The BharatMala ride crosses 5,000 kms with unforgettable memories for the StartupnRev team
The ambitious attempt to traverse the country on electric motorcycles spanning over 14,216 kilometers is gradually reaching the journey’s midpoint.
The journey is filled with many unforgettable memories.
The BharatMala initiative under StartupnRev saw the coming together of seven companies with the goal to break the current world record of 12,379 kilometers on EV motorcycles.
Flagged off on February 4 last month, the journey has seen the Mantis’ electric motorcycles traverse different terrain and weather conditions with more than 120 hours of continuous riding.
Enroute, BharatMala has many goals, with the primary one being - to foster entrepreneurship amongst students whilst addressing electric vehicle (EV) anxiety around performance, range and service.
The other focus of BharatMala is around environmental sustainability as the motorcycles are electric vehicles, which do not run on fossil-based petrol. Besides, it also tests the ruggedness and durability of these vehicles during this long countrywide ride.
Every trip needs preparation and the team of BharatMala undertook a detailed exercise like route planning, terrain mapping, weather reports, planning overnight halts, liasoning with participating colleges, onboarding sponsors, vehicle finalisation, service technician training, riding gear, test rides, etc.
However, the best of the plans could be derailed. For starters, the Pilot (4X4) vehicle, one of the crew member, and a service engineer trained for close to a month dropped before the ride due to COVID-19 and personal issues.
The BharatMala team was unfazed with this development and continued, but the real test began once the team hit the road.
The support vehicle with Shiva our driver - From @Adventrip
Travelling across different parts of the country brings its own joys as one is exposed to different cultures, geographies, cuisines and people. Added to this was the sheer excitement of meeting young minds at various colleges enroute.
There were a lot of challenges that the team had to face during the trip. For example, the riders had to move away from the planned roads due to bad road conditions and shift to alternate tracks. All this resulted in reaching the pre-decided destinations later than anticipated.
The biggest challenge that the BharatMala team faced was with charging batteries as the whole job of swapping and charging took more time than expected. In many places, there was no infrastructure available to charge the batteries.
The team had to make do with whatever charging points that were available be it the hotel rooms, gyms and even garages.
It was then the team decided to rope in another partner - Bolt Earth for battery charging along with Charzer. The decision was made in Chennai and since then it was a smooth ride along the eastern coast of India upto Guwahati.
The BOLT and Charzer charging stations@work
EV servicing was new to everyone. BharatMala’s servicing partner, SpareIT, took over this function by deploying a service technician through the 54-day journey. Battery swapping and work on the electric motorcycles were done to ensure safety and also ensuring that it was ride-ready everyday.
Satyajijt from SpareIt to ensure the EV bikes are up and onward, everyday!
Another pivot saw the addition of one more rider to the trip as the Pilot with a few more changes to ensure that there were no more hiccups on the charging front. The Mantis riders were now Gautam & Prajwal- Cofounder of Orxa energies on the next leg.
The crew now included a Pilot Motorcycle, 2 Mantis’s, the support vehicle & the PotHole filling truck
The team has interacted with over 2,000 students spanning across Alvas College in Mangalore, Government Engineering College in Kannur, Crescent University in Chennai, Vignan Institute of Technology in Vishakapatnam, BIT Mesra in Ranchi, DBMS High school in Jamshedpur and Techno Group of Institutions in Kolkata. Every interaction was energetic with active involvement from faculty and students of the elite educational institutions.
While the journey is expected to culminate on March 29, the team has reached Guwahati. And through these 5,000 kms, the journey has brought about its own experiences unique for each team member.
John Kuruvilla and Gautam Khot, Mentors at Brigade REAP and experienced bikers had this to say about the electric motorcycle - Mantis from Orxa Energies. “The vehicle handles extremely well even in places where there are more potholes than roads.”
Orxa Energies co-founder Dr Prajwal Sabnis said, “Initially, we were wondering how the Mantis motorcycles would perform in such grueling conditions. But as we complete 4,500 kms on the vehicles, we’re happy to note that the Mantis performed beautifully, even at highway speeds.”
This was also a learning experience for Orxa Energies as they have made note of the few upgrades on the vehicle to be incorporated before Mantis gets into commercial production.
The Mantis are now entering a challenging journey into the North East with rain, slush and almost no roads in many places.
One of the team partners of BharaMala has been PotHoleRaja, which has got the lofty ambition of making India Pothole free. They have already fixed over 115 potholes and have received enthusiastic volunteers across different cities.
The automated pothole fixing machine
PotHoleRaja cofounder, Sourabh Kumar says, “The dream that we have of making India a pothole-free country can definitely be achieved by this type of support and with the use of latest technology.”
Additionally, the adventure-cum-awareness trip got sponsorship support from CEAT, Amace, 6KIOM, BOLT, Sarva- Shagun Infra, besides hospitality partners such as Avatar Hotels, Le- Pension, Lemon Tree hotels, Ginger hotels, The Sonnet Hotel, Jamshedpur, JW Marriott Kolkata & Highway Delite.