“Wait a second, you’re in Utah?!” I emailed Colin Godby, Dust.Moto’s CEO, after seeing him post a video on Instagram right up the street from me, “Come over, we can play with the Alpha in my backyard.” A day later, the company’s Alpha prototype was here, ready for me to be one of the first people to ride the prototype outside the company, as well as the first media rider ever. 

Dust.Moto’s Alpha prototype is the brainchild of a handful of ex-Ubco employees who looked at the current EV market and felt there was a motorcycle-sized hole between the e-bike/Sur-Ron crowd and those in the wild world of full-on dirtbikes. A motorcycle that’s lightweight, easily tossable, simple to ride and maintain, and can suit riders of all skill levels. A motorcycle that you can play with in your backyard, something they affectionately call “a play bike”. 

The concept is something I can get behind, as too many racetracks are being shut down due to noise complaints by NIMBYs or folks who failed to understand they were buying a house next to a dirt track. And too few people can practice and play in their backyards on a two-stroke without the HOA fining them into oblivion. An EV play bike, then, could reinvigorate riding and just having fun on a motorcycle. 


And from the outlined specs, the Alpha prototype—a name they get from the tech world’s alpha, beta development nomenclature—they’ve seemingly hit the nail on the head. In its current state, the motorcycle weighs just over 220 pounds, with the final version aiming at a strict 200 lb curb weight. A 3.5 kWh battery offers up 35 horsepower and a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque—plenty for a backyard. 

The Dust.Moto team also threw a WP fork at the front, Ohlins rear suspension, Formula brakes (production specs, however, haven’t been announced), and grippy-ass dirt tires at it. That's pretty much everything a good dirt bike needs. 

There are some novel concepts, too, as Dust.Moto’s engineers kept an e-bike and bicycle’s rear brake on the handlebars. That may seem odd to the motorcycling crowd, but it’s something I’ve been actually asking for from other EV motorcycle manufacturers for a while now—I’ll get into why in just a second. 

And since it’s an EV, you also get the ease of programmable mapping, allowing the team to have three distinct drive modes offering up more power with each level, the third being the highest. It also makes developing a dirtbike’s personality pretty simple, as new maps are far easier than building out new engine characters. 

But how would Dust.Moto’s prototype actually feel? 


Now I didn’t get a lot of time on the motorcycle. Dust.Moto’s guys had places to go, far more important people to see. I am, after all, just some writer who happened to be on the way to their next destination. Likewise, the Alpha is their only prototype and I didn’t want to be “that guy” who wrecked a small company’s one and only development mule. 

What I got was about an hour with the bike on my backyard short-course and rode some of the muddy single track I’d built around my property. What I can tell you from that limited time is it feels like Dust.Moto’s folks are on the right path.

I was presented with an electric dirtbike that’s extremely playful and well-balanced thanks to its lightness—I could likely deadlift the thing without issue. That lightness, though, really lets you feel comfortable behind the bars, as there’s just no rotating mass below you. The company aimed to build something approachable for all riders, and that’s immediately apparent. 

Likewise, the suspension is well-damped and not too springy but has adjustability so that more experienced riders can get more out of it and tune it to their liking. Everything else feels incredibly solid, too, with a good seating position, peg height and position, and bars at a great height for the average rider. I’d like a little higher, but I’m a 6’4” gorilla. 

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What I absolutely adore, however, is the rear brake lever on its handlebars. 

Dirtbikes are all about controlling rotation. And you do that with the rear tire, either by using the throttle or through braking. But while foot controls are utilized with gas bikes because the space is taken up by a clutch, you don’t have that issue with EVs. 

Now, this will be semi-controversial, but I fully believe you have more control with a handlebar-mounted brake lever compared to a foot brake. In my experience, you have more finite control in your fingertips versus toes bound in dirtbike boots. And on the Alpha, you can go from never riding the bike to immediately playing with the rear, sliding it into corners, and that’s all thanks to that lever. I wish I had more time to explore everything you could do with it, as well as without the worry of bining the company’s only prototype. 


And where the company aims to place the Alpha—i.e. in between e-bike and dirtbike—a handlebar-mounted brake lever, something familiar to bicyclists, makes so much sense for those making the jump. 

Where I think Dust.Moto’s engineers can improve the concept, however, is with the bike’s power mapping. 

The current maps are close, offering variability in the same vein as my daughter’s Kawasaki Elektrode. Map 1 is pretty easy and makes sense for teenagers or those who’ve never ridden a dirtbike before. Map 2 is in that same realm, so I think some further distinction could be persued. But it’s Map 3 is where things start to get interesting, and where I think the most can be done. 

Offering the bike’s entire power, Map 3 is great for dirtbike tracks, as it’s a linear delivery and doesn’t dump every ounce of power to the rear wheel. There’s tip-in so you don’t loop yourself and thus can easily modulate the throttle to set yourself up for the next section. And that’s all good, but I contend that for folks who want to use this as a single-track machine, they’ll want more of the immediacy that you get when you dump a clutch. Obstacles like fallen trees or deep gullies demand such delivery. As do wheelies. 


What I’d suggest Dust.Moto’s engineers do is play around with a few more maps, including one where you get everything far more immediately than Map 3’s current offering. A steeper increase in power, but still linear. 

Again, though, I didn’t get a lot of time on the bike, nor did I want to be the guy who broke the thing. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t have my normal mechanical apathy. But from the sense I got from my hour-ish of tooling around my backyard, the Dust.Moto folks are on the right path. 

The Alpha feels like the "play bike" they want, and it feels like you can go out into your yard and shred until the battery dies without annoying your neighbors or local HOA. It feels playful and less serious, a motorcycle you can just have fun with. 

I'm looking forward to the production bike.

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