a sumptuous lunch with a soulful friend goes a long way to satisfying a man's soul. the light lebanese food lazily floating in my gut encouraged me to meet more friends and spread the joy. after all, isn't that why we're here. to experience and share.
so jumped on my motorcycle to ride out and meet Joel at his workspace in the middle of the afternoon. there's great virtue in interrupting men at work and annoying them with the silly satisfaction of showing up without an agenda. little did i know the rascal had his own devious designs.
enter the hangar
lemme cue you in with a tad more clarity. Joel works at the Ultraviolette hangar. well, it's not really a space that houses aircrafts but it does house machines that got my spirit soaring.
all i wanted was to give my friend a hug and share a story or two. while all Joel wanted to do was send me on a test flight but i wasn't too keen about the prospect. just to remind you again this isn't a plane we're talking about but an electric motorcycle that has been quietly stirring up a storm for awhile now.
there were a few test bikes parked right where i could see them, but first foreplay. we walked into the hangar and Joel showed me around the trippy space that was their customer experience centre of sorts.
i'm sure they have a cooler name to it but i wasn't listening. my ears tuned out the sound and my eyes tuned out the surroundings, focusing only on the solitary barebones motorcycle hanging from the ceiling. walking around it, i was peering thru the skin to ogle at the muscle and the skeleton beneath.
what lies beneath
here's where this gets tricky. some might even say downright icky. it's an ev bro wtf. for internal combustion engine aficionados aka petrol-heads, this is blasphemy. technical wizardry aside, the social-political implications of climate change loom on the horizon, heralding the future that is electric vehicles or ev.
but to the avid motorcyclist, the soul of an internal combustion engine is missing in an ev. where are the feels? how can a motorcycle claim to stir the soul when there's no explosion propelling you forward leaving behind a wake of smoke and hell fire?
i'm not much of a mech head so i couldn't care less about all the wizardry that goes into the making of any motorcycle. neither am i a purist who cares for how things were, how they still ought to be, and how the world is going down the shitter. what i do know is what motorcycles inspire in me.
that's what a motorcycle does to me. lights my brain up like the sky on Diwali. all i have to do is sling a leg over the beast and let her off the leash. and that's pretty much what Anu George invited me to do with the Ultraviolette F77, their first and flagship machine.
after routine checks and balances; paperwork to ensure liability and responsibility should i crash their precious machine were sorted, i was ready for the sortee. another pilot from their fleet joined me, explained the rundown of how it operates, and beckoned me to follow his lead.
we took off without a fuss even tho i expected much fumbling. for starters, all my experience with motorcycles has been with off-road variants. secondly, the clutchless and gearless vehicle felt amiss on the left side of my body. lastly, i'm just over a year into motorcycling with a novice number of miles under my belt.
none of that mattered. all of that vanished with a single twist of the throttle. what on earth was i whining about? what on earth indeed! couldn't feel any throttle lag. there was completely synchrony of thought, throttle and tyre. 207 kilos of heavy metal felt light as a feather as i manoeuvred effortlessly thru peak traffic.
the machine didn't scream for more yet didn't shy from playing safe which is what i was doing. playing on the 60th percentile of the friction zone between safety and danger is my sweet spot. and everything was hunky dory. i could ride faster without a fuss and brake to a standstill without a scare. all is well. the lead shepherded me back into the hangar where Anu and Joel waited with a glint in their eyes.
stratospheric ecstatic ballistic
bouncing off the bike i exclaimed with the delight of a child experiencing a new toy for the first time. 'how was the ballistic mode?', Anu asked. huh? what was he talking about, i thought.
then i remembered him previously outlining the various ride modes to play with. so immersive was the experience, i'd forgotten everything else. so off i went for the second sortee experience this supposedly mystic ballistic.
for a rider of my size, the riding triangle fit like a glove and i was ergonomically happy as can be. which is why i wasn't thrown back by the rush of acceleration the bike unleashed. totally unaccustomed to the silent stealthy movement of this machine, i was surprised to not hear the rumbling exhaust note accompanying it.
which is intriguing really cuz i didn't miss it as much as i would claim after riding it. but we're skipping over the fun part. so let's get back to the ballistic mode. having previously experienced the combat mode, i'd assumed this to be mere hyperbole. boy, was i mistaken!
the vehicle was now running like it's tail was on fire. trigger happy and eager to explode into action at the twist of the throttle. and purring quietly while slowing down and patiently waiting to be let loose again. i sure was glad the brakes held as well as needed and the rubber simply refused to skip or stutter.
ballistic mode was everything it was advertised to be and more. it's not just raw power but how superbly it is matched to the handling, braking, and overall ergonomics. i didn't feel out of sorts for a split second despite pushing it to the edge. cutting aggressively thru traffic. straight line speed. hard braking. easy corners.
the perfect playmate
the F77 does it all with aplomb and plays along without holding you back or dragging you forward. in the playground, two kinds of players are common. the ones who constantly egg you on challenging you to push yourself into the danger zone. and the ones who hold you back forcing you to play safe lest you hurt yourself (and others).
the F77 is that rare kind who's that perfect peer - not bully not sissy. curiously enough it plays along just as you like, happy to trot at a snail's pace and excited to push to your limit. you're in complete control of the experience at all times, and like a well trained steed of steel she molds herself to your mood.
my only question post the second ride was 'how soon can i get one?' and the answer was quite satisfactory to me (not the patient kind). whether this bike is for you tho is a question only you can answer. there are many factors i'm not particularly digging into here.
range of an electric vehicle is a priority more so if you're the touring types. public infrastructure for charging is yet to be established but the chargers they offer can get you back on the road in 4-8 hours. for city commuting i don't foresee any hiccups whatsoever. as if to scoff at my apprehensions, Baala Manikandan rode from Chennai to Leh (at subzero temperatures) and back via Kargil, Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur, and Shirdi on the Ultraviolette F77 in 23 days.
my only concern now is how this whole shebang plays out with my journey of motorcycles and mud as this is a road bike and not something to drag into the dirt every time i see a path less travelled. while i contemplate my next steps, why don't you book a test flight and take her for a spin.