India's fastest electric motorcycle prepares to go racing
India is not a country known for motorcycle racing – or indeed high-performance motorcycles. But Bangalore company Ultraviolette wants to start pushing the envelope, and it's announced its intent to go racing with its new F99 development platform.
As of 2019, there were more than 220 million motorcycles registered in India, with that figure growing at a rate of 15-18 million a year. It's the world's second-largest market for two-wheelers, behind China, but as with most developing countries, the vast majority of its bikes are scooters or low-capacity, cheap, practical getabouts.
It's also not a country known for racing. Indeed, according to Red Bull, there are only three pro-standard race tracks serving the country's 1.4 billion people, and only one Indian rider has ever made an appearance at the top level of racing – Sarath Kumar, who rode an Aprilia for three rounds of the 2011 125cc World Championship, failing to qualify twice and finishing 24th in his final race.
So, in a country known for slow bikes, it's pretty neat to see Bangalore company Ultraviolette coming out with a bike focused on higher performance. The top-of-the-line F77, announced last month, offers a 30.2-kW (40.5-hp), 100-Nm (74-lb-ft) electric motor, a 10.3-kWh battery pack, for a projected IDC range of 307 km (190 miles) and a top speed of 152 km/h (94.4 mph), to go along with a rather neat semi-faired design. With built-in GPS and LTE connectivity, this bike offers in-dash navigation, a vehicle locator, geofencing, ride analytics, dual-channel Bosch ABS, and a nine-axis inertial measurement unit.
That's a lot of axes, and it's not immediately clear what they're for, given that there's no mention of lean angle-sensitive braking or traction control of any kind. Still, at a price of 550,000 Indian Rupees (US$6,800), the F77 looks like the kind of machine that could hit a sweet spot with Western commuters if it could be exported at that kind of price.
And in a country not known for racing, Ultraviolette has now announced a souped-up race bike it's calling the F99. Unveiled at last week's Auto Expo in Delhi, the F99 boosts peak power up to 50 kW (65 hp), and as a result, the bike has already broken 200 km/h (124 mph) in testing. The ergos are adjusted to be racier and more "committed," complete with adjustable rearsets and bars, and Ultraviolette says it's performed some "aerodynamic optimization" – although this appears limited to it having a carbon race plate instead of a headlight, an "aerodisk" in the rear wheel hub, and some different winglets of dubious utility on the side fairings and tail.
Performance-wise, Ultraviolette co-founder and CEO Narayan Subramaniam told Car and Bike the machine has already broken 4.5 seconds in a 0-100-km/h (62-mph) sprint. The company isn't specifying what's going on with the battery pack, other than to say it's running a new architecture. The F99 is currently an R&D platform, performance is expected to improve over the coming months, and while the bike is intended to "convey [Ultraviolette's] intent to get into electric motorsports," there's no word on exactly where the team plans to race it, or indeed against what.
Still, it's a nifty-looking machine, and while this might be viewed as a race bike in India, it actually looks like the kind of mid-performance machine that could do decent numbers as a zero-emissions bike for urban commuting and extra-urban fun in Europe or the US if, again, it could be exported at the right price.