Ola S1 Electric Scooter: Observations after 1 day of riding

The S1 Pro comes with three power modes – Normal, Sport and Hyper, whereas the S1 misses out on the Hyper mode. Although the motor is is the same in these two scooters, the smaller battery pack in the base variant cannot provide the juice required for the Hyper mode.

Riding the Ola S1 Pro

Both the Ola scooters come with a Mid Drive IPM electric motor capable of producing 5.5 kW of rated power and 8.5 kW of peak power, with 58 Nm of torque produced at the motor shaft and powering the wheels via belt drive. However, the S1 Pro gets the benefit of a 3.97 kWh battery pack powering the motor, whereas the S1 only gets a 2.98 kWh battery pack. This is enough to get the S1 Pro and S1 claimed 0-60 km/h times of 5 seconds and 7 seconds and top speeds of 115 km/h and 90 km/h, respectively.

We got to sample the S1 Pro at a private facility on the outskirts of Bengaluru and listed below are our first impressions.

The Ola S1 is the first product from a startup giant and performance is certainly the most important aspect to test. Still running a Beta version of the software and with ongoing improvements, there were some rough edges, but the overall experience was good enough to state with confidence that petrol engine competitors really need to pay attention to this electric rival. Improvements can be delivered to users via OTA updates and once sorted, this scooter should become the new performance benchmark in the Indian market.

Getting the S1 Pro off the stand is very easy, thanks to the light 125 kg kerb weight (121 kg for the S1). While that figure in itself might raise some eyebrows (Honda Activa 6G weighs 18kgs less), what is relevant is that the S1 Pro hides a lot of this weight thanks to the low centre of gravity, making it feel much lighter and nimbler than the figures suggest. In fact, at parking speeds and even on the move, this scooter feels lighter than the Activa.


As is usual with an electric scooter, the refinement is a highlight of the Ola S1. There is obviously no engine here and no moving parts at idle. So, the refinement when off the throttle can absolutely freak you out if you are new to electrics – a matter of getting used to! Even on the move, NVH remains good and only a faint drone of the electric motor can be heard and felt by the rider. Refinement is a full class better than the Ather 450 when we had tested it, which had a distinct resonant vibration on the floorboard and also a good amount of whine from the motor and fan. At idle, be aware that your vehicle can be ON and any unintended accelerator input can send it flying!

If this degree of refinement isn’t to your liking – customised vehicle sounds can be set through the inbuilt speakers to make it sound the way you want.

Riding Modes

Acceleration is good. In fact, it’s so good for a scooter, that you will leave many other road users amazed! Ola claims that it will hit 40 km/h within 3 seconds, 60 km/h in 5 seconds and reach a top speed of 115 km/h. I find no reason to suspect these figures. In fact, we were given access to private roads to test the performance, but the weather conditions were absolutely unforgiving (as is evident in the pics), and the S1 Pro on Hyper mode turned out to be more intense than could be experienced in such conditions. There was effortless pull till 90 km/h and overtaking manoeuvres at city speeds just need a proper twist of the throttle. Doubt that even the 150cc scooters (Aerox 155, SR160, etc.) can come close to this level of performance!

The S1 Pro comes with three power modes – Normal, Sport and Hyper, whereas the S1 misses out on the Hyper mode. Although the motor is is the same in these two scooters, the smaller battery pack in the base variant cannot provide the juice required for the Hyper mode.

At the moment, Normal feels the most sorted among the riding modes, providing an almost seamless experience on and off the throttle. There is still enough pep off idle and also at city speeds to keep up with a 125cc scooter while also providing considerably better range – our scooter with 98% battery charge showed an estimated 150 km in Normal Mode, as against 121 km in Sport and 94 km in Hyper.

Sport Mode feels very comparable to what I remember of the original Ather 450, but in the Pro – it feels like a midway between the Normal and Hyper modes. The talking point here is definitely the Hyper Mode. Negatives first – riding the scooter in this mode felt a lot like taming a horse with some amount of throttle lag and a quick burst of acceleration after that, along with full power loss and again throttle lag felt at even a slight touch of the brake lever. But issues aside, it has the fastest acceleration I have experienced on a scooter and how!

Throttle Lag and tuning issues

As mentioned above, all is not well with the way the motor puts the torque down. Ola has clarified that the power delivery will be sorted in the production versions and further improved over time via OTA updates. But it is only fair to report things as we have experienced on the test bikes. The product feels rushed into production in this core aspect.

For a start, there is a throttle lag which is noticeable at times and gets annoying on occasion. Accentuated, especially when pulling the throttle wide open, the scooter does nothing for almost a full second before realising what is happening and responding accordingly. On a couple of occasions, this felt longer than a second even and I was beginning to wonder if the scooter got switched off, when it started shooting forward like a bat out of hell! To make matters worse, power delivery gets completely messed up when you touch the brake levers even slightly. As an example, when taking a U-turn after slowing down, if your hand is even ever-so-slightly pressing the brake lever, the scooter does nothing. The logic may be implemented to reduce brake pad wear, or to prevent the motor from getting stressed against the brakes, But it feels so unnatural when that happens.

Simply put, if you are used to petrol scooters and this is your first electric experience, take it easy initially, or it may not feel like a natural transition! The good news is that the glitch is felt much lesser in Normal mode. 

