F77 ON TRACK
Can the Ultraviolette F77 lead the charge for electric performance motorcycles?
The Ultraviolette F77 electric bike tested at the MMRT
IT’S SUPERMAN! REALLY; IN A WORLD dominated by KTMs and Royal Enfields comes the Ultraviolette F77 as a breath of, er, fresh Kryptonite. It wasn’t born in Smallville, though, but a garage-like facility near Bengaluru. It’s all-electric like so many other scooters and motorcycles that are popping out every week from not just the Silicon Valley of India but every metropolitan city. However, the catch here is the focus on performance and not efficiency. Is the F77 the superhero we all need to satiate our Thrill of Riding?
Is it like a UFO?
The F77 seems absolutely space-age and seems to be teleported straight from Krypton. I was already impressed by the design at the launch that was held indoors in a fancy hotel in Bengaluru. But seeing the F77 on the track really blew me away. It may not seem slick in the pictures but in the flesh, it is simply mind blowing.
Work began on the F77 back in 2016 and it is astonishing to see what the team has managed to cook up within such a short timeframe. A small tête-à-tête with Akshay Kamthe, senior designer, Ultraviolette, at the launch event suggested that the F77 is a new product from the ground up. Obviously, the cells are imported but the modular battery pack is completely designed in India. And Ultraviolette claims that it is one of the most dense battery packs currently available on earth. Each module (1.5kWh x 3) weighs about 8kg and can be charged individually using intelligently designed pods. You can also purchase individual modules for additional range. The 4.5kWh battery (4.2kWh available to use) offers a range of 130-150km in real world conditions, claims the company. And that’s without compromising on the performance, unlike other mainstream electric two-wheelers on sale in the country. The claimed figure of 0-100kmph is quite impressive, too, at 7sec, making it almost as quick as the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650. The top
speed is rated at 147kmph, on par with the BMW G 310 R. The weight, at 158kg, is similar to the G 310 R as well. The current weight distribution is 49:51 (front:rear) but the team is still evaluating the architecture and things are expected to change slightly on the final production model. Ultraviolette hasn’t skimped on the components either, and the F77 comes with top-shelf equipment. The brakes sourced are Bybre and can also be found on the KTM 390 Duke. The rear monoshock, too, is from KTM’s inventory but is expected to be changed on the production model.
We barely spent about 12 minutes at the Madras Motor Race Track near Chennai astride the Ultraviolette F77 but initial impressions seem to be really promising. The ergos are almost spot on for someone with my physique (almost 6ft tall, heavy built) although I would have liked wider bars and somewhat extra space for my bottom. We could not test the unhinged Insane mode owing to battery restrictions (yet to be sealed) and had to make do with Sport mode.
Unlike other electric two-wheelers I have tested so far, the F77 comes with a chain drive. It is somewhat noisy but the delivery seems very familiar. The progress is quick till 60kmph after which it becomes slightly lazy but that does not mean it’s slow. Not at all. I could hit 130kmph on the main straight before slowing down for C2 but there was a lot more grunt left in the motor. Initial impressions are that of a very friendly motor, comfortable at low speeds which would make it extremely potent in urban conditions. Aided by its agility we believe the F77 would turn out to be a hoot to slice through traffic.
Yes, the agility is very KTM-like owing to exactly the same wheelbase and rake angle (23.5deg) as the RC 390. The front-end is super duper sharp but the rear is extremely soft. The end result was a very wobbly ride through corners at the MMRT, especially with my body weight to lug around. The engineers said the monoshock is to blame. But fret not, we expect it to be replaced with a bespoke shock before the F77 goes into production.
The braking, too, is extremely sharp and impressive with the F77 coming to a halt without any drama. ABS was not active on the test bikes as Continental is yet to calibrate the system for the F77, claimed the Ultraviolette team.
Mind you, the F77s that we rode were pre-production models and were plagued with a lot of teething issues. The bike conked off on several occasions during the ride while the instrument cluster, too, was not running up to standard. The switchgear was yet to be sourced and we couldn’t test even half the features Ultraviolette had promised at the launch. But mind you, these issues are expected to be taken care of before deliveries begin in October 2020.
Considering the bike’s been in the making only for three years, the result is quite commendable. The bookings are open, though, and operations are expected to begin on Ultraviolette’s homeground – Bengaluru. The range starts at `3 lakh and goes up to `3.25 lakh, on-road. Ultraviolette is also offering optional accessories including Brembo monoblocs, adjustable levers and Pirelli Supercorsas.
They clearly have the 200 to 300cc motorcycles in their crosshairs and the F77 is at par when it comes to performance. The range is still a question mark but with a choice of optional battery modules and portable fast chargers, they promise it’ll be taken care of.
If you are scared of heights, would you ever be able to fly like Superman? I don’t think so. But the Ultraviolette has taken a giant leap of faith and the F77 carries the hopes of many, many petrolheads, all without wearing the red cape and S badge. ⌧
Top: Fast charger takes 90min to top up the battery. Above: Not the final version of the cluster. Facing page, bottom: Each module has a capacity of 1.5kWh; headlamp is very 1290 Super Duke-ish
ULTRAVIOLETTE F77 Powertrain 4.5kWh Li-ion battery, Permanent magnet AC motor Transmission Single-speed Power 33bhp Torque 90Nm Weight 158kg 0-100kmph 7sec (claimed) Top speed 147kmph (claimed) Price `3-3.25 lakh (on-road)