Review: Super-affordable, super-approachable electric commuting on the Super Soco TS
We're three abreast at full throttle, pinging off the top speed of our motorcycles, and having an animated three-way conversation without even having to raise our voices. Such is the relaxed vibe of silent electric motorcycling in a pack of Super Soco hooligans.
Our mounts, freshly approved on Australian shores but available globally, are from Chinese company Super Soco, and they represent a fundamentally different approach to urban transport than high-powered electric sportsbikes like Zero's new SR/F.
Electric motorcycles are everywhere in China, and they're not viewed as toys for adrenaline junkies. They're viewed as cheap urban transport, and that's exactly what Super Soco is delivering here. It's the electric equivalent of a 50cc scooter, wrapped up in a super sweet looking nakedbike package and sold for peanuts.
The TS thus comes equipped with a Bosch rear wheel hub motor putting out 2.4 kW (3.2 hp) worth of peak power and 120 Nm (88 lb-ft) of torque, and a 60-volt, 26 Ah, 1.56 kWh battery that's good for up to 80 km (50 mi) of urban tomfoolery between charges, which will take you around five hours on a regular wall socket. There's no fast charging option, because this thing's not designed to put in thousand-mile days; it's an urban runabout that you'll plug into the wall at home and maybe at work.
The bike weighs just 78 kilos (172 lb), which means it's so light that you can easily bounce the front wheel off the ground if you lift the handlebars. It's super approachable, easy to push around and extremely friendly for the shorter and slimmer among us.
In fact, it even sings a little song when you turn it on, just like a happy little Japanese washing machine. Why not, eh! Some bikes on our launch ride also made noises when the indicators were on, which I found a nice touch. Others didn't, which leads me to believe there'll be a setting somewhere for that, but the bikes are so new that our local dealership was unable to confirm at this point.
Riding the Super Soco TS 1200R is scooter-simple. Twist and go, front brakes on the right lever, rear brakes on the left. As always happens when I jump on an electric, I found myself habitually hunting for gear and brake levers with my feet. There's nothing there.
There are three riding modes selectable by a switch on the right switchblock – right underneath another switch that doesn't appear to do anything at all. These adjust the amount of torque the bike puts out, but since sport mode is pretty much the opposite of intimidating, I'd suggest you just leave it there.
The throttle is surprisingly snatchy for an electric. You turn it quite a few degrees before the power comes in, so unless you're super smooth on the twistgrip you'll be taking off with a bit of a jolt. This is unnecessary with an electric, and the kind of thing I'd hope gets addressed in a software update somewhere down the track.
Initial jolt aside, acceleration progresses at a very relaxed pace. I am nobody's idea of a small guy, and I had some concerns about whether the thing could pull me up a couple of steep inclines we encountered. It did, but it wasn't super excited about the idea. The spec sheet says it'll climb a 15-degree gradient – that's a spec worth noting and something I've never seen on a motorcycle spec sheet before.
Our pack of moto-journos filtered our way through city traffic enjoying the TS's light-footedness between lanes and working our way to the front of the line at red lights. But there's a silent social contract inherent in lane splitting. It goes like this: I'm not going to wait for you car drivers, and in return I'll take off like a road god and make sure you don't have to wait for me.
That's fine when you're packing a hundred horsepower, but when you're packing just three, your takeoffs are very mortal. I found myself doing the old Flintstones routine, paddling my feet along the ground for a bit of extra grunt until the bike got moving. I think in the back of my mind I was hoping the drivers behind us got a laugh, which might make up for the fact that they were now stuck behind a group of slow-accelerating bikes that top out around 50 km/h (35 mph).
If you're not in a hurry, the takeoff is fine. I'm just always in a hurry when I split to the front at the lights. The highest speed I squeezed out of my bike was 69 km/h (43 mph) on a slight incline. And all in absolute silence – I could hear nothing but the springy flapping of a slightly loose number plate on one of the bikes. And here's where we started, the world's least intimidating biker gang, rolling through city streets chatting to each other without having so much as to raise our voices. It does feel like a very civilized way to get around.
I should mention the keyless ignition at this point, because I think it's something Super Soco can really improve on. You get a key fob with each bike, with a lock and unlock button on it. To get the bike started, you need to hit the unlock button. That means you've got to pull it out of your pocket. So it's a keyless ignition that's somehow just as inconvenient as pulling a key out of your pocket. Just let me walk up and ride, guys!
Walking away or locking the bike engages a quiet alarm mode that'll go off if somebody tries to move the bike, making a space invaders-y sort of noise and resisting any effort to move it through the motor. Cute and handy!
Another improvement I'd like to see on future models is the indicator switch, which requires you to flip it back into the middle to cancel rather than giving you a cancel button. You get used to it, but … why?
There's not much to talk about with brakes or suspension. They're no-name gear with adequate performance for the bike. There's no ABS braking, but at this price point I'm fine with that, and it offers feistier riders the opportunity to do skids and stoppies.
Under the pop-up tank lid, there's a small wallet-and-phone sized storage area, and if you lift the bottom out of that, you get access to the battery box (or boxes; you can fit a second battery to double your range). These batteries can be unlocked with the bike key and lifted out, meaning you can lug about 20 kg (45 lb) of battery inside to charge the bike if you can't get it close to a power socket. That's a great touch. Extra batteries are around the AU$1000 mark, so folk looking for a nice little rig to do Uber Eats deliveries on can have a second battery at home charging, ready for a quick hot swap mid-shift if necessary.
All in all, most of us agreed we found the little Super Soco TS a cute and charming jigger to get about on, within its parameters – it's solely for slow-speed urban riding. At an on-road price just under AU$5,000, it's one of the first electrics to hit the Australian market that you'd genuinely call cheap, particularly when you remember it'll need almost no maintenance and cost you next to nothing in electricity.
It looks terrific, and does a humble job of its work. It has no excuse for having 1200 and R written on its fairings (some things should be sacred) but it's a truly affordable electric commuting option that'll make plenty of sense for people living in the city.
And Super Soco has some other bikes up its sleeve (like the TC Max) that are coming to our shores in the coming months and years, with plenty more power, highway capability and similarly impressive pricing. Bring on the affordable electrics!
Product page: Super Soco