2022 Ather 450X & 450 Plus: Same Wine, Bigger Bottle
- Jul 19, 2022
- Views : 1737
The air of Bengaluru seems to be full of magic and mystery. Much like Hogwarts, the city is turning out to be the birthplace of something truly revolutionary. All the Indian electric two-wheeler contenders, like Ather, Ola and even TVS, operate out of this city. And here we have someone we’ve been itching to meet for a pretty long time. So, after waiting for nearly a year, is the Simple One simply the Chosen One?
Whoever was tasked with brewing the Polyjuice potion seems to haven’t followed the right steps because the One does like quite similar to one of its rivals (*cough*Ather 450X*cough*). Simple states that the intention of the One was to be a sporty, youthful and smart scooter and the designers wanted something sleek and light. So as far as shapes go, this format or silhouette does fit the intention.
There are quite a lot of neat little details to differentiate between the two e-scooters, though. Bits like the 5-spoke star-shaped 12-inch alloy wheels, front turn indicators integrated into winglets, and the Panigale V4-inspired LED tail light are smashing.
While the design is fascinating, it is let down by the quality of plastics used for the body and switches, and the fit and finish levels are far from desirable. Simple has clarified that we were testing pre-production scooters. The tooling and dies for the final product are in the process of being finalised. So, when the scooters do reach customers, they should be dramatically improved. We will verify the same once we get the final scooter for a proper road test.
So, what has Simple been working on the past 12 months?
From the launch, the Simple’s core elements haven’t really changed much. It still is powered by a 4.5kW PMSM (Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor) that puts out 8.5kW and 72Nm – considerably enticing numbers. So much so that the claimed 0-40kmph acceleration time has magically become quicker, from 2.85 seconds to 2.77 seconds. What’s the spell you ask? Some neat little lines of code and ditching the chain drive for a more conventional belt drive system.
Clearly, it doesn’t feel like Ron Weasley’s old and stuttering Shooting Star. It goes like the Firebolt. It feels like the quickest electric scooter that I have ridden so far, and that includes the Ola S1 Pro and the Ather 450X. What I would’ve appreciated more is for the Sonic mode to feel a bit supersonic. In its current state, the 0-40kmph run might be quick but doesn’t give you that bolt of lightning that you would expect from an electric. Simple states that has been done a bit purposely so as to not scare buyers. But if I were to buy an electric scooter, I would like that crazy edge in the max power mode. And even most buyers, while they wouldn’t ride it in the max power mode at all times, giving them this shot of energy is what could really seal the matters. So, Simple, this sounds like a simple fix, right?
There are three other riding modes: Dash, Ride and Eco. Top speed in each mode is 105kmph, 85kmph, 65kmph and 45kmph. The riding experience in each mode is very different but all serve their purpose well. The Dash riding mode seems adequately peppy. In this mode, it still feels properly sprightly. The performance drop is noticeable but still enough to delight you on the days you want a little boost.
The mode that we believe most people will end up using the One in is Ride. Here is where the seamless and easy going riding capability is going to make the commuter happy. It is effortless to get off the line. There’s no lag between opening the throttle and the scooter moving forward. Even when you tap the brakes, the current supply to the motor isn’t cut. Thus, when you do make the switch from an ICE to an EV, you don’t have to rewire your brain and change your riding style.
And finally, there’s Eco. I am happy to state that while Simple has tuned the mode for a mild throttle response, getting off the line doesn’t feel dangerously slow. It gathers pace gently and reaches a top speed of 45kmph. While you will end up sustaining city speeds effortlessly, we just wish the top speed ceiling was raised from 45kmph to 50kmph. This would allow riders to make overtakes without needing to switch modes, and hence, extend the range without much bother.
We couldn’t verify that claim on the first ride because of two reasons. We simply didn’t have enough time. And we weren’t riding at our usual testing spot. Still, the takeaways from our test are positive. We started riding in Sonic mode, which remains active until 50 percent battery state-of-charge (SOC). We rode it for over an hour and a half, with around 50-55km clocked within that time frame. So that is promising.
