Rider Interview

Taking A Test Drive for Cancer

Michel and his team from FTN Motion took part in the TTASS Scooter Safari in 2022 and the Wellington C2C Scooter Challenge in 2023. Their goal? Take their Streetdog electric moped for an epic test drive while supporting a noble cause. Michel shares the test drive, testing conditions, and top fundraising tips for our 2025 participants.

“The amount of money that such an event can raise and all the story of it is quite amazing. Everyone is doing a great job. It’s very good to see people really get together to do these sorts of things. It's amazing.”

Michel Roncara

What made you take part in the South Island Scooter Safari? 

It was a combination of things. Obviously the good cause and the fundraising and being able to help was a part of it. But what really attracted us to the event was the idea of being able to raise money for Cancer Society and at the same time having fun with the bikes. As a startup, that tour, that range, that challenge, was a good opportunity for us to test our product. It was also the first time an electric moped tried to do the race, so it was another good push for us to be part of the event.

Do you have a personal connection with cancer?

I guess everyone somehow has some sort of connection with cancer. It's sad to think that, but it’s true. In my case, not sure if it was connected to a specific story but obviously when I was a kid, some of the early memories I have of dealing with this sort of issue was my grandmother, and I don't know, it somehow reminded me about that and it's just another justification for taking part in the event and supporting the cause. 

What sets the challenge apart from other challenges? 

I think the idea of being able to do multiple things, having fun, testing a product, and being able to support a noble cause. It's a big, big point of difference from any other challenges and that was one of the major motivations for us to attend the event.

How did you prepare for the challenge?

Since it was first time an electric moped was attending that race, we had to take a lot of things into consideration – like if the products ready to ride four hours uphill and under the weather conditions We dedicated a bit of time to put the product under huge amount of stress and tweaking a bit the acceleration, playing around with different things that can impact the temperature of the bikes. And some of the knowledge then was applied to the products going ahead. We had some learnings on the way. The motor can heat and get hot, which is not a good thing, and so we were able to implement some solutions that we used during the race that then ended up going into the production line and is now applied to the bike.

Nothing else, really. Our team is pretty active and used to that kind of riding!

What was something you WEREN’T prepared for?

Obviously, the Streetdog is considered an urban commuter and fits on the moped class, so the mid speed is 50Ks an hour. With those speeds, and the distance involved, we had to consider logistics about how many batteries we should bring. We originally planned for a certain amount, and the idea was that we would be able to recharge the batteries while riding. But one of the systems we were using to recharge the batteries in the support vehicle failed and so we had a very small number of batteries available. We got lucky and ended up using way less batteries than we thought. We managed to complete the journey with just three batteries, which was surprising considering the hills and the cold (electric vehicles don't like cold temperatures and it was about zero degrees on the top of after path)!

What were your highlights?

We have a photo that was taken at the end of the event, with the bikes and the team just sharing a few beers to celebrate. I think that was probably the best part – completing the challenge and sharing a moment with the guys who took part and just enjoy our success.

What were the hardest parts for you?

I was lucky; I drove one of the first sections, sunny day, and beautiful ride uphill. It was stunning. But Nito, one of our guys that rode the other section on the West Coast, got so soaked. It was raining, pouring down rain, a lot of wind, and he just had to get through all of that.

Will you be taking part again?

It was amazing that FTN could be part of the South Island race and we could test the bike through the race, and what we were able to implement because of those learnings. We were very excited to be part of that event and looking forward to being a part of the next one. After our testing from the South Island race and the improvements we’ve implemented, we even have a few people in the Capital2Country event in July. I'm very excited to see all these other scooters and mopeds and people coming up together for such a fun event. 

Do you have any fundraising tips for this year’s challengers?

We obviously tried to involve as many people as possible – friends, family, companies. Meridian produced a video for us, and I sent it around asking people to support our race. Dedicate yourself to fundraising and reach out to everyone in your network. Tell them what you’re doing and make sure you actually ask!

What does a future with less cancer look like to you?

It's having around all the people you like for longer. And I think that’s a bright, good-looking future.