Let me start with a confession — I am not a fan of electric vehicles. There, I said it. I prefer my machines to run on fossil fuels, and I intend to keep it like that. But, that’s just me. Automobile manufacturers, on the other hand, willing or unwillingly, are developing technology for an eventual cosmic shift to electrical power for motive force. While the final recipe for the changeover is yet to be perfected, it isn’t stopping start-ups from bringing about their version of electric vehicles into the market. One such name is Oben EV, a Bengaluru-based company that is betting big on their electric motorcycle, the Rorr.
Unlike most players, who are only assembling EVs and selling them in the market, Oben EV is one of the few brands who have built the Rorr from the ground up, and have made claims that should make it an interesting thing to ride. The technology used for the battery pack is also claimed by the company to be safer, and not to forget, less harsh on mother nature. To put the said declarations to the test, myself and a bunch of journos were flown down to Bengaluru, and from there to Nandi Hills, which is home to a smooth paved road that is popular among motorcyclists for hillclimb events.
Before I get to how the Rorr performed around the 40 corners to the top of Nandi Hills, let me walk you through what we are dealing with here. The Oben Rorr is an electric motorcycle that is benchmarked against 150cc internal combustion motorcycles. The bike has a modern retro design and looking at it, it might remind you of the CB300R from a few angles. Oben has tried to keep the design as close as possible to conventional motorcycles to be easily accepted by its buyers. Now Oben says the test bikes were pre-production models, and if that wasn’t the case, there would have been a lot of improvement required in terms of the paint finish, fit-finish, and overall quality standards of the motorcycle. Even the wires and brake lines that exit the switchgear aren’t secured properly for a clean look. Meanwhile, with regards to the parts that have been cast, there’s an overall rough feel to it, which Oben says will be smoothed out once the die casts for the parts are finalised.
Moving on from here, before I get riding any motorcycle, I prefer to spend time on the saddle to get a feel of things and what’s around me. The first thing that caught my attention was the colourful digital display that looked nice, but had poor visibility under the sun, and was a fingerprint magnet. Besides that, speaking of ergonomics, the handlebar is easy to reach, and the pegs are slightly rear set for a sporty, yet comfortable stance. The seat, on the other hand, has a forward sloping design that looks good visually, but isn’t that practical on the usage front. While the cushioning of the seat is fine, the forward gradient made me slide to the front of the seat every time I applied the brakes for anything other than a smooth halt. The other issue that crops up when this happens is the contour of the tank around the area where the inner thigh comes in contact with it. Since the edge is quite prominent, it tends to dig into the thighs, which makes it uncomfortable.
In terms of hardware, taking the recent safety hazards with regards to EVs into consideration, Oben uses Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) batteries as they have a longer cycle life; they do not heat up as much as lithium-ion ones, and they are more resistant to catching fire. Oben has also devised their patented ‘MHX Technology’ for effective heat dissipation from the battery pack. And as far as charging is concerned, the bike comes with an onboard charger with a regular 15-amp plug and can be fully charged in just two hours. That is quite impressive, I must say.
Now, for the ride bit, or should I say, the fun bit. Yes, I can’t believe I am saying this, but riding the Rorr around the sharp bends and twisties of Nandi Hills, I was properly impressed with the bike’s dynamics and feel. The trellis frame that holds the battery pack and other components in its designated place does a good job of inspiring confidence. The bike feels solid, and the weight distribution seems to be well-balanced. Around corners, the Rorr feels natural and the only reason I was holding back from more aggressive lean angles was because of the blind corners, other road users, and a horn that was not working. Oben has kept it rather simple with the Rorr. Instead of packing the bike with an overdose of features, it comes with three riding modes, and a few features that can be accessed via a smartphone through an app, which will be introduced later.
About the riding modes — there’s Eco, City and Havoc modes. Given the time constraints, I rode the bike mostly in City and Havoc, occasionally changing to Eco for some time. The difference in riding modes is very prominent, while the top speeds are limited to 50 kph, 70 kph and 100 kph, respectively. Meanwhile, on a full charge, the bike will be capable of returning a range of 150 km, 120 km, and 100 km for the corresponding ride modes. The only concern I faced was the throttle response in Havoc mode. While the bike felt blisteringly fast right from the twist of the throttle, the calibration of the same is quite sensitive. So, one needs to be cautious of this when using this mode.
While the smooth roads of Nandi Hills offered a smooth ride, it was while returning to the venue that I realised how stiffly the suspension has been set up. While the front is still manageable, the rear is very stiff as it transfers all the bumps, cuts and crevices to the spine of the rider, which isn’t a nice thing to experience. Oben needs to get the suspension part rectified before entering production.
Last but not least, is the performance bit of this electric motorcycle that Oben claims to be the fastest in the country. After several runs and rolling accelerations, and to go by the speedometer reading, the Rorr is by far the fastest electric motorcycle in its segment. The acceleration in Havoc mode is instantaneous and it takes some time to get accustomed to it. Although, I must mention that during one of the runs, the power did cut off and only after turning off the ignition and turning it back on, did the bike run again. Oben says, it’s a one-off case that I have faced during the test ride and they will inspect why it happened at all.
Barring that, and considering the test bikes we rode were pre-production units, I have to say the Rorr has the potential to come through as a successful electric motorcycle. It has an engaging ride experience and, most importantly, has an impressively quick charging time of two hours, and a comfortable range of 150 km. Now, it’s up to Oben to address the niggles in the Rorr at the earliest before the bike hits the market. And no, I am still going to stick to riding internal combustion-powered motorcycles.
4 kWh lithium ion phosphate
10 kW (13.4 bhp)
4 kW (5.3 bhp)
F/R: 276-mm disc/240-mm disc
F/R: 100/80 R17 / 130/70 R17
Rs 99,999 (ex-showroom, Maharashtra, after FAME 2 and state subsidies)