“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.” – Jonathan Ive, Apple’s design chief
Dutch designer Ronald Meijs studied mechanical engineering and jewelry design before embarking on a career designing children’s furniture and strollers. For nearly nine years his focus has been on fashionable and simple green transportation for city dwellers. The Meijs Motorman electric moped is the fruit of his love labor, and its simplicity is what draws the curious. It’s a 21st century hobby horse, one that begs to be ridden.With a max speed of 28 mph and a range of 32 – 40 miles running on a 1.5kWh lithium-ion battery, the nearly 100-pound chromoly steel moped relies on a brushless direct-drive hub motor putting out 2 kW/60 Nm of oomph. There are some benefits to the heft, with regenerative braking storing valuable energy when scrubbing speed on the hydraulic disc brakes and 203mm rotors. Charging takes only 4 – 6 hours, which gives you plenty of time to top off during your work day. I recently spoke with Meijs about the genesis of his Motorman.Q: Ronald, your design portfolio looks rather varied and interesting. When and how did the concept of an electric moped come to you?
While designing my one and only electric bicycle five years ago, I imagined how more simple and even more basic a electric moped would look like. I decided to go for that. No pedals, no gears, no chain. Bended steel tubes for the frame, a brushless hub-motor inside the rear wheel. No petrol in the tank; instead I placed a battery inside.
Q: How many design concepts did you draft before deciding on the current model?
A lot. The idea started with the shape of a bicycle, not a motorcycle in mind. With every step in the design process, I left out some more parts of the bike, to end with the absolute minimum.
Q: When and where exactly did you deliver your first Motoman?
About three years ago we started to sell the Motorman in Europe. We now sell most products in The Netherlands, Germany, France, Swiss, Belgium, Norway.
Q: Are there plans to bring the Motorman to the United States?
Yes, we have serious plans to come to the United States. We are working on legislation now.