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

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 🙂

Awesome places around Bengaluru to shoot motorcycles

Bengaluru is blessed with beautiful terrains that make the perfect backdrop to shoot a motorcycle. Here are my favorite set of places around Bengaluru to take awesome motorcycle photographs:

1) Nelligudde kere
Orientation: Bidadi – Ganakallu Road [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 25 kms
Where to eat: Renukamba Thatte Idly Bidadi

Bidadi Ganakallu Road - At Nelligudde kere Karnataka

Bidadi Ganakallu Road – At Nelligudde kere

2) Harohalli
Orientation: off pyramid valley international centre, Kanakapura Road [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 37 kms
Where to eat: Vasu Hotel, Kanakapura

Kawasaki Versys 650 basking in morning glory - Pyramid Valley International Harohalli Kanakapura Road

Basking in the Morning Glory 🙂

[Image Credit – Nishanth N – Follow his Versys Adventures on Insta]

3) NICE Road – clover leaf
Orientation: look for an uphill road near the clover leaf [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 20 kms
Where to eat: Cafe down the alley, Dwarka Nagar ( off the nice road toll booth)

2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Long Term Review

Off NICE Road – Clover Leaf [Shot during the sunset]

4) Bangalore – Hassan highway
Orientation: Yadiyur [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 105 kms
Where to eat: Shark Food Court, Kannasandra

NH75 - Bangalore to Hassan Highway on a KTM Duke 390

An otherwise boring offers beautiful skies [shot during a sunrise]

5) Manchanabele dam
Orientation: reach Manchanabele via Ganakallu [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 40 kms
Where to eat: Renukamba Thatte Idly Bidadi

Yamaha YZF-R3 at Manchanabele Dam Karnataka

Manchanabele Dam – beautiful all along 🙂

6) Ragihalli
Orientation: Ragihalli forest near Bannerghatta [Google Maps Link]
Distance from Bengaluru: 50 kms
Where to eat: Hotel Prasanna Kaggalipura

Exploring Ragihalli Forest near Bannerghatta Bangalore

Brilliant Forest Road !!

What are your favorite places to shoot motorcycle pics ?

Feel free to comment 🙂

A day with the 2016 Triumph Thruxton R

Being a super-sport enthusiast, a retro styled cafe racer was always a treat to the eyes, but never to ride – the Triumph Thruxton R shattered such opinions and how!!

Blessed with the goodies to rival performance nakeds, the Triumph Thruxton R boasts of fully adjustable Showa Big Piston Fork at the front and Ohlins at the rear , Pirelli’s diablo corsa tyres, ride-by-wire tech, 3 riding modes ( Road, Rain and Sport), Traction control, ABS (which can be turned off at the rear wheel) and not to forget a lighter crank 96 bhp engine based on the Bonneville T120.

Living with a 2016 Triumph Thruxton R in India

Such a looker!!

City commute: 
The delicious scoop of torque at the low-to-mid RPMs mated makes this a confortable motorcycle to putter around town.

Touring:
With a tank-range of 200-230 kms and a not-so aggressive riding position, the Thruxton R’s touring abilities shine on good and broken Tarmac. But, can handle bad roads courtesy the fully adjustable suspension.

Where the Thruxton R lacks is the ability to carry luggage , being a single seater.

2016 Triumph Thruxton R - Long term review in India

Neat Blend of Style and Performance

Things I love about the Thruxton R:

  • Suspension: Our varied road conditions and the notion of ‘one motorcycle that should do everything from touring to commuting to corner-carving etc’ can only be justified with fully adjustable suspension that can handle all !! The Showa and Ohlins combo do a fabulous job at fostering traction to the wheels at all times
  • Seat: the suede-seat is super comfortable without compromising the looks
  • Handling: being a retro-styled cafe racer, I didn’t expect corner-carving abilities, but the suspension and chassis come together beautifully to handle any inputs to change the direction
  • Looks: From the beautiful Monza-styled fuel tank cap to fuel injectors designed to look-like the old Amal carbs – this is the motorcycle to impress your tinder date !!
Monza styled fuel tank for 2016 Triumph Thruxton R

Gorgeous fuel tank with the Monza styled fuel cap 

2016 Triumph Thruxton R

All the right bells & whistles!!

