The first time I got a mobile charger on my bike was just before the Bhutan trip. Picked up one of these from Redline+, and the thing went kaput within 4 months. What’s worse, 3 friends who had bought the same item ended up needing new ones, since this piece of shit died on them within a month. No replacement, no repairs, no support.
Highly recommended, NOT.
During one of the track days with Motovation, Bolt people had setup a stall and were selling their new mobile charging system for motorcycles. Bolt is a Hyderabad based startup, and the device is made in India, unlike most other systems in the market that are imported. I liked what I saw, so picked one up.
I’ve used Bolt for the last 5000 kms or so. At roughly half that distance, one of the brackets holding the socket broke off the handlebar. I called up the guys, they came over and replaced the whole kit, free of charge.
Here’s my full review of the Bolt motorcycle mobile charging system after about a year of usage.
Bolt mobile charger review: Value for money (9/10)
When I bought it, the cost was 1499, now it’s available at 1699, and that’s still pretty awesome. What you get in that money is the charger, 1.5m USB cable, a tank pocket for carrying the phone while charging, and access to the Bolt app. I don’t really care about the app or the pocket, reasons for which will be clear as this article progresses, but the hardware, the actual thing that you pay the money for, is extreme bang for the buck.
Most of the mobile chargers in the market are shitty Chinese imports, with costs from about 500 bucks to about 1500. They are hilariously unreliable, look crude, and suck at charging. The only competition that the Bolt has is the Resonate motorcycle mobile charger. I’ve seen the Resonate in action, and it does not, at all, justify the asking price of 3500 bucks. A friend had one, and it stopped working on the first ride.
In short, out of all the available options, the Bolt not only is one of the most reliable items, it’s also relatively cheap. The icing on the cake is the fact that it’s made in India, so you know, #MakeInIndia and shit.
Charging ability (10/10)
This is, by far, the biggest reason to buy the Bolt. The company claims that it charges as fast as a wall charger, and they know what they are talking about.
Most motorcycle mobile chargers in the market are kind of emergency devices, which means that you can’t depend on them to actually charge your device, but just to keep it barely alive. What you end up doing is over charge your mobile during the night using a wall socket, and then keep it connected to the charger on the bike more or less all day long to keep the battery somewhere above 25%.
Google Maps eats batteries faster than the Fat Bastard eats babies.
With the Bolt, there’s nothing to worry about. The charging is so quick you only do it while you’ve stopped for snacks. I don’t know if the magic is in the device or the wire, but if they say it’s 2 Amps of charge, it feels every bit as powerful.
On most mobile chargers, when you put Google Maps up on full brightness and with the charger connected, the battery slowly drains away, so you gotta keep switching the thing on and off. With Bolt, the charge actually increases with time, even with full-brightness, GPS on, and your favorite songs playing in the earphones.
It’s black magic.
Service and support (9/10)
Initially, you couldn’t just buy a Bolt. When you ordered one, a dude from Bolt came to your place, fixed up the charger, and went away. That was insane! As the company has expanded, they’ve now started selling on Flipkart and Amazon, and you get an instruction booklet, along with the option of phone support.
Installation is basically connecting the negative and the positive to the battery, securing the charging clamp, and hiding the wire. For an experienced enough mechanic the whole thing shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes, a bit more if your are DIY-ing.
The first time I got the charger, I believe the guy was a bit too happy, so he tightened the clamp a bit too much. When that broke I called the people up, and they sent the same guy shortly who replaced the whole thing. They offer 1 year replacement warranty in case of any defects, which is fucking awesome.
All in all, world-class service and support.
I’m not very good at taking care of things, and as much as I may love motorcycles, I don’t really worship them. My bike generally remains dirty, goes through extremes of weather changes, finds itself on a race track and then an off-road trail within hours of each other, and generally keeps shitting itself with the surprises that I throw at it.
The charger still works as good as day 1.
I guess the brilliance is in the design. The whole unit is in 2 parts, the battery connector, and the main charging unit. The battery connector is basically a long wire that brings the charge from the battery, clamps itself down on the handlebar, and waits for the main charging unit. The main charging unit has 2 male connectors that match up with the female anatomy of the connector, and that’s when your devices get charged via the USB socket on the main charging unit.