And even though we rode it in Sonic mode for quite a while, the e-scooter didn’t go into a thermal shutdown. Everything ran as smoothly as before, with the only change being that we had to stick to either Dash, Ride or Eco for the rest of the test.
The good bit about the Simple One is its hybrid battery pack. The scooter comes with a 3.3kWh fixed battery pack in the floor and a 1.5kWh removable battery under the boot. We think that the ease of rideability in Eco mode should realistically allow us to get around 180-185km in our tests and anything better will just be cherry on top. Thankfully, Simple will also sell you another version with an additional 1.5kWh battery unit. With the extra pack, range can be extended by 60km in Eco in real-world riding conditions.
Charging times are also pretty quick. Via Simple’s regular portable home charger, the fixed battery will take 2 hours 45 minutes for a 0-80 percent charge while the portable battery takes 75 minutes. Simple will also sell you a 1.4kW home charger with which a complete charge takes just 2 hours. Also, once Simple’s Loop fast-charging network is set up, the 2.5km/minute rate of fast charging will be the quickest in the Indian two-wheeler EV space.
Due to the inclusion of the portable battery and the provisions made for its safety, the actual usable storage space on offer goes down to 27 litres. It should be enough to place an Indian full-size helmet in, but whether it is going to be adequate to carry lots of household items remains to be seen.
More so, the One has got a nice, upright riding posture that’s not only sporty but also will be quite comfy on daily commutes. The bars are tall and well placed. The floor isn’t too high. The seat height of 775mm hits the right spot of being not too high or too low. We would’ve liked the slope of the seat to be redesigned as currently, whenever you apply the brakes, you end up sliding forwards. Also, the seat cover texture could’ve been grippier.
But as it stands, it puts you in a nice spot to bring out the best of its handling capabilities.
In the Potter-verse, the Firebolt broomstick was revered for not only being the quickest in a straight line but also for making lightning quick turns. And similar is the case with the Simple One. At 115kg, it is on par with most premium e-scooters. However, the way Simple engineers have distributed the weight makes a difference. It is a near 50:50 split (49:51 to be precise), allowing for a more natural riding feel.
You can point the One into a corner and it turns in brilliantly. It doesn’t feel tippy or twitchy when committing to a corner. The chassis and the pliant suspension setup combine well to lend it great cornering stability. Hustling from side to side requires minimal effort and it does feel properly energetic.
Simple is testing out a couple of tyre options, both provided by MRF, for the One. Of the two that we experienced, the Nylogrip Zapper-N proved to be the better option for two reasons: stiffer construction with softer compound and better front-end feel. The Zapper-N didn’t feel squishy towards the maximum edge of the cornering potential and were still very grippy while carrying good degrees of lean. This led to better front-end feel as you could predict and stay firmly in control of the operations without breaking a sweat.
The only issue when you do start pushing harder is the cornering clearance on offer. The battery protection panel does end up scraping a fair bit. It wasn’t like it was scraping the whole way or being hazardous. But given its sporty intention, we felt that a minor redesign of the belly would go a long way in increasing its cornering capabilities.
Lastly, the retardation on offer matches up to the performance credentials. The units do feel similar to what you find on the Ather 450X but the feel is quite different from the Gen-2 scooter that I had as a long termer. Braking effort required is minimal, the feedback is just right to modulate the brakes well and the whole braking process isn’t unnerving.
While most of the new e-scooters makers have created waves with their design, features, and promises, and fall flat when it comes to the riding part, the case is in fact the opposite here. Simple is keeping things simple. Nothing too flashy or mind-blowing here. Where it dazzles you is once you activate the motor. Boy, does it go. Its performance is simply enthralling, enough to keep you hooked for a long time. And it will do that happily too because of the large battery pack that you have at your disposal.
The reason why we would still hesitate from being fully sold on the scooter is because of its plastics and fitment levels. On the test pre-production units, they are far from being desirable. Simple has to get its act right by the time these scooters go to the public, sometime around October. And judging by the degree of progress they have made, it shouldn’t be too hard. The only thing then left would be reliability, which comes after months in service.
So, to call it the ‘Chosen One’ would be a bit difficult at this moment but surely mischief is managed.
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