Rayvolt: The new e-bikes venture of Starboard’s SUP designer Mathieu Rauzier

23/06/2016

Renowned in the SUP industry as the maker of some of the fastest boards on the market for Starboard, Mathieu Rauzier, is adding a new dimension to his design and engineering career with a project of his own in the electric bike segment. The launch of the company Rayvolt Engineering showcasing the Rayvolt Cruzer, the very first production model, gave us the opportunity to interview Mathieu Rauzier on how he went from being a photographer in San Francisco years ago to an engineering entrepreneur.

> Visit www.rayvoltbike.com and get a 150€ discount with the following code: totalsup (minimum purchase of 2000€) <

 

Hi Mathieu, can you detail your story to the TotalSUP readers?

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At the age of 16, after not finding any interest in school and having a growing feeling that I was wasting my time, I decided to quit school to follow my dad’s steps and learn photography.

Being passionate about art and water-sports since a young age, I decided to go to California at the age of 18 to further learn photography and get to surf everyday. Once in California, I worked in San Francisco for James Garrahan, a famous fashion photographer and I was in the water the rest of the time.

After living there for 4 years, I felt that something was missing and I decided to move back to Europe. I didn’t want to live in Paris and Barcelona attracted me even though I had never been there before. So I simply booked a 1-way ticket and there I was, starting a new chapter of my life at 22 in Barcelona.

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I rapidly understood that working in photography in Spain (at that time, year 2000) would starve me so picked up a job at the marina as a deck hand on a yacht and in my free time I learned to code and developed websites for people. I passed my yacht master and worked my way up to Captain.

After a long journey sailing across the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean, and meeting older yacht captains, I realized that aging as a captain was not my life’s dream. Beside I missed my photographer artistic side and “Techy” web developer side, so I decided to make my dream come true by mixing art, science and my love for the ocean and boats and became a yacht architect. At 26 I joined an online school to learn the art of yacht design, during that time, I was learning business and negotiation as well as paying my rent and schooling by selling yachts.

Money and a few years in yacht brokerage poisoned me and almost took me away from my dream. But I quickly woke up, cut all connection to it and locked myself in a room for a year to design my dream yachts, I got a job as a yacht architect at Coste Design & Partner to work on a 100 feet luxury catamaran.

Keeping my passion for watersport, I also started a Surfboard company “eXXite” mixing the art of shaping with the engineering of yacht architecture.

Paddle Boarding came along with racing and I was quickly thrown back to designing fast slender hulls with very similar ratios as Catamarans. This was nothing new for me hehe. I had to stop eXXite after being recruited by Starboard to design for them.

What made you jump on the e-bike bandwagon?

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The whole story started at a friend’s baby birthday party in the park. My friend arrived with a Dutch tricycle with a cargo area for the kids. I tried the bike and was thrilled about it, I instantly believed it was the future of transportation in the city if we made it more maneuverable and electric.

At the same time, I was looking for a vintage “Cafe Racer” style bike so I instantly connected the dots and started working on my “own” project to make a great looking and fast Electric motorcycle/ EPAC Hybrid.

While spending nights in Thailand studying brushless motors and controller electronic, I got stung by a mosquito and got infected with Dengue Fever. The fever gave me hallucinations and I was obsessively working close to 24h a day on the project, asking my wife to send money here and there to get many components for my experiments. When I got cured from Dengue, everything went crystal clear in my head and I just knew what I had to do…

 

What are the core values behind RayVolt?

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The Rayvolt name comes from the Sun’s “RAY” and the electrical Unit “Volt”

Put together it sounds like Revolt. The sun power to generate voltage is the main drive behind our brand. The revolutionary spirit is what is pushing us to actively promote a cleaner form of transportation. We call it the Rayvolution. In some way it is a Revolution 2.0 with no war involved. Rayvolution is about becoming aware of the problems and making many small individual decisions and changes that will contribute to a brighter future.

