Matter Aera 5000+ first ride review | Can it disrupt its class with segment first hardware?
The Matter Aera 5000 caught my fancy at its unveiling back in September 2022, because it claimed to be India's first electric two-wheeler to feature liquid cooling and a four-speed gearbox. Since then I was eagerly waiting to get astride this bike to see how it functions and more importantly, does a gearbox on an e-bike make any sense to begin with. Here are my first impressions of the Aera 5000+ after riding it for a little under a 100km. But before I begin, a little overview on the brand itself.
Matter was founded in 2019 with plans to cater electric two-wheelers in the entry level commuter class, with heavy localisation. As a result it makes its own motors and electronics with in-house R&D, with respect to Indian conditions, because it wants its products to last long. The Aera, which has been five years in the making now, is its first product targeting buyers of the 180cc class. It's offered in two variants — 5000 and 5000+ — both of which are priced at ₹1.74 lakh and ₹1.84 lakh respectively.
Matter Aera 5000+ styling, fit and finish and features
The Aera is a handsome motorcycle. Although it looks very traditional in person — almost like an ICE-bike — it has just the right amount of futuristic touches which hint at its electric creds. This is done to appeal to the masses, people of all ages, and I have to say it is done rather well. Upfront there's a sharp headlight with a projector unit and LED DRLs. The unit is flanked by body coloured plastics and semi-transparent sides which is a nice detail. In profile the bike features 17-inch, 12-spoke, alloys and LED turn indicators which are neatly integrated into the tank extensions. The Aera gets a large split seat which is comfortable and has a lot of room to move around, even at the rear. That in combination with the wide, flat handlebar and the relaxed footpegs makes for a comfortable yet engaging ride. The only storage space on the Aera is its 5-litre storage belly, that's in place of a traditional fuel tank, which is designed to house its charger and a mobile phone.
Down below, the Aera’s gearbox has a very cool feature on the right side. A small window which displays a ‘spinner’, connected to the shaft, that spins when the bike is in motion. But the gearbox itself looks a bit small and there's actually a noticeable void between it and the battery which might look unfinished and bother some folks. Not a deal breaker though. But my favourite part of the Aera is its sharp rear. The bike gets a tidy tail courtesy of the fact that the rear number plate and turn indicators are housed on the tyre hugger. The Aera’s LED tail light also has a nice detail in it; the Matter script, which lights up when you're braking.
Honestly speaking, I wasn't expecting the Matter Aera’s overall fit and finish to be great, but much to my surprise it's a rather well-built motorcycle. Yes, there is room for improvement, especially in a few areas like the flimsy charging port and belly storage covers, and the switchgear which lacks tactility, but overall it feels solid. Its panel gaps are consistent, paint quality is good and the bike doesn't squeak or rattle by any means. Even though I rode its pre-production model, the Aera feels like one of the most complete electric two-wheelers that I've ridden on its first ride.
Apart from the surprising fit and finish the Aera also gets a very comprehensive 7-inch capacitive touch LCD display which is highly intuitive and responsive. This is the most sorted part of the bike, because when it comes to usability, it is up there with some of the best clusters that I've used. The unit boasts an array of functions like Mappls navigation by MapMyIndia via a built in 4G e-sim supported by Airtel, a thorough riding stats tab, mobile phone and interface notifications, support and service section which has demo videos to show you the ABC of the bike and an exhaustive controls section. Phew. Moreover, it's also legible even in bright sunlight. The Aera sports an on-board charger and can be charged from 0 to 100 per cent in about five hours using a 5Amp socket. The bike also supports fast charging, which enables a 0 to 100 per cent charge in just two hours, which will be provided as an option to customers in the future.
