ales of electric motorcycles are big news for the bike industry; latest figures show that March registrations in this sector this year are up by 151 per cent over the same month in 2020, while nearly half of all new low-powered scooters are now battery powered.
Could it be because commuters, post-Covid, are fearful of rubbing shoulders with strangers on public transport, because it’s easier to filter past congestion caused by the spread of ‘emergency’ LTNs, or because they’re fun, relatively inexpensive to run and environment friendly?
It’s probably a mix of all three, but to find what all the fuss is about, I jumped on one of the latest new machines, the CPx ‘super-scooter’ from Super Soco, who claim it’s similar in performance to a 125cc two-wheeler.
Attractively styled, the CPx comes either with one battery, offering a claimed range of 44 miles, or two, offering a claimed range of 87 miles. The price difference between the two is significant, with the single-battery model costing £3,599 (after taking the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles grant into consideration) and the dual-battery model costing £4,699, demonstrating just how pricey battery technology still is.
The CPx comes in black, grey or silver, and is backed by a two-year warranty for the vehicle, three for the battery. It can be ridden on an A1 licence (requiring training, after which, if you pass the various test levels, you will be entitled to carry a pillion and ride on the motorway, although I wouldn’t recommend that on the CPx with its limited top speed).
Going into reverse
The Super Soco is reasonably well equipped, with a smart, clear LCD display, reasonably good build quality, a big, comfy (thought slightly too high) squashy seat, a tall, clear, protective screen, very decent rear-view mirrors, a useful parcel rack, a side stand as well as centre stand, and even a reverse mode (useful, perhaps, for getting out of tight front-garden parking spaces).
It is – of course – eerily quiet once you turn the key, and all it requires to get moving (there’s no clutch or gears) is a twist of the throttle, which sees the bike spring to life and surge forward thanks to its 4.8Kw (5hp) hub-mounted electric motor.
In London traffic it kept up nicely with other vehicles from a standing start; in fact its forte is leaping smartly away from traffic lights. Acceleration is reasonably swift and progressive (at least when the batteries are well-charged; during our brief assessment they didn’t drop below 80 per cent), right up to the claimed top speed of around 55mph.
The brakes (both operated by hand controls as with a bicycle) worked firmly and effectively, and the steering was sufficiently ‘quick’ to make filtering around other traffic very efficient indeed. It also felt grippy on the road in bends, despite having fairly narrow tyres, although we didn’t ride it in the wet.
Compared to the more basic model launched by Super Soco and reviewed here in 2017, the CPx is far more advanced. Thanks to the 16-inch front wheel the CPx felt stable and well able to cope with lumps and bumps in the road – at least at the front end. At the rear, where there’s a smaller 14-inch rear wheel, the CPx’s ability to soak up bumps was more limited; you need to slow down for sharper-edged ramps to avoid a jolt through the seat.
The CPx was very easy to push into and out of parking spaces (important in London), stable when parked on its side-stand and easy to hoist onto its equally-stable centre stand.
Despite its rakish looks there’s not much in the way of luxury – it’s a scooter after all – but there’s a small hidey-hole (large enough for a phone though I wouldn’t advise it, it might bounce out) in the leg shields, next to a hook (useful perhaps for carrying take-aways or small shopping bags). There’s also a USB socket for charging purposes, a built-in alarm, decent-sized pillion foot pegs and an ‘ignition’ operated steering lock.
The batteries live under the hinged seat and can be charged from a standard household plug in situ, or easily detached and carried indoors to be plugged in. They are heavy, mind, at nearly 20kgs each. You wouldn’t want to carry them far.
Likes? The CPx is a cinch to ride, very quiet, and (unless you count the fumes going up the electric power station chimney) very ‘clean’. It’s also stable and (vicious speed bumps aside) comfy.
Dislikes? The otherwise effective screen felt perilously close to my face; I’d prefer it to have been angled further away, for safety. The seat is high and broad on account of the size of the batteries, so will put shorter riders off. I would also have preferred more built-in stowage, but there really isn’t room. If it was mine, I’d invest in a small top box, fitted to the rack.
So who’s going to buy it? You could find a new petrol-powered scooter for less but that, of course, would cause more pollution and wouldn’t give you the same, electric, environmental feel-good factor while commuting through London.
It will appeal to those who like the easy, unintimidating, approachable nature of an electric scooter, and to those for whom environmental issues are paramount. Crucially it is also – according to figures supplied by Super Soco – considerably cheaper to run than a petrol model.
It’s worth noting, however, that according to motorcycle ‘bible’ MCN, which conducted extensive tests, performance on the CPx can drop off as the batteries’ charge level goes down. They also said they were able to achieve an 80-mile range with two batteries; but only by remaining under 30mph; no problem in London.
Super Soco’s own sums show that an average 125cc petrol scooter costs 5p per mile to run, compared to just 1p for the CPx. Over a year, for a typical 23-mile, round commute, over 256 working days a year, that amounts to a cost of £294.40 for a petrol scooter, or a winning £58.88 for the CPx.
There’s the added convenience of not having to stop at petrol stations. Charging the batteries, instead, they say, takes 3-4 hours and can be done at home or the office. A petrol scooter costs £25 a year to tax, while the keeper of an electric scooter pays nothing. Maintenance is also far less of an issue for electric bikes, as there are fewer moving parts. If the CPx’s battery should ever need replacing outside warranty, however, it’s hardly cheap, at over £1,800.
So there you have it – a clean, quiet, guilt-free new-tech solution to commuting around London post-Covid, while avoiding all those potentially germy commuters on the bus and tube.