Telescopic fork, dual shocks, a hub motor, steel wheels, box-section swingarm, drum brakes, and of course, the dual-tone paint job… one glance, and you’ll know that it is Ola Electric’s most affordable e-scooter yet — the S1 Air. And Air is as important to Ola Electric as air is to nurture life itself.
The Ola S1 Air is built on a revised frame that uses 14 per cent fewer parts and is claimed to be five per cent lighter. And along with that are some changes to the battery pack which now allows for a flat floorboard. In fact, one of the things that was holding back Ola from having a flat floorboard was the battery case holder, which has now been removed.
But sadly, what still hasn’t changed is the way how the motor reacts to throttle inputs. The new hub motor, just like the mid-mounted motor seen on its siblings, is slow to respond. Eventually, I did get used to it, but what was still pestering me was how brake modulation with throttle inputs was near impossible on this e-scooter.
Ola claims to have improved the low-end torque with new gear ratios and even though the ride was restricted to a confined space with no traffic, the e-scooter did feel livelier when accelerating from a standstill, especially in the Eco mode. But with the top speed limited to just 42 kph on the speedometer, the Normal mode feels much more usable. The Sport is perfect for hooning around the town.
But what left a lasting impression was the suspension. Unlike the fancy suspension of the current-gen S1 Pro, this basic setup may not be visually pleasing, but it does its job well. Undulations and minor potholes are taken care of without any protest.
Is the basic braking setup as good as the basic suspension hardware? Well, partially. The drum brakes have good stopping power and it just loves going slideways… but that’s when you are prepared for it.
The CBS calibration on our test vehicle was off. So, the slightest input for the rear brake also gave a heavy response from the front, to the point where the fork would compress hard. But when using just the front brake, it lacked a strong bite and feedback at the lever.
At Rs 1.09 lakh (ex-showroom India), the Ola S1 Air is a fair deal cheaper than the S1 Pro, while giving you the same creature comforts like cruise control, ride modes, navigation, and yes, the speakers to make your mundane commutes interesting.
For anyone looking for an EV that comes with a boatload of features and doesn’t compromise on practicality, the Ola S1 Aur ticks all the boxes… on paper. But the company is yet to fix its quality issues. Most of the test units had weird panel gaps, inconsistent paint finish and their own set of unique issues.
With the FAME-II subsidy benefits being pulled away, manufacturers are facing the pinch and the only way to sustain is by introducing built-to-cost EVs. Will the S1 Pro follow suit? Hopefully, that shall be revealed on August 15.
MOTODATAOLA S1 Air
3 kWh lithium-ion pack
4 kW (6.03 bhp)
2.7 kW (3.62 bhp)
Type: Tubular frame
F/R: 90/90 R12 / 90/90 R12
125 km (claimed certified)
Rs 1.10 lakh (ex-showroom)