The motorcycle futurist
He just debuted the fastest street legal electric bike in the world. Meet Mark Seeger, InsideHook’s Man of the Month for June.
He's thirty-three years old and six-foot-six.
He’s incredibly upbeat. He’s unfailingly polite.
And last week Mark Seeger and his company, the San Francisco-based Mission Motorcycles, unveiled what they claim is “the highest performing street-legal production electric motorcycle in the world.”
It's called the Mission RS.
Horsepower: try 160 of 'em. Top city range: about 220 miles. Emissions? None. And it does zero-to-sixty in three seconds.
That’ll flap your cheeks, fella.
How’d he do it? Seeger sums it up thusly:
“Sit in the shower. Dream up an electric motorcycle. Go f---ing build it.”
To hear Seeger tell it, the main reason he built the Mission RS is because, quite simply, he loves to tinker.
And once, many years ago in New Hampshire, he learned an important lesson from his dad.
“He said, ‘You’ve gotta understand engineering because it teaches you to build stuff. You gotta understand design because that’s what gets people to use it. And you’ve gotta understand business because that’s what’s going to get people to buy it. At the center of those you can make things happen.”
So he started to make things happen.
Seeger went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for an advanced engineering degree. He worked with robots. Did some consulting work with Apple and the government.
And then, concerned about the environment, he started the biodegradable plastics company Greenidea.
Frustrated by the lack of R&D in the larger companies he was in contact with, he headed up Ogilvy Innovations, a product and innovation firm.
And for kicks, he learned to fly. Started sailing boats. Trained dogs. And refurbished a pre-war colonial mansion in Singapore. (It made Architectural Digest.)
“These activities all grew out of my hobbies,” says Seeger. “I only commercialized some of them after the fact.”
Eventually, his tinkering led back to the beginning. To bikes. Seeger, an avid rider who had moved to San Francisco, couldn’t find an electric bike that satisfied his needs.
“Here’s the deal: I’m selfish,” says Seeger, laughing. “If the market can’t deliver what I want – even if I have the money – it frustrates the hell out of me. Why does my iPhone, which is a few years old, have better tech than my $30,000 Ducati? No logic in that.”
“So I said, 'Let me build it on my own.'”
Seeger studied the market. He tinkered with prototypes. He looked at industry trend lines and saw a point where technology and price would intersect about four years down the road.
Satisfied with his research, Mission Motorcycles was born.
“With electric vehicles, you have to produce something that’s at least as good as anything already on the market,” he says. “If you can’t, don’t bother.”
Four years in, Mission just debuted the RS. So far, forty have been made.
And within 72 hours of going on sale last week, half were sold (including two during our interview).
So Seeger, by any measure, is a success. And while he jokes about his “tunnel vision” and “impatience” guiding the way, he sincerely credits a can-do philosophy that anyone can embrace.
“Look: my IQ is high, but it’s not that high,” he says. “It’s just that I never think ‘I can’t achieve that.’ All I can say is this: unless there are actual laws of physics preventing you from doing or getting what you want, there’s no reason you can’t achieve what you want. I wish they’d teach that more. The world needs more innovation.”
And a few more guys who like to tinker.