All you need to know about electric scooters in India

Electric scooters have been in India since 2006 (The 1st electric scooter in India was launched by Yobykes, a Gujarat based company) yet there is so less information about this ecosystem such as types of scooters, insurance, license, helmet rule etc – this isn’t a ride review or ownership review of electric scooters, but more on what’s out there.

Basics of an electric scooter:

  • Power output of an electric scooter is measured/specified in watts ( W ) or kilowatts (kW) – more the wattage, more powerful
  • They emit no toxic gases or zero emission vehicles – hence Do not need an emission certificate or PUC (sorry to state the obvious – but some traffic cops in Blore do stop EVs and ask for an emission certificate 😛)
  • Types of electric scooters available in India:
    • Battery Type:
      • Lithium-ion battery (light weight, expensive, fast recharge and more power- on an average priced upwards of INR 40,000)
      • Lead-acid battery (heavy, inexpensive, take longer to charge and output less power – price range of INR 20,000 to 35,000)
    • Power Developed:
      • Under 250W power with top speed of 25 kmph ( Ex: Hero Optima LA/LI series, Lohia Fame etc)
      • Above 250W power and top sped >25 kmph ( Ex: Ather 340 and 450, Okinawa I-praise, Ridge Plus, Hero Optima E5, Nyx & Photon series)
  • Personal Electric vehicles ( scooters, cars) have unique registration plates ( green in colour)
  • Majority of the electric scooters can be charged via a standard plug point at homes, offices or at dedicated charging stations such as the Ather grid

With the basics in place – let’s dive into the most asked questions about electric scooters in India:Ather electric scooters with Ather One Grid in IndiaImage Courtesy & Credit: AutocarIndia

Disclaimer: These rules may vary from each state and with this segment seeing a lot of policy changes – I recommend checking with your electric scooter dealer or local transport registration authorities on the applicable rules

  • Do electric scooters need to a registration certificate and driving licence ?
    Electric scooters with a top speed below 25kmph or those with a max power output of 250W DO NOT need to be registered with the transport authorities + DO NOT need a driving licence
    Any electric scooter that exceeds the above power and speed specifications need a registration certificate and a valid license like a regular scooter
  • Do electric scooters need insurance ?
    Electric scooters with a top speed below 25kmph or those with a max power output of 250W require a 3rd party insurance cover
    Any electric scooter that exceeds the above power and speed specifications require a regular 2-wheeler insurance
  • What is FAME subsidy ?
    FAME stands for Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of hybrid & Electric vehicles ( personal and commercial vehicles) – this is a government initiative to promote wide adoption of electric vehicles in India and to provide subsidies for manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicles and components.

The FAME Scheme operates in two phases.

    • Phase I: started in 2015 and was completed on March 31st, 2019.
    • Phase II: started from April 1st, 2019, will be completed by March 31st, 2022.

As per the current FAME-phase II – For electric two-wheelers below Rs 1.5 lakh, applicable subsidy will be Rs 20,000 per vehicle. This is claimed by the manufacturer and transferred to the customer.

  • What is an electric bicycle/electric cycle/e-bike/e-bicycle ?
    Electric bicycle or e-bikes or electric cycle is a regular bicycle with pedal – attached with a motor and a lithium-ion battery. E-bikes do not need registration certificate or driving licence to ride in India. 

Examples of electric bicycles in India: Swagtron Swagcycle Envy (folding e-bicycle) , Roulik Inizio e-bike, Elektron hybrid bicycle m268 etc)

There are three main modes in which you can ride an electric cycle.

    • Regular Mode – In this mode, there is no use of the battery but ride the bicycle a regular bicycle (By pedalling)
    • Pedal Assist Mode – Needs pedalling. However, the battery will support your ride making it easier – requires less effort in this mode.
    • Full-Electric Mode – no effort to pedal in this mode. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Swagtron Envy ebike in IndiaImage Courtesy & Credits: Swagtron

Going Green has never had so many options – whats your pill?

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Weekend Bike Ride from Bangalore – Mydala Lake Tumkur Road

Mydala lake or Mydala kere is one of the few lakes within 100kms from Bangalore where the entire shore is made out of a rock. Surrounded by the beautiful Mandargiri or Basadi betta, a hillock with Jain temples at the top dating back to 12th century AD.

