Electric bikes are generating a bit of a buzz in the UK at the moment, and it’s a new wave of bikes that’s beginning to build a bit of charge in the industry. I was shocked at how positively rapid the acceleration was – so whilst I recharge, here’s the blog & review.
Prefer to watch the video review?
The Super Soco TC Max, on first impression, is a small electric motorcycle that (with the English Electric Motorcycle Co. graphic on) honestly stood out in the showroom. The graphic isn’t available as standard unfortunately, but luckily even without it looks incredible.
Looks aside, the most important factor with the Super Soco TC Max is, unsurprisingly, the fact that it’s an electric motorcycle for the smaller market. It’s not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last – so what makes this motorcycle stand out?
For me it’s instantly the ease of use. I’ve ridden twist and go scooters before, and it was strange to ride a twist and go motorcycle because I felt myself anticipating a clutch and gear-change that would never come. In fact, grab a fist full of what you think is the clutch and the rear wheel (and front due to linked brakes) will kick in!
But once you get used to it, this ease of riding around really becomes quite nice. Especially if you’re riding in stop-start traffic or congested towns/cities – being able to roll on the power progressively is a real bonus, one that many automatic riders (& drivers) will attest to.
Not only that, but the running costs are going to be fairly minimal once you have bought one. It’ll only go through tyres and brake discs as normal alongside routine servicing and maintenance. As there’s no other moving parts to worry about, the cost for keeping the TC Max running is comparatively small compared to a traditional petrol engine, where per mile it’ll cost you around 1p in electricity.
Engine & Power
The 5kW peak (3.5kW continuous) motor is responsive at low speeds, and puts out an incredible 180Nm of torque – which for a bike within the A1 and CBT limit, is very respectable. It’s powered by a 72v lithium battery, developed by Super Soco and ATL, with power put to the rear wheel via belt to a huge rear sprocket which helps with the acceleration off the line, and the 17" wheels spin up quickly.
Now I’ll happily go on record to say that I much prefer petrol engines, but if this is the future of motorcycles as we know it, I’m fairly happy – considering this is a 125cc equivalent bike it’s pretty nippy on the road. One thing I found was an almost jerky response to the acceleration when trying to hold speed, but I was told by Alec @ EEMC that this was quickly addressed in the following model batches, and the model I was riding was the first generation.
Brakes are fairly good, 240mm discs front and rear (linked brakes too) and get you to a stop comfortably. As far as I’m aware they are own-brand “TC Max Sports”, but they did the job and I have no real complaints about them.
Three modes controlled on the handlebars – nicely labelled 1/2/3, each one with different top speed limits to help with range. If you’re content at 30mph you can whack it in to mode 1, and get the top expected distance from the battery. Mode 3 is the full “unrestricted” power with fastest acceleration and will see you able to achieve the lowest expected distance but have the most fun - as more energy is used up at higher speeds. Mode 2 is, as you’d expect, in between the two.
You can switch modes whilst you’re riding and without stopping, so they could almost act as gears if you’re so inclined. They say that mode 3 is highway, and mode 2 is normal riding – but I would always ride in 3 if I had one myself.
Mileage Per Charge
When it comes to mileages and total distance per charge, a full battery should see the TC Max achieving around 60 miles, depending on how you ride it. Myself and Brett got to around 30% remaining of the battery after riding around for a good few hours (3-ish) and there was no noticeable drop in power as you got further in to the battery core.
Recharging is possible by plugging the bike in which is nice and easy – although I’d make sure you have the set up at work to charge it up if you do plan on using the TC Max as you’re commuter. Not only would you be “filling up” whilst you work, you probably wouldn’t have to pay for the electric either…
If you’ve got an average commute of, say, 5 miles, this battery would last you near enough all week – and can be recharged in 4 hours or so – so we’ll say overnight to be sure. That’s an incredible incentive for getting one in my eyes, paired with the alluring zero annual road tax and the normal benefits for commuting to work by motorcycle, you’ve seriously got to consider one as a commuting star. Plus you'll turn up to work with a smile on your face!
Size and Ride
How did I fit on the TC Max? Well it was surprisingly comfortable. The seat is 770mm and it’s shaped like a standard motorcycle, albeit a very light one at 100kg. My knees tucked in to the bodywork fine, and I could control the bike comfortably (considering I’m 6’4”, that’s a very good thing). I didn’t come off the bike with any aches, which is great for a small motorcycle. Front suspension is a decent upside down fork, rear is a monoshock – and did well on the rural backroads of Norfolk. Praise indeed.
Nice touch on this bike is the built in immobiliser with matching alarm – so if you try and move the bike without it being on, an alarm will sound and the rear wheel will lock up. Handy to have, but doesn’t replace security altogether. Comes with a bit of tech as well, in the form of keyless ignition and push-to-start.
The Perfect Commuter Bike?
Is it going to be good as a commuter? Well that depends on where you’re commuting. If it’s a local commute on roads that don’t exceed 50mph, you’ll be fine and this could be perfect for what you need. If it’s a dual carriageway or motorway (god forbid) I wouldn’t even consider it. Speeds max out at 54mph (with me on) after a good whirr of time getting past 40mph, and due to the lightweight nature of the bike I wouldn’t fancy being caught on a fast road.
You get used to the peace and quiet whilst riding around, but a part of me misses having the company of a combustion motor working beneath you, giving you feedback for the ride. That’s something electric vehicles will never be able to recreate, even with the acoustic motors on the horizon.
Electric motorcycles are still very much a mode of transport in its infancy – whilst all of the groundwork has been done with foundations made for the industry to grow, I have a slight concern when it comes to possible breakdowns and servicing available locally, at least if you live out of the main cities in the UK. You can still definitely get by with an electric vehicle though!
Now that’s not to say I felt the Super Soco would be unreliable, but after-sales support is always something to consider when you’re looking at buying a new motorcycle regardless of type. We’re lucky to have English Electric Motor Co. nearby to us should any problems arise (if I was an owner), and it’s good to know they are able to help with servicing and repairs if needed.
After all, this is one of the first wave of electric motorcycles in the UK, and you don’t see them very often on the roads - although the Super Soco dealer network is growing with new dealers popping up around the country.
Outside of the "potential issues" of electric vehicles, the only part that stood out to me was the dash on the TC Max. It was fine, though the dual analogue and LCD dash was quite minimal and I couldn’t help but be slightly (completely) jealous of the snazzy full colour TFT screen Brett had on his Niu NGT.
Having the analogue speed is fine, but the dominant numbers were KMH as opposed to MPH, and I fooled myself thinking I had shot up to 50mph when really it was 30mph. It did the job, don’t get me wrong, but would have been great to get a more futuristic dash here.
|Battery||Lithium battery, 72V capacity|
|Charging||72V input current, 7-8 hour charge time|
|Power||3500W rated, 5000W max power, 180Nm Torque|
|Top Speed||58 mph (60 mile range @ 30mph)|
|Suspension||Front: Upside down forks. Rear: Hydraulic Monoshock .|
|Brakes||Front & Rear 240mm discs|
|Tyres||Front: 90/80-17" Rear: 120/70-17"|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||1982mm x 740mm x 1031mm|
You can buy a Super Soco TC Max for £4,249 with a government grant (£5,311 without), and as mentioned once you have one the running costs by comparison are tiny. So it may be a good chunk of change to get one on the road, but over the lifetime of the bike it could turn out to be a smart purchase if regularly used as a commuter.
So the Super Soco TC Max – it’s a great little motorcycle for the eco conscious and forward thinkers. If you can get over the price for one, it makes a huge amount of sense as a commuter vehicle. Plus it’s pretty fun out on the road as well!