OLA S1 Pro Review
This is the Ola S1 Pro, albeit with the updated Move OS2 software. And Ola claims that the glitches plaguing the S1 Pro - from the scooter losing power to moving in reverse when the forward mode is selected to the absence of all those promised features - have been rectified with this update. And, since we hadn’t tested an S1 Pro on the road yet, this was as good a time as any…
This is the Ola S1 Pro, albeit with the updated Move OS2 software. And Ola claims that the glitches plaguing the S1 Pro - from the scooter losing power to moving in reverse when the forward mode is selected to the absence of all those promised features - have been rectified with this update.
But tall claims are something we have seen Ola make before. Additional features are only part of what makes an electric scooter purchase worthy. There are other things to consider, too, like seating comfort, ride quality, range, performance, and fitness of purpose. And, since we hadn’t tested an S1 Pro on the road yet, this was as good a time as any…
Styling & Quality
The S1 is a nice-looking scooter, even if only in parts. The front and front three-quarters are good angles for the scooter, and it looks equally modern, approachable, and desirable in profile. The rear-end design, though, looks anaemic, disproportionate, and more of an after-thought than a cohesive outcome.
On the other hand, we quite liked the touchscreen display. The graphics are good, there’s decent info on there, and though the touch sensitivity is nowhere near what you get on cellphones, it’s not laggy or unresponsive.
Quality isn’t bad either. Yes, there are some wide and uneven panel gaps at places, and it fails to convey an aura of solid build quality, but it doesn’t look cheap or too hastily put together.
Ergonomics & Comfort
The S1 Pro has a friendly seat height of under 800mm. It also has a reasonably tall handlebar. But, it has a high floorboard which cuts the vertical distance between the seat and the floorboard, leaving the rider with a knee-up stance. As a result, it doesn’t make for the most comfortable seating triangle.
To add, the seat isn’t comfortable either. The padding on it is thin. And, almost immediately, it feels as if you are seated on the seat’s frame instead of something cushy. The ride quality is just about average as well. One can feel the road in its entirety - every bump, every ripple, every change in surface comes at you like someone talking in your ear. And not whispering, mind. But, it manages to stay on the right side of not being harsh.
The overall comfort levels on the S1 Pro then won’t have you constantly complaining about it, but it will always play on your mind. Almost like a chore.
Performance & Handling
Now, this is where the S1 Pro shines on paper. And Ola’s claims, if nothing else, do catch one’s attention. The scooter uses a 3.97kwh battery pack, which drives a motor with rated power and torque figures of a little over 7bhp and 58Nm of torque. And Ola claims the scooter can complete a 0-40kmph run in three seconds, and then will only take an additional two seconds to hit 60kmph. Moreover, the claimed top speed is 115kmph. So, as we said, the S1 Pro does shine on paper.
In the real world, the feel of performance is certainly strong in Hyper mode. And there’s no doubting that the scooter is quick. There’s just no letting off in acceleration once the S1 gets going. The fact that it remains sure-footed throughout allows one to exploit this performance. Braking, too, especially in terms of bite and power, matches the scooter’s performance quite well.
Furthermore, one doesn’t always need the Hyper mode to feel the potent performance of the S1. Even in Sport and Normal mode, the S1 Pro never feels slow or sluggish. It’s obviously not as charged up - for the lack of a better term - but it never feels slow enough to be boring. The scooter’s top speeds are, of course, limited depending on the mode. But, unless you are in Eco mode, which takes the S1 Pro from being a hare to a sloth, it isn’t much of a bother. But, there is a catch. The speedo on the S1 Pro overreads quite a bit. So, when the display shows that the scooter is travelling at 60kmph, it is in fact doing 52kmph.
Similarly, when the display reads 100kmph, the S1 is actually at 88kmph. And then your sense of accomplishment takes a beating because you thought you hit 116kmph, eclipsing the claimed 115kmph, only to realise you barely made it to three digits, hitting a true speed of 100kmph. As a result, it puts all of Ola’s performance claims under a cloud of doubt. But having said that, there’s no taking away from the fact that the feel-of-performance, and the fun element it brings in, is still very strong for the scooter.
There are other smaller issues too. For instance, one can only enjoy the Hyper mode for a few minutes before it switches to Normal. Trying to move back to Sport or Hyper thereafter only returns an audible warning to take things easy. One must then stop, let it cool down, and only then can you regain access to the quicker modes.
The S1 Pro also lacks feel. There’s a distinct lack of feedback from the scooter, be it the throttle response, how the brakes feel, or even how it reacts to inputs when tipping into a corner. This coldness in communication makes the Ola feel like a tool rather than something that might bring joy.
Features & Technology
Ola promised the world in terms of features when the S1 came to the market. But, the company didn’t deliver on them at that time. Now, with the new software, it has righted that somewhat. The scooter now gets Eco mode, Bluetooth connectivity, music playback via the pre-installed speakers, cruise control, navigation, and dark and light mode for the display. The automatic proximity-unlock feature, as well as the modes and widgets and voice control, still haven’t made it to the scooter, though.
Software apart, the S1 does feature a large underseat storage. It has LED lighting all around. There’s combined braking. And the seven-inch touchscreen instrumentation does throw up quite a bit of info. If anything, we would have liked the option of a split-screen view while riding with the option of choosing what info should be displayed.
We would have also liked a mechanical solution to the boot opening of the scooter so that it could be accessed even if the scooter’s battery was flat.
Should you buy it?
Let’s view the S1 Pro from two different lenses. First, holistically as a scooter, and then as an electric scooter. The reason we need to compare it with ICE scooters is to see where it stands against the current guard as a product and if it can be a serious alternative to the former.
And as a scooter, the Ola S1 Pro is average at best. It is playing catch up with the current crop of internal combustion-engined scooters when it comes to sound ergonomics, build quality, comfort, ride, handling, practicality, braking, and the calibration of various controls. It just doesn’t feel intuitive. But, of course, when it comes to features, the Ola does have the current crop beat.
As an electric scooter, however, the S1 is right up there. Be it acceleration, range, storage space, features, and even design and styling, for that matter, and the Ola does have this one in the bag. And as for all the issues that have been plaguing Ola scooters so far, as it turns out, with this Move OS2 update, apart from the scooter jumping out of Hyper mode in only minutes of riding, nothing else cropped up during our time with it.Does it mean it’s all solved? For Ola’s sake, we do hope so…
Photography by Kapil Angane
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