Ola S1 Pro first ride review
From electric to ICE vehicles, Ola S1 Pro has to be one of the most awaited two-wheelers in the country this year. Most of us are well versed with the specs and the features that it comes with by now, and at last, Ola has given us the opportunity to test it out and tell you what its first electric offering for the country is like to ride. Without further ado, lets jump right into it shall we?
Design and engineering:
The Ola S1 Pro's bodywork consists of just five smooth and curvaceous coloured panels, and the smiley-face LED headlight unit gives the scoot a youthful face while its rear section looks neatly rounded-off with the grab handles and an exterior charging port. Sad that the external lid to the charging port as well as the home charger (adapter) for the battery that comes along with it can't be locked, and could be prone to tampering. The features of the S1 Pro that really stands out are its broad, comfortable seat and that awesome high-resolution 7-inch TFT touchscreen with its sim connectivity and Bluetooth support.
The single-sided telescopic fork suspension gives you a good view of the front alloy, which is unique and appealing. Now, a keen eye will notice a couple of gaps in the panels, also the rubber mats that are attached to the footboard don't sit flush on the scooter too which did look a bit off. The switchgear comprise all rubber-coated buttons that feel good to the touch and appear to work well. Paint quality is good and I personally fond the matte colour option scooters to look really classy. The S1 Pro also gets a USB charging port and even pair of speakers located below the handlebar, that can be used to imitate the sound of a scooter with a regular combustion engine or even show the world what kind of music you listen to, but we didn't get to test these features out this time around, because the scooters we rode didn't have these features enabled. The Pro variant also gets a voice assistant, but unfortunately it too wasn't enabled for us this time around. The main reason we were invited to ride this scooter at this point in time was to share with you, or opinions, on how the scooter is to ride and handle.
Coming back to the overall design of the scooter it looks very sleek, modern and well thought out, and Ola has professed that the S1 Pro will be a complete, knockout package by the time it reaches you for a test ride and even address these minor hiccups by the time deliveries commence which is towards the tail end of November this year.
The only design aspect of the S1 Pro that I didn't quite fancy all that much was the centre tunnel that runs from the front of the scooter, under the footboard to the seat. This prevents the S1 of having more a flat area for your feet, and if you have something you want to carry along with you between your legs, it won't sit flat between your feet. It's not an alarming problem, just that it's not all very convenient.
Performance and braking
The S1 Pro is powered by an electric motor that produces 8.5kW of peak power and 58Nm of torque at the motor shaft. It's the same motor on the lower S1 variant, just that the Pro gets a bigger 3.97kWh battery over the regular S1's 2.98 kWh unit, comes with additional features and the obvious added range. The Pro gets three riding modes that basically alter the way this Ola scooter accelerates which are normal, sport and Hyper. In Normal mode the S1 Pro is dull and very appropriate for noobs and the elderly. Throttle response is lacklustre and the scooter is conservative in its power delivery. In Sport the S1 Pro comes alive, and you'll experience a livelier throttle response and the sheer willingness to overtake other road users. Hyper mode is for when you really want to have some fun on the run or when you want to get to your destination in a jiffy. Here, the scooter will silently whisk you away at pace, where you'll notice the numbers on the digital dash climb briskly. Ola claims that the Pro can accelerate from 0-40kmph in 3secs, and it feels more than capable of managing this sprint time.
We rode the scooters in Hyper mode for most part, for two main reasons, one being that it's the most fun mode of the three to be in and two, we had a limited time with the scooter. But after riding around for about 15km, we found the scooter to lose power randomly when we had the throttle even moderately open at times, and when we raised the issue with Ola, we were told that the Scooter still was running an software that was in the Beta phase and due to the intensity of heat generated by the motor while Hyper mode was engaged, the sensors would tell the BMS or battery management system to manage power more conservatively, and therefore cut power as it saw fit. Ola says that the issue will be resolved by the time the company commences its test rides of the scooter, and we're waiting to see if this has been managed. But even so, if Ola doesn't manage to do so, this is definitely not something you'll want to experience when you're out on some traffic-riddled dual carriageway performing an overtaking manoeuver.
As far as braking is concerned, I found the brakes and tyres setup of the S1 Pro to be spot on. The 12-inch alloy wheels not only look the part, but they come with discs at both ends and more are clad in chunky 110/70 section MRF Zapper tyres which provide a good amount of grip. There's no ABS, but the scooter does feature a combined braking system which did its job well. The location we tested the S1 Pro at was paved, but quite rough and rather unfinished, and the tyres really held their own. The bite from the disc brakes is nice and strong, and can lock up if you're not careful. So, everything positive on this front.
Ride and handling
The S1 Pro is a very silent scooter. There are audible cues to tell you that the scooter has been switched on, and has entered ride, park and even reverse mode, but once on the run, the S1 Pro as quiet as a mouse. Wind and road noise is what you'll hear for most part, and although there is a bit of a whine from the motor as you pick up the pace, it's not really intrusive. I found the shapely seat to be very comfortable at a also, very accessible height for even for some vertically challenged riders. The turning radius is good, and if you're stuck in a tight spot while parking the reverse mode will help you out there.
The S1 Pro feels light on its feet and more importantly it's very rider-friendly. The Ola electric features a tubular chassis which allows it to exude commendable road manners and have sharp and almost effortless handling dynamic. It isn't shy of being chucked into a corner at speed as well. The front suspension is setup moderately stiff while the rear is on the softer side both work well to keep bumps at bay. What helps matters more, is the fact that the seat is soft and is broad which makes the arrangement very comfortable for the rider and pillion over short journeys. With its 162mm of ground clearance, the Ola S1 Pro comes across as a scooter that is capable of tackling the finest craters and potholes our governments can throw at it, basically stating a strong case for itself as being a comfortable, quick and feature-rich urban runabout.
We had a very limited amount of time with the S1 Pro and could only check out some of its basic functional features via the impressive 7-inch touchscreen like the underseat storage release and some basic settings. We didn't get to check out the more important range and charging capabilities. We did to experience the method in which the scooter regenerates power though. Now the S1 comes with a forced regeneration system - which basically converts kinetic energy to electrical energy while you're on the go, like conventional electric scooters, but by force-shutting the throttle. On most other electric scooters, you simply get off the throttle and you can feel the energy recovery system and the repulsion kick in. With the S1, you can release the throttle and go the opposite way to activate the recovery charge, which basically slows the scooter down in a manner similar to braking lightly. It's a unique way of going about it, but the only bit that I found to be a bit off is that if you're coasting with traffic on your tail and suddenly chose to engage force the regeneration function, there's no visual indication through the taillights that you're doing so and therefore this exercise could potentially have hazardous consequences.
As I mentioned before, we didn't get to check out most of the electronic aids and features like the cruise control and the host of options available once you connect your phone to the scooter. The main purpose of us getting our hands on the scooters was for us to share our experience on what the scooter is like to ride. And from what we've experienced so far, on the mechanical front, the Ola S1 Pro seems extremely likable. On the electrical front however, currently not so much so. The company has stated that it plans to swat all the bugs in the system by the time the first lot of customers get their hands on their electric scooters. So we'll just have to wait and see how that goes, eh?
The Ola S1 and the S1 Pro come with a standard warranty package of three years that covers everything on and within the scooter, from the moving parts to the electricals like the speakers and battery itself, which is a grand ol' thing. We've just sampled a bit of what the Ola Electric scooter has to offer, and to be honest, it's mostly sweet, with some unforeseen salty bits. It definitely has the potential to be a hit with the masses. But as of now, like the models we had a chance to get our hands on, and our testing of the scooter it's incomplete.
Starts Rs 1,10,149
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