Anmol (31) and Alankrit Bohre (28), brothers and founders of Bhopal-based Enigma Automobiles Private Limited, share a genuine fascination with the popular café racer motorcycle subculture, which came out of urban England back in the 1950s. It’s a subculture which encompasses a love for speed, rock ‘n’ roll music and a lasting love for motorcycles.(Above image of Enigma Automobile’s Café Racer on the right and co-founder Anmol Bohre on the left)
Café racers began as classic British-made street bikes. However, those who embraced rock ‘n’ roll music and lifestyle in England wanted to customise them for faster speeds.
After stripping down parts deemed unnecessary, getting rid of the original bike seats and designing them to fit just one person, and fitting dropped handlebars and racing fuel tanks, the original street bike was turned into a machine that was meant to be fast and ruthless.
This movement had a significant impact on the industry in later years with café racer bikes like Triumph’s Bonneville, Honda’s CB-750 and Kawasaki’s Z-1. Café racer “came from what’s a derisive term used to describe kids who hung out in cafés and raced fast”, notes author and journalist Mike Seate, who has closely followed the movement.
Paying homage to the movement, the Bohre brothers from Bhopal have designed and developed an electric version of this bike, which they have aptly called the Café Racer.
“I’m a hardcore bike enthusiast, who along with my group of friends love to go for long road trips. One of my friends has a Continental GT, a café racer motorcycle, which was a trend in India back in the 1970s. These were good machines. This inspired me to create an electric bike for young people passionate about riding hi-tech performance bikes. We started working on the Café Racer in 2019, and then India went through a long lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We utilised the extended lockdown period in designing and developing the bike in our factory,” says Anmol, in a conversation with The Better India.
Top Notch Features
Slated for sale in March 2022, the Café Racer offers a battery range of 140 km on a single charge and top speed of 136 kmph. A Hub Motor shall power it with a peak power of 5.6 KW. The spoke wheels of the motorcycle shall come with over three years tire warranty.
This range of e-bikes is powered by a 72V 50 Ah LifePo4 (Lithium Ferro phosphate) battery cell, which can offer up to 5,000 charge cycles with a mileage of around 140 km on a single charge on City mode. One can charge it at a standard charging station in 3 hours for a 0-80% charge or 4 hours for a full charge. To charge it entirely, the e-bike requires about 2.4-3 units of electricity. At the same time, the battery will come with a five-year warranty as well, claims Anmol.
The based venture also claims that all the components are sourced from Bhopal itself. The entire e-bike is made in Bhopal, except for the motor, controller and cell, which are not available in the country (particularly the cell). They are also trying to develop an in-house controller wherein the consumer can have the mobile app linked to it and can obtain updates about the vehicle about its speed, range and available battery for the vehicle
“Cafe Racer is an uncharted segment in the EV industry. The bike is designed especially for the younger generation passionate about riding. The experience of the ride will be at par with its IC engine counterparts. Our e-bike offers the complete ‘retro and legacy’ experience to the biker, keeping in mind sustainability,” he adds.
Going Retro, Yet Modern
Café Racer is the cross between the two worlds; it seeks to provide the enthusiasm of a sports bike and the comfort of a cruiser. But the e-bike has an undeniably retro look.
“This is not your traditional scooter or bike. We have also created another bike, but we launched Café Racer before because it’s close to my heart. Taking inspiration from the old café racer motorcycles, the process of designing our electric version was incredible. Of course, an e-bike isn’t as powerful as an IC-engine bike as of yet, but I’m sure we’ll get there,” says Alankrit.
But when can the Indian consumer ride the Cafe Racer on the road? Anmol informs that the entire process is almost finalised. They are on the cusp of processing the formalities required to make the e-bike eligible for the Government of India’s Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric vehicles (FAME-II) subsidies for buyers of EVs. In addition, there are a few technical hurdles the Bhopal-based Enigma Automobiles is clearing out as well on the e-bike.
“This e-bike is our dark horse on which we have been working for the past one and half years. We are betting big on it, but I don’t want to hasten the process and make any mistakes. In fact, a little delay isn’t such a bad thing to ensure we get everything right. By March 2022, consumers will have their e-bikes with them priced at Rs 1.4-1.5 lakh on the road, but after all the State and Central subsidies kick in, it’s likely to fall anywhere between Rs 1.1 lakh and 1.3 lakh,” says Anmol.
Meanwhile, certification from the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) and International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT) are on the verge of completion. The time consuming trademark process is still underway.
Establishing Enigma Automobiles in 2015, the Bohre brothers have come a long way from the time when they spent Rs 2.5 lakh of their own savings to make an electric rickshaw from scrap. Aside from Cafe Racer, the Bhopal-based company manufactures e-rickshaws and e-scooters with local manufacturing parts and offers them at 40% cheaper rates than their polluting counterparts.
“We have a manufacturing unit at Mandideep, Bhopal and Uppal Hyderabad spanning over 60,000 sq.ft in aggregate, which has the capacity to manufacture 60,000 vehicles per annum. We aim to further expand our manufacturing set up to meet business goals. Thus far, we have sold an accumulation of over 5,000 smart electric two-wheeler vehicles in India. We aim to expand across Asia, Europe and Latin America by the calendar year 2022,” says Anmol.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)