The first time I rode a moped, I immediately crashed it into a parked car near my house. Just ramped up onto the pavement like Steve McQueen and smashed into a Fiesta, causing several pounds worth of damage.
I was 15 years of age, which is so long ago now that no policeman can arrest me for it.
The second time I rode a moped was last week, and it ran on sweet green electricity rather than the ungodly bastard-juice that is petrol, which is about as good a metaphor for human progress as you can get. The Super Soco, which is somehow not a watergun from the 90s, is an electric motorcycle. It differs from an electric bike in that it has a higher top speed of 28mph, you need a licence to ride one and, most obviously, it doesn’t have pedals. You also move up precisely one spot in the league table of the most maligned type of road users.
With the electrified sword of Damocles hanging over diesel and petrol cars, bikes like the Super Soco are becoming an increasingly viable prospect for pootling about. This one stands out, looking cool beyond its dinky size, with a roughly classic shape and some sleek, sci-fi accents, like the angular LED headlamp. If I were going to ride out of a time portal to warn my past self about our impending death, it’d be on something that looks like this.
The Super Soco also has a removable battery, which allows you to charge it using a regular plug socket at home or (if you’d rather steal your employer’s electricity) at the office. The battery is the size of a breadbin and weighs as much as a couple of bowling balls (12kg to be exact), which makes it cumbersome to carry very far, but straightforward enough to haul to the kerbside and back if you can park nearby.
Though the advertised range is up to 40 miles I was getting 25 to 30, admittedly by nearly always riding it in its highest performance setting. A lower-power eco mode caps the speed at a crawling 19mph and greatly extends the range. My commute is a round trip of about 12 miles, but by the 25 mile mark the bike is running on whatever the electric equivalent of fumes are, so I would plug in overnight to ensure I didn’t cut out on the Old Street roundabout. Charging takes around five to six hours too, so a degree of forward planning is necessary to avoid being caught short.
I would get one and I would ride it everywhere I went, and people would know me as the guy who rides around on the silent motorcycle, honking at pedestrians and saving the planet.
Being able to yank the battery out is an obvious security perk. So too is the kickstand-triggered alarm and key fob ignition switch (which, incidentally, triggers a cute but dorky boot-up jingle when pressed, as if you’ve just logged into Windows XP).
The Super Soco is really good fun to ride. It’s light and nimble in traffic, and zips away from lights with the acceleration of a faster bike than it actually is. It is, however, utterly silent, and pedestrians will stroll right out into the street without looking up from their Instagram feeds. My thumb was fixed above the horn as I sailed up and down London streets like a spectre, with nothing more than the quiet rumble of tyre on tarmac, and the occasional honk, to warn of my approach. People would stop to ask me if it was electric (“yes”), followed by how much it cost (“£2,400”), how far it goes (“30 miles if you’re a thin lad”) and whether I liked it (“yes, I really do”).
I usually commute by electric pedal-bike, and so that – rather than a car – is my barometer for what I consider to be convenient. The Super Soco is absolutely more fun than cycling, but a few things give me cause for hesitation: the insurance, while cheap, is still paperwork; finding space to park in the City often involved a few arduous laps around the office; having a fully charged battery and the proper riding gear with you whenever you’re out requires a degree of foresight, and the increased stress of going shoulder to shoulder with London traffic rather than breezing along in cycle lanes will eventually kill me.
But with all that in mind, I’d absolutely still get one. I would get one and I would ride it everywhere I went, and people would know me as the guy who rides around on the silent motorcycle, honking at pedestrians and saving the planet. The Super Soco will certainly be followed by more convenient electric bikes, with lighter and more powerful batteries to sustain longer, more frequent rides, but already it’s a bike that could fit perfectly around my commute.
Price: £2,349 (after government's plug-in grant)
Super Soco specifications
Battery: 60V/26Ah Lithium
Motor: Bosch 1200W
Max Torque: 120Nm
Charging time: 7-8 hours
Max speed: 28mph
Range: 40 miles (25-30 miles in our real-world testing, in high-performance mode)
Size: 1889mm x 702mm x 1056mm
Ground clearance: 198mm
Seat height: 770mm
Tyres: Tubeless, 100/70-17
Brakes: Front disc (220mm), rear disc (180mm), wave discs
Front/Rear shock absorbers: Upside down front forks / monoshock hydraulic