenty of builds out there. If you want to jump a dirt bike 60 feet at the moto track, there are plenty of options out there too. I see so many traditional OEMs building bikes to be a direct replacement for a combustion engine. To me, that’s great. There’s a market for that. But what I’m after is building something new. I see a gap in the market between the 300-pound-plus superbikes and small, cute throttle-assist commuter bikes. In that gap lies TERRA — a low-powered motorcycle that can do it all. Most commuters commute less than 30 miles a day. A TERRA is a perfect fit for this. Most dirt bikers ride for sub-four hours- again, a TERRA can charge hard for three hours easily. It’s light enough that it won’t overload the payload of a Subaru, and yet, it looks cool enough to compliment the dopest-looking overland rig. I built TERRA because I want people to change the way they explore the world around them.
I&T Today: If someone is interested in TERRA, how do they get a bike?
Brown: Right now, we’re direct to consumer. You reserve your build spot on our website ($250), and when it comes time to start the building process- specifically, order the custom battery pack- I take 50% of a base model. At that time, I called the customer and discussed their needs: is it for downtown NYC? Is it for a remote retreat center in New Mexico? Is it going to be an everything commuter bike? I also discuss color packages and ideal ranges and speeds.
I can customize a ton of options. We have a great fabrication shop, and we do custom work all the time in addition to our standard offerings. Most of the time, it’s just beefier tires or slicks, but occasionally (like our customer on the ranch in Montana) we accessorize. Once the bike is completed, we have three options: the customer can pick up the bike here in Carbondale, I can deliver the bike, or we use a roll-on-roll-off service, in which we use a 3rd party delivery service.
I want TERRA to be viewed as a platform of sorts. Sure, it’s a beautiful bike- utilitarian, fun, quiet, and clean- but it can also be a symbol of so much more. The more we can hop on a bike to zip to the coffee shop for a latte, run back to the store for eggs, or even go over to a friend’s house to watch some TV, the less overall strain we put on the environment both locally and abroad. I’m just excited to be part of the bigger EV push.