 

Can you describe the connectivity technology involved on the Rayvolt bikes?

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After checking e-bikes regulation in many countries, we saw that there were so many different legislation. An easy solution would be to use the strictest rules but then be underpowered in many situations. We chose to go with a fully configurable controller connected via Bluetooth to the bike computer where we can input any drive style. We can adjust speed, acceleration, level of assistance, max power, level of regenerative breakage, voltage to its finest settings. This makes us fully compliant with a Pedal Assisted Bike in any countries or as a Moped. The dashboard connected to the bike computer also displays speed, distance, consumption, battery state as well as real time diagnosis of any potential faults.

It has built in GPS and internet for geolocation and interactive touristic maps. Built in giro sensor to detect hill angles and automatically adjust motor assistance. We call that computer EIVA, Electronic Intelligent Vehicle Assistant.

 

The Cruzer by Rayvolt has a very peculiar shape. Can you tell what inspired you to design this bike?

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As I mentioned earlier, I was in the market for vintage motor bike. I love Cafe Racer Bikes. I love Indian motorcycles. I also come from the Surf industry so throw in some beach cruiser influence and here we are…

 

You claim that Rayvolt bikes are “made in El Born”, a downtown quarter of Barcelona. Why is it so important for you to make that claim?

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El Born” is the main artistic and cultural center in Barcelona. I live in El Born, work in El Born and it feels like a village inside a town. Beside El Born is probably home of the oldest Rayvolution I can think of: 8 centuries ago, the Highest Authorities in Barcelona commissioned the Barcelona Cathedral in the gothic quarter to hold their ceremonies.

A few hundred meters away, in El Born, the fishermen and all the people working on the Docks put all their work and money to self-finance the Basilica of Santa Maria Del Mar which rivals with the cathedral made by the highest power. El Born also hosted many painters including Picasso who actually lived 2 doors away from our office. The neighborhood is filled with Artistic vibes. All this makes me proud of the “Made in El Born” Tag.

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How does Rayvolt compare with other ebikes?

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Most e-bikes sold are normal bicycles with a motor and a small battery on the fenders and they compete in the bike market. I love bicycle and I respect this market, but Rayvolt is not competing in that segment, we are competing in the commuting segment.

Our bikes are designed as motorcycle made for commuting with the addition of pedals to fit in the EPAC class and feel the freedom of a bicycle (no license, no insurance required, bike lanes, pedestrian streets, no noise, fits in elevator etc…)

On the technology side, we are also very different as we started by engineering the most silent and efficient motors, then build the bike around it while most manufacturer make a frame and buy a motor to adapt it. We also design all our accessories, as our Board rack which was my main reason to design an e-bike. To go surfing. The brand being so linked to the water-sports industry; it was natural to have such a feature.

Also our bikes are solar powered, in fact we provide a solar cover that uses the sun to charge the batteries while parked and we don’t get any margin on it. Rayvolt will continue investing everything in Research & Development. I’ve never been money driven, so I do not worry about how much profit the company is making, all I want is to make the best possible bike with sustainable technology and this at all cost! People fear those with nothing to lose, but I believe that someone with nothing to win is far more dangerous.

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Can you give us some figures on the reach and market potential of electric bikes?

We see thousands of scooters on the street and this doesn’t make any sense. A gasoline scooter is so obsolete; I believe we won’t see them on the streets 5 years from now. Today there are 50 million e-bikes sold worldwide, it is forecasted to reach 80 million but I believe it will be more than this because as I said, they won’t be any more gasoline scooters soon, they will all turn electric! Soon batteries, possibly fused cell technology will become more affordable, so electric bikes will be provided in many underdeveloped countries. I would be happy and proud to help supplying at no margin as a non-profit organization all those countries with a specially designed bike.

> Visit www.rayvoltbike.com and get a 150€ discount with the following code: totalsup (minimum purchase of 2000€) <

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