While the basadi betta has been a popular jain pilgrimage spot, the overlooking lake at the bottom of this monolith is more peaceful, charming and relatively desolate.

Mydala kere and Basadi betta are accessible by different routes, do not expect to climb the hillock and descend to the lake. Entry to the lake is via small patch of trail from Mydala village accessible only by walking or by motorcycles (not accessible by cars).

Mydala kere Kyathasandra

Mydala kere

There are 3 sections/viewpoints of the lake – 1st one being the pumphouse, followed by riding on top of the lake bund and finally onto the rock-based shore leading to the lake.

While the lake adorns one side of the shore, its surround by beautiful rocks and an abandoned shrine making a majestic setting to try your photography skills.

Mydala kere is accessible only by motorcycles or by walking

Beautiful Hillock as the background of Mydala kere

Rock formations on the shore of Mydala lake Kyathasandra

Straight outta Kyathsandra – majestic rock formations at Mydala kere

Useful Information:

  • Mydala kere is accessible by 2 wheelers only – No car can reach the lake [If travelling by car, expect to walk about 1-2 kms from the road to reach the rock-shore of the lake]
  • Don’t try to swim or get into the water – there isn’t anyone around to rescue
  • Recommend carrying water and snacks if you planning to spend some time here
  • No entry fee or special permit required – but make sure to maintain the sanctity of the lake
  • The best part about this place is there is nothing to do here – than adore this beautiful landscape
  • Please don’t litter and carryback any thrash you find – lets do our bit to leave no thrash behind
  • A potential place to camp overnight – I haven’t camped here, but I strongly recommend checking with the locals in Mydala village (since there is a lot of wildlife around) – be humble and do not go against the advice of the locals wrt camping
  • Do not a miss a chance to take a nap behind the boulders – its super cool under them 🙂
  • Location: Mydala Lake Kyathasandra [Google maps link]
  • Where to eat: Pavitra Idli Hotel, Kyathasandra
  • When to visit: early morning is the best time – avoid visiting after 9am , gets super-hot
Benne Idli Sagu at Pavithra Idli Hotel, Kyathasandra Tumkur

Benne Idli Vada Sagu at Pavitra Idli Hotel, Kyathasandra

Guide to Delicious Breakfast in Somwarpet Kodagu

Nestled on a ridge surrounded by scenic green hills, Somwarpet is a small town in Kodagu, Karnataka which translates to ‘Monday Market’, Somwarpet is dominated by a huge market at the centre of the town, narrow streets, vast coffee plantations and promise of good coffee with food – both lived up to my expectations.

Presenting the best vegetarian breakfast places in Somwarpet:

Ootada Mane, Somwarpet Town:

Ootada mane is family-run pure-vegetarian place nestled in a house serving breakfast (no dosas) and lunch in the form of veg thali, chapatis and ragi mudde. Being a small place with house-like ambience, they don’t have a huge spread, but dish-up simple, pocket-friendly delicious food made with lots of love and quick service.

Akki Roti with Filter Coffee at Ootada Mane Somwarpet Kodagu

Lip-smacking Akki Roti with Fresh & Strong Filter Coffee

  • Must Eat: Akki Roti with chutney, Tomato rice, idly vada, filter coffee
  • Timings: Monday to Saturday (7:30 am to 5 pm), Sunday Holiday
  • Location: Behind Government Hospital, Somwarpet [Feel free to call them or ask a local]
  • Contact Number: +91 9481405041
  • Useful Information:
    • Cash only (no payment in the form of by debit/credit card, UPI, Wallet such as PayTM)
    • Parking: highly recommend to park outside the Govt Hospital and walk (distance of 50m)
    • While they are open on regular days, they can prepare food on Sunday – upon prior booking a day in advance
Ootada Mane Hotel in Somwarpet Kodagu

Ootada Mane Hotel in Somwarpet Kodagu

Tomato Rice at Ootada Mane Somwarpet Kodagu

Delicious Tomato Rice at Ootada Mane Somwarpet

Hotel Kalyan Bhavan, Banavara Road, Somwarpet Town

They make the best dosa in Somwarpet.

Hotel Kalyan Bhavan has been around since 1950, started by Mr. SM Basappa, is currently managed his son and grandson. A pure vegetarian fare of breakfast and lunch, their dosas stand-out as they are cooked on firewood, laced with ghee and served with delicious chutney.

