River Indie first ride review

The River Indie electric scooter claims to excel in a few fronts, but how does it perform and who is it really for? Mandar finds out
The River Indie rides on 14-inch wheels and gets 120-section tyres both at the front and back and even a combi-brake system
The River Indie rides on 14-inch wheels and gets 120-section tyres both at the front and back and even a combi-brake systemShot by Avdhoot Kolhe for evo India

I've wanted to ride the River Indie ever since I first laid my eyes on it earlier this year at its launch, because it seemed like an interesting product. It deployed quirky styling, claimed to lead on the practicality front, had a highly competitive pricing and also a respectable real-world range. Now, six months down the line, I've finally spent a day riding it and here's my first ride review of this electric scooter.

Before I begin, a little overview on River. It's a Bengaluru-based startup that was founded in March 2021 by Aravind Mani and Vipin George, two ex-Ultraviolette employees. They wanted to create an aspirational product which would also be utilitarian and thus the Indie was born. The brand calls it the "SUV of scooters", because of its rugged design and the array of practical features it has. Not to forget those chunky tyres, and that is definitely going to be one of its USPs.

The River Indie gets a high 165mm ground clearance to tackle different terrains
The River Indie gets a high 165mm ground clearance to tackle different terrainsShot by Avdhoot Kolhe for evo India

River Indie styling

A couple of months before it's official launch, the internet started to get plagued with pictures of the Indie's test mules being ridden on Bengaluru roads. And that's when we got a first taste of how it might look. It would definitely be something different and the moment the veils came off of it, it was confirmed that the Indie's quirky, pragmatic, styling would divide opinions. Some, like me, liked it for its distinctiveness, while others were skeptical about its unconventionality.

It gets massive twin-pod headlights at the front that give it massive road presence, especially at night. It rides on 14-inch wheels, with a 110-section front and 120-section rear tyre, the biggest wheels and widest tyres on an electric scooter in India yet, that add to its tough image. The Indie has a similar wheelbase to the Ola S1 Pro, but it looks bigger due to its chunky body. There's a 12-litre glovebox on the front apron and 43-litres of under seat storage space. The rear sports a horizontal LED tail light which works well with the overall styling mantra and while the opinions on the Indie's styling are polarising, there's no arguing over the fact that it is a head turner.

River is also going to offer a whole host of accessories with the Indie including a front visor, phone mount, 20-litre panniers on either side and even a 25-litre all weather top box to increase the storage capacity. All of which will make it more attention grabbing than it already is.

River Indie motor, battery and performance

The Indie is propelled by a mid-mounted Mahle sourced motor which churns out 6.7kW, about 9bhp and 26Nm of peak torque. It draws power from a floorboard mounted 4kWh battery which promises a real-world range of 120km on a single charge. The brand claims that the Indie can be charged from 0 to 80 per cent in about 5 hours with a standard charger. Even though River has no plans to sell a fast charger to its customers, because of its high cost, the Indie does support fast charging and will be made compatible to use this feature with other charging networks soon. The chassis, battery pack, BMS and vehicle control unit are all developed by River in-house.

The Indie gets three ride modes — Eco, Ride and Rush each of which have been tuned to have good low-end torque. And that's evident from the moment you get off the starter blocks. In Eco mode, it picks up speed linearly up until 40kmph and doesn't feel like a slouch by any standards. Things get quicker in the Ride mode, but if you really want to eke out all the performance the Indie's motor has on offer, all you have to do is switch to the Rush mode. The Ride mode is best suited for city riding because it feels the most apt. Not too fast, not very laid back.

But, what's really surprising is the uniformity in the Indie's performance even when you're riding with a pillion. The brand also claims that it can tackle gradients upto 18 degrees and that was one claim which I was very eager to test. On my way to Nandi hills, I stopped midway through one of the hill climb's steep corners. I asked Shutterbug Avdhoot, who weighs 90kg, to hop on and then tried to get away. And the Indie didn't skip a beat even in Eco mode. That's really impressive. So people lugging loads don't have to worry about the drop in performance while riding the Indie up steep mountains. What's also commendable is the throttle calibration and regen tuning. The accelerator doesn't feel choppy and the regen feels linear.

