Ather 450 Gen 1 review - 3yrs 20,000Km

Been meaning to put up a 20,000Km experience post for a while now. Finally got around to it.
I got my Ather 450 (Gen1- with the onboard charger) in 2019 August and since then I’ve done 21,500Km and I have quite a few things to say honestly. ( Plus a few comparison with my Ola)

Design and ergonomics
When I saw the scooter for the first time, it looked futuristic and unique. After owning it for 3 years. I’ve come to describe it as compact and simple. Ather feels like it’s a scooter designed for performance. The aggressive riding posture. The low set handle bar. The narrow feel of the scooter.
The seat was a major issue for me at first. I’m 6 feet tall and the scooter felt slightly small for me with the higher than usual footboard, I usually sat a bit knees up and I had to make sure to get my knees out while making a turn. I got my seat padded and raised by about 2 inches and that helped a lot but brought a new problem. The low set handle bars really take a toll on your palms if you’re used to a more relaxed riding posture.
And when you’re two up it’s even more of an issue since you can scoot back to make some space. What this posture does help in is - handling. The 450 handles like a go kart :face_with_spiral_eyes: it’s amazing that a scooter of this weight handles so well.

I own an OLA S1 Pro now and switching between the two the differences in riding posture and comfort are even more exemplified. The Ola is such a comfortable scooter to ride. Etergo got it bang on. And it helps that the scooter was designed keeping in mind the average European and not an Indian. It’s much more relaxed on the Ola hence obviously the Ola takes a hit in the handling department.

The throttle
I really think the Ather can benefit from a slightly less resistant throttle. Especially since the throttle is so slim. There’s not much to hold on to and with the resistance it has it’s almost painful to activate regen.
I’ve had my share of throttle wiring issues and throttle getting sticky in the sun.
The throttle wire was replaced 2 times in 3 years which presented as a M00something error once and the other time was just a sudden loss of power . And the throttle grip itself was changed 2 times because it got sticky. Service team told me it was because I parked in the sun and the rubber melted (?) After riding the Ola everyday and then switching to Ather throttle resistance is even more noticeable. And the inability to add a gripper since it voids warranty makes the slim grips problem unsolvable.

M00 errors I’ve had quite a few of these and most of them in 2020-21. The main wiring harness has been replaced 3 times in total and all 3 times was under warranty and I was told it was a manufacturing defect.

Mirrors there just isn’t much to talk about the mirrors on the Ather. They just look amazing and they just don’t have any function. :man_facepalming:t4: Ather got the design bang on and completely skipped the functionality of it and didn’t even change it on the 450X. Unless you’re <5 feet 6inch I don’t believe you have any use for the mirrors.

Range The first day I rode my Ather back from the show room I got a predicted range of about 40-50Km and I was really disappointed. It was my first ev and I already felt let down. After 3 years. I’ve come to learn that range is quite a different term for EVs. Normally an ICE scooter rated for 40kmpl would give 30? At the least? EVs are quite different because of how effecient they are with energy. Even small tweaks in driving style can really make a difference in the range you get. I’ve gotten as low as 40Km predicted in ECO and as high as 100Km range in sport mode. Riding like a sane person I usually get 60-65Km out of my Ather. And after 3 years I do feel like it’s maybe gone down by 2-3 Kms. Lately my mother has started using the 450 and she rides like a saint. So she usually gets 75Km on a charge even now.

Motor degradation
This is one topic that I feel isn’t talked about enough. Battery degradation is real and everyone knows about it but I’ve started to notice signs of some sort of degradation in my motor. I’ve never been able to overheat my motor in the past 3 years until about ~ 3 months ago when I first experienced a sudden loss of power at about >60% charge and I was stuck On a steep road. I waited and within seconds I got back the power and continued riding. The throttle wiring was changed but it didn’t solve the issue. It’s happened more than a dozen times since then. We don’t have very hot summers here in bangalore and yet this is quite alarming. I jumped into Dev settings to check the same and here’s the link to that. — https://forum.atherenergy.com/t/450-motor-temperature/41703?u=suraj_madhu

And this with just the Ather 450. With just the sports mode I wonder how the 450Xs will be in 3 years time.
My OLA has a reputation of overheating as well. But I’m given a warning when it happens. Ather just cuts out power. I think the position of the motor on the Ather is a disadvantage too. It’s not that well ventilated. Even with the motor cooling fan running at full blast I’ve been able to heat the motor relatively easily.

Drive train and the unique Ather whine
I think what I have with the Ather whine is a love hate sort of relationship. I loved it at first. It was unique and just brought a personality to the scooter. But at times. It’s starting to get a bit annoying. Ola has done a great job in this aspect. They’ve made a closed belt drive that barely makes any weird sounds.

Performance First time I rode the 450 it blew my mind. I still love the instant and yet smooth power delivery in the Ather up to 40Kmph. After that I do feel the power drops off quite a lot. This state of tune of the motor could be a reason for the heating issues too. Since my Ola is quite sedate to start of with and it’s picks up speed after 30kmph when there’s a good breeze to keep the motor cool.
The Ather does feel quite a bit underpowered at higher speeds compared to the OLA now. I’m not sure if it’s just me. But it just feels like my Ather has gotten slightly less powerful Over the years. Still a peppy scooter but maybe a sign of motor degradation too?

