Super Soco TS1200R: super light, super silent but super slow
There could be a bright future for clean, electric motorbikes – we just hope they go a little quicker than this one.
I’m used to riding a 125cc Honda CBF125, which is pretty titchy as motorbikes go. The Super Soco is tinier still, making mine look like the muscle-bound Arnie of the motorbike world. But using just £1 of electricity for every 160km (100 miles), while boasting zero-emissions and zero-tax, the Super Soco might be an attractive option for urban transport.
What’s to like?
Tipping the scales at just 72kg (compared to 128kg for mine) the Super Soco was easy to chuck around and even the feeblest person would have no problem riding it. Plus, it’s got a low seat height and I could easily get my feet flat on the floor, making it ideal for shorter riders. However, absolutely every bump in the road judders up through your body, making the tiniest little dints feel like honking great potholes.
As the battery drives a rear wheel-integrated motor, there is no chain or belt, cutting down on the moving parts of a motorbike and therefore reducing maintenance. It’s got a pretty nifty LCD screen that gives you information about remaining battery life, speed, time and temperature. Plus, when you turn the bike on, it gives a satisfying start-up tune, which pleased me very much.
It’s push-to-start and keyless, so as long as the smart fob is in your pocket you can ride the bike. It also comes with a clever anti-theft device, whereby the wheels will lock up and the alarm will sound if any thieves try to make off with it. And it just looks cool, with halo-like LED headlights, a sleek, carbon steel frame, and skinny wheels.
The Super Soco comes equipped with a removable lithium battery, which you simply take out from the ‘fuel tank’ and charge up in your home or office. This means you can park it anywhere, without having to drive around desperately looking for a charge point. Be warned, though, the battery weighs 12kg (15 per cent of the bike’s weight), so you get a mini workout every time you need to juice up. Charging takes around seven to eight hours, and a full charge should last 48km (30 miles), which is plenty enough for most people’s commutes.
What’s not so great?
The Super Soco is freakishly silent. It makes no noise whatsoever, making it feel more akin to a bicycle than a motorbike. While this is lovely and relaxing for your ears, it is also incredibly disconcerting. Bikers are more vulnerable than car drivers at the best of times, but at least have some engine noise to alert other motorists to their presence. With the Super Soco, I found I was on high alert for people cutting me up, or pedestrians walking out in front of me.
It’s also not very fast. This electric motorbike comes with three ‘gears’, which are changed with your thumb, but even in the fastest third gear – sport mode – you’re still limited to a snail-like 45km/h (28mph). Throughout my trip I felt guilty driving along a 30mph road with a big queue of traffic building up behind me – especially when the speed dropped to a piffling 25mph when climbing a hill (we have a lot of those in Bristol). While it’s fine for pootling about in urban traffic, larger roads or dual carriageways would be out of the question, unless you had a death wish. I finished the ride with cramp in my throttle hand – I think this is where I had desperately been trying to give it more welly when there was no more welly to be had, rather than poor design ergonomics.
Plus, despite a biker friend telling me that an electric motorbike would be “torque-y as hell”, I was left sadly disappointed with the lack of whoomph of the Super Soco. However, this could be due to me being offered the bike with 15 per cent battery; at full charge it is apparently a bit nippier.
Price: £2,349, http://supersoco.co.uk/
Top speed: 45km/h (28mph)
Max power: 1,950W
Max torque: 120Nm
Battery: Maintains 80 per cent performance after three years
Warranty: Three-year battery warranty, two-year parts/labour warranty
Extra battery: £799
License: Need to be at least 16 years old, with a CBT
The bikes are designed and made in China, and are the outcome of a joint project between Australian electric scooter company V-Moto and a $15m Chinese crowd-funded venture. All good stuff, but there was a label on the faux fuel tank urging me to ‘please make sure steering unlock before driving – safe driving and wearing a helmet’. If there are simple mistakes like this on the label, then what other errors could be lurking under the hood, so to speak?