There is nothing permanent except change. Heraclitus said it and now so have I. Now, there is a reason why I am quoting a Greek Philosopher at the onset. You see unlike its modern widely used alternatives, a cycle has been a necessary invention that has been with us for centuries. And like the changes in your cityscape, a cycle has gone through its fair share of evolutions as well. Change has been the constant and today as the age dictates rectification, headed by a subsequent shift to all-things-electric, cycles have also stepped in the same direction. But unlike the gas guzzlers that have invited scepticism and dilemma, the case with electric cycles, all the way on the other end of the spectrum, is quite interesting. And making a strong case for the same are offerings like the one we recently got our hands-on. Say hello, to the Meraki Ninety-One e-cycle.
For a lot of us, the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown shed a bright light on the glaring absence of exercise in our daily lives. After a pretty long slump, my sedentary WFH lifestyle soon became a proper reason to get back on a cycle. This was also one of the reasons, why I was so eager to get my hands on a modern take of traditional cycles. An electric one.Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[q]Design and Build Quality[/q]
[ans]While looks are completely subjective, I must say that the Ninety-One is indeed a looker. The Matte Grey and Red paint scheme on our test unit did grab plenty of attention on the road. And during early morning rides across the town, a few cyclists couldn’t resist but ask about its specifications.
The gets plenty of Ninety-One badging all over the body. The paint quality on the cycle felt supreme with superior finish everywhere. The cycle also scores handsomely in terms of the quality of body components used. The welds at joints are almost invisible making up for a more premium appeal.[/ans]Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[q]Battery and Range[/q]
[ans]The Meraki Ninety-One gets a Panasonic cell that is neatly integrated with the down tube. Once I cleared the air with the deceived onlookers who mistook it for an ordinary cycle, the next question was about the range. Meraki claims a range of 33 to 35 km on a single charge, which quite frankly is not bad at all. I got the cycle with a charged battery and in a few days that I had I took a 10km trip twice and took a 4 km trip every morning. 6 days later I still had about 20 per cent of battery left.[/ans]Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[q]This over a Traditional Cycle?[/q]
[ans]Keep a traditional and an electric cycle side by side, and the only glaring difference which is also the reason behind the premium is convenience. An electric cycle makes the experience riding a bit more simple by cutting down on things that make cycling tedious for a lot. The Meraki Ninety-One comes with three pedal assist modes with changing levels of support from the 250watt electric motor at the rear wheel. While I did use the throttle on rare occasions, most of the job could be done with the low assist itself. The difference between the three modes is quite noticeable and the instant torque in high mode is likely to take some time getting used to.
While the electric assist and the throttle make things a little easier, the weight of the Ninety-One is considerably higher. Which means simple tasks like picking it up or getting it through the stairs will take more effort. Now it is easy to assume that the same weight could be a thorn on the rose for the cycle, but Meraki has done a splendid job in keeping the ride quality on par. There is little resistance from the chain components and the ride feels like a cakewalk. [/ans]Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[q]Ergonomics and Comfort?[/q]
[ans]The rider’s triangle on the Meraki is right on point. For someone like me, who measures 5 foot 7, the ride is bliss in a sweet spot between too upright and too leaned forward. In addition to this, if one does find an aching back, the handlebar has a protrusion where one can rest fingers while sitting upright. The cycle gets a stylish seat with Ninety-One badging that cosmetically looks quite appealing. However, this seemed a bit hard on our time, especially when you spend more time on the saddle.[/ans]Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[q]Did we spot Off-Road tyres?[/q]
[ans]The off-road tyres when I received the cycle, instantly grabbed my attention. So testing it on less-used paths that lead to beautiful places, was the first thing on my mind. I managed to put the cycle through ample of challenging conditions, but it only came out happy. The weight of the cycle does not hinder its capabilities and comes across as very agile. The Ninety-One gets a telescopic suspension at the front that comes with 80mm of travel. It is set on a slightly stiffer side, which is quite noticeable on poor roads. However, at the places where one might spend the most time – in the city, the suspension does an apt job.
Braking duties on the cycle is handled by 160mm discs at both the ends which we thought could have done with a bit more bite and feel.[/ans]Meraki Ninety-One. (Image: Anirudh Sunilkumar/News18.com)
[ans]A fleeting glimpse of the cycle won’t catch this. But the Meraki Ninety-One features a half-throttle on the handlebar, which is aimed at getting astride on the cycle safely without accidentally twisting the throttle. The cycle gets an e-brake feature that cuts off the motor if the throttle and brakes are used together. The same happens if the cycle crosses 25kmph.[/ans]
[q]Should you Get One?[/q]
[ans]For what it is built for, the Meraki does the job splendidly if not better. The cycle proves to be a well-thought product that covers and addresses pretty much everything that would raise questions in the mind of a Luddite. At Rs 31,000, it is a little more expensive, than offers like the Hero Lectric, but the filled-to-the-brim package makes it hard to just chuck from consideration. Hence, if you are looking to buy a premium cycle that falls in the bracket, going for an electric will only make the experience better, and if you are opting for an electric one, there is no reason to turn your head away from the Meraki Ninety-One. [/ans]