Tyres
The slim tyres didn’t give me a lot of confidence at first. But I realised quickly that the weight distribution and these tyres go really well. Especially for Cornering. Makes the the scooter quite agile. The tyres are quite a hard compound and yet the rear really wears out quickly if you’re not soft on the throttle.

Rolling resistance
This was one of the first things that disappointed me in he Ather 450. When you get off the throttle, the scooter just doesn’t coast as well as it should considering it’s electric and the slim tyres. I’m not sure if it’s the reduction ratio belts where the loss is happening or the wheel bearings (bit of both probably ) but I just wish the Ather would coast better. My 12 yr old Activa with the engine off coasts better than the Ather.

REGEN I like the concept of initiating it by reverse throttling. But in practice - the high throttle resistance really spoils the experience. And I really wish the regen was stronger than it is. Considering the rated capacity of the motor, Ather should really be able to give us stronger regen. It’s just Ather playing it safe and probably a good idea too. Since the regen on my Ola is so erratic from 80-84% SOC on the OLA the regen is just jerky and unreliable. Maybe playing it safe was a good idea here. But if anyone can integrate good regen I guess it has to be Ather.

Service
If I had to rate Ather service out of 10 I’d give them a 15 I’ve had just such a good overall experience with the service. Except a few niggles about my motor overheating and Ather just not understanding what’s happening. The Experience has been with no complaints. I’ve been on Service pro for the majority of my ownership and really good communication from the team and management. This boosts the already reliable scooters reliability. Unlike the OLA service which is just a horrendous experience. They really should learn a bit from Ather. Only and only because of the service of OLA - I , in my good conscience CANNOT recommend the OLA Over the Ather 450

Charger When I heard the Ather 450 gen 2 just a few months after I got mine was going to be almost 10 Kilos lighter because they offboarded the charger, I regretted not waiting. But It’s really not made much of a difference. I actually prefer my onboard charger now. It runs at 1100W at times and really juices up the battery quickly compared to the newer 800W off board charger that comes with the Ather now. The charger is just so reliable and I appreciate the fact that Ather build In a mechanism to wake up your scooter when it deep discharges. The charger wakes up the scooter and the dash and probably the BMS without actually initiating charging of the battery and then slowly starts charging the battery. another thing Ola needs to learn from Ather. Ola has a bigger battery and more range but it charges at a lethargic 750W at its peak :man_facepalming:t4:
The only issue I’ve had with charging is the near perfect grounding that the 450Gen1 needs. I know it’s been resolved in the 450X but at the cost of slightly slower charging?

Fast charging The grid came up quite slowly but it’s given me such a good experience with public charging. Apart from the fact that Ather needs to have more chargers at their current locations. The 2kW charging for the 450 is fast enough when you’re in a bit of a situation.

Dashboard
I didn’t upgrade to the 4G modem so I’m stuck at 2G and the maps is just too slow for my liking. Even at 3G back when I got the scooter. It wasn’t as quick as it should have been. I haven’t really seen much change in the dashboard since I got my scooter. Other than the ECO mode. I really wish we had more stats about real-time efficiency and ability to regulate regen and custom ride modes. But after the 450X I guess Ather just stopped working on software for the 450. All that being said the present software running on the 450 is the most stable version I’ve seen. When I initially got my scooter the dashboard used to reboot 5 times a week. Now it almost never does. Maybe once in 2-3 months it might but it’s as stable as it can get. The SOC indicator has never let me down. Down to an indicated 0% it’s always been accurate and reliable. (Ola needs to learn to do this ). The standby drain is quite a bit but at least it’s accurate.

Value for money
I was lucky enough to buy the Ather at the right time and I got it for 1.13L here in bangalore. I think that’s a steal for the scooter I got. It’s a good buy at that price. But the 450X at 1.6Lakhs in bangalore now. It’s a hard buy. But I guess people need to understand that they’re not just buying a product here but the whole experience (with the subscription of course :stuck_out_tongue: ) if all you want is a reliable daily driver and you don’t mind the slightly compact seating then it’s a no brainier for now.

Things Ather got right.

  • Battery and BMS 10/10
  • Suspension 9/10
  • Reliability 10/10
  • Service 15/10
  • Software 9/10
  • Charging and grid 9/10
  • Handling 10/10
  • Breaks 10/10

What Ather needs to work on

  • Being a ground up product really makes Ather a winner. But I feel like Ather hasn’t made complete use of the fact that it’s their own design. They could have tweaked the design to make it a bit more accommodating of taller riders.
  • Mirrors 2/10
  • Throttle 3/10
  • Sharp body panels
  • Range - 7/10
  • Look into the motor heating issues?
  • Regen - 5/10
  • Rolling resistance. - I really think this could affect the range a bit.

Verdict

After 1 Ather 450 3 Yrs 21,000Km and one Ola S1 Pro I can without a doubt say Ather is by far the Best scooter on the market (for now) and if the rumours of new Ather products around the corner are true. Then I’m sure the trend below is going to continue. Last month Ather was the only EV company to grow in sales.

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