I remember the first time I got a scooter. At 16 years of age, I had never felt a sense of freedom like that till i got my first 2-wheeler, It could take me wherever I wanted to in the city within moments to meet my friends, go to college, run away from college etc. (Sorry Mum) But times have changed, that was 8 years ago and today scooters haven’t only been electrified, they’ve also gone leaps and bounds ahead in terms of tech and connectivity, this got me wondering what would it be like to be 16 again, with the help of the scooter all the cool kids have been riding, the Chetak, i got to test the newly released premium variant with the optional tecpac, which means it’s filled with all the bells and whistles bajaj could through at it, but how is it on the daily?
The Chetak remains one of the best-looking electric scooters on the market. It still gets metal body panels, a lovely brown-and-black dual-tone seat, the same alloy wheels and metallic paint options on this premium version. While the lines and design language might seem rather generic, it all culminates in favour of the Chetak’s classy, timeless design. The Chetak is designed in such a way that the bike would still look fresh even 5 years along the line. making sure the Chetak stays relevant and “period-correct” through the years of ownership.
One of the biggest changes from the urbane variant to the premium variant is the addition of a new 5-inch colour TFT screen. It replaces the circular, monochrome LCD unit of the outgoing scooter and it looks really nice and it presents you with a lot of information. However, unlike its rivals, the Ather 450X and the Ola S1 Pro, this is not a touchscreen unit. Bajaj says they have done this intentionally to keep costs in check and ensure the longevity of this unit. However, the new TFT screen is bright and clear that adds a premium touch to the new Chetak. Standard features on the Chetak Premium include the new screen, an Eco riding mode, a reverse mode and an onboard 800W charger. But, Bajaj has also introduced a Tecpac on the Chetak Premium and this unlocks a whole host of additional features. It brings in a Sport mode which provides stronger acceleration, sequential turn indicators, hill-hold assist, turn-by-turn navigation, music playback, notification alerts, call management and display themes.
The new Chetak on the move, is surprisingly good! It’s not a thriller in terms of performance but it is no slouch for sure! it claims a top speed of 73kmph but i was capable of hitting and maintaining 80kmph and how it reaches those speeds is comparable to the 125cc scooters available in the market today, which honestly, is more than enough performance to get anywhere you want within the city, even in a hurry. Overtaking through slow traffic is a breeze too since the Chetak’s gearing allows you to enjoy a strong surge of speed at pretty much any pace, and in slow moving traffic the chassis balance is the highlight, swooping through lanes at slow speeds is a breeze in the Chetak, not only does it feel featherlight during transitions, it also feels planted when you are pushing the Chetak. When it comes to whats new in terms of “oomph”, the battery capacity has been increased to 3.2kWh, up from 2.9 kWh on the older model. This is thanks to more energy dense cells in the pack and as a result, the claimed range has gone up as well. According to the IDC cycle, the Chetak Premium will now do 126km on a charge, in comparison to the 108km that it did previously. That should translate to a real-world range of about 115km. I got to ride the Chetak for roughly 50 km and the battery had dropped by 38%, while it might have not been enough to test the range, it is fair to assume the new Chetak is capable of comfortably covering well over 100 km. Thanks to the increased battery capacity, the charging times have gone up as well. So the Chetak Premium will now go from 0-100 percent charge in 4 hours 30 mins from its 800W onboard charger, which is 30 mins more than earlier.
The Chetak’s regenerative braking works well. The ‘regen’ is more aggressive in sport mode but I did notice the bike to have a slight delay between rolling off the throttle and the ‘regen’ kicking in. I might be nitpicking but I did have a couple more issues with the Chetak, with gloves on, the buttons are a little difficult to identify, making me constantly looking down at my hands to see if I am pressing the right button. While I understand that most of the owners will not use a pair of riding gloves on their commute, the fact that the switchgear isn’t intuitive enough to use without looking down in some cases, could be a recipe for disaster. But at least it is less of a distraction than a touch screen in front of you.
The Chetak is designed to be lifeproof , reminiscent of the fact that the “OG” Chetak was so durable that it used to be handed over through to generations and was treated as a member of the family, the new, electric Chetak aims to fill its ancestor’s shoes, with a full metal body, ip67 water resistance and a stellar fit and finish. Bajaj are also giving the choice to opt for an extended warranty of upto 5 years! At a starting price of ₹1,15,000 for the urbane variant and ₹1,35,000 for the premium variant, the Chetak is also priced super competitively compared to its direct rivals the ather 450x and the ola s1 pro. And considering that the optional tecpac that unlocks all of the features and over-the-air feature updates is just ₹8000 for a 5 year subscription, the Chetak seems to be the most reasonable option out of the 3 competitors.