The automotive industry loves innovation. But despite that truth, some facets can be slow to catch up to the world's vision of tomorrow. For instance, we've known for decades the damage that fossil fuels have done to the environment and that personal vehicles contribute significantly to pollution of the planet. But the shift to more sustainable vehicles has been stuttered and slow.
Enter: Tarform Motorcycles. It's the "motorcycle of tomorrow," designed with form, function and the future in mind. CELEB sat down with Tarform CEO Taras Kravtchouk to talk about how the company came to be, and what makes it stand out from industry competitors now that Luna bikes are in the hands of the very first customers.
With Tarform, motorcycle lovers can look sleek, feel cool - and carry no guilt with these clean tech bikes that look like an artist's dream brought to life.
What Makes Tarform so Singular
Startup companies are a dime a dozen. But startup companies that offer something new and fill a need for the world - those are precious, and few and far between. Tarform is one such unicorn; it blends a reverence for the classic quality of motorcycles with the needs of a world yearning for clean technology.
Kravtchouk explains, "My background is in product design technology. I grew up in Sweden, so I've always been highly influenced by sustainability and Scandanavian minimalism, when it comes to design aesthetics. I moved to New York about 10 years ago, and I had a design agency where I work with a wide range of startups and Fortune 500 companies. Then i joined a motorcycle garage in Brooklyn; a community space where you can work on your bikes. I fell in love with the process of buying vintage bikes; tearing them down, building them up again. It was tangible, compared to the world of technology and software I spent my work hours immersed in."
Kravtchouk found himself spending a lot of weekend hours welding, creating, and creating. About five years ago, a thought nagged at the designer; "Why are we still moving around using these old school petroleum-based machines when there's a different way to move around? Tesla came in and showed us what the car of the future should be like. I wondered, 'Why hasn't anyone do this with a motorcycle?'"
From there, Kravtchouk started on a long journey to map out what is currently not working in the automotive industry in terms of sustainability, because a lot of materials are toxic.
With the mind of an inventor, Kravtchouk decided it was time to build an electric vehicle from scratch, leaving him wondering, "Can we build a brand that moves away from traditional manufacturing processes? Is it possible for us to use materials that are more natural and biodegradable? And how do we create motorcycles that intersect with art and design?"
What Tarform became was a revolutionary motorcycle that artistically blends clean technology, sustainability, futuristic design, artistic creation, and function for the kind of ride that collectors love - and newcomers are excited to discover.
The design comes from Scandanavian minimalism, influenced by a Zen philosophy of reducing the unessential. The CEO shares, "If you look at nature, nothing is superfluous; everything exists for a reason. So that was the design mantra when we started - how do we capture the most essential shape of a motorcycle in the silhouette, and design the bike in as few lines as possible?"
The bikes are simple and elegant, and contain no gear box or clutch - balancing the futuristic bent of the bike without making it unapproachable.
Kravtchouk adds, "One of the main innovations is that we use a modular design, which means you can keep upgrading parts as the bike ages. We reject the concept of say the iPhone, where a product improvement means you toss out the device and start new. Our idea is that the most sustainable product is one you don't want to throw out. So with our modular design, you can change two or three parts and get a whole different look on the bike. Another thing we've focused on is the materials we use. It took about two years to develop a plant-based material, which is what you see on the side of the bike, the biggest panel section which covers the battery. It's made out of flexi fiber, and then we use algae carbon - it's a black carbon derived from algae that's infused into the resin and gives it a black color. The end result is a fully biodegradable piece of bioplastic. And finally, the sound of the bikes is something special. We worked with a sound engineer and a composer. Our challenge was - how do you give the bike sound? It's such an important element. Electric vehicles often feel too quiet, too smooth, and it takes away from the experience of a motorcycle. So we built an acoustic resonator that extracts the hum from the motor and amplifies it; similar to how an electric guitar works. Everywhere I ride one of these bikes, it turns heads."
A Luxury Ride with a Diverse Following
Kravtchouk explains, "Typically when people think of motorbikes, they imagine what they think a motorbike person should look like, how they should act; your classic Harley Davidson rider, that kind of thing. But for us, we thought that there's this whole group of people who never saw themselves as riders - but they could be. If we could build a product that's desirable and beautiful, maybe we could introduce the world of motorcycles to a different demographic of people."
Tarform offers an amalgamation of disciplines that had never been combined before; a cold machine imbued with life and personality, and built sustainably.
Tarform appeals to riders across the spectrum - from the vintage lover to the new rider, and it folds women into the industry as well, one of the fastest growing demographic of bike riders.
Without the traditional and oft-intimidating look of a traditional bike, people who felt kept on the fringe of the motorcycle world are ready to take that leap and try something new.
Customers range from hobbyists to athletes and entertainers, and a few hundred pre orders have already been logged.
"We just started our first deliveries with our Luna bike in February. For instance Diplo just received one in Malibu. We're calling them founder editions; there are 54 of these limited bikes going out to customers right now. They're all being made in Brooklyn, custom made in a bespoke way of building vehicles before we start serial production, which kicks off next year. This year we'll bring about 30 bikes on the road."
Diplo isn't the only star interested in Tarform and what it brings to the industry. Actor Jeff Goldblum interviewed Kravtchouk for his documentary series, "The World According to Jeff Goldblum."
It's all part of the overall sense that this company is something special, and that what they're doing may open up a world of sustainable and clean tech options for future riders - with bikes that look beautiful, and feel like power.
Tarform and the Dog Pound
Kravtchouk explains that the company looks at mobility as a lifestyle. "People are becoming increasingly aware that we have to move towards electrification, but people lack a general sense of excitement and joy of moving around. So many times we're in the back of an Uber, crammed into a subway - compared to that, riding a motorcycle is a visceral experience. What we're doing is creating an experience. Most people have been on a motorbike but this is the most amazing thing in terms of moving from point A to point B. Our idea is how we can take this experience and then transfer it into other products such as electric watercraft, so for example like jet skis, electric snowmobiles, electric scooters, and basically offer this experience to a wide range of people and do it in a in a beautiful and sustainable way."
In the near future, Tarform is teaming up with East and West coast gym Dog Pound. On June 25, an event will introduce Dog Pound members to the wonder that is Tarform.
From there, Tarform will be hosting a number of pop-ups in Los Angeles, followed by Big Sur, San Francisco and others. It's a chance for people to get on the bike, experience it, touch the materials, and understand what makes a Tarform bike so special.
Not every start-up that hits the market is in a position to change the future; but Tarform is doing it one bike at a time, and may help solve a number of challenges the automotive industry is facing.