When I initially came across the hubless Reevo Bikes, I was first impressed by the fact that it was made by Malaysians. My next thought was about how they looked like the bikes from the Disney movie, Tron. (Yes, I know it’s based on the 1982 film of the same name, but I’m too young for that). My managing editor, Sade, who is a fan of the Disney movie, excitedly pointed out the same.
Turns out, we were (sort of) right.
“The idea for Reevo actually came from an old movie that you’ve probably heard about—Tron,” Dr Ivan Chew, the COO of Beno Technologies, said to Vulcan Post. “The concept of hubless bicycles was something that just captivated our imagination.”
However, a hubless bike isn’t a new idea and the Beno team knew that too. There are other hubless bike prototypes out there, but none of them ever made it to mass production due to the complexity and high startup costs.
For some, that knowledge might come as a deterrence. For Beno, it only served as motivation. Ignoring past failures, the team started working on the bike using funds that came out of their own projects.
It paid off. Reevo has now raised over RM28 million via Indiegogo and is working on shipping out the bikes to its backers. Here’s how the Malaysian team did it.
Challenging the bicycle
As cool as the Reevo Bikes are, I still wondered—why reinvent something like the bike? As the saying goes, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.
“As engineers, we (sometimes foolishly) relish a good challenge, so we set out to reinvent the wheel, and we are today,” Dr Ivan explained. “It took us four years of part-time work to come out with the prototype as we still had our day jobs at that time.”
Yet, while the bike might be a breakthrough for the engineers, it still has to serve a purpose for end consumers, who could easily buy a bike for much cheaper. The one obvious thing Reevo has going for them would be the aesthetics. But is visual appeal really central for bicycles?
“Aesthetics is actually a huge reason as the emotional connection plays a huge part in the ownership of vehicles,” Dr Ivan countered.
I suppose that’s true. After all, aesthetics is a major reason why some people collect cars, despite their core function being the same.
Beyond the design, though, Reevo also comes with additional security and safety features that are not typically found on traditional bicycles or even e-bikes. These features include Reevo’s proprietary anti-theft system, GPS tracking, and fully integrated lighting on the headlamps, brake, and signal.
“We wanted to create something innovative and futuristic to challenge the concept of what a bicycle could be and look like,” Dr Ivan said.
Haters will hate
Searching Reevo on YouTube to get a better idea of how the bike performs, I was shocked to find many sceptical comments.
“This bike is going to break faster than a toy from AliExpress,” one person wrote. “Can’t you see this is another scam? LOL it’s not supposed to be a real bike,” said another.
These are just two of many countless comments, and it’s no surprise that the team at Beno has seen them.
“Since we started this project, we’ve received more than our fair share of scepticism,” Dr Ivan said. “A lot of it has to do with the outlandish nature of the product and the fact that we’re crowdfunding to fund the product.”
However, the team has since learnt to tune out the noise. They’ve decided to let the results do the talking.
Personally, other than the fact that they took the time to answer my questions, I also find the regular updates on the Reevo website to help a trustworthy feature too.
According to Dr Ivan, the team has learnt that transparency goes a long way towards building the confidence of Reevo’s backers and customers, so they’ve written over 60 updates since the start of the campaign.
The latest update, titled Delivery Update #4, was posted on May 13 and provides insight into how far along the team is with production and shipping.
Malaysia on the global map
Reevo has facilities in the US as well as in Malaysia, with the manufacturing arm based in Penang. According to Dr Ivan, the decision to base the factory in Malaysia is not just because of lower costs, but also to build a strong footprint in Malaysia and contribute towards building up local industries.
“We’ve also found that there is a lot of untapped talent in Malaysia, which we hope to bring on board with us,” he said.
However, audience-wise, Reevo is targeting something a bit more global. Since the bike is designed to be a commuter bike (that is, for short urban trips), it’s not exactly fitting for the local culture. In Malaysia, bicycles are often used for sports or exercise since we lack the proper infrastructure to use them as a means of transportation.
Furthermore, Dr Ivan points out that Malaysia is a more cost-sensitive market with many viable options such as motorcycles that are within the same price range.
And there’s another glaring issue. “It’s too hot to get around with bicycles!”
Before you start to feel left out by the Reevo Bikes, Beno Technologies actually has something else in store for us.
“At Beno, we are focused on building next-generation electric mobility solutions with a strong focus on two-wheelers,” Dr Ivan began. “While I cannot dive too much into the details, we are currently in the early stages of developing a range of electric motorcycles and scooters for the Malaysian (and SEA) market.”
What could it be, I wonder? Tron-like motorcycles? Foldable smart scooters? Hovercrafts? We’ll have to wait and see.
Besides that exciting news, Beno Technologies is also working on other innovative projects such as a battery swapping solution to complement its electric vehicles.
The end goal is to build up a strong electric vehicle ecosystem to facilitate the adoption of green mobility technologies locally and abroad. With this in mind, the company is open to partnering up with private and governmental organisations to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
Although Beno currently has its eyes set on other countries with Reevo Bikes, I’m definitely looking forward to its progress here in Malaysia.
“We are positioning Beno to be a global brand with a global appeal, but with a homegrown identity,” Dr Ivan said. “We definitely hope to represent and make Malaysia proud on the global stage.”
Featured Image Credit: Reevo Bikes