Matter Aera 5000+ review: An EV like no other

    Aera comes with its own unique quirks like a 4-speed gearbox.

    Published on Feb 15, 2024 10:47:00 AM

    11,648 Views

    Make : Matter
    Model : Aera

    The Matter Aera is an EV like no other and for two reasons. The first is that this is India’s first EV two-wheeler with a liquid-cooled powertrain and battery pack – even the high performance Ultraviolette F77 sticks with air cooling. But it’s the second one that really makes this machine unique – it has four gears just like a petrol motorcycle.

    Gujarat-based start up Matter says that its intention is to offer a traditional experience to those who wish to move from a conventional motorcycle to an EV. And that can be seen in the way the Aera is carefully designed to look like a normal motorcycle at first glance.

    Matter Aera design

    The electric motor and gearbox reside where you’d expect to see an engine, and to an untrained eye, that’s exactly what they look like. The bodywork is fairly conventional as well, with wide tank panels that will remind you of Apaches and Xtremes, depending on the viewing angle. It’s only the headlamp – with its unusual illuminated side panels – that comes across as different and futuristic.

    The sense of familiarity continues when you sit on the bike. The riding position feels quite ‘normal’ and the 790mm seat height manages to be both friendly for short riders as well as comfortable enough for bigger folks. Where you start to get the impression that this is a modern and advanced automobile is when you look at the instrument console.

    Matter Aera features 

    This 7-inch TFT display is larger than what you’ll find on most other bikes, and the graphics and layout are very nicely done. The display is hugely informative and the overall impression it creates is of an advanced machine. If you go by Matter’s claims, the Aera is exactly that, with the company registering around 450 patent and design trademark applications for this machine over the past five years.

    Some of these are for clever integration of the various systems in the platform, which optimises packaging and cuts down on the use of wiring harnesses. Others are for pretty complicated things at a core electrical engineering level that I’ll freely admit went right over my head. It’s always great to see an EV start up doing their own engineering and that appears to be the case here, which deserves appreciation.

    Matter Aera gearbox feel

    Nevertheless, at the end of the day, this is a motorcycle and you’re reading this to see how this motorcycle rides, so let’s get to it. Simply put, the Aera rides like nothing else I’ve experienced – petrol or electric. The in-house developed 10.5kW/26Nm motor is coupled to a four-speed transmission that you use just like on a normal motorcycle. Pull in the hand lever, push the foot gear selector down into first gear (one-down, three-up), twist the accelerator and away you go.

    Of course, there are some big differences too. For example, you can slot the bike into gear but still push it forwards and backwards even with the clutch lever released because there is no engine compression holding the bike in place. In a similar vein, you won’t have any ‘engine braking’ on the move and there is no engine to stall either. So you can fully release the clutch lever and ride the bike using just the accelerator without any clutch slip required at any point.

    The only time you’ll need to use the clutch is when shifting gears, and that’s when things get strange. Unlike a petrol engine, there is no real sound or feeling from the motor that tells you it’s time to shift gears. So essentially, you accelerate until the bike hits what feels like a speed limiter, then shift up and follow the same process again.

    Matter Aera performance

    To its credit, Matter has done a good job with the feel of the clutch and accelerator response as you change gears, but that doesn’t overcome the fact that this whole process seems counterintuitive to the essence of what makes EVs enjoyable to use.

    The instant, torque-rich response when you twist the accelerator open is what makes EVs a joy in the city. The Matter Aera can feel that way too, but only if you are in the right gear at the right speed. Try making a quick overtake in a higher gear at a lower speed and you’ll be greeted by a sluggish response that demands a downshift or two.  

    Nevertheless, performance in Sport mode is brisk if the bike is in the right gear. Matter claims a top speed of 105kph and a 0-60kph time of ‘under 6 seconds’. Even the mid-level City mode feels good to use with a top speed of 80kph. That being said, the performance isn’t game changing and neither is the claimed 125km range (in Eco mode), despite the fact that this 5kWh battery pack is the biggest in the class.

    Matter Aera shortcomings, areas of improvement

    That primarily comes down to one reason – weight. At 169kg, the Aera is nearly 30 kilos heavier than the Tork Kratos and about 50-60kg heavier than the Revolt RV400 or most electric scooters. So while the Matter bike has some unique efficiency boosting features like the liquid cooling system and 4-speed gearbox, these things carry the drawback of extra weight.

    With the combined effect of the motor, gearbox and chain drive, this is quite a loud EV. However, Matter isn’t pitching this as a sporty machine and it is instead designed to be rugged enough to handle the worst of our road system. On most roads, ride comfort is decent, but if you hit bigger bumps or speed breakers, the suspension feels under-damped at both ends and tends to pitch the rider out of the seat.

    The Aera comes with disc brakes at both ends and single-channel ABS is standard, which is an improvement over both the Tork and Revolt. However, the initial bite on the front brake is quite dull and with all the mass this bike carries you need to give the lever a hard pull for quick stops.

    The bikes we rode were pre-production prototypes and as is often the case, our experience was not entirely problem-free. Beyond the usual issues of inconsistent finish quality and large panel gaps, my bike also randomly shut down during the ride and could only be restarted when some engineers used a laptop to revive it. We were later told it was due to an “earthing detection around the horn area on the low voltage side that activated a programmed fault protection in the vehicle”. The company says that the fault will be rectified by the time production vehicles reach customers.

    Matter Aera verdict

    Matter says that it intends to begin production by the end of this quarter or early next quarter. Deliveries will start in Ahmedabad first with the target of opening dealerships in 100 cities by the end of this financial year. The Aera is available in two variants, with the base model getting all the hardware, including the lovely 7-inch TFT. But it misses out on some connected features. Prices start at Rs 1.74 lakh for the Matter Aera 5000 and go up to Rs 1.84 lakh for the Aera 5000+ you see here.

    That puts the bike on par with much quicker petrol machines like the Yamaha R15, Karizma XMR and even the Honda CB300F, but it's also on par with the Tork Kratos R. The key question now is how well Matter is able to ramp up its production and quality, and how customers will take to this unusual concept of a geared EV. Time will eventually tell.

    Also See:

    Matter Aera 5000+ electric bike video review

    Tech Specs

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