Ather 450: Four things we like and three we don't
The Ather 340 and Ather 450 are here to create a splash in the electric scooter world. Ather Energy in fact claims its scooters will change the way electric scooters are perceived in India, not just with their performance and handling but also their elaborate feature list. We rode the Ather 450 in Bengaluru and the scooter has impressed on many fronts. Here's a few things we liked about it and a couple of things we thought could be better.
The Ather impresses on many fronts, primarily performance and handling, but has a lot more going for it apart from its dynamics
A 7-inch touchscreen is what you find in cars costing upwards of 6-8 lakh rupees and is something unheard of on two-wheelers, at least in India. That makes the Ather scooters the 340 and 450 both the first to come equipped with a 7-inch touchscreen tablet that functions as its instrument cluster. It also boasts an IP65 rating which means you don't have to worry about it going kaput in the monsoons. It offers you the usual speedometer, tripmeter, distance to empty, charge status and the like. But the bigger highlight about the instrument cluster is the onboard navigation it offers.
The 7-inch touchscreen instrument cluster is a first in India and is an excellent addition, thanks to the amount of information it offers along with the large-screen navigation format
The instrument cluster holds a SIM card permanently and is connected to the internet and can thus offer navigation directly, without having to rely on your phone's data services. The navigation is based on Google maps and works pretty accurately. Also, the instrument cluster shows the speed in a large font in the centre of the screen on the go, while the background changes colour from green to an orange-ish hue as you go faster. Importantly, as a safety measure, when the scooter is in motion, most of the functions and information displayed on the screen disappear to ensure the rider isn't distracted, and you cannot access the touch functionalities at more than 5kmph.
The Ather 450 gets a 200mm petal disc as standard upfront, which offers good feel and feedback along with adequate bite
The Ather 340 and Ather 450 are identical in spec and both get front and rear disc brakes as standard. Upfront is a 200mm petal disc, while the rear disc is a 190mm petal unit. The Ather 450 we rode boasted impressive braking abilities the rear locks up easily but the front offers adequate bite along with a progressive feel. The front brake also offered good feedback and it was easy to get a feel of what was going on at the front end under braking. The brakes are custom-made units sourced from ByBre (Brembo's wholly owned Indian operations).
The underseat storage are of the Ather 450 is larger than most scooters on sale in India - it can hold full-face helmets too, but not larger ones
The Ather 450 has what is one of the biggest underseat storage spaces for a scooter in India. One common complaint with scooters is that they do not offer enough space to hold a full-face helmet. The Ather scooters should address that concern for a lot of buyers, as it can hold full-face helmets from a lot of brands, if not all. What's more, Ather Energy has also designed a few cubby holes around the main underseat cavity smartly to hold knick-knacks like documents, mobile phones, raincoats and the like.
The pillion area of the Ather 450's seat is very comfortable as it is wide and flat, but the rider's area is narrower and sloping and isn't as comfortable in comparison
The Ather 450's pillion seat's is wide and flat, which makes it very comfortable. The generous seating area for the pillion in fact comes as a bit of a surprise, considering how compact the scooter is. The pillion seat is not too high either, which makes it easy to swing a leg over to get onto it.
While the pillion seat is very comfortable, the seating for the rider leaves something to be desired. The seat slants forward and looks sporty, but that takes away some of the comfort the seat could have offered otherwise. The seat also narrows a little too much towards the front, which means taller, bigger riders might not find it too comfortable. The cushioning could have been slightly softer as well.
The Ather 450's mirror stalks look very stylish and appealing, but some of the movement on our test bike was restricted which in turn restricted the view
The rear view mirrors on the Ather 450 look very appealing in fact the design of the mirrors and the stems both is a break from what we're used to seeing, and the stems particularly look very stylish. But the very design restricts some of the movement of the mirrors, especially when you need to lower them. Ather Energy tells us the test bikes we were provided with were early prototypes though, and that the design is being revised already to ensure better adjustability.
Touch senstivity of the Ather 450's instrument cluster could have been crisper, which would have enhanced the user experience
The interface of the touchscreen instrument cluster is slick and is excellent to look at and use and resolution is good too, but the touch sensitivity isn't as crisp. Touch functionality works perfectly as the screen is responsive no doubt, but the sensitivity is not as impressive as say an Apple iPad. Better touch sensitivity should certainly make the experience quicker and slicker.
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