It is not surprising that fuel will eventually be fossilized considering the increased amount of environmental, political and social pressure. Here in India, the electric revolution is picking up pace when it comes to scooters. There have also been a couple of companies in the past promising electric motorcycles but of all, only one seems to have delivered.
Here we have the Revolt RV400, the country’s first electric motorcycle to roll out from Revolt Motors. The company’s idea of the RV400 is to offer an affordable, accessible and fun motorcycle that would defy the limitations of owning an electric vehicle. So does it match up to those claims? Or is it just one among the tall tale electric vehicles that have made a brief appearance and fizzled out? We rode the RV400 around a karting track set up with real-world obstacles to find out.
Most electric motorcycles seem like they rode out of Dr. Brown’s DeLorean from the future, but the designers at Revolt Intellicorp designed the RV400 keeping conventional motorcycles in mind. At the front, mounted on the forks is a hexagon-shaped full-LED headlamp flanked by LED turn indicators. The ‘tank’ shrouds have a sharp design while the bolt-on subframe holds a svelte rear section. It also gets an LED tail lamp which seems to have taken styling cues from a certain 313cc motorcycle.
While most of the RV400’s design is subtle, the large side panels, which would look more appropriate on a fully-faired motorcycle, make it stand out. The design of the panels with all those lines and creases looks busy and gives the bike a plasticky feel. Nevertheless, the fitment on the RV400 is decent as there are hardly any noticeable panel gaps but the quality of plastics and components could have been better.
To come equipped with all kinds of technical gizmos is a norm in the electric vehicle world and the RV400 is no different. The bike offers three riding modes- Eco, Normal and Sport which can be switched on-the-fly. However, its biggest USP is its ‘exhaust notes’ that emanate from a speaker fitted into the fairing. These sounds can only be changed via the Revolt app although it can also be turned on/off via a button on the switchgear. While these simulated noises may sound unreal, it is an excellent safety feature for an electric vehicle to alert pedestrians and other traffic of its presence.
Apart from this, Revolt has also equipped the RV400 with a push ignition button instead of a conventional key fob. If that isn’t cool enough, the bike can also be cranked up using the ‘Start Electric’ function on the Revolt app. Moreover, the app notifies the user if the battery is running out of juice and also provides a ‘geo-fence’ wherein it sends alerts if the bike leaves a predetermined geographic area. It also gets an LCD instrument display, which although difficult to read in direct sunlight, has an array of information. It shows the selected mode, battery percentage, battery temperature, and ambient temperature along with speed, ampere meter, and trip meter.
Crank up the RV400 and you are welcomed with a soft hum of the 3kW motor, well that is if you have the artificial sounds turned off. Anyway, the throttle takes time getting used to and feels extremely jerky at the beginning. This is because the entire 50Nm of torque is all ready to surge right from zero rpm! Here is where the modes come into play. The Eco mode is the easiest to ride in as the throttle doesn’t feel very choppy and it limits the speed to 45kmph. This mode also offers the highest range of 156km on a single charge and would be the most ideal mode to ride in the chaos of a city.
The Normal mode or Mode 2 propels the RV400 to a speed of 65kmph, however, there is a sudden burst of power when switched to Sport mode. While I couldn’t hit its electronically limited top speed of 85kmph on the karting track, 70kmph flashed quickly on the screen. The RV400 is capable of running 85-90kms on Sport. The bike drops anchor using a disc brake at the front and rear that offer initial bite but lack feedback. The setup also consists of CBS and RBS (Regenerative Braking System) which essentially recharges 2-3 percent of battery while braking.
The Revolt RV400 is a comfortable motorcycle, offering an upright riding position courtesy the raised handlebar and the mildly rear-set footpegs which are also adjustable. The seat also has plush cushioning and offers enough room even for taller riders. Weighing in at 108kg, it is also lightweight and easy to flick around which should make it a boon in the city. On the downside of its comfort is the stiff suspension setup on both ends that amplifies even the smallest of undulations and bumps.
Revolt has made a bold move and revolutionized the ownership of an electric two-wheeler. The RV400 is offered in two versions- Base and Premium that can be bought by paying an EMI of Rs 3499 and Rs 3999 each for a period of 37 months which, when you think of it, is similar to the kind of money you’d pay monthly for a top-spec smartphone! Now, at a total of Rs 1.29 lakhs and Rs 1.47 lakhs, the RV400 might seem expensive but given the EMI scheme, it is much more accessible. To make ownership even simpler the company is offering zero down payment, unlimited battery warranty, along with three years of free service and brake pads. The RV400 Premium additionally gets a one-time free tyre replacement in the first three years.
The RV400 ticks the box for being accessible to purchase and is also fun to ride plus it has decent looks and comes with credible features. But the weight of the battery, which is its most vital component, could be the real downside of the package. It weighs a hefty 20kg and can only be taken out vertically from the tank; a pretty laborious task to perform every day. And while Revolt is offering four ways to charge the battery, three of those require removing the battery from the motorcycle. The bike can also be charged, just like a smartphone, using a regular socket although setting up a charger in an apartment parking or housing society comes with its own set of complications.
So yes, the Revolt RV400 is a mighty step towards motorcycle electrification in the country with efforts to defy the limitations of owning an EV here. Although given the current state of charging infrastructure to support electric vehicles, which is still in a nascent stage, it would be a couple of years before it does so.
Photography by Kaustubh Gandhi