Meet the Entrepreneurs Shaping Southern Motorcycle Culture

In Atlanta, Brother Moto welcomes motorcycle aficionados—and the “moto-curious”

Photo: Bobby Russell

If necessity is the mother of invention, then Brother Moto might owe Atlanta’s blazing hot summer weather a thank-you. The motorcycle club opened its new brick-and-mortar—which boasts a top-notch coffee shop—in 2017, but its story began when Bobby Russell and Jared Erickson were just looking for, well, a cooler place to fix their vintage bikes.

“We were all living here in Atlanta,” says Russell. “It only took a few hours of working on our motorcycles outside in July for us to realize there had to be a better way.”

Photo: Mary Caroline Russell

From left: Bobby Russell and Jared Erickson, Brother Moto’s founders.

Russell, a photographer, and Erickson, a graphic designer, started the brand in 2013 as an online community, using their creative skills to promote local motorcycle events, sell t-shirts, and gauge interest from like-minded gearheads with Brother Moto meet-ups.

“It strengthened our belief that Atlanta needed a hub for the motorcycle community,” Erickson says. The online enthusiasm provided enough support to open a storefront in East Atlanta Village in 2015, but by the end of the year, zoning disputes pushed Brother Moto out of the neighborhood. Rather than call it quits, the duo took the setback as an opportunity to tweak the shop layout: At Brother Moto’s new Memorial Drive location, an expanded coffee shop component is sectioned off into a cleaner, quieter area where “moto-curious” patrons can still ask questions and see the action.

“We hope to do away with the idea that you have to be a specialized mechanic to turn a wrench and fix things yourself,” Erickson says. With the revamped Brother Moto open for business, members pay a monthly fee to gain access to the shop and its tools, plus exclusive events, gear, and a discount on parts. Add-ons, like motorcycle storage and one-on-one time to learn with mechanics, are also available. But you don’t have to be a member (or even own a bike) to grab a coffee and be part of the scene.

“All are welcome, whether you’ve been riding for years or just want a more inspiring place to catch up on emails,” Russell says. Long-term, the group’s goal is to take that inviting attitude beyond Atlanta’s city limits, offering long-distance motorcyclists Brother Moto’s familiar blend of resources and hospitality even on unfamiliar stretches of highway.

“We really hope that one day, you can hop on a motorcycle, travel across the country, and within a couple hundred miles you can pull into a Brother Moto to fix your bike, get coffee, or buy that piece of adventure gear you forgot to bring with you,” Russell says.

For now, though, Brother Moto is riding high on what they already have: good espresso, A/C in the summertime, and a nurturing home for Southern motorcyclists.