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Leading the electric ‘Revolt-ution’ from the front

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on August 30, 2019

The motorcycle weighs less than 110 kg   -  Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan

The RV 400 electric bike definitely looks like a step towards the future of mobility

The notion that adoption of electric vehicles will require a mindset change could not have hit home harder than when I was told about the faux exhaust note on the Revolt RV 400, the all-electric motorcycle from the same man who had begun Micromax mobiles. The ‘vroom’ from this bike came from a speaker hidden away somewhere in its chassis, and sounded like the kind that a video game on my mobile phone would produce. After the initial parts of my test ride, I turned it off. There are some things that just cannot be replicated.

That being said, this motorcycle has all the makings of a market disrupter; its pricing plan being the biggest factor. There is no option to pay the full amount upfront to own this bike. Rather, you will have to pay a monthly amount starting from ₹2,999 (based on the variant). This plan is probably to assuage buyers from sticker shock if they’d realise that it costs over a lakh even for the starting variant and more for the higher models. The advantage, however, is that the company will take care of wear-and-tear parts such as tyres and brake pads, etc, for a certain period.

Earlier this month, Revolt had organised test rides of the motorcycle on a go-karting track in Delhi NCR. Given the very tight corners and the fact that it was difficult to hit the bike’s rated top speed of 85 kmph on this track, it came a little close to city conditions. So how did the RV 400 fare?

 

The RV 400, at less than a 110 kg, weighs what a 110-cc scooter does. And it looks its weight. I wouldn’t call it small, but it’s compact. Maybe its target audience is students and early-career young professionals, given the pricing strategy, and this target audience shouldn’t have a problem with a compact machine to slip in and out of city traffic.

Design and looks

However, the front of the bike looks very sporty, with the large LED headlamp and the naked instrument console sitting right on top. The sculpted mudguard and the almost-blacked out turn indicators add to the appeal. The college-going crowd is sure to like this. The ‘fuel tank’, which actually houses the battery, is also a sporty customer, chunky and well placed. The aluminium swingarm and the tubular frame, apart from looking good, also make this a practical bike to operate. The single seat tapers down towards the fuel tank and can comfortably seat two people, without the pillion rising above the rider a lot. The tail lamp is a modern, stylish unit and complements the rest of the design well.

 

The LCD instrument cluster displays information such as battery status, speed, temperature, distance, etc. But it is not radically different from the kind already seen on numerous bikes. Switchgear quality isn’t bad and the right side of the handlebar has a toggle switch for selecting modes that affect speed and range.

The ride

There are two things to expect, when riding any electric two-wheeler: The initial acceleration can be sudden, thanks to the high torque; and once that has tapered off, the bike can seem sluggish, thanks to its limited power. With the RV 400, there is a lot of torque, and that can be a little difficult to handle in tight traffic as the bike can shoot forward. But thanks to its relatively higher top speed of 85 kmph (by EV standards), it doesn’t feel too sluggish, given that reaching even 60 kmph in city traffic conditions can often be difficult. The bike is powered by a 3 KW motor and a 72 V, 3.24 KWh lithium ion battery.

 

The ride quality is quite refined. Braking is good and confidence-inspiring too. However, this bike doesn’t have ABS and instead works on CBS (combined braking). Another thing to keep in mind when braking is that the acceleration is cut off on applying the brakes, so get used to sudden drops in speed and pulling power. Regenerative braking helps get some juice to the battery even without plugging it in.

The three modes ensure different speeds and range. On the first mode, you get a top speed of 40 kmph and a range of 156 km (ARAI-certified), the second mode gives you 60 kmph and a range of 110 km, and the third mode takes you to 85 kmph and 80 km of range. Note that those are claimed figures and I couldn’t test the range on the track. The light weight of the bike makes it easy to handle for sure, but it didn’t inspire a lot of confidence when taking those tight corners at the track, even at middling speeds. For a regular rider, slowing down to safe and sensible speeds during turns is advisable. Suspension is all right, but again, at low speeds. Take that speed breaker without braking adequately and you will feel a lot of jarring accompanied by rattling of plastic parts.

All in all, the ride performance wasn’t very different from other electric two-wheelers already in the market here as all of them have pretty much the same drive-train system — battery and motor. And that is where I feel EVs will face the daunting prospect of convincing those looking for performance. Still, these are early days yet and we don’t know what the future has in store.

Battery and charging

Revolt officials told us reviewers that the battery can even be pulled out and carried to our homes to make charging easy. But it’s a heavy battery and doing that all the time isn’t going to be the easiest task. You can even plug it in when the battery is still in the bike, of course. Revolt claims a charging time of 0-75 per cent in three hours and 100 per cent in four-and-a-half hours.

But battery swapping seems to be the key for Revolt here. The Revolt smartphone app comes with a feature using which you can locate the nearest battery swap station, the availability of batteries there, and it also helps you to navigate to the spot. How Revolt ends up ensuring that there are enough of these across cities remains to be seen. The app also has features like geo-fencing, with which you can ensure that the bike doesn’t cross a certain perimeter, and you can even start the bike using the app. Oh, you can also set different kinds of throttle sounds. There’s Google Assistant integration too.

Bottom Line

With all the buzz around EVs and the government pushing for it, the Revolt RV line-up has entered the market at the right time. The RV 300, starting at ₹2,999 a month was a surprise and I cannot comment on its performance, but the RV 400 comes across as a simple, sporty-looking offering that could appeal to those looking at the long-term advantages of using an EV in the city, such as costs and easy maintenance. The RV 400 will cost ₹3,499 a month for the base variant and ₹3,999 a month for the premium. The tenure of this monthly payout will be 37 months.

Published on August 30, 2019

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