Although Chief Operation Officer at Evoke Electric Motorcycles, surprisingly Sebastian Chrobok is a car guy at heart. German-born Chrobok inherited an interest in mechanics and engineering from his father, a technical mechanic who designed propellers for vessels and runs his own car workshop in Poland.
When Chrobok first came to China in 2006, he worked with a Chinese friend in a store specializing in smart home furniture. However his interest in mechanics and making a positive impact on the environment heightened, eventually leading him to link up with now business partner, Nathan Siy whose vision was to build the world’s first truly smart motorcycle. The two have made that vision a reality with the formation of Evoke Electric Motorcycles, “for upscale individuals looking to ride in style around urban environments.” Chrobok recently visited a Grade 5 class at The British School of Beijing Shunyi campus to answer their most pressing e-bike questions.
“Don’t let distance scare you. The further you go, the more you see.”
Charlie, 9, UK
What is about the bike that makes it environmentally friendly?
Environmentally friendly means that every part of the bike works with the environment and can be recycled. We do not use acid batteries, for example, which are really bad for the environment. We use lithium batteries which are much cleaner. Once you finish using the batteries in about five or six years, we buy them back and re-use them in a different industry. The bike itself contains an onboard computer which calculates range, power usage, protects your bike, and tells you where it is. It connects to your phone and in the near future, as the roads get smarter, it’ll connect to the roads. What makes this computer really smart and safe is if you have a little tumble and fall on the ground, the vehicle will call for help and tell someone where you are.
Manrong, 9, Hong Kong
What’s the name of the first model you made?
The first one was the Urban, but at the time we just called it by a code.
Rosco, 9, Singapore
How fast can the bike go in different environments?
Up to 130km an hour at top speed. And we’ll have a smart system where you are limited to 60km an hour in the city because you want to keep riders safe and have them follow the rules. When you get outside in the desert, that’s when you can activate the off road mode and access all of that power.
Dave, 10, Korea
How do you charge it?
We utilize already existing infrastructure to make charging really convenient. In the city and your home, we have standard 220 volt sockets. Just plug into the socket; there’s no need for special stations.
Emily, 10, Korea
Have any of the bikes you’ve built not worked?
At the very beginning, when we tried starting our first bike, it didn’t work, but the third time it did and it has every time since.
Hibba, 10, Pakistan
Did you have to travel around the world to make your motorcycle?
The whole team travels around the world, not necessarily to make the motorcycle but to find the inspiration. Each environment gives you a very different feeling; different questions and answers. If you ever think about having your own company or business, don’t let distance scare you. The further you go, the more you see.
Jasmine, 10, Australia
How long did it take to make the first model?
We started three years ago around February 2013 and had the first model by late June. Right now we have four models and the fifth, the Cruiser, is being built as we speak.
Sam, 9, UK
Which is your favorite model?
I haven’t seen it or tested it yet but my design team keeps saying the Cruiser is going to be awesome. It looks amazing from the drawings and everyone on the team can’t wait to get on it and ride around Beijing.
Ruth, 10, Canada
Can a smart motorcycle survive the weather in Beijing?
Yes. The way we build all of the electronics inside the motorcycle is precisely so they survive the temperatures. All the computers – what we call automotive computers – have to work in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees and above 40 degrees centigrade as well. There’s extensive testing.
Cheryl, 9, Malaysia
Did you test your smart bikes in other countries to find out if yours was the best?
Other motorcycles don’t contain onboard computers or navigation systems; it’s all separate. Our vehicle contains all of those elements inside.
Serena, 9, US
How old were you when you made your first motorbike?
The first one I made a year ago but I made my first car when I was 11. My father was a little bit sick with the flu and we had just opened the engine. My father said, “Seb, you’ve done this many times. All you have to do is just put everything in the right place and take your time.” And I did it. It was just past four in the morning, I turned the key in the car, and it worked.
Erin, 9, Korea
Can you speak Chinese and does it help with your job?
Yes and no. I’ve lived in China for almost ten years and my listening is almost perfect. However, my spoken Chinese is funny. Chinese is really difficult but it does help a lot to speak it if you want to do business here. It’s a simple display of respect for my fellow co-workers and partners.
Jenda, 10, Czech Republic
Did you help your dad in the car workshop when you were younger?
Yes, from an early age. When I was your age, I was really energetic and hated sitting at home and doing homework. My father wanted to inspire me to do better at math. My father said to me, “Let’s go and have some fun.” As we worked at the shop, he was asking me questions regarding my homework and using parts of what I was studying to apply to how to do things in the shop. That’s how I got into it.
This article originally appeared on page 36-37 of the beijingkids March 2016 issue. Click here to read the issue for free on Issuu.com. To find out how you can get your own copy, email email@example.com