The Chetak is back, but now in an electric avatar. We rode it around Pune, and here is what we found out.
Electric mobility seems to be the direction that everybody is moving in and it’s all we keep hearing about. I think It’s safe to say though, that electric vehicles are actually not fairly popular yet here in India, and many customers might not be ready to embrace them. Whatever be the case, electric two-wheelers are taking the Indian market by storm and the latest one we got to test ride is none other than the Bajaj Chetak.
Yes, the Chetak. The old but very popular scooter from Bajaj. I am sure most of you would have had one in your garage. Though the Chetak was discontinued in 2005, the brand has been resurrected in a new fully electric avatar. So, we got to ride the Chetak for a few hours and here is what we have come away with.
While the vast majority of all-electric vehicles look like future space pods, Bajaj has decided to keep the look of the Chetak retro and original. It does look like a modern classic scooter but, there are a lot of things that make it look contemporary and future-ready such as the large DRL on the LED headlight, the fully digital instrument cluster, the full-metal body, LED blinkers, and the wonderful piano finish switchgear. Interestingly, you will not find a single Bajaj logo on the scooter. Instead, you will see the new Chetak logo everywhere.
The Chetak definitely looks and feels premium, and the build quality is top-notch. Because it uses a full metal body, it is not as light as you would expect an electric scooter to be. The Chetak weighs in at roughly 130kgs. Still, though, I think the one thing that really stands out about the new Chetak Electric is its upmarket feel.
Instead of shopping over at the Chinese market for a motor and battery, Bajaj went to Bosch for help. The German auto components manufacturer has made this 4kw motor and lithium-ion battery specifically for the Chetak. Bajaj is also offering a 3 year or 50,000 km warranty on both, which means they are confident they will last. The motor can produce about 5bhp and 16Nm of torque, and we definitely liked the manner in which the Chetak Electric accelerates. The powertrain feels very smooth, and of course, it is quiet with no artificial sound features. The throttle response is great for city riding and there are two riding modes available for the ride to choose from. In Eco mode, you can cover around 95 km on a full charge, but in sport mode, which allows you to accelerate just a tad bit quicker, you can manage to cover around 85 km on a single charge. I also managed to reach a top speed of 67km/h, which is fine for city riding.
The suspension setup on the Chetak is also pretty nice for urban settings. Although, I think it could have been a little bit softer. I think the rather high weight of the scooter prevents this. The front end, although a little light for my liking, still provides good feedback and is good for city riding and in traffic. Where I think the Chetak doesn’t really impress though is in its overall handling. Yes, it’s manageable at slow speeds and in heavy traffic, but It’s not exactly a fun handling motorcycle and you really do feel the weight.
The seating position is low and the seat itself is very soft and comfortable, so daily commuting will be very relaxing. The electric motor also makes the ride very smooth though, and you don’t hear any clattering of parts or feel any vibrations at all. Overall, the ride experience is convenient and comfortable at best, but not engaging and fun like a TVS Ntorq per se.
Worth the money?
The prices start at Rs 1 lakh (ex-showroom) for the base variant and Rs 1.15 lakh for the top-end variant with disc brake and metallic colour options. It’s important to keep in mind that service costs are almost non-existent for electric scooters, and you won’t be paying for fuel as well. So, in the long run, you will be saving some money as well. The scooter's price also includes the cost of a home charging station. And speaking of charging, the Chetak Electric can also be charged using a regular home socket.
The Chetak also gets some very nice features such as mobile charging port, onboard regenerative braking, combined braking system, plenty of storage spaces, a reverse feature that works very nicely in tight spots, and you can also connect your phone to monitor your scooter.
The Chetak has a very high-end and plush feel but to be very honest, it is not the most exciting to ride. Yes, it is very practical and you get a great warranty, but in my opinion, you might want to test ride the many different electric two-wheelers that are now available, and some which are soon to be launched, so that you can get a clearer picture before you make the switch over to electric scooters.