Jack o'sullivan - MODMO
Thursday 22nd July 2021
Brands are coming thick and fast in the e-bike market. Coming out of Vietnam via Ireland is MODMO with a very slick looking bike accompanied with some striking features. We caught up with MODMO founder Jack O'Sullivan to find out more what sets their Saigon from the rest of the electronic bikes out there...
Hi Jack. Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us. You’re the face behind Modmo specialising in e-bikes which safe to say, are gaining in popularity across the globe thanks to their accessibility to a wider audience especially those who want an alternative to replace car journeys. What made you decide to join the e-bike revolution?
I started planning out MODMO in 2018, before ebikes had gained such popularity in the marketplace. I was commuting to work on my bike every day, and just became clear to me all the benefits a high tech ebike could offer to someone like me. I predicted that this mode would inevitably become the future of urban transport. We did not set out to just create another ebike; we also wanted to solve two major problems cyclists face: theft and utility. This resulted in the development and production of the first truly modular ebike with the built anti-theft technology it features today.
We will be moving to Northern Ireland very soon so we know the topography very well on the emerald isle! How well will your flagship model the Saigon perform on the rolling roads of Ireland?
That’s really where our flagship model was originally designed for! Its super long battery range and powerful motor make it the perfect choice for both cruising both the Irish countryside and jetting about in the cities.
How does the e-bike community differ between GB/Ireland to that of Vietnam and Asia?
Cycling is considerably more popular in Europe versus Asia. Asia has a massive motorbike culture, but I have noticed throughout the pandemic that cycling has significantly grown in popularity. I could easily foresee Asia taking over Europe in terms of the number of cyclists in the not-so-distant future… but it still has a long way to go. If we could get governments behind the concept and they built better infrastructure, and other brands worked to develop the same amount of awareness that we are trying to implement, I do believe it could become the preferred choice for green transportation in Asia.
What caught our eye on the Saigon was the integrated features such as the display and the lights. A question we wanted to ask was how do they cope in wet weather? I assume you have the odd monsoon rain to test them out in in Vietnam or daily in Ireland!
Vietnam's rainy season certainly puts the Saigon through its paces, so of course we have designed our bikes to hold up in wet weather. We exclusively use waterproof connectors throughout our bikes to reduce any risk of damage, and our batteries are IP rated with components which have their own waterproofing so although you can't submerge the bike in water, you can still safely ride it through heavy rain.
The battery compartment in the downtube was also an interesting design feature. Is this something unique to Modmo or is this becoming in common in e-bike designs?
I believe that MODMO was the first to house its battery in this way. We spent a long time designing the battery motor controllers and the internal wiring of the bike to make it the perfect balance between aesthetics, features and ease of use. There were many considerations that went into housing the battery and keeping it well hidden, but also making it easily accessible for charging.
What’s the future for Modmo? Racing/MTB bikes next or more urban and commuting bikes in mind?
Next for us will be to produce a women’s specific ebike. It will feature all the same core technology as the original Saigon models, but will be more user friendly in some respects. We do have plans to develop an entire range of bikes, including specifically mountain bikes, but we take it step by step in our growth.
How far do you think e-bikes can go to replacing car journeys? Is it about changing culture or attitude or do you think it’s also a cost thing? Prices of e-bikes can be eye-watering to those unfamiliar to what you get for your money. How do you go about changing those perceptions?
I think the biggest challenge at the moment is to getting people to actually try an ebike. Thankfully, most people who have had the opportunity to test ride our bikes end up buying one, so we are currently building a great network of test ride locations and aftersales support in Europe. The biggest issue for us, and most competitor brands, right now is honestly availability. Many brands are sold out, struggling with their supply chains, and they can’t produce quickly enough to feed the high demand. Hopefully, after the world has settled down after these countless setbacks with supply and logistics, it will be easier for people to both try and buy ebikes.
There is no question in my mind that ebikes are a much faster, more efficient, and enjoyable solution to getting around congested cities than cars or public transportation. I think it's an absolute no brainer for more people to transition to ebikes. One big thing for us will be reducing the barriers of buying a bike, which of course comes down to cost. So, we are looking into innovative payment solutions that will help bring down the cost of any bike to less than the cost of using public transport.
Final question from us and we do always try to keep the last one quirky. Surely someone somewhere (could be Modmo!) is going to integrate a sound system soon. So what would the first 3 songs be on your playlist cruising the streets of Saigon? If you say the Pogues, we might re-consider publishing the interview!
HA! It would be Sài Gòn Đẹp Lắm, Queen’s Bicycle and Dr. Dre’s Let Me Ride.
Thank you for your time and all the best with the Saigon. If we struggle on any of the climbs in Ireland, we will know who to contact to give us a boost!