Have electric scooters really come of age, or should you continue ignoring them on the grounds of hearsay?
While everybody knows, for a fact, that electric mobility is the need of the hour – no one’s quite yet ready to embrace it. One of the major roadblocks here is that we are still very apprehensive about the feasibility of owning an electric vehicle. Lately, though, things have been moving at a much faster pace, especially lower down the supply chain – the scooter segment to be precise.
Over the past few months, there have been many new e-scooters that have hit the market. Sure, you don’t see them flying off the shelves like conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) powered scooters, but some of these new-age electric scooters are really trying to make an impression on consumers. Take these two for instance, the Okinawa Ridge and Hero Nyx. Both are quite new and look promising. They’re priced quite reasonably as well. But can these really be considered as real alternatives to their fossil-fuel-sipping counterparts?
I’ll start with the Ridge first, since it’s the bigger, more powerful and the more conventional looking scooter here. But when I say conventional, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a simple or dull looking scooter. In fact, it looks quite sharp and attractive – thanks to an alien-like face because of its sleek front indicator housing. It also looks petite and proportionate. The dual-tone paint scheme livens up its appeal further, but the paint quality could have been better. Also, some panels do feel quite flimsy.
Equipment-wise, you get a lot of toys – including a central-locking system that’s controlled using a Maserati-like key fob. It also has a burglar alarm, which can be a bit of a nuisance since it’s a bit too sensitive. The instrument cluster is large and relegates all the necessary information like speed, distance and battery level reading. If you go full throttle, you’ll see 55km/h on the speedo. But if you ride along normally, you could get a range of between 80 to 90 kilometres before the battery runs out of charge. These are, of course, claimed figures. But, from what I observed, the scooter actually over-delivers – at least in regards to top speed. Surprisingly, I saw 62km/h on the speedo on one occasion.
It’s not the speed though, but the instantaneous throttle response and absolute silence of the Okinawa that’s quite amusing. It’s powered by a 0.8kW motor that sources power from a 60V 24Ah lead-acid battery. To charge it fully, you need to be patient since it takes anywhere between four to six hours. However, an optional fast charge that recharges the battery in one-two hours is also available if you’re feeling impatient.
Out of the road, as soon as you pull the throttle, you experience a slight delay from the motor – followed by a quick burst of acceleration. It’s very different from a regular scooter where power kicks in linearly and predictably. In fact, until you get the hang of it, riding the Ridge will be a bit of a jerky affair – especially in traffic. The brakes (both front and rear are drums) too feel quite wooden – although they do their job just fine. It’s also a nippy handler, since it has virtually no weight to lug around. The suspension setup, which comprises of telescopic forks at the front and twin spring loaded rear shocks, is a bit on the stiffer side – but doesn’t crash or hurt your internal organs when going through a pothole. On the practicality front, it has decent under-seat storage, although you can’t keep a helmet in it because of its squarish box – blame the battery-pack that’s mounted directly under this area for that.
If space and functionality are what you’re after, the Hero Nyx may come across as a more viable option. It’s a lot cheaper too. And unlike the Okinawa, you don’t need a driver’s license or registration to run this thing around – although I do hope that this doesn’t encourage people to allow their helmetless teenagers to run amok on these scooters.
There is, of course, a price you pay for the bargain that can be availed of here. First, it’s a much smaller 0.25kW motor that draws power from a 48V 20Ah lead-acid battery pack. Performance, as a result, is not quite as brisk. I was struggling to catch a hold of the Okinawa – even when the latter had a pillion on-board. The Hero has a top speed (claimed) of 25km/h, but, again, I repeatedly saw speeds of over 30km/h on the speedo. On a full charge, the Nyx will have a range of 65 kilometres – but recharging the battery pack will take a painstakingly long seven-to-eight hours. Some of my other grouses are regarding the instrument cluster, which is a simple unit with analogue gauges for both speed and battery level. The quality and fit-and-finish of materials is also not as good as the Okinawa.
Despite the aforementioned shortcomings, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Nyx. I, for one, like its quirky design and squarish lines. And, because of its unusual proportions – especially that long-ish wheelbase – there’s a lot of space for the rider. The footboard too has loads of space, and the seats are large and comfortable. And then there’s its party piece – a foldable rear seat. It serves two purposes – one is that you get a flatbed surface to tie your luggage to on to the back, and you can also use the vertically-hinged backseat as a comfy backrest. In addition to that, the Hero’s ride quality is also a smidgen better than the Okinawa. It’s also much, much easier to manoeuvre. The brakes, however, have a soggy feel and lack bite.
So, what did I learn after riding these two scooters around for a couple of days? Well, it’s a bit of an unnerving affair – they don’t make any noise, power delivery is instantaneous and they’re utterly smooth and effortless to ride. But, once you get used to their quirks, they start making a lot of sense. For daily errands, or running a small business, these two runabouts come really close to conventional scooters. Agreed, they aren’t quite up there in terms of performance, quality and practicality, but, on the upside, they’re priced lower than most of your regular scooters. Plus, they have lower running costs, and, most importantly, they don’t spew harmful gases into the atmosphere – which, really, is a good enough reason to take the leap of faith that these new-age electric runabouts require.
- Okinawa Ridge
Battery: 60V 24Ah Lead-acid type
Range: 80-90km (claimed)
Top Speed: 55km/h
Price: Rs.43,702 (Ex-showroom, Delhi)
X-Factor: Looks stylish, has adequate performance and is almost as good as a conventional scooter.
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