On a lighter note – I wonder how the Ola marketing / stunt team was able to do those burn-out videos!

Suspension and Handling

The Ola S1 uses a very unconventional suspension setup, with a monoshock at the front connected to the wheels with a single-sided swingarm / fork, and an offset, horizontally mounted monoshock at the rear. 12-inch wheels at either end are shod with wide 110/70 R12 MRF Zapper N tubeless tyres.

In terms of the ride, the suspension setup feels at par and as unsophisticated as with the conventional setup on most other scooters. Irregularities on the road surface can be felt, and larger potholes do make their presence felt. The low centre of gravity makes it feel light and flickable. But on the flip side, it feels jittery at higher speeds over broken sections of road and does not have the enthusiastic edge of the suspension setup of the Ather 450.

The 110/70 R12 tyres are wider than offered on the competition. However, with the torque on tap in the Hyper Mode can sometimes make the rear scramble for traction. On surfaces like broken tarmac, gravel, light slush, etc., harsh throttle input can get the tyre to lose grip. Due to the unfavourable weather situation though, I cannot really comment on the performance of these tyres.

Ground Clearance

The S1’s ground clearance is rated at 165 mm, which is par for the segment. We got to experience the scooter over some speed-breakers and broken roads and ground clearance did not seem to be a major concern.


Braking duties are handled by a 220 mm disc brake at the front and a 180 mm disc at the rear. ABS is sorely missed, given the performance on offer. The S1 offers just the mandatory CBS. Levers are of the non-adjustable type, but easily fall to hand and don’t require much effort to pull for hard braking. In fact, the brakes are so sharp that the braking might be termed dangerous. The scooter badly needs ABS to avoid the rear wheel locking up in tricky situations! A little more play and feel on the levers will also be much appreciated.

Regenerative Braking

The Ola spec sheet does not mention regenerative braking. So I asked and received a positive confirmation that regeneration – both automatic and forced is included. Manual regeneration can be engaged by twisting the throttle in the opposite direction. Yes, in case you are new to the EV world, you read that right. However, I cannot attest to this as I could not detect even the slightest hint of regeneration getting engaged despite multiple tries. The Ola team had already clarified that the system does not give any visible indication on the display when the regen is engaged. The opposite twist of the throttle exists for another purpose too – Reverse Assist (explained later).

All our media vehicles were provided with a near full charge and this could be one reason why. The logic implemented in the Ather 450 completely de-activates manual regen when the battery charge is deemed sufficient. So one cannot discount that possibility with the Ola as well.

Reverse Assist

Reverse assist is a feature unique to electric scooters (leaving aside the top-end American cruisers) and the convenience needs to be experienced, especially by ladies and those of us worried about the 792 mm seat height. Those with heavier two-wheelers in the garage will be wondering about the need for such a feature on a scooter, but for at least some, the convenience of being able to pull the bike out of a tricky situation on your own, is unbeatable.

Off idle, hit the dedicated Reverse Assist function on the LHS switchgear and the hazard lamps are turned on, with the scooter also making a warning chime to warn other road users about the reverse movement. Provide accelerator input (twist in the opposite direction of the normal) and the scooter slowly moves backwards as required, with a very gentle creep and at speeds of up to only 2 km/h. The reverse feels a bit weird at first, but it doesn’t take much to start appreciating it. The function makes it a breeze to pull the scooter out of parking lots and inclines. Is there a risk of falling while reversing? Not really. I tried giving maximum throttle inputs to try and shake it, but it only moves in a very smooth fashion.

Range and Charging

The Ola S1 Pro comes with a 3.97 kWh battery pack, whereas the S1 gets a 2.98 KW battery pack. Both have a claimed rating of IP67 against the elements and come with a 3 year, unlimited km warranty cover. While On the topic of the battery, Ola also claims that the scooter is “water-resistant” and that the battery is “flame retardant”.

The ARAI certified figures are 181 km for the S1 Pro, whereas the base variant makes do with 121 km – both figures as per the IDC cycle. On our test scooter (S1 Pro), the range prediction with 98% charge was of 150 km in the Normal, 121 km in Sport and 94 km in Hyper modes. Leaving aside a big margin for error, a useable range of 100 km in the Normal mode makes the S1 Pro a good candidate for worry-free city commutes for most people, even in the larger metro cities. In case longer runs needing a quick top-up, Ola promises to establish the largest network of superchargers in India in 400+ cities, 100k + charging points, etc. Connected to an OLA hypercharger – the scooter can be topped up with a range of 75 km (ARAI) in just 18 minutes.

For home charging. Ola provides a portable 750 W charger that can charge the scooter from 0% to 100% within 6 hours and 30 minutes on the S1 Pro and 4 hours and 48 minutes on the S1. Ola’s Hyperchargers and portable chargers are designed to withstand the elements and rated IP55 and IP67 respectively. The portable charger cuts off automatically once the battery is fully charged while also coming equipped with surge protection. So, it can be left overnight for charging and the convenience is unmatched with the size only double that of an older laptop charger! However, I wonder if it could become a popular target for thieves owing to the small form factor. Owners with basement /stilt parking in large apartments, office facilities, etc. may also think twice before leaving this portable charger unattended for all those hours needed to fully charge the scooter.

Continue reading the discussion on the 2021 Ola S1 electric scooter on our forum.

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