Ok­i­nawa Praise

More power. More range. More style. That’s what the Ok­i­nawa Praise promised to bring to the table. Does it de­liver the goods? We find out

Bike India - - CONTENTS - STORY: JIM GORDE PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: SAURABH BOTRE

Can the peppy new Ok­i­nawa raise the elec­tric scooter game?

Con­ven­tion is a good thing. some­times. there’s an oddly pleas­ing fa­mil­iar­ity about some things that makes life eas­ier and, to some ex­tent, pre­dictable. and in that is a weird sort of sat­is­fac­tion that man­i­fests it­self as hap­pi­ness, in that mo­ment, maybe more. When mak­ing some­thing aimed at chang­ing what is es­sen­tially con­ven­tion, it should go with­out say­ing that other fac­tors that would di­rectly af­fect its adop­tion would need to be, well, con­ven­tional. this might not be the case or point of view for some, but when it comes to elec­tric scoot­ers, i be­lieve it’s best to change the one thing that makes the most dif­fer­ence — the mo­tor — while leav­ing other im­por­tant things — brakes, sus­pen­sion, switchgear and, in gen­eral, er­gonomics — as they are. this would, in my head at least, make the tran­si­tion from a petrol-pow­ered scooter to an elec­tric one that much more seam­less.

ok­i­nawa aren’t a new name any more. they have had the Ridge for a while, an elec­tric scoot we rode last year, and which im­pressed us with its abil­i­ties in “sport” mode. abil­i­ties which were, sadly, as short-lived as its charge level. noth­ing a recharge wouldn’t fix. this new one, though, the Praise, is some­what of an odder ball. it’s more pow­er­ful, it has “dual front disc brakes”, and a claimed range of up to 200 kilo­me­tres on a sin­gle charge. al­rightey, then.

the first thing that im­me­di­ately ticked me off was the lack of in­struc­tion. now, the Ridge has a fuse switch be­low the seat that needs to be turned on be­fore you can power on the scoot and get go­ing. i as­sumed this one did, too. How­ever, there was no sticker, la­bel or man­ual let­ting me know how to get the seat open. af­ter i, and then some of my col­leagues, had spent a few min­utes try­ing to look for a seat open­ing key slot, in vain, a call to the ok­i­nawa folk made it clear: turn the key to the “on”

po­si­tion, then quickly turn it to the left. Right. “Click”.

seat opened. Fuse turned on. Key back in orig­i­nal slot. time to go. While that may sound like a neg­a­tive, be­cause it is, there are some re­deem­ing fea­tures. the styling is truly modern and rather daz­zling. the bold front face, with the LeD-laden head­lamp unit and flow­ing lines, looks like an alien space­craft. the mix of black plas­tic el­e­ments pro­vides a good con­trast to the avail­able colours; this one’s pur­ple. the seat is wide enough and can com­fort­ably seat two. Yet, and this is what both­ers me, the switchgear, though bet­ter than the Ridge in terms of place­ment and ac­ces­si­bil­ity, still isn’t pleas­ingly sym­met­ric. the horn and turnindi­ca­tor switch are now within thumb’s reach with­out hav­ing to let go of the left bar. How­ever, the horn is above the in­di­ca­tor switch — un­con­ven­tional. Con­versely, the right side has head­lamp con­trols in the con­ven­tional spot, the mid­dle, and be­low it — where the elec­tric starter

When it comes to elec­tric scoot­ers, I be­lieve it’s best to change the one thing that makes the most dif­fer­ence — the mo­tor

would usu­ally be — is, can you guess it? an­other horn but­ton. Right. again, this one doesn’t have a start but­ton, just turn the key and it’s ready to go.

as with the Ridge, there are two rid­ing modes: eco and sport. eco is the easy­go­ing one with top speed lim­ited to about 40 km/h. sport al­lows for slightly quicker ac­cel­er­a­tion and a higher top speed of around 60 km/h. this is more than okay for a 1.0-kW elec­tric mo­tor (that’s 1.36 Ps) with a rea­son­able amount of torque. i say “rea­son­able” be­cause the of­fi­cial fig­ure re­mains undis­closed. the peak out­put is 2.5 kW (3.4 Ps), ac­ces­si­ble higher up.

