Matter Aera 5000+ first ride review - India's first geared electric motorcycle

Christopher Chaves Updated: February 08, 2024, 05:28 PM IST

Scooters and Motorcycles are very different in terms of the experiences they offer, right? On one hand, you have scooters that are spacious, convenient and meant to take you across relatively short distances, and on the other, you have motorcycles that are not as spacious and convenient but are more engaging to ride over longer distances. When you add electric mobility to both those mixtures, things, as they stand, are very different, or on the contrary, quite similar. While electric scooters stick true to the ethos of their ICE counterparts, electric motorcycles, although they maintain the silhouette of traditional ICE bikes, are still quite scooter-like in terms of their functionality, because it's all throttle and go when it comes to riding them. Now times have changed, and we're out here with a motorcycle that promises to break the mould as far as electric motorcycles go because this is the first geared electric motorcycle to have taken shape on our shores. This is the Matter Aera 5000+.

The Aera definitely looks the part of a modern-day electric motorcycle. Head to toe, it's got the proportions of a proper 150-200cc ICE bike with little improvisations. It's got smart-looking alloy wheels with disc brakes on both ends, a simple and decent suspension setup, neat lighting at the front and rear, and a pretty tidy and comfy stepped seat. The best part is the brake and clutch levers are where you'd find them on any conventional ICE bike, just like the radiator, unlike other e-bikes out there which have both brake levers on their handlebars. There's also this rotor that spins in tandem with the motor when you're on the go, located near the rear brake lever which looks quite cool as well.

In terms of features, the Aera 5000 gets a 7-inch touch-compatible display with optional Bluetooth connectivity and it's one of the best in terms of resolution and responsiveness that we've come across thus far. You have features like three drive modes, the park assist feature, a proper map for navigation, and a whole bunch of vehicle data and screen settings to sift through. It's cool that you can easily navigate the touch screen even with your riding gloves on. You also get keyless operation, OTA updates, progressive blinkers and welcome lights. You even get a nine-axis IMU that gives you lean data and other vehicle telemetry. Over the standard Aera 5000 model, this Aera 5000+ version comes with Bluetooth connectivity as standard along with a lifestyle and care package, which gives you access to a host of call management and other connected applications. The fully connected package comes with a subscription plan that's yet to be finalised.

Overall, the bike feels quite well put together, which is great to see considering that the Ahmedabad start-ups taken just about five years to come up with this bike from scratch. There's a lot of thought that's gone into making this one. For the most part, the build quality is visually striking and quite commendable to the touch, but as you would expect from the first product from any small start-up, it does come with certain shortcomings.

Now the Aera is very striking in terms of design, but there are some areas that do need to be addressed at this time. For instance, take the welding – not all that neat on this motorcycle, things could be a lot better there. Then there's the wiring which could have been tucked away in certain areas a little better. There are some flimsy plastic bits on here as well like the charging port cover which doesn't appear all that durable in my opinion. Hopefully, Matter will address these issues soon, by the time the first lot of bikes is expected to roll out in the second quarter of 2024.

The Matter Aera gets a fixed 5kWh liquid-cooled battery pack paired with an electric motor that generates 10kW of max power. We had an elaborate and immersive tech session to understand the logic behind how and why things function the way they do with this motorcycle, right from the way things are packaged and down to where they are located on the bike all while keeping factors like safety, weight distribution and low CG in mind. There's really a lot of thought that's gone into this motorcycle.

The Aera is a very unique offering as far as electric motorcycles go out here because of its liquid cooling for the battery pack and the electrical management system. More significantly for its four-speed gearbox. Now what's a gearbox doing on an electric motorcycle like this one? Well in essence it does what a gearbox is essentially designed to do in the first place. It's all about torque distribution, and the lower you are in the gearbox, the higher the torque delivery to the rear wheel, and the higher up you go in the cogs, the less stressed your engine is, or in this case, the electric motor.

