We headed to the Meco Kartopia go-kart track for a short first-ride experience astride the Orxa Mantis to see what this new offering is all about
Story: Azaman Chothia
Photography: Sanjay Raikar
Orxa is a Bengaluru-based company that has been working on the Mantis electric vehicle (EV) for almost eight years now. We caught a glimpse of this EV when it was displayed at the India Bike Week a couple of years ago. As its name suggests, the design language has been inspired by a praying mantis. It gets tiny round LED headlights with daytime running lights (DRL) running under it to mimic a bug face. The unique aspect about the styling of the Mantis is the hollow section on top of the battery and this section houses the charging port. It sports a split-seat set-up. Personally, I am not a fan of the design but styling is just a matter of personal preference. We were riding pre-production units that have clearly been used for extensive testing in the past. So, there were slight scuffs and scratches around the place. In this condition, the fit-and-finish was not up to the mark, especially when one considers the asking price.
As you swing a leg over it, the mantis is fairly comfortable. The handlebar keeps the rider upright and the foot-pegs are set in a slightly sporty position. It has a ground clearance of 180 millimetres and a seat height of 815 mm. A segment-first component on the Mantis is its all-aluminium alloy chassis. The firm says that the battery pack weighs just 11.5 kilograms and with the lightweight chassis, the Mantis weighs 182 kg. The bike feels light once on the go, but shorter riders will have to tiptoe at stops and reversing will be a slight task as there is no assist for the same.
Another segment-first feature is a liquid-cooled motor that is powered by a nine-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It produces 20.5 kW (27.4 hp) of power and 93 Nm of peak torque. It is capable of a claimed top speed of 135 km/h and 0-100 km/h is said to take 8.9 seconds. Orxa Energies also says that the bike gets an IDC estimated range of 221 kilometres, but this is something we will have to test later.
As I got going, the throttle calibration felt nice; it was linear until around 25 km/h, after which it darted away. On the main straight of this short track, I was able to get to around 90 km/h before I had to brake and enter the first turn. Just a lap into riding, an overheating warning lit up on the dash and the bike went into its version of a limp mode. After that, the power seemed to be on a par with slow commuter e-scooters. This immediately took the fun out of the entire experience as I was left wanting more at every section of the track. The only way to get this back to normal was to switch off the bike for a couple of minutes, let it cool down, and then head out. But it was the same story again as the warning was back up, this time even before completing a whole lap.
The suspension set-up comprises telescopic forks at the front and a monoshock unit at the rear. The 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in CEAT rubber were decent enough but not the grippiest for track use. Meanwhile, braking is handled by disc brakes at both ends paired with single-channel ABS. We feel dual-channel ABS should have been offered at this price point. The bike feels nimble, tips well into corners, and also changes direction easily. However, the feeling during braking is very unsettling. The rear is very easy to lock up and getting on the front brake hard makes the front end judder; it almost feels as if the steering column of the bike is loose. This was not a nice feeling, especially on track, and this is one of the main issues that need rectification.
Priced at Rs 3.60 lakh, this is an expensive electric motorcycle and, unfortunately for now, does not seem like it is ready to take on the market. Orxa Energies will be selling the Mantis starting only in Bengaluru after which they plan to expand. Deliveries are currently scheduled for April 2024. The firm said that it would sort out all these issues before the commencement of deliveries and that it would also give us another chance to test the Mantis in a more production-ready form. We hope they can sort out all these issues in the coming months.