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The Sound of Silence

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

After my brief encounter with BMW’s CE O4, and having ridden the Energica electric superbikes, I was eager to try out another electric scooter, but this time, something more sedate. Something that does not cost north of R300,000 and that you can use as your daily commute. Of course, there is always the question of range, but the company Silence has come up with a novel solution that might just work for longer commutes.

Silence is a Spanish company that was founded in 2012 in Barcelona. They designed a battery first and it needed to be easily interchangeable. From there they made the S02 scooter for the Spanish police and for various motorcycle-sharing platforms. After this, they developed a tricycle called the S03. This was developed for delivery companies. Once these models were firmly entrenched in these markets, they gave us the S01, the motorcycle for everyday use.

The S01 is a very elegant scooter with clean, minimalistic lines. When you look at it from the side, it looks like any regular scooter, until you notice that there is no exhaust. What is more, there is also no belt drive to the rear wheel. Instead, the Silence has a hub motor attached to the beefy swingarm. The suspension on the S01 is a pretty standard affair, with two 33 mm shocks up front and a single shock keeping the rear in contact with the road. The S01 runs on 15-inch wheels.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

The LED headlight is flanked by two daytime running lights which turn orange when you switch the indicators on. And here the silence is shattered by the most annoying beep to let you know the indicators are on. It makes such a racket, that I hardly use the indicators. I just assume that people will guess my every move.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

To get the motorcycle going, you switch the motorcycle on, pull the rear brake, and hold down the Mode button. The Silence then gives you an audible beep to tell you that you are primed to go. The motorcycle has three rider modes: Eco, City and Sport. When you switch the motorcycle on, it defaults to City mode. This is more than enough for most applications, although your top speed is limited to around the 85 km/h mark. In Eco mode, that number drops to 70 km/h but you will see a substantial increase in the estimated range. I always flicked it to Sport mode which is the most fun to ride. In this mode, the S01 is limited to 100 km/h, and you will be surprised how quickly that number comes up.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

The Silence S01 is incredibly easy to ride, although seasoned bikers will find braking with the left hand a bit awkward at first. The S01 sadly has no ABS, so you really have to be gentle on the brakes and pulling the rear brake is advisable. The motorcycle has combined braking, which means that when you pull the rear brake, it also engages one of three pistons in the front calliper. In Eco and Sport modes, the brakes also get some help from the engine’s regenerative capabilities. Strangely, City mode has no regenerative braking. Also missing is some form of parking brake. If you park the motorcycle on an incline, it wants to roll away. Fortunately, it has a centre stand and lifting the S01 up on it is easy.

Another major plus of the S01 is the massive storage capacity under the seat. Scooters that can swallow two full-face helmets are few and far between. I rode with an XL lid, and it presented no problem for the S01. The build quality of the S01 is very good and the boot is also lined with a soft material which will not show scuff marks as easily as hard plastic. In there is also the lever to release the battery, the S01’s party trick.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

Once you have released the battery, you extend the telescopic carry handle and pull the battery out the side. In that motion, two wheels and a steady pops out and then you can wheel the battery wherever you want. This will be wonderful for people who live in a complex and don’t have access to a power socket anywhere near the motorcycle. You can wheel the 5.6 kW battery pack to wherever you can charge it. It weighs around 40 kg, so the wheels and handle make manoeuvring the battery a breeze. It uses a standard kettle plug to charge, and it charges at roughly 10% per hour.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

You can also get an inverter for the battery, so you can run a few household appliances during load shedding. What is more, you can purchase another battery, which you can keep charged at the office. Like I said in the beginning, if range is an issue, swapping batteries might just be a viable solution. In Europe, Silence have already started rolling out battery stations where you can swap your battery for a fully charged one. This is what makes the Silence so versatile.

Over the course of the few weeks, I had the Silence, it became my everyday run-around motorcycle. As I got to know the motorcycle’s capabilities, I ventured further and further from home. As you ride, you can easily switch between City and Sport modes to conserve some energy when the traffic is congested. When parked at a red light, however, putting it in Sport mode is recommended. You will leave most cars behind and once you are in the flow of traffic, you can switch to City mode again. Riding like this, you will easily get 100 km from a single charge, more if you don’t ride like a hooligan.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

The S01 has an app with a few basic features. Once connected to the motorcycle, you can open the seat, and even start the motorcycle with the app. It also allows you to share the motorcycle with someone else, even if they don’t have the keys.

The Silence is certainly not cheap, but at R114,885 it comes in way below the BMW CE 04. Also, unlike the Bavarian, there are no belts to service, and your only expense will be for brake pads and tyres. I have found the S01 extremely handy for my daily needs to pop down to the mall, or to meet someone for a quick coffee. The more you ride them, the more you manage the range anxiety and the more you will marvel at the practicality of it.

Photo credit: Brian Cheyne / ZA Bikers

For more information visit SilenceSA.

Brian Cheyne
Brian Cheyne
I have always been fascinated by four things: coffee, photography, motorcycles and writing. However, my mother encouraged me to get a real job instead. I studied programming, so I could turn coffee into code. Much later in life, I gave myself the title of freelance motorcycle journalist. That way I could tell my stories through the lens and pen. As a bonus, I get to ride bikes every day!
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