Thuppa Dosa at Hotel Kalyan Bhavan Somwarpet Kodagu

Thuppa Dosa at Hotel Kalyan Bhavan Somwarpet

Hotel Kalyan Bhavan Somwarpet Kodagu

Standing tall since 1950 – Hotel Kalyan Bhavan in Somwarpet

  • Must Eat: Thuppa Dosa, Set Dosa, Masala Dosa, filter coffee
  • Timings: Monday to Saturday (Breakfast from 6:30 am to 12 pm, Lunch from 12 pm to 3:30 pm), Sunday Holiday
  • Location: Banawara Road, Somwarpet – Google Maps Link
  • Contact Number: 08276282096
  • Useful Information:
    • Cash only (no payment in the form of by debit/credit card, UPI, Wallet such as PayTM)
    • Parking: No dedicated place for car or motorcycle parking, but its not a crowded town, so finding a spot close-by is easy.
Hotel Kalyan Bhavan Somwarpet Kodagu

All Set for Deliciousness!!

While I am sure there so many yet-to-be discovered (online) places in Somwarpet that promise delicious food, humble, home-like hospitality akin to Ootada Mane and Hotel Kalyan Bhavan. They are also temples of fresh, strong brew filter coffee – no fancy barista jargons or add-ons – pure, simple filter coffee, made just right!!

Tharuni Andhra Mess Domlur Bengaluru

Call it the promise of affordable meals, lure of spicy biryani or the homely style of cooking, an Andhra Mess is always on the radar of a foodie.

One such gem of an Andhra Mess is the Tharuni Andhra Mess in Domlur, Bengaluru – a family run business started 8 years ago by Mr. Rama Rao, with the food and kitchen under the supervision of his wife – lending the homely taste to the food.

In fact most of the such establishments in Bengaluru are family-run, where the owner and other workers consume the same food served to customers and hence a high-standard of hygiene as well.

Tharuni Andhra Mess serves delicious lunch and dinner in vegetarian and non-veg (chicken & egg only) fare. It is their Chicken Biryani and Andhra meals that stand-out, followed by chicken curry and egg-preparations such as bhurji, omelet etc.

Chicken Biryani at Tharuni Andhra Mess Domlur Dengaluru

Best chicken biryani in Domlur

Must Eat:

  • Chicken Biryani: Delicious and spicy chicken biryani with raitha and curry
  • Andhra Meals: It’s the veg meal that commands a short nap after – simple, limited, yummy and best relished when served hot. The meals comprise of chapati, palya/subzi, chutney, white rice, dal pappu, spiced buttermilk, sambar, friyums/papad etc

PS: Add a spicy Egg Bhurji to complete the meal 😀

Veg Andhra Meals with Egg Bhurji at Tharuni Andhra Mess Domlur Dengaluru

Delicious Veg Andhra Meals with Egg Bhurji

Menu:

  • Andhra Meals: INR 60/plate (limited)
  • Chicken Biryani: INR 120
  • Biryani Rice: can be ordered in half-serving or full-serving
  • Chicken Fry: INR 60
  • Chicken Curry: INR 70
  • Egg Preparation: Burji, Omelet, Boiled Egg etc. INR 30

Useful Information:

  • Location: Tharuni Andhra Mess, 1st Floor, Domlur – Google Maps Link
  • Timings: 12 pm to 4 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm (All days of the week)
  • Contact: Mr Rama Rao at +919980961759
  • Payment: No cards are accepted + Cash, PayTM, Google Pay are accepted
  • Parking: No dedicated parking for cars & motorcycles (lots of bylanes around to park)
  • They don’t stock soft drinks – feel free to carry your own (if you relish biryani with a soft  drink)
  • No mineral water is available, regular water is served – feel free to carry your own
  • Ambiance: Seating available, Basic – it is a house that’s converted to a mess, basic tables and chairs to eat
  • Delivery: Carry your own vessels if you want to parcel food – but I highly recommend visiting the place for hot, fresh food

PS: Don’t miss to try the masala tea at Amit Tea Corner opposite Domlur Post Office.

Breakfast Biryani at Anand Dum Biryani Hoskote

Mutton biryani for breakfast in the outskirts of Bengaluru, absolutely 😀

While there are multiple joints in Hoskote that dish out biryani, it’s the mutton biryani at Anand Dum Biryani that Bengalureans and locals line-up on select days of the week at mornings. For 15 years, Anand Dum biryani has been serving mutton biryani with raitha, paya-soup cooked in charcoal for hours that infuse the flavor of the spices into the meat and make them tender.

