Home Cars & Bikes Silence S01 electric scooter – Review

Silence S01 electric scooter – Review

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Silence S01 at Kleinmond harbour's jetty

South Africans are switching on to electric transport, despite Eskom’s intermittent supply. Unfortunately, electric cars cost upward of R700 000, making it hard for South Africans to tap into the low running cost EVs offer. That is, unless they embrace electric two-wheelers, like the Silence S01.

What is it?

The Silence S01 is a premium electric scooter, with performance similar to that of a 125 cc petrol scooter, designed, engineered, and built in Spain Why premium? Because it has a multi-purpose removable battery, very good overall quality, and features like a powerful smartphone app and all-LED lighting. Its pricing is premium too, but more about that later.

Main features and specifications

  • Removable, multi-purpose lithium-ion battery
  • 7 kW motor (9 kW peak power)
  • Low running cost
  • 5 000 km service intervals
  • Acceleration: 0-60 km/h in 3,9 seconds
  • Top speed: 100 km/h
  • Maximum range: 127 km
  • Reverse gear
  • Side stand and centre stand
  • Disc brakes front and rear (ABS optional)
  • USB sockets
  • Powerful smartphone app
  • Seating for a passenger
  • Large under-seat storage with room for two open face helmets

What’s included?

The scooter’s retail price of R130 000 includes the battery and a charging cable. Additional batteries are available at R79 350 each. Silence South Africa is introducing a battery leasing scheme, which allows customers to buy the scooter – without the battery – at a reduced price. Besides leasing the batteries, Silence scooters (and Silence nano cars) will also be available on leasing plans.

Is it easy to use?

The S01 is as easy to use and ride as a petrol scooter is. Turn it on and pull the brake lever on the left while holding the mode button in for about a second. You’ll hear a beep, which means the scooter is ready to ride. If you turn the throttle now, the S01 will go forward. You can use the reverse function to manoeuvre it in tight spaces. Just hold down the reverse button and gently open the throttle.

A battery on wheels

Before all of that can happen, the battery has to be charged. Plug the power cable directly into the scooter or remove the battery from the scooter and charge it like you would a large power bank. It takes 6-8 hours to charge from empty to 100 percent. A full battery provides a maximum riding range of about 120 km.

The battery is unique in that it has pop-out wheels and a telescopic handle. This allows you to push or pull it to your preferred charging location. The battery is compact, but at 40 kg it’s not as easy to push around as an 7 kg airline cabin suitcase.

Charging the Silence S01's battery

Harvesting energy

Charging from a wall outlet isn’t the only way energy can flow into the battery. In the same way an electric car harvests energy when it coasts or brakes, the S01 uses that kinetic energy to boost the batteries state of charge, albeit in small amounts. This doesn’t add tens of kilometres to its range, but every little helps.

The right brake lever activates a mechanical brake on the front disc brake and the ‘regenerative brake’ (the motor) on the rear wheel. This adds power to the battery, as described above.

The left brake lever activates a mechanical brake on both the front and rear discs.

Riding the S01

At 150 kg, the S01 is heavier than the average 125 cc scooter, which weighs about 110 kg. Yet it’s easy to thread the Silence through traffic and win pole position at the next set of traffic lights. The S01 is quick: When the light turns green and you open the throttle, it looks as if the cars behind you have stalled their engines. Silence says the S01 needs 3,9 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60 km/h.

To extract the maximum performance from the scooter, switch it to Sport mode. There are three modes, selected via the Mode button. They are:

CITY

Silence says CITY is a suitable every-day riding mode, giving good performance and balanced consumption. It’s the default mode when you switch the scooter on. It allows limited regenerative braking. The top speed in this mode is 85 km/h.

SPORT

This riding mode gives you more power and speed. Frequent use of the SPORT mode decreases the scooter’s range as it uses more power. Full regenerative braking is available. Maximum speed: 100 km/h.

ECO

This mode is for more relaxed riding, with limited speed and acceleration. It gives the S01 the best possible range. Regenerative braking is not available and the top speed is 67 km/h.

The S01 has a comprehensive set of LCD instruments showing the remaining distance (before empty) and battery percentage, battery and inverter temperatures, ambient temperature, riding mode, speedo, odo, trip, and other information.

What we liked about the S01

There’s much to like about this innovative scooter. Here are a few of its standout attributes.

Besides powering the scooter, its 5,6 kWh battery can also function as a large capacity power source. If you connect the inverter, which Silence sells as an accessory, you can power or charge various electric devices, such as a computer, television, coffee maker, or microwave, for example.

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The ease of moving the battery is another feather in Silence’s cap. The small space for the S01 I had in my garage is too far from a plug point, so I liked the ease of removing the battery and wheeling it to the power outlet.

Riding the S01 is fun, because all of the motor’s torque is instantly available, but there’s no vibration and no noise. And if you say you enjoy the sound of a petrol engine, you’ve never heard the unpleasant whine of scooter with a CVT transmission (which most scoots have).

Screen shots of the Silence S01's app

Another likeable feature is the associated Silence app. It has plenty of useful functions, like allowing others to ride the scooter without using the ignition key. You can also open the seat and activate the alarm remotely. Additionally, the app shows where your scooter is at any given time and informs you if it was tipped over.

Where can Silence improve the S01?

The battery is heavy and it can tip over easily. A rebalancing of its internals would be welcome, but maybe Silence’s engineers are on it already. With improving energy density, future Silence batteries could be lighter, while packing more than 127 km of range.

Self-cancelling indicators would be a fine addition, especially since the S01 could appeal strongly to new riders who easily forget to turn them off.

And finally: The S01 isn’t exactly overpriced, but Silence might reduce the scooter’s sales price if they can be built in India.

Conclusion and rating

At R115 000, the Silence S01 is over four times more expensive than the 125 cc Suzuki Burgman Street and more than double the sticker price of a Yamaha NMAX 155. Still, it’s cheaper than the entry-level Vespa Primavera 150 ABS (R140 000) the electric Vespa Elettrica Red (R210 000), or Energica’s motorcycles.

Besides being a fun ride that uses cheap ‘fuel’, South Africans will find the S01’s battery a useful weapon against the chaos that the criminal mismanagement of Eskom has caused.

The Silence S01 scores 5 out of 5.

5.0 out of 5.0 stars
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