We swing a leg over the Matter Aera, India’s first electric motorcycle to feature liquid cooling and a transmission.
Story: Joshua Varghese
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
Electric motorcycles for the masses is a market that no one has really cracked to date. Although there are options, not many seem to be warming up to the idea. That is what Matter are aspiring to do; make reasonable electric motorcycles that could replace the current combustion-engine fare seamlessly. They are the first manufacturer in India to offer liquid-cooling and a transmission in that space.
To get a first-hand experience of the Aera, we took off to the Rann of Kutch. Against the pure white background offered by the salt plains, it was easy to appreciate the design. It may not be one to grab attention instantly but there are many elements worth appreciating. Its similarity to the current crop of naked motorcycles in the segment should work in its favour when seeking EV adopters. The lighting is LED all around and the dual-tone paint scheme makes it stand out from the crowd. Personally, I like how Matter have integrated the bodywork to shroud the radiator. Adds to the sentiment that this was not just put together but developed from scratch.
One look at the instrument cluster is all it takes to know that these people are serious about their work. It is a touchscreen console that is akin to most of our smartphones and offers similar levels of fluid functionality. One can choose between multiple displays and that includes a useful navigation screen as well.
During our factory tour, the gents at Matter told us that they had benchmarked several motorcycles from the 125-, 150-, and 180-cc segments when developing the Aera. That influence was evident when I sat on the motorcycle. My initial scepticism about its compact dimensions turned out to be misplaced because there was enough room astride even for a tall rider. Should work well for short rides around town but a plusher seat would be appropriate for longer rides.
The battery pack in the Aera is a five-kWh unit but its compact packing has helped them place it well within the chassis, just above the motor; contributing significantly to the low centre of gravity. The integration is so well executed that there is a significant reduction in the number of wiring harnesses needed. The motor itself is a 10-kW (13.6 hp) unit that sends power to the rear wheel via a four-speed transmission and a chain final drive. Matter claim it is good for up to 26 Nm of torque and we found it capable of matching most two-valve 160-cc motorcycles in terms of performance. Their claimed figure for 0-60 km/h is under six seconds. Certainly felt like it in Sport mode.
A small window on the right-hand-side of the motorcycle displays a gear that spins to match the motor’s movement, flashy maybe but a nice touch nevertheless. To operate the four-speed transmission, there is a clutch too but it is not what one may expect it to be because the function is slightly different. It is only needed to shift gears because unlike what we are used to, one does not need it while feeding in throttle to move from a standstill because even if one were to dump the clutch entirely, the motor will not ‘stall’ — if I may use the term. That being said, neither does one have to be in first gear all the time to set off. It pulls away nicely in the fourth gear too, just not as quickly as the lower gears.
The power delivery was calibrated well. Eco mimicked the performance of 125-cc motorcycles while City and Sport were closer to 150-, 160- or maybe even some 180-cc machines. Simply put, the Aera worked well but look at things a little deeply and it is easy to see that it is not for everyone. For example, someone who wants to use an EV for convenience may not appreciate having to change gears.
In terms of suspension and braking, Matter have gone for basic components. A telescopic fork and dual shock-absorbers manage suspension, while disc brakes at either end handle braking well. However, there is only single-channel ABS on offer. A set-up that is on the softer side gives the Aera decent ride quality and should be enough for city usage. Personally, I felt a slightly more progressive damping at the front could improve it overall because Matter have a good base line for handling; could arrest the current dive under braking too. The motorcycle turns in well and does not ask too much from the rider. However, there is some room for improvement when it comes to instilling confidence at speeds in excess of 60 km/h.
Speaking of speeds, it is worth noting that the respective top speeds for Eco, City and Sport are 60 km/h, 80 km/h and 100 km/h; all indicated. For town, I feel Eco mode should be enough. What needs the most attention is the motorcycle’s communication about range. Although Matter claim 125 km per full charge, my experience did not reflect it. Primarily because, the promised figure on the console and the distance it did in real life did not match. Which can be taxing for the individual who has to use one everyday.
Comparing it to an ICE motorcycle may not be fair but it must be done. In that regard, while most aspects are decent, the transmission’s refinement must be improved if one is expected to enjoy the sense of shifting gears. As of now, it is rather noisy and does not feel great either.
During our time with the motorcycle, we were constantly moving and rarely stuck in traffic or subjected to high temperatures, so we have no insights about the liquid-cooling system just yet.
To summarize my experience with the Matter Aera 5000+, I must begin by saying that it was easy to ride and that Matter have thought about many small details to make the rider’s life easier, such as a reverse mode. Currently, they have priced this motorcycle at Rs 1.84 lakh (ex-showroom) and it is only available in Ahmedabad as of now. By the time they reach other markets, I hope Matter implement these changes and give us a product that fully complements such an expensive price tag.
Watch the video review here: