Although I still remain sceptical as to whether electric vehicles will save the planet, I can still appreciate a good one when I ride one. Electric scooters certainly have many benefits – especially if you’re a commuter living a few miles away from a city, or you’re a fleet/delivery rider.
Silence are a well-established Spanish company, they’re the largest electric vehicle specialist manufacturer in Europe. Being built closer to home (as opposed to the Far East) also helps to reduce their carbon footprint even further. They’re also the only electric motorcycle company in the region that make their own batteries, as it happens it’s quite a special interchangeable battery pack as well.
British based company, Silence UK, opened their first retail store in Solihull, West Midlands in April 2021 and have plans to open others, one of which will be in London. Before they opened though, they sent us a couple of scooters to test, a 125cc equivalent – the S01 and a 50cc equivalent, the S02 LS – Low Speed, Long Range.
We’re going to concentrate on the higher-spec, higher speed S01 for the majority of this feature. With its 7kW hub-mounted motor and 5.6 kWh battery, it’ll do 0-30mph in just 3.9 seconds, that’s pretty rapid. It has a range of up to 80 miles and the battery is swappable. It can also be removed very easily on its own little self-contained extendable-handled trolley, meaning it can be wheeled inside for charging like a heavy (40kg) mini suitcase. The scooter falls into the L3e class and can be ridden by anybody over the age of 17 with a CBT or full bike licence.
What’s not to like? As it turns out, very little.
VIDEO | Out and about on the Silence S01
It looks fast
As far as I’m concerned, an electric vehicle should look at least a bit futuristic and cool, Silence have nailed the styling for starters. It looks modern, sleek, well-built and substantial enough to give a good few years of service. It’s not been made cheaply either, the over-engineered alloy swinging arm connecting the scooter to the rear wheel is partially hidden by plastics but it’s a nice touch and adds a bit of class. The scooter also has disc brakes at both ends, often electric scooters just get a rear drum.
The brakes are combined (CBS) and the front is regenerative to put some power back into the battery as you use it. The scooter also comes connected with its own Silence app, the app links to the smart-looking dash and can give you route directions and allow you to open the seat and put the scooter into ‘Ready’ mode without touching it (amongst other things). It also gives you lots of info on battery condition etc.
Start it up mister
Our twenty-something daughter and her boyfriend took a keen interest in this scooter. I quite often have scooters on test but most don’t even get a mention or second glance, we all like to see and ride something a little bit different though and this ticks those boxes.
With the S01 she was asking if it was electric and wanted me to ‘Start it up.’ Sadly, starting an electric scooter isn’t quite as exciting as starting my old Lambretta. There’s no noise, no smell, no smoke and no sweating as you try desperately to kick it over. Electric makes life quite easy. You simply turn the key, then press and hold the mode button until you hear a beep and ‘Ready’ appears on the screen. No noise, no fuss. Some might say a bit boring but the linear power delivery of a decent electric scooter can soon start to make you forget any shortcomings in the ‘character’ department.
By default the scooter starts up in ‘City’ mode, there’s a choice of ‘Eco’ and ‘Sport’ as well, each with different characteristics on power delivery, speed and battery consumption.
Put another 50p in the meter
Although this scooter is all about city transport, commuting and saving the planet I’m not too worried about a few pence for a bit of extra electricity so I was straight into Sports mode. The S01 runs on around £0.01 pence per mile so you can afford to be frivolous with the throttle if you feel like it. Even in the quickest, most aggressive of the three settings, pulling away is smooth and easy – if you want it to be. Rip the throttle back though and it’ll surprise you until you get a bit more used to the way it delivers power to the rear wheel. It’s a pretty rapid scooter, that 3.9 second 0-30mph time is both useful and good fun.
Silent but deadly
On a trip to my nearest city (Nottingham), there was nothing that was going to beat me from a standing start. It’s Silent but deadly. You can ride this scooter confidently on most types of road, from A & B roads to dual carriageways. I’d even be happy to ride it for a couple of junctions of the motorway. Although the electronically enforced 62mph top speed means you’d soon be wanting more to make you feel safe for any longer than that. Other than motorways though this scooter is incredibly good fun and useful. I think modern teenage scooter fans will enjoy riding this, as well as more mature riders.
In the city
Stick it into City mode and it dumbs down the power a bit, slows the top speed to 53mph and increases the range. As you’d expect, Eco is slower (43mph) and less thirsty still. Even in that mode though the S01 is much nicer and safer to ride than a restricted 30mph moped. One other good thing about Silence is that their scooters don’t go into ‘limp’ mode as the battery runs low. Many electric scooters drop down to just 18mph to save ‘fuel’ as the range gets low, now that really is frightening.
Big wheels keep on riding
The S01 runs on a 15” front and 14” rear wheel and Pirelli Angel Scooter tyres. The tyres are grippy enough to handle being thrown about and the larger than average wheel size helps to tame some of the many potholes we have around this ex-mining area. If I was being picky I’d say a twin rear shock set up would improve ride quality, with the extra weight of the 40kg battery it would help it to transmit less of the bumps to the rider, not that it was bad though.
Weight distribution has been well thought out by the designers of this scooter, the battery sits as low down and as centrally as possible – which helps to stop the scooter from feeling top-heavy. It improves the way the scooter feels when you’re wheeling it around and helps it to handle more like a sports scooter, that’s for sure. There’s also a reverse function to help you wheel the scooter around when parking it. Press the green button and twist the throttle to go backwards.
Another benefit of the battery position and design is that it gives a huge underseat space, there’s enough room for two full-face lids, although I could only get one Arai under the seat so it depends on the extra vents etc. on your particular helmet. Either way, it has plenty of storage space, plus flat floorboards to use for extra carrying capacity. Silence also do a top box if you need more space and their accessories catalogue features a taller screen, twin USB point, lower seat option (something shorter riders will find useful), a handlebar lock and branded open face helmets.
Having spent a few days with the S01 I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ok, it may not have the character of some polluting fossil fuel machine and it’s not really practical if you need a vehicle to get you from one side of the country to the other in a day but as an electric vehicle, it really is good fun. Has a great spec, looks the part, isn’t mega expensive and is made in Europe.
Any serious commuter or delivery rider should check out SilenceUK.
It’s taken until 2021 for some of the larger manufacturers to realise that a common battery shape/size is the best way to increase the useability of electric scooters/motorcycles. Swappable batteries mean you can ‘fill up’ quite easily by swapping your empty battery for a fully charged one. Honda, Yamaha Piaggio and KTM signed an agreement to harmonise their future electric vehicle development, which is a step in the right direction.
Silence may not be part of that battery consortium, but they have got a very neat and fairly simple way to swap the battery on their scooters. This is ideal for those owners who can’t charge their scooter at home, either due to a lack of parking, or access to plug a scooter into an ordinary 3-pin socket. It also means if you own a fleet of delivery scooters you can make sure your riders never run out of juice. Although to be fair, with a 91-mile range in Eco mode, 66 in City and 52 in Sport the average delivery rider will easily get a full day out of their scooter.
To remove the battery (watch the video above) on the S01 you have the scooter on the centre stand, ignition switched on, pull both brake levers in to open the seat, then as an added safety device it needs to have the side stand extended. Then pull the battery locking device under the seat. You can then slide the battery out to the side of the scooter, as it slides out two wheels and a stand drop down, you can extend the handle and wheel it away! Ingenious and very useful. Admittedly the battery is still very heavy but I managed to get it up the front doorstep and into the house. It could be wheeled into a lift if you live in a flat, or work in an office block. Plug it in and the circular LED pulses around, all it needs is a sub-woofer and an aux socket and you’ve got yourself a disco.
Putting the battery back in is fairly easy as well. You roll it up to the scooter, tilt it (like you would when putting a drawer back in your freezer), then slide it in until it locks. Give it a pull to make sure it’s locked and secure, put the handle back down and off you go. It was easy enough to put back in one-handed whilst holding a video camera. One thing worth noting though is that the sheet steel tray the battery goes into is open to the elements a bit so I’d want to spray inside with a rust preventative and also make sure I kept the rollers lubricated if using the scooter through a salty British winter.
Silence S01 tech specs
Range: Up to 80 miles
Weight: 111 kg without battery (151kg with battery)
Motor: 7 kW (9 kW peak power)
Battery: 5.6 kWh
Charge time: 6-8 hours using conventional socket
Capacity/class: Equivalent to 125cc, Class L3e
Suspension Front Telescopic forks, 81 mm travel
Rear Single shock absorber
Brakes: Front and rear discs, CBS combined braking, regenerative braking
Tyre sizes: Front 120/70-15, Rear 140/70-14
Colour options: White, green, black
Warranty: Vehicle 2 years, battery 3 years, AA roadside assistance 2 years
Price: £4995 OTR including VAT and OLEV grant
Contact: Silence UK
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Silence S02 Low Speed – Long Range
This brings us on to the next scooter, the moped equivalent S02. There are a couple of options for this particular model depending on your needs and budget. You can go for the cheapest – the LS (Low Speed) at £2695. That one comes with a 2 kW battery and a 35 -mile range, which is still enough for most regular commuters. Especially on a scooter restricted to 30mph like this one (all mopeds are limited to 28mph by law but may show 30 on the clock). 35-miles at a snail’s pace is a long distance. Charging time on that version is 3-4 hours.
The one we had on test was the S02 LS LR though – Low Speed – Long Range. Marketed towards ‘The Professionals’ (no, not Bodie and Doyle for any of you 1970s-80s fictional crime fans). This model comes with the same 5.6 kW long-range battery as the S01. On this scooter it’s capable of covering 91 miles on a charge.
You like to move it?
If you look at the design of this model it’s been built to carry more than just a rider. Behind the rear of the seat is an additional pillion seat, that comes off and you’re rewarded with a flat deck the size of the Ark Royal, in fact a Harrier jet tried to land on it whilst I was riding. That deck is made to house pretty much any size of luggage carrier you may need. Amongst the official Silence accessories for this model, there’s a huge 350-litre box – almost big enough to sleep in. This scooter is aimed squarely at the booming delivery rider market and will be very useful for those shorter journeys.
Of course, it can also be used by ‘ordinary’ moped class riders looking for transport as well but has little to no storage under the seat so you’ll need at least a top box to make it more practical for everyday use.
VIDEO | Silence S02
I must admit I’m not a huge fan of restricted mopeds, in busy modern traffic they can feel downright dangerous and the legislation should be changed to 40mph in my opinion. With an electronically restricted top speed of 28mph on the S02 it stops at exactly 30 on the clock and won’t go any quicker. Downhill you might see 32mph but that really is your lot. Embarrassingly I overtook three cyclists just before we got to a downhill. Check out the video. I held them up for a while then waved them through on my inside. I got my own back as we went back up the next hill though so all was not lost!
Given a choice buy a 125
You certainly can’t hold the enforced top speed against the S02 though, it’s just how it is if you want to ride a legal moped. My advice though is if you’re old enough to ride a 125 just do a CBT and buy a 125 or equivalent electric scooter like the S01. You’ll be much happier, feel safer and be able to ride further without needing to book a day’s holiday just to get there.
The good thing about an electric scooter though is that it’ll accelerate from nothing much quicker than an equivalent petrol-powered scooter so you can nip around towns or cities on the SO2 and enjoy your eco riding. It’ll get to 30mph much quicker than a 4-stroke fifty ever would.
I must admit I enjoyed riding the S01 and to a lesser extent the S02. It’s quite amusing riding something that accelerates so well in total silence. You can have some fun beating the traffic or blasting around your local rural roads. The battery range is better than most electric scooters as well, although you are limited to the type of journey you can undertake. It may have 80 miles or so in Eco but it would take me a while to get to the seaside in that mode.
I wanted to go to Nuneaton on the S01 to do some action shots, a journey of about 50 miles with quite a bit of motorway and fast dual carriageway. I may well have got there but wouldn’t have the power to get back again the same day. I ended up taking the scooter in the back of my polluting diesel van. If I’d have been on a petrol 125 the trip would have been much simpler. That’s the downside to electric motorcycles/scooters at the minute. Even with scooters like these with a decent range, they do still have limits. You can use them for general day-to-day use but if you want to pull in a trip to the seaside, or a touring holiday then you’ll be left waiting for your battery to recharge more than you are actually riding it (or more likely you’ll need a petrol vehicle as well).
Having said that, most (normal) riders won’t be thinking of their electric scooter in any other way than as an eco-tool to get them to work, or for local personal transport. If that’s the kind of riding you’ll be doing then the S01 is a very good option. If you’re looking for town and city delivery transport then the S02 will make a practical workhorse.
Silence S02 LS – Low Speed Long Range
Range: Up to 91 miles
Top speed: Limited to 30mph
Weight: 89 kg without battery (129 kg with 5.6 kWh battery, 116 kg with 2 kW battery)
Motor: 1.5 kW
Battery: 5.6 kWh
Charge time: 6-8 hours using conventional socket
Capacity/class: Equivalent to 50cc, Class L1e
Suspension Front: Telescopic forks
Rear: Single shock absorber
Brakes: Front and rear discs
Tyre sizes: Front 120/70-13, Rear 120/80-12
Colour options: White, green, grey
Warranty: Vehicle 2 years, battery 3 years, roadside assistance 2 years
Price: £3595 OTR (also low range version at £2695) including VAT and OLEV grant
Contact: Silence UK
More info and finance offers
Check out the full Silence UK range here. They’re also offering finance options with no minimum deposit through MotoNovo. Full details/terms and conditions are on the website. As an example though, you can own an S02 LS from just £49 per month, or an S01 for £99 per month. You can find details on the finance packages here.
Words, photo and video: Iggy
Extra video: Sticky
Silence S01 & S02 gallery