The electric eel produces up to 860 volts to shock those in its vicinity. The Hero Lectro Townmaster, on the other hand, produces 250 watts to help you breeze past the traffic as you shock them into submission with your bicycle!
The Townmaster, as the name suggests, is built to rule city roads. To make your commute a pleasure as you zip, zap and zoom across on this little e-bike. Be it to your neighbourhood grocery store for fresh veggies or to your office for stale ideas from your boss!
So how does this battery-powered urban warrior stack up against conventional modes of commuting to work?
Text: Avinash Noronha (The Monk)
E-Bike vs The World!
I hopped onto the bike and immediately pitted it against the world I know. The course was familiar, the same route I had navigated from home to work for 3 years. Every pothole and bottleneck on the road are on a first-name basis with me!
A 17 km route from Delhi to Gurgaon during rush hour takes over an hour by car, 50 minutes by metro (including to and fro the station) and 35 minutes by motorcycle. What about the Lectro?
The Delhi Metro trains hit 80 km/h as you hurtle homewards, the Lectro can just manage 25 km/h. That is the speed it is limited to by Indian regulations for a low-speed electric two-wheeler.
You can listen to music and enjoy the AC in your car, but you are going to be cooped up in there for what feels like years. The Townmaster, on the other hand, will find plenty of gaps to penetrate.
Which motorcyclist hasn’t sat in frustration at a traffic signal, sweat dripping down, the engine heat making it a blast furnace and the riding gear giving you the feel of a sauna! On an E-Bike, you enjoy the wind in your shorts and tee!
To Pedal or Not to Pedal!
As I sat astride the Townmaster, I was foxed whether I should pedal or not!
There are three modes for use. Pedal it like a regular cycle. Pedalec mode, in which you pedal and get power assist from the inbuilt motor. The third is the ‘twist & go’ mode, where you twist the throttle and don’t pedal. What I call the Activa mode because it feels exactly like that!
The pedal mode is a no go. At roughly 20 kg, the Lectro isn’t a svelte cycle to power solely on leg strength. Especially as it employs a 7-speed Tourney derailleur at the rear, not one of the slickest gearboxes around!
The ‘Activa’ mode allows you to do absolutely nothing. Other than twist the throttle and brake when required. It gets boring after 30 seconds and hits 25 km/h on a flat road with no headwind! Good if you are completely exhausted, else it can be given a pass.
The Pedalec mode is where E-Bikes thrive.
You pedal a bit and the battery provides the rest. There are three power settings on this mode, low, medium and high. The high power setting takes up to 80% of your pedalling load. So you can happily spin the pedals whilst accelerating at a decent clip.
Here again, the power from the motor cuts off as soon as you cross 25 km/h, which is perfectly fine. Your legs don’t need to produce power to accelerate, only to maintain the momentum. This is the fastest way to get around on the Lectro.
After toggling around and checking out the various ways of riding the Townmaster, my default setting was ‘high power’ in Pedalec mode. The answer to the Shakespearean question is pedal, but with a little help from your electric friends!
So how much does it cost to whizz around town on an E-Bike!
Going back to my previous commute example, with a 34 km roundtrip to work and back in traffic.
A car with a fuel efficiency of 12 kmpl will cost roughly 200 rupees per day, that excludes parking charges daily and the harrowing experience of searching for a parking spot!
Second on the list is the metro. For this same commute, the cost of the metro is 80 rupees, and another 60 rupees to get to the metro station.
A motorcycle works out rather economical in comparison. At 30 kmpl, you will end up spending around 90 rupees for your daily commute.
At this point of time dear reader, prepare to have your mind blown!
On the Townmaster, your daily commute will cost you 1 rupee 50 paise! A full charge of the Lectro battery uses 0.25 units of electricity. At 6 rupees a unit of electricity, that is the ridiculous price you are going to pay for your commute!
And this is just your savings. Not the savings to the environment, air and the country’s economy. Once you factor in the bigger picture, an E-Bike is automatically a no brainer!
Though your annual maintenance and service cost on public transport is nil, it does add up to a tidy amount on cars and motorcycles. The Townmaster has barely any cost associated with it. The only cost being the replacement of the lithium-ion battery. A battery lasts 12 to 15 months and has a replacement cost of approximately 6000 rupees.
The Hero Lectro Townmaster uses a 6061 aluminium alloy frame and is currently available only in medium size, 18 inches. A bit too big for someone 5’3” or less and too small for someone 5’11” or more. It would be great to see Hero bring in more frame sizes as they do with their regular bicycles!
The 36 volts lithium-ion battery produces 250 watts and has a range of 25 to 30 km, depending on the mode you choose. The battery itself takes around 4 hours to charge with the company provided charger. The battery is stored within the downtube and the charging port is at the bottom of the tube on the left.
