Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
“This is just phase 1 of many growth phases for Rhoda. We have started with redefining cycling for the average commuter, and there is a lot more to come” “Rhoda is an electric smartbicycle that will make cycling more enjoyable with its two additional riding modes to a traditional bicycle, the power-assist mode that can be best described as there is a invisible pusher when riding, and cruise mode where it rides like a safer motorcycle”
Today I speak to a man who has made the future look fun, and very smart with Sri Lanka's first ever electric smart Bicycle. I saw this product launched last week on my newsfeed and I couldn't wait to speak to the one who had thought of this very innovative idea, considering the fact that we are trying so hard to eliminate unwanted pollution and to keep our small island clean and fresh for future generations. Designed and assembled in Lanka, this bicycle range launched under the ‘Rhoda AT' brand. Today on the buzz I speak to the curly hair creator Eyas Fazul who is taking in Pre orders now and the bikes will be out on the street during the first quarter of next year. He tells me his story and the love he has for this creation.
WHAT MADE YOU COME UP WITH THIS INNOVATIVE IDEA?
A passion for motorised vehicles is something I believe I was born with, starting with motorcycles since that was what I could afford then. I was so passionate about them that I even tried to start a brand selling custom motorcycles and unique motorcycle accessories called Lanka Moto Shop. However the transition towards electric mobility started the day I saw an electric kickscooter do some 50km in one charge during a visit to Singapore in mid 2017. This started a series of design thinking that took the idea of electric mobility and trying to apply it to the Sri Lankan context, which eventually led up to Sri Lanka’s first electric smartbicycle, the Rhoda AT and Rhoda AT SS.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR DAYS IN SCHOOL. WHAT WERE YOUR INTRESTS LIKE, AND ARE YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?
I was an expat baby, born and raised in Riyadh, I schooled at the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh up until finishing my OLS. Then moved back here, did my ALS privately and started at university, studying Engineering. I am someone who “craves” new experiences mainly due to the fresh perspectives this brings to my life. For example, just 6 months ago I was working as an operations manager for a boutique hotel and its restaurant branches in Weligama and Mirissa taking a break after 5 years in the solar industry in Colombo, with the hopes of adding some new perspective to life. I believe I am on the path I envisioned myself to be at this age, Alhamdulillah (Praise be to God), there is just one more milestone before I hit 30, which I’m not going to share because I don’t want to jinx it.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT?
Very! A comfortable human existence depends on it.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON VEHICLES ON THE ROAD AND THE POPULATION OF TRAFFIC?
Everyone aspires to own a vehicle in Sri Lanka, however our cities and our roads aren’t built for that scale, no city in the world is. Out of the 500,000 private vehicles that come in to the city everyday, 200,000 are cars, most of them with just 1 person inside, aiding to the nightmare that is the daily commute. Imagine if those cars just stopped coming in and instead electric bicycles come instead, which are much more convenient, sustainable and economical.
TELL ME ABOUT THIS PRODUCT, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING ON IT?
Since that day in 2017, I teamed up with a very talented product designer, Lee Bazalgette and a master fabricator and my father Fazul Mowjood, to set out to build Rhoda around the fundamental principles that it should be convenient, sustainable and economical, envisioning in creating a shift in lifestyle on par with how the introduction of the first smartphone by Apple changed life as we know it. Rhoda is an electric smartbicycle that will make cycling more enjoyable with its two additional riding modes to a traditional bicycle, the power-assist mode that can be best described as there is a invisible pusher when riding, and cruise mode where it rides like a safer motorcycle. It’s a “smartbicycle” due to it being a smartphone controlled bicycle, allowing biometric authentication (face ID or touch ID) to access the bicycle, smartphone HUD and touchscreen switches for the integrated locking mechanism and the integrated lights, all designed and made in Sri Lanka.
HOW HAS IT BEEN RECEIVED AFTER THE LAUNCH?
We have received an amazing response, with our posts about the smartbicycle going viral overnight, the pre-orders have been coming in and we are very excited for this next stage of Rhoda’s growth to start shipping out the orders soon.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUE OUR COUNTRY IS FACING?
Air pollution in our major cities is something we are already starting to witness, and we just hope the transition to a more sustainable mode of transport is eminent, Rhoda looks to facilitate this.
WHO WAS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE, WHEN YOU WERE DESIGNING YOUR PRODUCT?
Well it was people like me, who commute roughly 20 to 30km a day in multiple modes of transport based on our budget for the day, sacrificing aspects of convenience and sustainability merely due to lack of options. Now with Rhoda, I travel more since it's more economical. I have a seen a 95% reduction in travel costs, down to a staggering Rs.0.20/km.
HOW CAN ONE PRE-ORDER AND HOW LONG IS THE PROCESS?
We have started taking pre-orders since our launch through our website www.rhoda.life, and we hope to start delivering them in the first quarter of 2021, just a couple of months away.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU, AND YOUR CREATIVITY, ARE YOU PLANNING ON NEW INNOVATIONS?
My Rhoda journey has just started, in the coming months me and my team are focused on only one thing, facilitating as many Rhodies (Rhoda riders) on the road of Sri Lanka, with the hopes of a 1000 Rhodies in a year since our launch. This is just phase 1 of many growth phases for Rhoda, we have started with redefining cycling for the average commuter, and there is a lot more to come, and hope to make Sri Lanka proud. Do send good vibes our way.