A whopping 1,400 plates of biryani is dished out in the few hours at mornings – which adds to the exclusivity & novelty. While most of them eat at the small shop, they also parcel biryani or paya (provided one brings their containers for parcel) – they don’t have separate arrangements for parcel.

PS: best relished hot on a cold morning 🙂

Mutton Biryani for breakfast at Anand Dum Biryani Hoskote

Mutton Biryani for breakfast 🙂

Useful Information:

  • They serve only mutton biryani (no chicken biryani, no biryani rice without meat)
  • No half measures aka half-plate biryani (its either full or nothing :D)
  • No place to sit – one can take the food and eat in their car or stand and eat
  • Timings: Biryani is served on select days of the week (Wednesday, Friday & Sunday) from 6:30 am to 9:30 am
  • Expect to stand in a single queue to pay and get the food
  • Cash only, no online or card payment
  • Option to Parcel Biryani – only if you bring your own container
  • Price:
    • INR 160 for mutton biryani
    • INR 60 for the paya-soup
  • Bottled water available
  • Location: Anand Dum Biryani, Hoskote [Google Maps link]
  • Parking: Ample space to park motorcycles and cars
  • Arrive hungry 😀

Relish that early morning ride/drive, savour the biryani , wind-down with a delicious cup of chai/coffee after biryani and the most important bit – get home and take a sound nap after the feast !!

Touring on a Yamaha YZF-R3 in India, Malur karnataka

Exploring Malur after a heavy breakfast !!

Have a wonderful 2019, blessed with great health, lots of travel for food and more motorcycling!!

4 ways for an Indian to fund his international overland motorcycle trip

Crossing continents, navigating the globe is the ultimate dream of a motorcycle tourer.

How do they do it, the documentation involved and all the other preparation that goes into an overland ride demands a full dive into forums such as HUBB (Horizons Unlimited) – this blog-post complies four ways in which various Indian motorcycle overlanders (a term used to describe a traveller who travels across countries by road) have made their international rides possible.

Disclaimer:

While I have tried my best to provide useful examples and links – I recommend you to reach directly to the overlanders featured here for a more 1-to-1 conversation to iron-out specifics. 

[All Images are the copyright of the respective overland travelers].

1) Change your world fund:
They support overland travellers via an application process, followed by selection upon which he/she will undergo training/ mentorship program on their ride plans and will recieve grants between $1,000 to $9,000 USD.
How to apply and eligibility criteria : http://www.conserventures.org/change-your-world-fund/

Indian motorcyclists who have/are over-landing this way:
Candida LouisCandida is one of the few women overlanders from India and has been inspiring more women to get into motorcycling. She is currently riding her motorcycle from Bangalore to Sydney
Follow her adventures at http://indiaonamotorcycle.com/

Candida Louis on her Overland Motorcycle Ride

Candida Louis on her Overland Motorcycle Ride to Sydney

2) Start a crowdfunding campaign:
Raise funds online for your cause and yes one can successfully fund their overland motorcycle ride ( https://milaap.org/fundraisers/TRAILSDAZURE ) with a cause associated via this method.

Indian motorcyclists who have/are over-landing this way:
Abijith M Rao: In 2017, Abijith rode across 31 countries via Central Asia, Europe and back.
Follow his adventures at https://instagram.com/trailbugadv

Abijith M Rao on his Overland Motorcycle Ride

Abijith M Rao on his Overland Motorcycle Ride via Silk Route to Europe

3) Become a Jupiter Traveller:
Powered by the Ted Simon foundation, they support a traveler with advice, contacts and wherever possible road assistance by other Jupiter travelers + help transform/fine tune the content of the adventure (videos, photos etc).
Note: They don’t financially fund travelling expenses.

How to applyhttp://jupiterstravellers.org/jupiters-travellers/application-form/

Indian motorcyclists who have/are overlanding:
Jay Kannaiyan: Jay quit his day-job to ride overland across Americas, Europe and Africa for over 3 years.
Follow his adventures at http://jamminglobal.com/

Jay Kannaiyan on his Overland Motorcycle Ride

Jay Kannaiyan on his Overland Motorcycle Ride – that took him across South America, Europe and Africa

4) Self-sustained:
Personally, these are my heroes – who for years have lived a minimalistic life, saved majority of their earnings, sold their personal belongings – all in pursuit of that one goal – traverse continents on their motorcycle funded by themselves.
No obligations to sponsors or brands – ride their dream trip on their own terms, at their own pace.