The electric power stored in the battery is transferred to the road through a high-speed brushless DC electric motor which sits in the hub. BLDC motors do not spoil easily and are the same sort of motor used in household fans. When was the last time you had to repair the motor in your fan?
Brakes on the Townmaster are 160 mm cable-actuated discs which have a decent bite but are a bit short on feedback. For the intended usage, it is more than enough!
A 1×7 drivetrain is used on the bike, with the rear derailleur being a 7-speed Shimano Tourney. 38 mm tyres have been used which are ideal for commuting in urban areas. There is also a tiny LED headlight, which does a better job of making the cyclist visible to others, rather than illuminating city roads.
The one thing I found missing and would like added in future models are mudguards. With this E-Bike being positioned entirely as a commuter, fenders would make life so much better. Mounting points are present of the Townmaster’s frame, so you can add them yourself if you choose.
The Townmaster is a pleasure to ride. Once you remind yourself it isn’t a motorcycle or a regular bicycle!
In the Pedalec mode, at half a turn of the crank, the motor kicks in and thrusts you forward at warp speed. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration. But anyone who has ridden an electric two wheeler will understand the joy of full torque from zero rpm!
As you stop pedalling, the motor also stops, which allows you to safely pull to a halt, without the fear of rear ending someone!
The riding stance is neutral, allowing a good view of the road and at the same time be comfortable.
The biggest advantage of commuting on an E-Bike vis-a-vis a regular cycle in traffic is acceleration. On a normal cycle, you need to downshift and power ahead to pick up speed. On the Lectro, the acceleration is taken care of, so you never strain your knees. Once you are up to speed, it is easy enough to keep spinning the pedals.
For riders who aren’t extremely fit, the Lectro also helps climb those flyovers, which otherwise can be a nightmare.
As I rode the Townmaster, an epiphany hit. This bike isn’t meant for cyclists who want to make their commute easier, it is made for those thousands of motorists who would love to commute in the greenest way imaginable. But were afraid to do so on a regular cycle because of poor fitness levels.
These E-Bikes allow you to get out and get riding!
At 31000 rupees, the bike is a good deal from Hero, especially when you take into account the two-year warranty.
The savings in commute costs, doctors bills because of better health and cost to the environment is phenomenal. Enough to start a global green revolution!
Oh! And for those of you wondering, the Townmaster zipped my commute route in 40 minutes, significantly faster than a car or metro and a tad bit slower than a motorcycle. Go figure…
Commuting on an E-Bike
In India, people have been cycling forever. With an increase in income, people have moved towards motorised transport and shun the humble bicycle. Even though this humble machine is a solution to some of the world’s greatest problems!
There are many who would like to leave their automobiles at home and commute to work on a cycle. Their reasons could be environmental, health, convenience or just the pleasure of cycling!
Many are apprehensive for the sake of safety and comfort. So here’s what you need to start commuting safely in India?
The two basic requirements for cycling are a cycle and the motivation to pedal! The third important ingredient is a helmet. With these three in hand, you can ride anywhere you want.
To make life a little safer and more comfortable on the E-Bike, you can add these to your basket:
● A proper fitting helmet
● Hi-Vis Vest
● Pollution mask, since most big cities are extremely polluted
● Bell for the bike
● Headlight and tail light
● Lock for securing your precious Townmaster
Plan your route
Search for the least congested and most scenic route from home to work. It will make the commute all the more pleasurable.
Ride the route on a weekend, a dry run of sorts, so you have an idea of the amount of time it takes. This also gives you an opportunity to get comfortable with the E-Bike, if you haven’t ridden one before.
● Learn to repair a puncture
● Learn to notice sounds from your bike which shouldn’t be there
● Learn basic repairs which you will need on the road
● Find a secure parking spot for your E-Bike, preferably close to a CCTV or security guard!
● Don’t leave easily removable objects on your bike, like lights
● Lock your cycle to an immovable object
● Use the shower at your workplace if required. If you do not have shower facilities, wet wipes and deodorant do a good job of keeping you clean and fresh!
● Keep a change of work clothes in the office.
● Keep 10 minutes in hand for all these odd jobs.
● Keep some healthy snacks in your desk. In the first few days of commuting, hunger might hit hard and you don’t want to binge on fattening foods!
In the initial euphoria of cycling, many go overboard. Don’t! Instead, take it slow. Build up the cycling distance gradually. Start with commuting once or twice a week before increasing the distance and duration as you get more comfortable. On the days you aren’t feeling like cycling, take a break, don’t make it another ‘task’ that needs to be completed.
Do all of this and chances are high that you will have a safe enjoyable experience of commuting to work on your Hero Lectro Townmaster!