Revolt RV400 Electric Bike: First Ride Review
- 15622 Views
- Write a comment
Is the Revolt RV 400 the perfect clean, green alternative to your petrol-powered commuter motorcycle?
Words: Praveen M.
Photography: Vikrant Date
- A light kerb weight of 108kg kerb makes maneuvering in city an effortless affair.
- At 220mm, the ground clearance is as much as the Hero XPulse 200!
- Removable battery makes charging more convenient.
- Affordable financing scheme which is unlike anything on offer so far.
- Throttle feels a bit jerky, especially in Sport mode.
- Availability is restricted only to a few cities to start with.
- Quality of certain plastic parts feel flimsy.
- The RV400’s artificial engine sounds might be either cool or gimmicky depending on your preferences.
- There are multiple ways to charge the battery, including the option to simply swap it.
- It comes with smartphone connectivity which enhances the bike’s functionality.
As much as us motorcycle enthusiasts hate to admit, the days for the good old petrol-powered vehicles are numbered. Rising concerns of depleting fossil fuels and an alarming rate of climate change have forced governments to push for vehicles running on alternative sources of energy. And as of now, going electric seems to be the only feasible solution, at least economically.
While there have been a number of electric scooters in India, the motorcycle segment hasn’t had anything concrete until now. Revolt Motors, an Indian startup headed by Micromax CEO Rahul Sharma, has launched the country’s first electric motorcycle, the RV400. Even though the motorcycle has its own unique identity, it shoulders the huge responsibility of having the potential to replace equivalent petrol-powered commuter motorcycles. We took the bike for a short spin around a tight go-kart track in Noida to find out whether Revolt indeed has revolutionised the electric two-wheeler segment.
Look at it from a distance and you’ll that realise even though the Revolt RV400’s primary purpose is to help you in your intra-city travels, it doesn’t look like the typical boring, conservative commuter motorcycle. The fit and finish is up to the mark, and there are sleek panels all over interspersed with aluminium bits of the frame peeking out. Even the weld marks on the frame look nicely done. It sort of makes you wonder: if this is the design norm for commuter bikes of the future, then the future indeed looks good, or at the very least, interesting.
The sleek LED headlamp flows coherently into the bulbous tank, errm, battery compartment extensions, giving the motorcycle a centralised visual mass. Revolt has used a 7W LED for low beam and a LED projector for high beam, which has got a little over twice the low beam wattage. Also, the tail light and indicators are all-LED as well. Revolt has equipped the motorcycle with a full-LCD instrument cluster which shows all the crucial data - but more about its functionality later.
The sleek tail section ends in a rather long-ish looking fender with number plate holder. While it is practical, we’d have liked it better if the rear wheel had gotten a tyre hugger with integrated number plate holder instead of the conventional fender setup. Overall, the Revolt RV400 looks smart and modern enough to look the part of the quintessential urban yuppie’s ride.
The only issue I had was the lid for the battery compartment felt quite flimsy. And that’s a little worrying since batteries are expensive. While stealing fuel may be time-consuming, nicking a battery can be done pretty quickly. Sure, the battery is also locked, but it uses a cable operated spring latch mechanism, which I’m afraid might not be as theft-proof as I’d want.
Eagle-eyed enthusiasts might feel the bike’s design is similar to the Super Soco TS. That’s because Super Soco is, in fact, Revolt’s platform partner. For the uninitiated, Super Soco is a Chinese-origin manufacturer which sells electric two-wheelers to European markets. But its origin need not necessarily be a bad thing as we found the overall fit and finish to be up to the mark. Revolt says 75 per cent of the bike is localised and the brand plans to bring it to a hundred by the end of this year.
The riding position is pretty upright and the easy-to-reach single-piece handlebar offers just the right amount of forward lean for just a teeny bit of sportiness. And if you feel the need for a more neutral posture, the two bolts holding the footpegs can be removed using an allen key and swapped to make them more forward-biased.
