First of all, Apologies for a long long story… Thought to share the experience with fellow riders, as the experience was lot of joy and even more lot of learnings.
We (I, my wife and 7 yr old kid) planned to go for a volunteering activity in Kalluru 60 kms from my home (Marathahalli). Though we had option to choose bus transport, we thought to go by our new 450, as its a good chance for long drive. We hoped for a traffic free drive in the morning at 6 AM and similar one while coming back till Kengeri again. So, plan was to use Royal Airavath charging grid point both the times… We understood there was a slight risk of running out of charge, given that the roundtrip distance between the last charging point is 60 kms.
We started by 6 AM towards Royal Airavath. With sedate driving and hardly any traffic, we could cover 29 kms by using just 34% charge and reached Royal Airavath by 7 AM.
Charging at Royal Airavath:
There was no issues accessing the charging point. While charging was very fast until 80%, any charge above 90% was painfully slow. We charged for an hour until it reached 93%. Given that I could cover 28 kms with 34% of charge, I thought I can cover 60 kms in 93% of charge, even with some buffer.
While charging was going on, we had some snacks at the nearby tea shop and used the hotels’ rest room before left the place.
Driving from Royal Airavath to Kalluru:
We started the drive around 8:15. It was a wonderful traffic free drive through the scenic roads… Coasting thru the long downhill roads were super thrill especially when both the sides were full of greens. All 3 of us enjoyed the ride so much. On flat road, it just coasts through… It was tempting to go at higher speeds. But, continued to drive at safe speeds as the priority is to reach back safely with enough charge.
One thing, which we never anticipated was there was frequent uphill and downhill roads… Some of the uphill roads are so much inclined and very long incline as well, which I have never seen here in any of the Bangalore roads. With 3 on board, Ather 450 struggled in Ride mode.
After an hour drive, we reached Kalluru with 3 kms left to reach the destination. That’s where we found a twist. Google Maps was utterly wrong and we had to go through very bad stretch of hilly roads, difficult to walk, let alone driving. We reached a point when destination was 600 metres away, there was no road left. Luckily Airtel SIM had signal. We called other friends who went by bus and based on suggestion from a local guy, we went back to Grama Devate temple, Kalluru.
That 5 kms of drive through very very bad uphill roads costed 10% battery, which was very precious. Left the veichle at a nearby local guy house and went by walk through the fields to reach the destination. Because we went alone, that walk thru the fields also took double the amount of time as we found very difficult to find a path. Fortunately, Airtel SIM had signal most of the time and we could use WhatsApp Live Location to just use direction and reach.
Because we were in hurry, we forgot to shutdown the vehicle (just turned OFF).
Though we reached late by an hour, we could join the team for a native breakfast. We were part of very productive volunteering activity in preparing raised beds for the seed sowing activity. It was a satisfying time spent in the fields with other friends and their kids. Kids had good time with unique small cows (fully grown cow size similar to a calf).
After 3+ hours of activities and a good native lunch, we started by 3:20 PM. This time we understood the field route and reached the temple by walk in 20 minutes, where we parked our vehicle. We started earlier than other guys, as we did not want to drive on late evenings.
Driving from Kalluru to Royal Airavath:
I guess we lost around 2% of charge because I did not shut down in the morning. So, around 3:50 PM, started the drive back with 43% charge left. Target distance was 30 kms. Though looked tight, I was confident, we could make it.
I noticed the discharge was faster even on flat roads which was giving some small doubts… Then, came the scary uphill roads, where discharge rate is super fast and giving us real scare. Inspite of using regen, I did not see any gain in the downhill roads. I was sure that discharge rate was much faster and I guess it was also because of fan running most of the time. When battery level reached 25% with 18 kms left, now the range anxiety started. From 25%, we started counting every percentage left and kms left.
The uphills are real battery drainers. We understood that we will definitely run out of charge and we will need to push the scooters as the possibility of reaching charging point is remote. Now, the thought was only about what next? How many kms to push, is it 2 or 5? It should be near kengeri not on the outskirts. Will road-side assistance help? Should I ask my wife and kid to take Uber while I take it to charge point?
Pushing the final Mile:
Huffing and puffing through, we reached Kengeri with 4% battery left. At that level, vehicle had no power to drive all of us. I drove last 1 km at speed of a Luna as my wife and kid walked back. We reached Subhash Nagar with only 1% battery left. I called RSA and understood it will take 30-45 minutes and it will cost 1800 to avail the service.
My wife checked Google Maps and we are 1.6 km away. She told we will give a try for 10 minutes and If it does not work out, we will call RSA again. I started pushing the vehicle and my wife and kids followed me by walk. I could feel the extra weight of the vehicle while pushing. When pushing with difficulty, guys and onlookers walk along and ask questions related to Ather. Though always happy, it was difficult to push and still answer
Luckily, around 600 metres of that distance was downhill and I could just coast through. Reached Royal Airavath Charging point around 5:30 PM. We were so relieved just to reach there. We could charge till 60% charge in just 45 minutes.
Final Drive back to Home:
We started around 6:20 PM and it was heavy traffic through Mysore Road and had to wait at multiple signals. With so many eyes on our 450, especially many are surprised to see the maps, it was tiring but happy moment. We rarely go to areas around Mysore Road, Kengeri and Chamrajpet and surprised to see so many roads with steep uphills. Reached home safely at 8:15 PM with 17% charge left.
- On good flat roads, efficiency is very good. You can bank on the range.
- When at constant speed, it was breezy and effortless
- To drive in new areas, onboard navigation was godsend (when compared with using Google Maps on phone)
- With huge bootspace, we could fit in both our backpacks and jackets easily.
- Ather 450 is definitely a eyecathcher with its style than what’s inside. (Even Village people enquire about the vehicle and whether they can pay thru EMI etc etc)
- Tyre grip, Low Beam and Brakes were good and ensured safety.
- Charging thru Grid was super easy and very fast until 80%.
- Always plan for 25% buffer when travelling through areas without Ather grid
- Expect surprises like Wrong Route, Uphill roads, Road Deviations which will take toll on battery.
- Shutdown the vehicle as Every % matters.
- Road-side assistance is neither free nor cheap. At 1800, I definitely found it very expensive to take it for 1.5 kms.
- I think it is good idea to stop the vehicle and let the motor cool so that fan does not run and take more battery.
- Better to invest and carry a portable charger in such long drives.
- Vodafone SIM has lot of zero signal areas in city itself, forget outskirts.
- Navigation lag is annoying. You have to be careful, otherwise you would have crossed the turn while map will tell you after you crossed.
- Even after you start navigation, the map for the route selected is not downloaded. So, when you pass thru No-Signal areas, you wont see map tiles.
- When you deviate from a route, Re-routing (after you accept) never works or works very rarely. You will end up stopping the vehicle and starting it allover.
- Some times, the discharge will give you shocks. For no reason, within 300 metres of driving thru flat roads would have eaten 3% battery.
- Auto-turn off Indicators are useless many times… It turns off before we take a turn. You will end up doing 3 times before taking a turn.
- While having Ather Grid at good business areas is important for a good experience, having more charging points is more important than experience.
- Fan runs most of the time which is annoying in sound and I really think it eats battery as well. Surprised to see it kicking in just after 10 kms of drive on flat roads. When driving thru Mysore Road traffic stretch, it was running almost all the time except when you stop at signal.