Our Japanese correspondent Hiromi Kinukawa had the chance to ride the Urban S from Evoke Motorcycles when he was invited by Evoke in Beijing. Below you’ll find his full story. We have to notice that this is a first impression. It is possible that the motorcycle is going to be adapted for the European market. When we have the chance to test it ourselves, we shall bring you more technical details and the comments of our test rider about the behaviour of this electric motorcycle.
Riding the Urban S from Evoke Motorcycles
Finally, I am test-riding the Evoke Urban S at its birthplace in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Its performance and price match what I expect from an electric motorcycle, with a range of 200km and price around JPY 1,200,000 (+/- 9,100 EUR). Now is the moment to actually see if the Urban S is the best entry electric motorcycle.
Evoke Motorcycles is a start-up company but its team is international and inter-cultural. Also, their ties with FOXCONN strongly supports development of the machine and the sales network. The machine development is targeting urban city use, as you can guess from its name.
There are two versions, the Urban Classic and the Urban S. Performance of those are exactly the same but the Classic comes with a Cafe racer style and the S with Neo modern exterior. My personal recommendation is the Classic version. The LED headlight adds character to the machine and more importantly, the contrast between blue, black and brown (demo bike is equipped with black seat but resale model will come with brown seat), is just awesome. Neo-classical smart street ride!
Get into it Quickly!
First, I was trained to operate the Urban S within private property to make sure I got used the machine. My concern was braking with the left hand instead of the right foot. My body is so used to motorcycles with gears that every time I try to stop the Urban S, my left hand tried to cut clutch while my right and left foot wondering for brake and shift pedals. (I am sure I looked quite weird from outside, both feet going up and down for no reason, lol). Anyways, after 3 or 4 stop and goes, my brain understood the situation and just shifted to scooter riding mode. Then, everything was cool. So after about 5 min, I was ready to roll in the city of Beijing!!!
Smooth ride in the city!
Riding a new motorcycle in a new city is always a challenge. Even though I have experience riding in the crowded morning rush hours of Tokyo and the everyday, always MotoGP style riding of Rome, it still makes me nervous. However, Nathan, lead me into Beijing with much attention so that I could concentrate on getting used to the motorcycle itself and the local traffic at the same time.
After about 20min, I felt a lot more confident so I started to play with the different riding modes. The Evoke Urban series lineup is equipped with three riding modes which can be changed anytime depending on the rider’s need. The three are Eco, City and Pro. The Urban S I was riding was set on City mode, so I switched to Pro mode… and
Voila! This was the perfect mode for my riding style.
The response is quick when you twist the throttle and you can accelerate yourself faster than other vehicles to avoid accidents or unneeded insecurity, but it is easy to ride at lower speed as well. I am not a speed freak but extra speed always makes me feel safer. Riding a motorcycle is fun and a joy, but as you all know, we are not fully protected, so being able to move quickly to get out of a dangerous situation is always a good thing. I am not saying that City mode is slow, or inadequate, it is the perfect mode when riding roads with less traffic, or especially when touring in the countryside so you don’t lose distance as well. I did not try Eco mode but all these riding modes will support you anywhere, anytime to fulfill your requirements. I wish I could try Pro modes on winding roads, because I am sure it would be fun!!!
Pure riding Fun!
Now I get into the center of Beijing, where traffic gets slow and there are signals every 100m or so. However, the Urban S was able to provide me more fun. Actually, the pure fun of electric motorcycle riding.
The first place I was taken to was the Forbidden City. The most popular sightseeing place in Beijing with loads of tourists walking around. We were able to ride our Urban S into the Forbidden City moving between the tourists. This was the moment I found out that being electric is not just environment friendly, but also people friendly. If I were riding a motorcycle with a gas engine and muffler between these tourists, how would they react? They’d probably look back because of the noise, close their nose to avoid the smoke of the muffler, move away to be safe from heat of the engine and muffler, and give me a look as if I don’t belong there. But what happens with an electric motorcycle? They hear a slight motor sound but do not care, there is no smoke or heat coming out so even if I ride near tourists, there is nothing left to bother them. And finally, they give you a look of surprise to see an electric motorcycle passing by. I hope I am clear with this, riding with people around was never so smart with an electric motorcycle! No noise, No smoke, No heat; it changes the relationship with motorcycles and other people completely!!!
After seeing the history of China, I requested to visit modern China, where the new generation of Chinese youngsters gather.
So I was taken to this area, Sanlitun, where the new and old culture unites.
Again, going through pedestrians became the fun part of riding, I just enjoyed going through crowds of people, trying not to bother them at all, being sneaky but not scaring them. In the meantime, the Urban S was attracting the attention of many youngsters by itself.
As a daily ride and as an entry to electric life
Next is testing the motorcycle in a closed area. I am not a professional tester or circuit rider so my test is more of daily use, for riders using motorcycle as a commuter.
The first test is slalom.
I stood up on the motorcycle while slowly accelerating and tilted the machine right to left, making small turns. The body of the Urban S does not tilt quickly, maybe because of the weight of battery. After trying for a couple of times, I managed to make the turns faster. Since the battery is located at the center of the body and it weighs much more than an engine, it may drag the chassis when tried to turn quickly. But be advised, I did not have any problem riding the Urban S in the city, so unless you want to race with it, I don’t think it will be a problem.
Next, I tested braking. First, full braking with only the rear brake. It does slip the back wheel but the body stays stable. Same as the front brake. I almost slipped with the front wheel the first time without putting weight to the front but other than the first time, it braked strong and stable. With both brakes, Urban series has more than enough stopping power. Adding more comfort knowing that it can stop fast and nicely.
Chris, COO, told me later that the machine is developed to stay stable at any circumstances. And they made sure that especially under hard braking, the machine stays still, instead of jumping around. Their integrated front/rear brake system and weight balance measurement surely worked out perfectly to provide strong and safe braking.
After the testing, it was time to go back. On the way back on the highway, I did try full throttle acceleration in Pro mode. The top speed of Urban S is limited to 130km/h. A full acceleration gets you to the top speed without any lag. I didn’t want to use too much power and lose range so I did not keep the top speed. Later I confirmed with the Evoke team that going at 110km/h is well balanced for speed and range.
After a full day test, Urban S performed well to show that there is nothing to complain about in city use. I did not get to try a long-distance ride or charging for that matter, so I can’t confirm those aspects but surely felt that the Urban S is ready to be used as a reliable commuter. Even more, to be the pioneer of electric motorcycle rider.
Also, the feature to update the motorcycles vehicle control unit remotely is something which excited me to imagine the future of motorcycle life. Navigator, GPS machine location, and a crash detection system are already on their way, but there will be more to come. A true Tesla experience on motorcycle!
Why does it have to be electric??
After riding an electric motorcycle in the city and on the highway for a full day, what I found unique was the environmental sound. When you ride a gas powered motorcycle, what you hear is the engine’s mechanical sound and exhaust from the muffler.
Can you imagine how riding a motorcycle will be without those two sounds? You hear music from the car next to you, you hear people chatting on sidewalks, you hear birds singing in the trees, etc. The same sounds you would hear while walking around city, but you never hear while on a motorcycle. It may seem like nothing special but it is such a new world.
The environment sound that you never heard before on motorcycles changes the world of motorcycling. I am not exaggerating. When you hear the sound of your surroundings, your sense opens up to those sound and your consciousness widens your vision and sense of your existence. With the engine and muffler sound of a gas motorcycle, you are dragged into your own world of motorcycle, as if only you and your motorcycle exist in the world. However, when your ears have extra capacity, instead of being downed out by loud engine and muffler noise, the ears pay attention to the sound of outside world. I am sure this new feeling will surprise you. Imagine you’re riding through the mountains and listening to the sound of a small river going through the canyons. Imagine you hear kids playing soccer while you enjoy color of autumn leaves. It is not easy to explain in words, but you will understand what I am trying to say once you ride an electric motorcycle.
Too bad not yet in Japan 😉
Evoke Motorcycles has a desire to sell in Japan but is not ready yet. eMoto Online (news website from Hiromi in Japan) will keep working closely with Evoke Motorcycles to bring the Urban series in Japan.
Note from the publisher EMN: “Hiromi, we are standby :)”
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