Ultraviolette F77 first ride review | The performance electric bike we’ve been waiting for?
The Ultraviolette F77 has been some time coming. Showcased in 2019 with futuristic fighter jet inspired styling, a swappable battery and the promise of performance at par with a 250-350cc performance bike. We rode the F77 back in 2019, when too it impressed us a fair bit, but remained far from production ready. With all the feedback, plus Covid playing a major damper, the F77 is finally available on shelves. The F77 has undergone a plethora of change since 2019. So what’s it like to ride? We are just back from Bengaluru, where we’ve got to grips with this exciting new EV, at Meco Kartopia and the Nandi Hills.
Ultraviolette F77 performance
The Ultraviolette F77 is marketed as a thoroughbred performance machine, so it’s fair to speak about that first. We’ve ridden the ‘Recon’ variant. Starting with the numbers, the F77 comes with a 10.3kWh battery, which incidentally is the largest battery pack on any Indian EV bike. In terms of range, Ultraviolette claims the F77 is good for about 307km, of IDC range. We rode only at a go kart track and at Nandi Hills, without a chance to test the new EV in real world conditions. So, we can bring you realistic range and charging time numbers,after we ride the bike for a comprehensive road test. Speaking of charging, the F77 comes with a 1.3kWh charger, that tops the battery up in about eight hours. You can also buy a bigger 3.3 kWh fast charger, which cuts charging times in half. The large 10.3kWh battery powers a motor that puts out 38.8bhp of power and a mahoosive 95Nm of torque. Power reaches the rear wheel via a chain final drive. As on any EV, you don’t have to play with a gearbox or clutch.
Ultraviolette has given the F77 three modes — Glide, Combat and Ballistic. Glide strikes the equivalent of an eco mode and prioritizes efficiency, Combat strikes more of a balance while Ballistic is an all-out performance mode, as the name suggests. The boffins at Ultraviolette have done a phenomenal job of differentiating the performance feel through the modes. Though Glide feels dull compared to Combat and especially Ballistic, it still is more than usable if you ever find yourself in the situation where charge is low and you need to limp to a charger. Glide offers similar performance levels to a mid or even high level rival EV.
No prices for guessing our favourite is Ballistic mode. In this, you actually forget you’re on an EV. Yes there’s obvious tell tale signs like the lack of an exhaust, clutch and gears. Still, performance feels thrilling. I would equate this performance level to a KTM 250 Duke, in fact, a wee bit faster. Throttle calibration feels spot on and never jerky, although, it lacks that kick in initial acceleration you associate with an electric. Power delivery is linear, allowing you to modulate performance nicely. This comes inhandy when entering and exiting corners. In terms of regen, there are currently three modes — low, medium and high. The regen is not apparent and you barely feel resistance when you roll off. Riding at the track, I definitely wished for a more aggressive regen system. Ultraviolette promises us they are working on a more effective regen system, with up to 10 levels. This should be rolled out as an OTA update later on.
Ultraviolette F77 ride and handling
The Ultraviolette F77 uses a steel trellis frame, preload adjustable USDs in front and a preload adjustable monoshock at rear. The riding position is aggressive and despite the fact that this looks like a naked, the rider triangle is somewhere in between sporty naked and supersports. You sit with your legs fairly rearset and high, while your arms reach out to a nice wide clip-on handlebar. The F77 is quite a sharp handler, an absolute hoot to chuck around on the tight go kart track. The wide bars offer good leverage over the bike allowing you to tip it into corners effortlessly. The bike holds its line well, throwing up no mid-corner surprises. This is a heavy bike though, with a 207kg kerb weight. In slower corners you do feel this. Also, while kicking it off the stand and moving around in a parking lot, you again feel a lot of heft.
One thing that definitely aids the riding experience are the tyres. Ultraviolette and MRF have collaborated to develop bespoke, grippy tyres. There’s a lot of feel and you can easily tell what the bike is doing under you. Even fully leaned over, you never feel a lack of grip. Braking is via a four piston radial calliper and 320mm disc up front, with a single piston calliper mounted axially on a 230mm disc behind. The front brake pads are sintered and performance is good. You get adequate feedback and it’s easy to modulate brake pressure as well. This is more important, given that these brakes are the only things slowing you down considering the lack of effective regen. Trail braking into corners is a hoot. You get well calibrated dual-channel ABS and the option of turning rear ABS off. Ride quality is a good balance between comfortable for the roads and stiff enough for the racetrack.
In the Nandi Hills, the Ultraviolette F77 soaked up all road imperfections with composure, ensuring a comfortable ride. On track the composure remains and the suspension never wallows under hard braking either. One thing I would definitely recommend should you get this bike, is to set preload at both ends to ensure the best experience. The bike we rode at the track also had optional tank grips that helped. Because you’re on the brakes so often, the tank grips help you grip the bike and alleviate some of the strain on your wrists. So do consider getting those.
Ultraviolette F77 design
The Ultraviolette F77 is a handsome, well-proportioned motorcycle. Even if performance is not your primary priority, the looks will definitely draw you in. The bike uses a fixed battery instead of the removable ones on the 2019 bike, so it has more even body panels. The well designed headlight offers LED power. Above which is a well designed and responsive colour TFT display. The switch cubes are reminiscent of those on the TVS Apache RR310. The Ultraviolette F77 uses a split seat design and both the rider and pillion seat are fairly comfortable.
The rear end continues with sharp styling and has a neatly designed tail light. Build quality is good, with some room for improvement. The plastic body panels towards the front were creaking under braking and some elements like the buttons for the turn signals could stand to be a bit more tactile. Ultraviolette is aware of the panels creaking and is working to fix this before deliveries begin. There are three colours — red, dark grey with yellow accents and a lighter, whitish grey. Ultraviolette also has neat pannier solutions to help carry luggage or chargers.
Ultraviolette F77 verdict
Ultraviolette has delivered on their promise to bring in this true performance-oriented EV, that is sure to appeal to enthusiasts. The performance is equivalent to a capable sporty 300cc motorcycle and so is handling. It has enough, by way of features to keep the geek in you satisfied and if the real world range is within 75 per cent of what the company claims, range anxiety is well under control too. Yes, regen could improve and so could build quality, but all told there’s no doubt, this is a really solid offering, that definitely has the enthusiast in us hooked. At Rs 4.55 lakh ex-showroom, the F77 is quite pricey, but it checks a lot of boxes other EVs just haven’t been able to. So if this is a sign of electric things to come, colour me excited.