Scooters, more than any other mode of transport, are defined by the sound they make. More so than the cheerful tooting of the humble train. More so than the thrumming of the propellers of the plane that the Flying Doctors would nip about on, in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s TV soap opera ‘The Flying Doctors’.
No, the terrible whining putt-putt-putt – that unmistakeable harbinger of your Deliveroo order arriving – is the most recognisable calling card of any vehicle. So the modern breed of electric moped, almost perfectly silent as it stalks the city streets, must work hard to carve out a fresh identity. The French-made ECCity 470 is a 4KW moped, equivalent to a 50cc petrol bike, manages speeds of 30mph and has a range of about 60 to 75 miles. It’s ideal for those who commute across town, but will get you into a spot of trouble if you were ever to find yourself on the North Circular.
Regular moped riders will be startled by how much poke these bikes have. Electric scooters take no time in revving up, as they don’t actually rev at all. Instead the ECCity glibly dumps all of your acceleration into the rear wheel as soon as you twist the throttle.
Besides the much nippier handling, and the obvious benefit of never having to feed it any petrol, you’ll find the ECCity to be an incredibly normal scooter. The lack of a tank does nothing to lower the weight of the thing: it’s heavy enough to break a leg if it ever fell on top of you. Charging is an overnight job and uses a standard plug socket, in my case requiring an extension lead to be run out the front door, but charging points are increasingly dotted about London. Parking is free for electric bikes in most boroughs, and the bikes are exempt from vehicle tax, meaning running costs can be measured in the pennies. But at £6,495 for the lowest spec ECCity (before the government’s Plug-in Motorcycle Grant is applied), it will take a whole lot of scooting before you see any significant savings.
A higher-performance model (the 870, equivalent 125cc) offers better value for money at £7,995, pre-grant, but you’d really have to love the planet to go green when the guzzlers are so cheap.