Tork Kratos R first ride review | The new benchmark of EV performance?
Tork Motors is no new company. In fact, they have been around for a while, from 2009 to be precise. Tork Motors founder took his first-ever prototype, the T1X and raced it competitively at the Isle of Man TT Electric GP category finishing on the third step of the podium. Ever since then, Tork has been committed to eventually making a properly viable everyday use electric motorcycle that doesn’t compromise on performance. In 2016 that Tork showcased a prototype — the T6X that was the embodiment of that philosophy and now, six years later, we finally have the final product, the Kratos and the Kratos R. We got to ride the higher-performance Tork Kratos R. What is it like and does it live up to the hype? Let’s find out.
Tork Kratos R design and features
In terms of design, the aim of Tork Motors was to create a bike that looks like a traditional 160-200cc ICE sporty naked and to that end, they have succeeded. The Tork Kratos looks sharp and well designed with an all-LED headlamp unit at the front.
From the side, the bike has a chiselled stance with sharp cuts and well-designed bodywork. The entire bodywork when looked at from the side resembles the shape ‘R’. Now, this is the Kratos R, which is the more performance-oriented variant of the Kratos and is available in four different colours — black, blue, red and the white one you see in these photos. The standard Kratos is available only in the white colour option.
For seating, you get a split seat setup and that in combination with the wide, flat handlebar and the relaxed footpegs makes for a comfortable yet engaging ride. The bikes we rode were still pre-production bikes and that showed in terms of the fit and finish levels. There were a fair bit of panel gaps and things like the side stand didn’t seem like the quality that you’d expect from a production bike. The Kratos R uses a simple LCD instrument cluster that displays the basic information including speed, distance to empty, which ride mode you are in, battery charge status and temperature. The Kratos R also gets a bunch of features over the standard bike, these include geofencing, find my bike, motor walk-assist (that lets you walk the bike at a slow speed in case of a puncture), ride analytics, smart charge analytics and more. The R variant also gets fast charging support which allows the user to charge the bike from 0-80 per cent in around an hour's time with the correct charger.
Tork Kratos R battery, motor and performance
On to probably what both you and I are most excited about — the performance. The Tork Kratos R gets a bigger 4kWh battery, 0.5kWh bigger than the unit on the standard bike and unlike what you would expect, this isn’t to extract more range but rather to extract more performance from the motor. The battery pack on the R variant gets lithium ion 21700 cells and this battery can also be fast-charged. Speaking of the motor, the Kratos R uses an axial-flux motor that is optimised for efficiency and it outputs 9kW of peak power and 38Nm of torque which is 1.5kW and 10Nm more than the standard variant. Since we didn't get a chance to ride the standard variant, I can’t reality comment about the performance differences. The extra power and torque mean that the Kratos R can accelerate to a higher claimed 105kmph top speed over the 100kmph top-speed on the standard bike while retaining the same 180km IDC (Indian Driving Cycle) or 120kmph claimed real-world range.
Sounds good right? Well, I thought so too and I felt so too when I started riding. But unfortunately, my excitement was short-lived. I had the bike in my possession for around an hour and for the first 10-15 minutes it performed rather well. Performance was well within around 80 per cent of what Tork Motors claimed. It would accelerate with vigour all the way up to 70-75kmph and in a long enough stretch some of the lighter journos even managed to clock over 100kmph on the speedo. Acceleration wise it felt at par with a sporty 160cc bike. However after 15 minutes of use, the battery and motor started to overheat, sending the bike into limp mode. The throttle response became choppy and the bike was almost unusable. Because of this, I couldn’t really keep track of how fast the range was depleting and honestly, any report based on riding like this would be simply inaccurate. I can’t really talk about any other performance parameters either apart from saying that there is promise with this powertrain setup but a lot of work needs to be done before Tork Motors can sell these bikes to customers.
Tork Kratos R chassis, ride and handling
The Tork Kratos R uses a split tubular frame with the battery pack as a stressed member of the entire setup. The bike is suspended on telescopic forks up front and a monoshock at the rear. In terms of ride, the Kratos R is fairly comfortable and it soaks up bumps well. The chassis setup does inspire confidence and the bike handles well even for sporty application. It is agile and flickable and easy to tip into corners and once tipped in it is predictable and holds the line well. The only problem was the badly-calibrated throttle which cuts power when in a corner and can lead to a nasty accident.
In terms of braking, you get disc brakes at both ends with the safety net of a combi-brake system. The brakes work well under regular use with acceptable levels of bite and feedback but under hard/emergency braking both the front and rear are rather unpredictable and this was true for multiple test bikes. Under hard braking, the front end would wobble a fair bit almost making you feel like the front wheel has come undone. The rear wheel under similar braking would start hopping not inspiring much confidence. So like with the motor and battery there’s a lot to be rectified before the Kratos R is properly road ready.
Tork Kratos R price and verdict
The Tork Kratos R comes with a price tag of Rs 2.07 lakh ex-showroom Pune. Considering that this does qualify for FAME II and other government subsidies for EVs, the effective ex-showroom Pune price tag of Rs 1.23 lakh. For what the Tork Kratos R promises in terms of features, range and performance, I feel that the price tag is extremely justifiable. But that’s just the thing, a lot of what was promised just hasn’t been delivered upon. The powertrain is far from ready, the chassis needs some serious mending and before all of that is done I just can’t get myself to recommend that you spend your hard-earned money on this bike. So to conclude, there is a lot of promise with the Tork Kratos R and it definitely has the potential to be a solid alternative to a 160-200cc performance-oriented ICE motorcycle. But a lot needs to be done to the bike before it can actually bridge that gap.