Matter Aera 5000+ battery, motor and performance
Coming to the bit that I was most excited about — the Aera's performance. The Aera 5000+ gets a 5kWh liquid-cooled Li-ion battery which powers a mid-mounted, IP-65 rated motor that churns out 10.5kW and 520Nm of peak torque. Matter claims that it can sprint from 0 to 60kmph in under six seconds and can deliver a claimed range of 125km on a single charge. It gets keyless operation, so to start it all you have to do is press the power button above it's storage belly and voila, it comes to life. The touch screen boots up quickly and to set off you pull in the clutch and engage first. After putting it in gear, you can ride the Aera in two configurations — like a traditional automatic two-wheeler, or use the clutch and make things more engaging. Of course, if you plan to ride it in auto mode, speeds are capped depending on the gear that you're in and yes, you can leave it in fourth and set off from standstill because of the readily available torque, but more on that later. Off the starter blocks, the clutch action is light and there's a surprisingly loud whine from the e-motor. It sounds mechanical and goes well with the character of the bike. The Aera gets three ride modes — Eco, City and Sport. Its first and second gear are shorter for good off the line performance and it picks up speed well. But the gearbox isn't the smoothest out there and definitely needs improvement in the refinement department. Acceleration wise the Aera feels on par with a 180cc motorcycle and I was able to clock a speedo indicated top speed of 110kmph on it, on an empty stretch. Because it has a clutch, you can even launch the Aera and set off even quickly. The throttle calibration is spot on and can be easily modulated no matter, no pun intended, what ride mode you're in. But what I really like about the Aera is its aforementioned split personality. To calm things down, you can just leave it in fourth all day long. Yes, that does take a toll on off the line performance, it's no slouch in bumper to bumper traffic. Quick overtakes between 50-70kmph also don't require the need for a downshift when you're cruising in fourth. The Aera’s liquid cooling works exactly like it's advertised and as I found out in the balmy temperature of the Rann of Kuchh, does a good job of keeping the bike cool.
When it comes to range, I started riding the Aera at 99 per cent charge, with 114km of range being displayed on the cluster in ‘Sport’ mode and after riding it for close to 50km, the range dropped down to 53km. My riding route mainly consisted of an empty single carriageway which was primarily dealt with in the ‘City’ mode at speeds between 60-65kmph, with a few acceleration bursts in ‘Sport’. So I believe that it's possible to eke out anywhere between 80-100km of range from the Aera.
Matter Aera 5000+ ride, handling and braking
The moment you get astride the Aera and lift it off its side stand, the first thing that you witness is its heft. At 169kg kerb weight, the Aera feels heavy because of the fact that its battery sits fairly high up, on top of the gearbox. Moving the Aera around then, feels a tad cumbersome at slow speeds, and you'll definitely appreciate its reverse function. Once on the move the bike hides its weight pretty well. The Aera is underpinned by a tubular frame and sports telescopic front forks and dual-shocks at the rear. Its suspension is set up on the softer side, which gives it excellent ride quality. The bike does a very good job of damping out rough roads and feels stable at high speeds. It also handles rather well, although I didn't get a chance to test it in sharp twisties, it feels flickable and very predictable. What I didn't like though is its light regen, which doesn't slow the bike when you roll off the throttle. This especially becomes a little annoying when you're using the gearbox enthusiastically and have to rely on the brakes, as there's no engine braking at all. Moreover, we were advised to downshift only below 3000rpm, as under aggressive downshifting our test bike would automatically cut off power and enter limp mode. But Matter has told us that configurable regen is something that will surely make its way to the production Aeras and the latter problem will also be resolved. Speaking of the braking setup, the Aera gets disc brakes at both ends with single-channel ABS. The setup is progressive and gives good feedback, but could certainly do with more bite, especially at the rear.
Matter Aera 5000+ price and verdict
The Matter Aera 5000+ demands ₹1.84 lakh (ex-showroom) of your hard earned money, and for what it promises in terms of features, range and its unique riding experience, I feel that the price tag is extremely justifiable. Yes there are a few niggles, which Matter has promised us will be rectified in the production bikes scheduled to be delivered in the second half of 2024, but the Aera does deliver a lot on what's promised. It looks great, is feature rich, well built and has a competitive riding range. It's a solid electric alternative to a 180cc performance bike; one that I definitely recommend if you're in the market for an electric motorcycle that provides a unique riding experience while having all the basics right.