At 814mm, the seat height might seem tall, but that’s only on paper. Its narrow profile makes it easy to keep your feet down on the ground even if you’re on the shorter side. I’m 5’5” and I had absolutely no problems maneuvering the bike with my feet. But the credit doesn’t solely go to the seat as the bike’s light kerb weight of just 108kg also makes that task easier. The pillion seat comfort is pretty decent for a commuter motorcycle. Even the cushioning is good enough but we’ll be able to gauge the comfort better when we get our hands on the motorcycle for a longer duration.
The rear suspension seems fine with two normal-sized riders weighing about 70kg each. But with heavier passengers, it bottoms out a bit too much. Sure, one can bump up the preload but it will address the issue only marginally. Moreover, increasing the preload will make the suspension even more rigid, leaving little room for travel. If you were wondering how tall the pillion seat is, it’s 100mm more than the rider’s seat height.
Technology & Features:
One feature that really stands out in the RV400 (even if it’s really insignificant in the grand scheme of things) has to be the artificial engine sounds. There’s a stereo speaker hidden behind the right side of the fairing which replicates the sound based on the amount of throttle given. Unfortunately, it doesn’t simulate gear changes. So what you get is a suspiciously artificial engine note which may intrigue a casual commuter. Without the visceral mechanical drama of an internal combustion engine, the fake engine note simply feels like a gimmick. The type of engine note can be changed via Revolt’s official app and the volume can be controlled too. But even at the highest volume, it isn’t as convincing as the real deal. There’s even a hilariously creative two-stroke sound on offer. Revolt says more engine sounds will be offered in the future.
The real interesting bit is that the bike can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth and an app. The RV400 also comes with a 4G-enabled sim card which communicates the bike’s functionalities with Revolt’s servers. This helps you access the intricacies of the motorcycle as well as your travel history on the app. You can check the battery range in different modes; battery health (which includes battery voltage and number of charging cycles); order or swap batteries using the app. The app also shows the nearest swap station and navigating to the nearest swap station is done via Google Maps. You can also start the motorcycle remotely via the app and set a geofencing radius which alerts the user when the bike leaves the particular area. To know more about the app-based features, click here.
There are four ways to charge the battery. You can either connect the charger directly to the bike’s charging port located on the side or remove the battery and charge it at any convenient location. To remove the battery, you’ll have to unlock the lid as well as the battery lock and take it out. The battery weighs 18kg, so carrying it may be a hassle. You can also use the swap station to top up your bike instantly. Ordering the battery for home delivery via the app is also under works and will be rolled out pretty soon.
The battery swapping technology reduces the downtime significantly compared to conventional charging. Moreover, Revolt says all the batteries come with a 7.5-year or 1.5 lakh km warranty. That’s a lot considering the usage will mostly be restricted to within the city.
As far as charging times are concerned, it takes 3 hours to charge up to 75% and 4.5 hours to charge the 72V, 3.24kWh lithium-ion battery fully using a 15A socket. There’s no fast charging available as yet but Revolt may introduce it in the future. The battery is IP67 rated so it can stay water-tight up to a depth of 1 metre for half an hour. Swapping the battery, or as Revolt calls it 'Revolt Switch,' is free till December 31, 2019. Post that, there will be charges which Revolt will announce later.
Engine & Performance:
The Revolt RV400 uses a 3kW electric motor linked to the rear wheel via a belt drive with a large pulley. The setup produces around 54Nm of torque at the motor and with a reduction ratio of 1:4.7, the torque at the wheel may very well be over 200Nm. Thanks to this, the initial acceleration is brisk, but the momentum tapers off post 65kmph. We didn’t get to check how fast the bike can go as the track was a bit too tight to let the bike stretch its legs.
