E-bike revolution to change the way India commutes?

Volta Motors, a Chennai-based Start-up, has recently launched Volta ZAP, which it claims is India’s first ‘Crossover’ E-Bike that has been completely designed and manufactured in India. The e-bike serves as an eco-friendly option for commuting and can be used as a bike or a moped.

Recognized as a start-up under the Make in India initiative by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Volta ZAP hopes to change the way we commute.

The e-bike offers all three options for a smooth ride – only pedal, pedal assist and electric only, to suit rider preference. The Volta ZAP is powered by lithium battery technology that offers a maximum range of 60 kms on a single charge.

But, Volta ZAP is not the first to try to hack the last mile, that is, distance to and from mass transportation stations, or stops. These battery powered rides hold promise and can transform our commute in the near future.

Ditch your short distance car rides with high-tech E-bikes

Everyone is grabbing eyeballs with claims to being the first. While Volta Motors claims the Volta ZAP is India’s ‘first crossover e-bike’, the first indigenous e-two wheeler in the country was  Ather S340 – India’s first electric scooter developed in India by two IITians.

Ather S340

The Ather S340 is a scooter which operates on a lithium Ion battery pack and delivers a full charge range of 60 kms. The battery capacity is 42.4 AH / 2.2 KWHR. It boasts of 90% recharge within an hour and has a life cycle span of 50,000 kms. Maximum Torque output is 14 Nm and one can touch an impressive 0-60 kmph in 12.11 seconds.

Ather S340 is designed for regular traffic commuting with two persons and offers a green option as an alternate to regular fossil fuel two-wheelers.

Hulikkal E-Bikes

Manufactured in Coimbatore, the Hulikkal range of E-Bikes caters to different segments of riders. It offers E-Bikes for young boys, girls, kids, Mountain Bikes, and for models for regular commuting.

The Hulikkal range carries an Lithium Ion battery pack which offers a maximum range of 25-30 km in full charge. 90% recharging is accomplished in 1 hour and 30 mins and delivers maximum riding speed of 25 km/hour.

Like the Volta ZAP, the Hulikkal is designed as a bike and is meant for regular bike functions including light commuting. On features, Volta ZAP simply outperforms the Hulikkal. The price range of the Volta ZAP and Hulikkal is more or less the same, while Ather S340 is slightly more expensive but is in a different category altogether and cannot really be compared to either Volta ZAP, Hulikkal or Spero.

Spero

Spero – is India’s first E-Bike that was developed in India by Tamil Nadu-based Milltex Engineers through crowdfunding. The bike was launched in August 2016 and has had serious interest generated by cycling enthusiasts.

Spero features 5-speed gearbox along with a digital shifter and an option for cruise control. The bike features a 48V Lithium Ion battery that charges upto 80% in 6 hours through a regular electric socket.

Spero comes in three models with 30 km, 60 km and 100 km range options. Most parts are sourced from Korea. Price range is similar to Volta ZAP and Hulikkal.

Volta ZAP promises range of upto 60 kms on a single charge

At present, limited technical information has been released by the company and the formal launch with all technical details is awaited. Based on the information released thus far, following is our observation on features of the Volta ZAP.

Battery: The battery module comes well integrated in a box-frame and sits along with the lower frame of the bike, thereby removing the need for a horizontal bar that other bikes feature. Volta Motors claims ZAP uses an advanced lithium battery that has 8x longer life than any existing e-bike in the Indian market.

Volta Zap comes with easily removable battery module for quick charging. The battery module charges through any 5 amp charging point and weighs only 3 kgs. The battery module can also be used as an emergency powerbank for charging accessories like mobile phones, laptops and tablets, which makes it a handy option for riders who spend longer hours on the road.

Running cost of the bike is stated to be Rs 0.07 paise per km.

Pedal Assist: The Pedal Assist feature offers the rider to choose to pedal along with electric power. Each single pedal rotation results in 3 full cycle wheel rotation thus extending the e-bike’s range using minimum body energy.

Lights: The Volta ZAP comes with front LED light and sports a reflector light on the rear side of the rider seat.

Brake: Volta ZAP features a front disc brake that makes stopping sharp and easy.

Digital Display: The e-bike offer a digital display that is integrated with the smartphone and offers Volta connected Apps with information on the bike. Feature details are awaited.

Perception versus Performance

Potential buyers of E-Bikes must be clear about what they require. If the prime requirement is daily commuting under city conditions while keeping costs low, having easy recharging option and remaining environment friendly, then the Ather S340 is a suitable choice as it offers adequate power for pillion riding as well.

But then, if one is looking for a bicycle with an electric option for hobby as well as point-to-point light commuting for a single person, then the Volta ZAP is a great option. One must remember a bicycle is a bicycle and not a regular two wheel motor ride.

If cost is a primary focus with commuting as the prime necessity, then go in for an E-Scooter. But if you are a cycling enthusiast who would like to have an e-option for extended biking experience, then an E-Bike is what you should go for.

Be clear of what you are looking for and go ahead and take your pick.

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