tech­ni­cally, the ok­i­nawa Praise has a third mode, turbo, which is ac­ti­vated us­ing the lit­tle green but­ton be­low the left switchgear. it acts like — wait for it — the “over­boost” but­ton on a Porsche 911 turbo s. When pushed at full, um, throt­tle in sport mode, when you would prob­a­bly be do­ing about 60 km/h, it al­lows the Praise to reach a claimed 75 km/h. What it man­aged was an in­di­cated 40 km/h in eco mode, close to 70 in sport, and slightly more — 74 km/h — in turbo. How­ever, our tests showed a true speed of 58.7 km/h in sport, and 62.3 km/h with the turbo but­ton pushed. that’s okay for an elec­tric. it is. Most peo­ple don’t buy elec­tric scoot­ers to win drag races, do they?

at 1,970 mm long, the Praise is about as long as the old Ki­netic Blaze 165-cc sport-scoot. it’s also quite heavy, with the weight con­cen­trated in the bat­tery pack. there’s an­other de­par­ture from con­ven­tion that arises as a re­sult of that. the floor­board is high, but the seat height is still 774 mm. this means you ride with your feet, and knees, much higher than a nor­mal scoot. of course, the rid­ing po­si­tion is some­thing you can get used to even­tu­ally. What is harder to get used to is the stiff ride. the front sus­pen­sion, a tele­scopic fork, is ex­tremely firm and has al­most no give — whether tack­ling speed humps or pot­holes — and that area has a lot of scope for im­prove­ment. the rear has two damped springs that, well, work. it does have 12-inch al­loy wheels and 90/90 tube­less MRF Zap­pers, though. neat. the brakes, a unique “dual disc” set-up at the front — one hub-mounted ro­tor and one perime­ter ro­tor gripped by a pair of calipers, both on one side — and the rear disc

of­fer okay stop­ping power. How­ever, the sys­tem cuts mo­tor out­put when the brakes are used mak­ing for quite a hazard when ma­noeu­vring it for some­thing like a U-turn. sig­nif­i­cant changes in di­rec­tion are best done slowly. not so neat.

it terms of kit, it does have a UsB port and two use­ful stor­age pock­ets. Be­low the seat is a 19.5-litre com­part­ment that can hold more stuff. the pas­sen­ger seat also ben­e­fits from a huge back­rest that has been welded on. Fi­nally, there’s the elec­tric part. a packed charger with auto cut-off plugs into a mi­cro-charg­ing slot. a full charge takes six to eight hours for the vRLa bat­tery, and an hour with the op­tional Lithium-ion bat­tery, or so the com­pany says. even so, we’ve man­aged a de­cent range of 105 kilo­me­tres. Both are in city­commute real-world sit­u­a­tions. other no­table bits are the mo­tor walk­ing as­sist, for­ward and re­verse, a sen­soren­abled side-stand that won’t al­low it to start, and a smart key­less “cen­tral lock­ing sys­tem with anti-theft alarm” and a “Find My scooter” func­tion.

then there’s the price. at Rs 60k, the ok­i­nawa Praise is in the ball­park of some great con­ven­tional 110-cc and 125-cc scoot­ers. some states push elec­tric mo­bil­ity with no road tax and other ben­e­fits. the thing with elec­tric mo­bil­ity, whether scoot­ers or cars, is: what’s the point of a clean elec­tric ve­hi­cle if the power used to recharge it is com­ing from a coal-fired na­turekilling power-plant? We need to get truly un­con­ven­tional, sus­tain­ably. Food for thought.

Dis­tinc­tive front end and unique light­ing

Disc-in-disc setup more unique than func­tional

Dig­i­tal con­sole quite in­for­ma­tive

Key­less se­cu­rity, but key needed to go

Un­der-seat stor­age of­fers 19.5-litre vol­ume; note flip-switch fuse

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