River Indie ride and handling

The Indie deploys a steel tubular chassis that's suspended by a telescopic fork at the front and twin gas-charged shocks at the rear. It gets disc brakes at both ends, measuring at 240mm and 220mm respectively, with CBS (Combined Braking System). On the road, the suspension setup excels at ironing out high-speed undulations. The front seems to be stiffer than the rear but that aids handling.

At 140kg the Indie is a bit on the heavier side, but because of the low floorboard mounted battery and those firmer front forks, it feels nimble and surprisingly agile. In fact I enjoyed riding the Indie on twisties a lot more than I expected. It stays planted mid-corner and the fat, for a scooter, tyres provide excellent grip. The Indie does a good job of tackling rough roads too. It feels comfortable because of the rear shock which has spot on damping, making the Indie glide over small ruts and urging you to go faster. The front though starts to feel stiff the faster you go and could definitely do with better damping for off-road riding to aid surefootedness. That's one area which River told us will surely see an improvement because they want the Indie to deliver in spades on the comfort front. The Indie's braking system has a good feel and bite, but on my test vehicle it started to make light squeaks after a day of rigorous use.

The River Indie has a top speed of 90kmph
The River Indie has a top speed of 90kmphShot by Avdhoot Kolhe for evo India

River Indie ergonomics, features and built quality

Once you hop on the Indie, you'll realise that it has a large amount of space both for the rider as well as the pillion. The handlebars are high set and I think it's safe to say that even tall people won't face a problem with the handlebar hitting their knees. There's quite a lot of room on the floorboard to move your feet around as well. And as a part of the optional accessories, River will also provide panels that bolt on the sides of the floorboard to keep the things you've kept there from falling over. Another neat feature that the Indie has is footpegs for the front. When in use, these give it a cruiser-like riding posture and aid comfort along with increasing the amount of stuff you can carry in the space liberated by your feet not being there Its seat is nicely cushioned and the amount of room that it has is staggering.

On the dash the Indie gets a 6-inch digital cluster which can't be operated by touch like a few other electric scooters in its segment. It displays the speedo, ride modes, trip meter, state of charge and of course the range indicator. But when you're charging the Indie, it also shows you much time is left for a full top up and that is a neat addition. I've two complaints with this unit, it doesn't get connectivity of any sort, which might be annoying for the next-gen tech savvy buyers that River is targeting and it isn't very legible in direct sunlight. The Indie gets a reverse function, but it's a fairly long process to engage it. You have to press the 'park' button beside the screen, and then press the 'select' button below it within five seconds. One more thing I would’ve appreciated is a lock type handbrake which would've been a highly practical addition.

All-in-all, I have to say, for a first product from a startup, the Indie deploys very good fit and finish levels. It feels solid, has consistent panel gaps, and good paint work.

River Indie verdict, price and rivals

The River Indie is an impressive electric scooter. It's for those folks who're looking for something which puts comfort and practicality over everything else and don't mind if it misses out on a few features including connectivity. It was launched at ₹1.25 lakh ex-showroom earlier this year, but with all the electric scooters out there, it will also see a price hike due to the reduction of FAME II subsidies now. We don't know how much the hike is going to be yet, as River will unveil its updated price later this year, but the brand has told us that it will be very competitively priced. And for its initial customers in Bengaluru, the introductory ₹1.25 lakh ex-showroom price will remain unchanged. But even if the price gets a hike, which is expected to buy in the realm of 15 to 20 per cent, the Indie is surely one electric scooter which should definitely be high up on your consideration list. It turns heads because of its unique design, has a respectable amount of range and is also a consistent performer. Let's hope River's 50-city expansion plan sees the light of day as scheduled next year though, because with a presence in just one city yet, currently, the Indie is a tough sell for the brand due to limited access to prospective buyers.

The River Indie rivals the Ather 450X Gen 3, TVS iQube and the Bajaj Chetak
The River Indie rivals the Ather 450X Gen 3, TVS iQube and the Bajaj ChetakShot by Avdhoot Kolhe for evo India

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