There is no denying the fact that electrification of vehicles is the next big step in the future of personal transportation. While other countries are already seeing new electric vehicles day by day, in India, the development of electric vehicles is a bit slow. While we have seen electric cars like the MG ZS EV, Hyundai Kona Electric and the Tata Nexon EV, the number of electric motorcycles is even less. As of now, there is only one electric motorcycle that is on sale which is the Revolt. However, now a new manufacturer called 4rge bikes have decided to give a shot at electric motorcycles and we were lucky enough to get a first impression after riding their new creation.
We have already covered the motorcycle once on our website and you can click here to read more about it. 4rge currently consists of three people. There is Vikram Mishra, Arnab Banerjee and Ganesh Mishra. They are calling the motorcycle “M2” because it is the Mark 2 version of the prototype. It is important to note that the M2 is still in its early prototype stage and the 4rge’s team will further improve it from here.
Where the new electric motorcycles look complex like something from the future, 4rge has gone for a more classic retro design. Due to which the motorcycle does look modern without looking too complex. This also helps in attracting a wider appeal of the audience as most of the people love a retro classic design over something which is not too familiar. This is one of the reasons why Royal Enfields motorcycles are such a hit in the market.
At the front, we get a steeply raked handlebar that might look a bit unnerving at first but you get used to it very easily. There is an all-LED headlamp at the front that gets multiple elements. From the side profile, we get a clear look at the muscular tank that makes the motorcycle look very aggressive. The tank has been finished in matte grey colour that goes with the seat that is finished in tan brown, giving it a modern yet premium touch. The motorcycle gets a floating tail design with nothing being there under the seat. Due to this, it looks like the seat is suspended in the air. The lower half of the motorcycle has been finished in a glossy black paint job on which it gets M2 badging that is golden in colour. The subframe, handlebar and the alloy wheels are coloured green.
At the rear, there is minimal bodywork and the sleek LED turn indicators and a small circular LED brake light. There is no conventional instrument cluster that you would find on the motorcycles. Instead, 4rge has given a small basic display that shows you various information like speed, battery current, how much power you are using etc. The place of the regular instrument cluster is a phone mount which makes a lot more sense as in future, it will show you various information and most of the people nowadays use a phone mount anyway.
4rge bikes is using a 10 kW battery that is specifically made for the M2. The power supply works on 200 amps, but the motor can get upto 400 amps. The electric motor produces 18 kW or 24 bhp under constant load. However, if you want to overtake or need a sudden burst of power, then the motorcycle can produce 24 kW or 32 bhp for 20 seconds. The motorcycle is using an indirect drive. It uses a twin stage transverse drive that means that there is a proper chain drive in the motorcycle. This helps in better gear ratios.
The motorcycle can hit 40 kmph in just 4 seconds and can hit a top speed of 104 kmph. But the final production version is expected to hit 110 kmph to 120 kmph. The motorcycle is currently delivering a range of 178 km in winter conditions. So, the makers are expecting it to deliver a bit more range in summers lithium-ion batteries tend to discharge faster in winters.
The power delivery from the motor is very linear which means that it does not jerk when you are in bumper to bumper traffic and open up the throttle slightly to get a move on. You do not experience any head nods and the motorcycle picks up pace smoothly when you start rolling the throttle. It builds up speeds without you noticing.
However, the biggest thing where the M2 shines is where most of the electric vehicles fail. Because the torque curve is very linear, even if you open up the throttle when you are going fast, there is still some power left and it does not feel like the motorcycle ran out of steam. Due to which, the motorcycle responds instantly and picks up pace. Because it is currently in its prototype stage we did not take the motorcycle on the highways. However, it did perform surprisingly well, both in city conditions when you need the motorcycle to be tamed and on moderate speeds when you need that sudden burst of acceleration. Currently, the motor is limited to its 65 percent potential so we expect that it will perform even better once it reaches to its full potential.
Ride and handling
The M2 handles exceptionally well. Yes, the suspension is stiff, but that only inspired confidence to push the motorcycle more. It stays planted and feels nimble when you are at moderate speeds. Despite weighing 182 kgs, it manages to hide its weight really well and once you start going you do not feel it. From the pictures, the rake angle might seem to steep but that is not an issue, in fact, it is done to shorten the wheelbase which makes the motorcycle tighter around corners.
Braking and Chassis
Braking duties are done by a 320 mm disc brake in the front and a 230 mm disc at the rear. The front brake gets brake regeneration technology so it might feel weird at first and you will need to adjust to it but it is not a big deal. The braking power is adequate for the motorcycle.
The first test chassis was based on Enfield and then the current one is a feather bed frame because it provides low NVH(noise, vibration and harshness) levels and it is more rigid and stiffer. After the frame, the wheelbase was set, then the wheels and finally the swingarm. The battery and motor were placed at the last, around which the frame was built. The motor is placed higher in the frame to keep the wheelbase shorter in order to improve the handling. This also helps in protecting the mechanical parts of the motorcycle from water. The motorcycle has a wheelbase of 1430 mm and it has a seat height of 840 mm. Currently, the weight distribution is around 100 kgs towards the front and 80 kgs towards the rear.
For a second attempt, the M2 is a very compelling motorcycle and there can be a future for it. Yes, there are some niggles that the team needs to work on. For instance, the chain sound that is produced when you are driving at low speeds. On asking about it, they replied that it will be solved by simply replacing the primary drive sprockets. Then there are some other things that the 4rge is working on.
The motorcycle is currently made of metal sheets which they will be converting to fibre for the upcoming prototypes. This will drop the weight significantly. The team is expecting the next prototype to weigh around 150 kg to 160 kg while the current one weighs 182 kgs. They also plan to use an even shorter wheelbase and a gullwing swingarm. The seat of the motorcycle is currently very stiff which will also be changed for the final product. Overall, the M2 is a really good first attempt as an electric motorcycle which does excite us for the future of electric vehicles.