River Indie review - the no-nonsense e-scooter
We were back near the Nandhi hills in Bengaluru earlier this month, with some good weather on our side. The last time I rode here it was the Ultravoilette F77 and this time around I was in Nandi for yet another EV startup - River. Interestingly, the two founders of River are ex-Ultraviolette employees and that gives some credible background to the brand compared to tons of fly-by-the-night EV brands that keep mushrooming around the country. These guys, too, have come out of nowhere, but that's because they wanted to keep mum until their product was ready. So what you see here it is the River Indie - a very practical electric scooter that is big, spacious and good-looking in its own way.
It certainly looks quirky, but the bright colour options make you want to have one - especially this yellow! The cute face feels welcoming. There are foot pegs in the front too so that you can not only get a different riding posture when needed but also maximise floor storage when required. And when not in use, they are neatly tucked away. There are crash bars at the front and two floating brackets at the rear that you can tie small items to, use as an additional set of grab handles or mount River's bespoke storage panniers for some scooter touring. The tail section looks smart too. In fact, the River does look unique but doesn't try too hard to look outlandish and I like that approach.
The fit and finish and surprisingly good for a first-timer - the shut likes are consistent, the quality of paint, the stitching on the seats and the tactile feel of the switches etc. seem far better than some of the more established products in the market. Small River logos peppered around the vehicle also add a sense of detail. The cable management is clean too, but I would be more at peace if all the cabling around the motor and battery pack was covered/shielded too.
The River Indie is a large vehicle that dwarfs the likes of the Ola S1 Pro or the Ather 450. It may look intimidating at first, but get astride and its long length or 140kg weight seems to disappear even if you are a rider with a small frame. Getting a comfortable seating posture is easy and the motorcycle-like clip-on bars are within easy reach and don't mess with the knees of taller riders.
The large seat has a good grip and hides tons of storage space. At 43l, the boot volume is massive! Forget Ola or Ather, it can even put the BMW C400GT to shame. It will swallow a premium full-face helmet and still have space for the groceries and the charging equipment. That said, the boot lining has some rough edges which River must smoothen out before the scooter enters production. There is also 12l of additional space in the apron for your knick-knacks. This compartment can't hold the charging equipment, but you will need to open it every time you want to open the charging flap, which can get cumbersome. Speaking of charging, the River Indie ships with an 800V charger and charging times for zero to 100 per cent are between 5-6 hours.
Performance, Ride and Handling
Despite the "SUV of Scooters" tagline, the Indie doesn't offer a very plush ride. The setup feels a bit firm, and you will feel quite a bit of the road imperfections in your arms. But there is decent suspension travel to take on poor roads and potholes. The forks aren't through and through, but offer decent front-end feel and stability - whether you are riding in the city or around some winding roads. The MRF rubber and those 14-inch rims contribute further to that effect and provide excellent grip around corners.
But the broad floor and the 165mm ground clearance of the Indie limits your cornering clearance to a great extent so you can't really have much fun around the bends or even go off-roading with it. Think of this to be an electric maxi-scooter that will comfortably ferry you from point A to B with enough space for your shopping and spacious seating for two.
The River Indie is powered by a 4kWh battery pack that feeds juice to an electric motor with a 6.7kW peak power. The power output isn't anything to write home about but it does its intended job rather well. The motor isn't as silent as the TVS powertrain but is on par with Ather or Ola.
There are three riding modes to choose from - Eco, Ride and Rush. Rush is the sportiest of the three and allows the scooter to run at its full potential of a 90kmph top speed, with a crisp throttle response. In contrast, Eco mode will dull down the response and limit the top speed to around 55kmph to maximise range. The Indie locks itself in Eco mode when the battery drops below 12 per cent SoC but should you hit a flyover or an incline in the Eco mode, the powertrain will manage the current and provide you with full torque to be able to scale the slopes and not get you stuck in a situation the way the Ola S1 would, for example in a similar scenario. The Ride mode is where you will spend most of the time, though. It offers a fine balance of speed and performance and our onboard range estimates were in line with the 90km range estimate claimed by River for this mode.
All three modes also come with their own regenerative braking programs and the deceleration feels natural, to say the least. There is no ABS but the combined braking system works well to keep the deceleration in check and devoid of unnerving wheel lockups.
The scooter doesn't feel as brisk as the Ather 450X, but has an agreeable performance to go with its practical intent. And that is what I like most about the River Indie. It doesn't pretend to be the sportiest, fastest, quickest or sickest EV in the market. From its design to its performance, it takes an approach of utility and practicality; after all, that is exactly what a scooter should be. Its range and charging estimates are also on a par with the segment standards - so it seems to tick all the right boxes without feeling like a compromise. The only thing that remains to be seen is how soon River can set up its sales and service network and whether the pricing of this scooter remains accessible too, now that the introductory price of Rs. 1.25 lakh is no longer valid. Anything about Rs 1.6 lakh ex-showroom will send it into dangerous territory - so let us hope the price tag remains as sensible as the rest of the scooter.
Photography Arjun Dhawale
Starts Rs 1,10,149
Starts Rs 98,564