Things I didn’t like:

  • Side stand: getting that side stand on/off with a street riding boot is an absolute pain – not much leverage 😦
  • Bar-end Mirrors: look stylish but offer nil visibility
  • Wind blast: very evident at speeds above 100kmph

The Triumph Thruxton R is a very relaxed and lovely motorcycle to ride – offering an incredible blend of style with performance and  built to turn heads on the road.

Living with a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R

Among other things, the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R has the distinction of being the first Japanese super-sport to boast of 200ps power output. The 2014 Ninja ZX-10R is blessed with a fair share of WSBK pedigree such as race-spec titanium headers ( thus eliminating the need to buy a full system exhaust), Showa Big Piston Forks (BPF), adjustable rear sets, re-positioned crank with lighter valves, race-derived S-KTRC (Sport Kawasaki Traction Control) system etc

All these translate into the real world by thrusting supreme confidence while riding the motorcycle even for a noob.
As much as litre-class motorcycles are built for a specific purpose , the 2014 edition can don multiple hats of a racetrack hooligan to a tarmac tourer to even a commuter.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Long Term Review

Mean in a beautiful way !!

The review will mainly touch upon the ‘much-proven non-racetrack abilities’ of the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

City Commute:
Despite the wheelbase and it’s weight, the Ninja feels very easy to maneuver in traffic and certainly the coolest running litre-class motorcycle I have ever piloted in Indian traffic – the fact that no part of the aluminium frame is in contact with your inner thigh helps too.
An added factor being the 3 riding modes ( Full, Medium and Low) that aid easier throttle management in traffic or wet conditions.

Touring:
As long as the roads are well-paved, the ZX-10R is beautiful to pace all day at 20-25% of the rev range and the riding ergonomics makes it one of the least tiring super-sport to chug kilometers.
Options to mount luggage (Kriega US-series) or any other tail-packs – do not exist !!
Also the ZX-10R thrives on 95-octane+ fuel – which is hard to find once out of the city.

2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R in Bangalore

Hello Beauty!!

Things I love about the ZX-10R:

  • Engine: Beautifully balanced, smooth inline 4 engine tuned for optimal power for street or track riding. An additional secondary balancer shaft ensures smooth and linear power delivery across the rev range
  • LED Rev Counter on the Dash: Such a delight to see those LEDs light up as the Revs pick up and then Turing red upon reaching the redline – goosebumps!!
  • Adjustable Rear sets: The stock motorcycle comes with a 2-position adjustable rear sets which can alter the position of the rider foot pegs
  • On-the-go Mode Change: such a convenience to change either the power modes ( full medium and low) or the KTRC traction control while riding – no need to stop or adhere to procedures to toggle them
  • Suspension: For a full on sports-bike, the ZX-10R feels almost plush. Normal roads are dealt with graciously and low speed ride is sporty but excellent.

Things I didn’t like:

  • Power band: As with any litre-class through-bred which is expected to perform on a race track – all the power is stacked way higher up in the rev range, curtailing the low and mid range power.
  • Hazard Indicators: No 4-way/hazard indicators
  • Mirrors and Pillion Comfort: Are a lost cause!! except the functionality of embedded turn signal into the mirror they don’t serve any purpose
  • Mounting Luggage: courtesy the sharp slots on the top of the fuel tank , mounting a tank bag is not possible. Similar story about a tail bag too – no hooks to bungee or loop them around the rear seat.
Riding a 2014 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R - Long Termer

An intoxicating motorcycle, happy to rev higher and higher..

The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R is a very well-rounded package offering a sweet spot between outright aggression for the racetrack and poise, ease to putter around in traffic and the occasional touring.