The whole thing is extremely light, and has no moving parts, so no amount of bumps seem to have any difference.
I would however, recommend reversing the mounting method of the main charging unit onto the connector. Right now, it’s in a direction that’s against the windblast that comes along, and theoretically, at fast enough speeds, it would fly away and hit the rider in the balls. If it’s in the same direction as the wind, I’ll feel a bit more secure about my unborn kids.
I haven’t used this device in rain, thanks to Hyderabad that hasn’t really heard of its existence. When I bought the device, I was told that using it to charge your phone in rain isn’t recommended, however you could remove the main charging unit and nothing would happen to the connector, no matter how much water falls over.
Their website now claims waterproof design, even while being used for charging, so I guess things have been updated a bit. Having said that, it’s rare that you’ll be charging something while it’s raining, since there’ll not be any place to keep that thing that’s being charged from getting wet, unless you’ve got a waterproof tankbag or something.
A temperature range of 0 to 75 degree Celcius is claimed where the device can work, and that’s pretty cool too. I haven’t used it in anything except heat and extreme heat, so I can’t really claim knowledge about its functionality in rain and cold. It apparently has short-circuit protection, and over-heating protection, but I have no idea how they work.
Ease of use (9/10)
This is the other area where this thing shines. Most mobile chargers come with a condom like cover to keep the water away from the USB socket, and you need to peel it off and put it back on every time you use it. As a consequence of that, it’s impossible for such devices to remain waterproof while being used.
The Bolt, due to it’s 2-piece design, should be usable even in rain.
While other mobile chargers come with on-off switches to keep assholes from sucking your battery dry, the intelligent design of the Bolt means that you can just pull away the main charging unit and keep in your bag when you are away, and your bike will still have life in the morning to crank up.
It’s light, it’s small, it’s easy to fit and remove. The Bolt is a pleasure to use.
Surprisingly, looks are important for a mobile charger mounted on a motorcycle, because this is India. Every time someone sees something on your bike that’s not generally there, there’s a massive itch in their foreskin that mind-bends them to mess with it. My old mobile charger was big, conspicuous. Many a times when I came back to my parked bike, the condom covers were unplugged, and once completely detached.
With the Bolt, the main head unit is there only when you are charging, and if you are charging something, chances are you’ll be there. When you are done, you pull the unit away, and what’s left is a rather inconspicuous looking black ring around your handlebar with 2 small holes in it. Nobody gives a shit about it.
With the charging head on, there’s a red light that shines up at the top, and it looks brilliant. It’s definitely the most beautiful looking, and still the most functional charger out there.
Extras – App and mobile holder (7/10)
The Bolt comes with 2 free extras, a mobile app, and a mobile pouch thingy to keep your phone on the tank while charging. I tried using the app in the beginning, but it was buggy, and I don’t really care for apps anyways, so I stopped using it after a few months. The pouch is ugly, and not very functional either, so I cut it away pretty soon as well.
The app is not bad though, it’s kinda like Google My Tracks, which unfortunately is going to be shut down soon. The Bolt app measures the distance you traveled, time, route and some other stuff too. It’s not bad if you are a wanderer and want to know the exact route you followed while riding aimlessly though the middle of nowhere.
The pouch is basically a piece of clear plastic surrounded by some fabric and 4 straps to tie it onto your tank. It’s free, so I won’t complain much, but it could’ve been designed far better. The only thing it’s good for is holding your phone while it’s charging, a task that can be done by your jacket pocket too. It’s not waterproof, fucks with the touch screen, and creates trouble with opening the fuel cap.
But then again, it’s free.
Highly recommended addition to any tourer’s bike. The things I love about this device are reliability, the speed of charge, and the ease of use, and there’s nothing out there that comes even remotely close to beating it, especially at that price point.
I know a lot of people who feel 1699 is a lot of money for a mobile charger, so they end up trying to use shitty cigarette lighters or the tiny USB charger from TVS Scooty. I’m sure those things work, but probably not for long, and even when they do they’ll never be able to perform at the level of an intelligently designed kit.
It’s OK to be cheap, it’s not OK to be a cunt. Buy it here.