There are three modes to choose from: Normal, Eco and Sport. Under Normal mode, the approximate claimed range stands at 110km and the bike’s top speed is limited to 65kmph. If you’re looking to extract the maximum range, Eco mode allows you to travel around 150-odd km but the top speed is restricted to just 45kmph. Switch to Sport mode for maximum performance and it’ll offer you around 85km range with the top speed capped at 85kmph. The ARAI-certified range stands at 156km.
Since it’s an electric motor, the torque produced is almost instantaneous, unlike petrol-powered engines which produce the maximum output only later down the rev range. So in electrics, the way power is delivered is heavily dependent on the motor controller. In the Revolt RV 400, the throttle response under Sport mode feels a bit too sharp as all that torque hits you at once instead of gradually increasing. It’s manageable in Normal mode and in Eco mode, the response is mellowed down quite an extent. There’s plenty of scope for improvement in throttle sensitivity and it shouldn’t take too much resources as it’s just a matter of tweaking the motor controller’s software to deliver power in a more usable manner.
All in all, the performance of the bike makes it feel like it’s between a 110cc and 125cc commuter motorcycle. It’s a little difficult to judge exactly as in petrol-powered bikes, the performance is always accompanied by the vibrations of the engine and exhaust note - both of which elevate the riding experience. On the other hand, there’s simply no drama in electric bikes and the only sounds you hear (if you turn off the faux engine sound) are the tyres rolling on the tarmac and the gentle whir of the motor.
Ride & Handling:
The subframe and swingarm are made of aluminium to keep the weight in check. Up front, the bike employs an inverted fork while the rear comes with a screw-type preload-adjustable monoshock. The suspension is slightly on the stiffer side, and the shocks are felt especially when going over sharp speed breakers. That said, we’ll be able to gauge the suspension better if we get to ride the bike on normal roads.
Revolt has employed 240mm discs on both ends with a twin-piston caliper up front and a single-piston unit at the rear. The brakes are adequately powerful but the progression and feel are a bit vague, especially at the front. You’ll have to apply a little more pressure than normal for the brakes to engage properly. But on the other hand, the performance of the rear brake is pretty impressive with an assuringly strong bite. The safety norms for electric vehicles are still ambiguous, but Revolt offers CBS as standard anyway.
Enthusiasts will be pleased to know the large ground clearance allows really aggressive lean angles. Also, the short wheelbase of 1350mm and the way the mass is centralised helps the bike tip in quickly into corners. This might be great for filtering through traffic but the rate at which the bike changes its direction might feel a bit unnerving on ghat roads. Thankfully the MRF Zapper tyres measuring 90-section front and 120-section rear offer decent grip for normal usage.
Also Read: Revolt’s Electric Cafe Racer In The Works!
Maneuvering the bike at slow speeds feels a little tricky because there’s no clutch to modulate the power like in conventional motorcycles. Here, the momentum is heavily reliant on the throttle control, and whenever you apply the brakes, the power is cut off immediately. This makes it a little unnatural at crawling speeds.
The Revolt RV400 may not offer exciting performance but where it scores the most is the overall ownership experience. It does handle city speeds without much fuss, but out on the highway, it will feel out of breath. The app-based features help you know your motorcycle a lot better than a conventional bike. Plus the possibility of adding more software-based features are endless, and this would only make the overall ownership experience even better over time. What’s even more important is that irrespective of its Chinese origins, the bike is a well-rounded package and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the overall quality or features of the bike.
Moreover, pricing is where Revolt is really changing the game. You’ll have to pay only Rs 3999 per month for 37 months, and the bike will be under your name right from day one. This is unlike any other financing scheme offered in other two-wheelers and Revolt might have the first-mover advantage here. This also covers the service costs which makes the ownership experience even more hassle-free. We have a detailed explanation of the Revolt's pricing scheme and compared it to a petrol-powered equivalent here. At least judging from the time we spent on the motorcycle, and the pricing plan which makes it instantly affordable, the RV400 feels like it’ll do a good job of ferrying commuters in style, without polluting the environment.