The origin, inspiration and motivation for Dong Tran’s California-based light mobility company and its first product, The Anthem
Ryvid is not a motorcycle company; it’s a light mobility company with a mission to make more efficient, lightweight and eco-friendly vehicles that are less resource-intensive. It’s a significant endeavor, and one that was partly inspired by co-founder Dong Tran’s early childhood experiences – from Vietnam to the United States.
Growing up in Dalat, Tran was familiar with the pragmatism and pleasure of riding mopeds, and accustomed to seeing two-wheel vehicles inundating the streets. “I grew up in a household where we had a bicycle. Our entire family was on a bicycle and our entire livelihood was built around that bicycle – it meant my parents could get to work,” he says. When he moved to Southern California to work with Honda, Tran lived with LA’s notorious traffic and understood with even more clarity how practical smaller, lightweight vehicles are. “It’s not human nature to want to be bigger, I think it’s human nature to want to be more efficient,” he says. “To get on a two-wheeled vehicle might seem like a hobby for some, but in a lot of the world that's how people get around – and that's their livelihood.”
Tran’s early appreciation for the efficiency, form, functionality and fun of motorbikes; an interest in mechanics; and a vision for greener, more accessible mobility all signaled that Tran’s foray into EV was inevitable. “From an early age, I was enamored with noise and mechanical complexity, but I saw a lot of potential in EV,” he says.
Tran—along with Vinh Tran and Vincent Nguyen—founded Ryvid in 2021, but the idea had been bubbling in his mind for many years before. After studying engineering, Tran embarked on an automotive design degree and eventually worked with Honda, where he worked on an electric vehicle before the project was canceled. Next he was an early hire at Icon Aircraft, a company where he learned not only about aerospace design but also growth and expansion of a startup.
With a decade of experience in automotive and aerospace design, Tran knew that light electric vehicles had mass-market potential. At the time, EVs were expensive to produce—especially as many companies were intent on making electric vehicles as powerful as their gas counterparts. Most of what existed at the time were considered toys in the US market, but Tran inherently understood the possibilities—and the imminent need for lower emissions and cleaner air—but knew it had to be as exciting as it was practical.
Ryvid’s Launch Product: The Anthem
From aerospace-inspired construction methods to simplifying supply chains, much of Tran’s work in aerospace inspired him to develop the unique features of Ryvid’s launch product, the Anthem—a fully electric, lightweight motorcycle with a 50-75-mile range with a tool-less removable battery and an electronically-actuated height-adjustable seat. It’s a highway-capable urban commuter that balances function with form.
Its frame, made from a single sheet of metal, takes notes from airplanes and origami. Eschewing traditional motorbike chassis, the Anthem’s folded frame (which is mechanically fastened rather than welded) not only looks sleek, it also simplifies supply chain challenges that every gas and electric motorcycle manufacturer normally faces. But driving down production costs was just one factor; Tran wanted to optimize simplicity. “I wanted to really build the Anthem in my garage without any special tools,” he says. “If I can do that on my own, I figured it’s probably pretty easy to scale this.”
Innovative Design Means Less Maintenance and Hassle
In many ways, electric motorcycles are more simple than gas motorcycles. There are fewer moving parts in the engine, no clutch or gear-shifting, and ultimately less day-to-day maintenance and fixes at the shop. These factors drive down costs of owning a motorcycle, in addition to the initial purchase.
Then there’s the battery. Most electric bikes have a heavy and unwieldy battery that’s inconvenient and expensive to replace. Plus, there’s the hassle of finding a charging station. The Anthem’s battery pack (while it weighs 80 pounds) is removable and it has wheels, making it far more portable than others on the market. It’s chargeable in garages, houses, apartments—even hotel rooms. It charges via any standard 110 V household outlet, standard EV charging plug or standard J plug on public car chargers. On average, it costs about 80 cents to fully charge the Anthem's battery.
The Anthem’s seat is adjustable for riders of almost height to easily hop on and off and sit more comfortably. The bike itself is lightweight enough to be wheeled and stored inside too, but the primary motivation for reducing weight was practicality and safety.
For Ryvid, Safety is Paramount
Tran’s attention to detail when it comes to safety comes from practical experience as a rider as well as his innate sense of responsibility. “I’m always worried about safety and accountability. There’s a lot to prepare for, but seeing people happy is extremely rewarding,” he says. “I’ve had a few products that have gone to market, and every product feels like your baby, but there’s also a lot of responsibility, and I’m always worried about safety and accountability.”
Accidents happen, and the weight of a traditional motorcycle can make it difficult to maneuver around obstacles, stop quickly, back out of tight spaces and sometimes avoid immediate danger. If a rider finds themselves in a situation where their motorcycle falls on top of them, the lighter the bike, the better.
The Anthem weighs 313 pounds (lighter than many naked bikes), boasts a reverse feature for easier maneuvering and narrower bars for better accessibility. Its twist-and-go throttle with smooth powerband also makes it easier for newer riders.
The Electric Ride Experience
“Many individuals prefer safety over the perceived risks associated with gas-powered motorcycles," Tran says. "Achieving speeds of 100mph can be deemed excessive. A quieter return home is often desired to avoid disruptions. Even seasoned riders eventually prioritize the enjoyment of the ride over pure performance factors."
Gas-powered motorcycles are fast, but riding an efficient machine and taking away the noise was what got Tran hooked on the idea of electric motorcycles. The euphoria of the ride experience is—of course—intrinsic to Tran’s motivation.
"Many anticipate a diminished engagement, but the experience is remarkably different from that of gas-powered motorcycles. The lack of engine noise highlights subtle sounds, like the tire's contact with the pavement, hyper awareness of your surroundings and enhancing the sensation of effortless gliding. To truly understand, it's best to personally embark on such a ride yourself."
Creating a Greener, More Accessible Future for “Generation EV”
The Anthem, and Ryvid in general, is garnering attention from tenured riders as well as younger generations and rookies alike. There's a particular appeal with Gen EV. “Kids who grew up on EVs,” Tran says, “who might find it cumbersome to do gas-powered anything.”
Tran envisions a cleaner, more practical, efficient and accessible future for mobility. He has spent much of his career helping companies make more vehicles more fuel-efficient, and is currently working with legislators to set realistic standards for manufacturers. He actively works with the State of California to develop plans for light electric vehicle emission regulation.
Ultimately, his plan is to make affordable, accessible light electric vehicles that provide solutions to real-world problems. “We aspire for the forthcoming generation to recognize our commitment to advancing personal transportation in a sustainable direction,” he says. “Prioritizing energy-efficient mobility methods is an important catalyst to making all of this happen. We also want them to still have fun.”