It’s been over a year since Bajaj Auto unveiled the all-new Chetak, resurrecting an iconic name from one of the company’s most famous scooters. This time, though, it’s just ‘Chetak.’ There’s no mention of Bajaj or Urbanite, the latest electric vehicle vertical that the Chetak electric is part of. So it’s just called Chetak, and it’s also a return to the scooter segment for Bajaj, but in electric form. So, how does the current Chetak compare to the old one? Is the word Chetak still relevant in the twenty-first century? We took some time to familiarise ourselves with the new Chetak electric scooter.
The Bajaj Chetak is a household name because it was once one of the scooters that accounted for more than 75% of Bajaj Auto’s sales. It was manufactured from 1976 to 2006, with a four-stroke engine in its final years, and had a 10-year waiting list at one point. Although Bajaj Auto discontinued scooter production in the early 2000s to concentrate on the motorcycle market, the iconic Chetak brand has returned, with an electric scooter unveiled last year. We’ve finally gotten a chance to test out the ‘new’ electric Chetak.
The Chetak electric scooter hits you as chic, trendy, and contemporary the moment you see it. There’s no denying that it’s a beauty, and it’s certainly one of the best-looking scooters on the market right now. Each curve along the Chetak’s body speaks volumes about its fit and finish. The headlight is LED, and it’s surrounded by a strip of LED DRL, giving it a futuristic feel. A small grille, resembling an air intake, can be seen on the front apron, and a similar-looking scoop can be seen on the tail end. The nice-looking 12-inch alloy wheels are revealed by the trailing link front suspension and single-sided swingarm.
The lighting is all LED, and the turn indications are complex, close to those used on high-end luxury vehicles, giving a touch of elegance. There’s plenty of room under the bench, all 18 litres of it, and both the seat and the glove compartment open with a remote. The soft-button, back-lit switches are a good touch, and the Chetak seems to be a well-made, attractive scooter overall.
The Chetak’s best aspect is its architecture, which is almost a textbook description of a neo-retro design, with a traditional silhouette yet futuristic elements. Although there are some unique features and parts, the architecture has a familiar feel to it, and it looks a lot like a Vespa, especially the Vespa Elettrica sold in Europe.
Tech & Ergonomics
The LCD instrument console is the focal point of the Chetak’s features. It has a black and white background with well-organized fonts. It’s easy to read, and a dedicated My Chetak app for Android and iOS offers Bluetooth connectivity. You can monitor music streaming from the left handlebar once you’ve connected your smartphone via Bluetooth, and yeah, the LCD display also displays real-time range, state of charge, the time, and odometer and trip metre readings. You can also use the My Chetak app to access features like vehicle location, vehicle status, and security geo-fencing.
In a nutshell, the ergonomics are fine! The riding posture is instantly relaxing; the handlebar settles into place, and the floorboard is wide and at a reasonable height (unlike some electric scooters where you have to bend your knees quite a bit, thanks to the battery placed under the floorboard). The seat is well-padded and has ample space to perch comfortably.
Performance & Dynamics
From the start, the Chetak feels easy, intuitive, and comfortable. While there isn’t a surge of fuel, the mid-range has enough grunt to keep up with the city’s traffic. The electric motor produces approximately 3.8 kW of continuous power (roughly 5 bhp) and 16.2 Nm of peak torque at 1400 rpm. We saw a top speed of 70 kmph, which is more than enough to keep up with traffic in smaller cities, but for larger cities like Mumbai or Delhi, a little more top speed would be welcome. A top speed of about 80 kilometres per hour would have made the Chetak much more attractive in terms of efficiency.
The Chetak has a trailing link front suspension, which, considering the absence of telescopic adjustment, offers a smooth ride over potholes, speedbreakers, and other obstacles. As bent over or under heavy braking, the Chetak stays planted around city corners and the tyres have more than enough traction. There are two riding modes: Eco and Sport, and although the rider can manually pick the setting, the mode automatically switches to Sport when the throttle is opened high in Eco mode. When the battery is low on charge, the mode flips to Eco to increase range.
On that note, we saw an actual range of about 80 km on a maximum charge during our joint sprint, which also included Sport mode use. The battery can also be charged using a 5A household outlet, which takes around 4-5 hours to complete. There is no quick charger available yet, and the public charging network is limited to Bajaj Pro-Biking outlets in Pune and Bengaluru, where the Chetak is distributed. The 3.0 kWh lithium-ion battery pack also comes with a 3-year/50,000 km warranty for the customer’s peace of mind.
Prices & Variants
The Chetak electric scooter comes in two different models: Urbane and Premium. A front disc brake, metallic finishes, subtly different seat leather, and different colours on the alloy wheels and floor mat are used in the top-spec Luxury model. The Urbane model costs $115,000 (ex-showroom), while the Premium model costs $120,000. (Ex-showroom). The Chetak is currently only available in Pune and Bengaluru, but Bajaj claims that by 2022, it will be available in 24 other cities across India.
The Chetak is unquestionably a fitting homage to a famous Bajaj name. It’s a likable scooter in electric shape, and it seems to be a well-built, well-finished scooter with all the technology and gizmos you’d expect from a new-age electric scooter. For the time being, the biggest downside is its lack of affordability, but this is expected to improve in the next year or two. The ‘fresh’ Chetak’s greatest asset is its style, which is combined with its simple rideability to make it a force to be reckoned with in the electric scooter market.