You have three ride modes – Eco, City and Sport which alter the way the bike responds to throttle inputs. In Sport, the bike feels active and very lively. Start off in first gear and the tachometer readout shows that the motor spins to about 7,000 revs after which you'll be prompted to shift up a cog through the four-speeder. I managed a top speed of an indicated 102kmph in fourth with the motor sounding at peace and not as stressed with no high-pitched whine emanating from it - you know, the kind you would usually find on any other electric vehicle. The best part is that you can start off from a halt in any gear depending on the urgency and you only have to use the clutch to change gears, and not when you come to a halt. Acceleration feels quickest off the line in first gear in Sport drive mode and the most relaxed in fourth gear in Eco.

The motor in tandem with the gearbox feels very engaging on the go and I'll go as far as to say that although it did feel slow, this is the first electric two-wheeler that didn't feel absolutely boring to ride in Eco drive mode. The motor spins to about 3,000rpm in Eco and your speed is limited to about 60kmph, but the gearbox keeps things lively. The motor spins to about 4-4,500rpm in City drive modes, and if you're feeling lazy about shifting gears, this is the mode you'll want to be in. Yes, the gearbox doesn't feel very crisp while shifting, but that's something you can choose to overlook. Something that I couldn't overlook on this ride though, was the level of resistance that the energy regeneration system provides as soon as you shut throttle.

In all three ride modes, there was very little let's call it 'engine braking' and the bike continued to coast quite freely up until you hit the brakes. And with the forward-biased weight of the bike, you'll have to hit the brakes hard. It's good that there's single channel ABS on there, but the system needs a bit of fine-tuning as although it functioned well on a flat well-paved surface, I found it to lock up easily over some sand and gravel. So there's still some work to be done on that front.

The ride and handling dynamics of the bike are very neutral with a comfortable, fairly upright rider triangle, even tall riders will easily manage to ride this bike in the city using up a full charge. The Aera feels well-balanced at low speed and begins to weigh up nicely once you pick up the pace as well. There weren't a lot of fast bends that we came across to really test the cornering dynamics of the bike safely, so we'll reserve judgment on this for another day when we get our hands on it for a longer duration. Now the bikes we rode out here today were running different patterns and compound MRF tyres front and rear and the company told us that they're looking into keeping things uniform post our discussion with them. Seating-wise, the Aera is spacious for two up and there's even a convenient 3-litre storage bay in the tank area to lug the charger cable around.

Overall acceleration was very respectable with the Ahmedabad-based manufacturer claiming a 0-60kmph sprint time in under 6 seconds, and it really feels about right. The SOC readout felt quite accurate as well until I was returning on the home stretch on ride day. I had ignored a couple of low battery charge warnings till I reached 10 per cent SOC with the range reading of 8km, and the numbers just jumped down to zero, meaning that she just died on me leaving me 2.3km shy of it all. Matter says that this was ideally not meant to happen, so clearly some more work to be done before the first lot of bikes roll off the line later in the second quarter this year.

Like with any modern-day motorcycle, there are definitely a good number of hits and misses with the Aera as well. But the best part is that it opens the doorway to a new, fun and engaging way of seeing and experiencing the electric motorcycle, and that's quite an exciting road to go down in my opinion.

Now has the Aera managed to bridge the gap, in terms of functionality, between conventional ICE motorcycles and the modern-day electric bikes? Well in some way it has managed to pull it off. But not really overall. What it has managed to do is take a big step towards achieving that goal overall because that four-speed gearbox really does a lot in terms of functionality and engagement. The best part is that it has opened the doorway to a whole new school of thought as far as EVs go. At its current pricing of Rs 1.84lakh (ex-showroom), which is around the ballpark area cost-wise of an Ather 450X, you get an innovative and well-engineered electric motorcycle that houses a good amount of tech and features. It has some issues but I do not doubt that the company will sort out certain issues with the bike. It will only get better in the time ahead.

Words Christopher Chaves

Photography Anis Shaikh

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Starts Rs 1,18,996
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)

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