Indian motorcyclists who have/are overlanding this way:
1) Rohit Upadhyay aka beru: Self-funded, Rohit rode his KTM Duke 390 from India to UK in 2015.
Currently he is pursuing an overland ride from India to Australia on his beloved Duke 390
Follow his adventure at http://www.adventuresofbiru.in and https://instagram.com/adventuresofbiru

Rohit Upadhyay on his Overland Motorcycle Ride

Rohit Upadhyay on his Overland Motorcycle Ride – India to UK on a KTM Duke 390

2) Aditya Kumar: Not sponsored, Aditya is currently living his 10-year old dream of riding a motorcycle across South-America
Follow his adventure at https://instagram.com/mak.aditya

Aditya Kumar on his Overland Motorcycle Ride

Aditya Kumar on his Overland Motorcycle Ride – Across South America

Whatever way you chose, I’m glad to be in this era where so much possible and so many opportunities galore.
Go ahead and action your dream ride!!

A day with the 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT

Ever encountered an off-roader without a foot shifter? Or one without a clutch lever?

The foot shifter is not present on the DCT version of the 2018 Honda Africa Twin, but an optional accessory!!

With the Africa Twin DCT-version, Honda has ventured into new territory, challenging the dogma of an off-roader. While the concept of riding an automatic motorcycle sounds boring, there is enough juice (89ps) and loads of brilliant electronics that engage the rider making it fun to putter around traffic, tarmac and hit the trails with gusto.

2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT Riding Experience in India

2018 Honda Africa Twin – DCT version – best experienced without the front screen!!

How does it feel to ride a DCT?

DCT stands for Dual Clutch Transmission, an automatic transmission technology that Honda first introduced in the 2009 VFR1200F, that has now trickled down to a variety of Honda motorcycles such as NC700/750 series, VFR1200 series, CTX700 series followed by the CRF1000L aka the Africa Twin.

On the Africa Twin, power from the engine to the final chain drive is transmitted via Drive (D) and 3 Sports (S) modes. There is a switch on the right-side switch gear to bring the motorcycle into Neutral (N).

City Riding:

In our congested cities, the DCT in D-mode is a bliss to ride akin to an automatic scooter, shifting is smooth and the transmission showed no signs of jerky/sloppy starts even upon riding all day along.

The gear choice in D-mode isn’t what I’d go with, but obviously the motorcycle never reaches the point of stalling with a too high gear or lurch by going too low. The Sports mode does the trick for spirited riding and tackling corners – allowing to hold the revs long enough.

Tackling the pothole laden city roads never seemed so much fun 😀

Off-Roading:

This is where the Africa Twin has been projected to shine – and it does with flair!! courtesy a controlled chassis pitch (a clever electronics system that controls chassis pitch upon closing the throttle by injecting a small/calculated amount of fuel into the cylinders to offset compression braking) and a beautifully tuned stock suspension.

The tank is narrow, so the bike feels thin, comfortable & inspires confidence to ride when sitting down or standing up.

Standing up & riding is simplified on the DCT with the gear-shift buttons, instead of hunting for the shift lever [eliminates the accidental down-shifts while standing up :D] and other body position shenanigans!!

The normal motorcyclist in me was constantly reaching out for the clutch-lever, which is actually a parking-brake lever 😛 [used to hold the bike on an incline].

Joy of off roading on a 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT in India

Yeah I can go here as well 😀

Proud Owner of 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT in India

NFS – proud owner of the AT and always happy to pose 🙂

Final Verdict:

Oodles of mid-range power, a healthy tank range of 350 kms, plush suspension to tackle all terrains, acres of space to tie luggage coupled with a DCT, a refreshing feature that – once you get used to, makes riding a bit more – simple, allows you to soak up the scenery and focus on the road.

While purists would disagree & may call this being lazy – I strongly urge them to ride the DCT-version of the Africa Twin to understand.

Riding a 2018 Honda Africa Twin DCT, 2016 Triumph Thruxton R and 2017 Ducati Multistrada Enduro in India

Great bunch of guys to ride with and their delicious steeds 🙂