Okinawa Praise: Road Test Review
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We put Okinawa’s “longest range per charge” claim to the test and also find out if it’s worth replacing a conventional scooter with
With technology improving by the day, we have finally started seeing electric scooters that make sense for real-world commutes. Now this is something to rejoice as electric scooters till date have not only been underwhelming to ride, but even boring to look at.
But evolution in technology makes way for manufacturers to come up with more feature-packed models, pushing the boundaries of electric commuting. So, is the Okinawa Praise the answer to a more promising generation of electric scooters?
Design & features
A lot of promise comes with the design itself as the Praise makes a strong visual impact. This is mainly owing to the wide front apron with the large LED setup and the maxi-scooter-like long wheelbase.
Getting into the details, the futuristic-looking LED headlight unit with the LED DRLs fail to light up the dark properly. Even with high beam on, all you get is barely adequate visibility of what’s about 4 feet ahead of you. The light’s throw is neither focused nor wide.
The all-LCD unit displays speedometer, battery charge, power mode indicator and a tripmeter + travel time that resets once you turn off the ignition. The switchgear quality is average, with two switches for the horn (the second one looks like it was supposed to be a starter button). The Eco and Sporty mode buttons are placed near the accelerator, but both those and the Turbo button seem like an afterthought and increase the space between the grips and the conventional switchgear. As a result, the indicator, horn and light switches are a bit of a stretch to reach.
The multi-function key slot gets a seat opener and under the seat is a circuit breaker of the same kind that you would find doing duties in people’s homes. This switch needs to be tripped before washing the scooter and even before charging it. The rear gets a pillion backrest, which is purposeful but doesn’t gel too well with the design.
On the whole, the paint quality is good but the same can’t be said about the build quality and the plastic parts.
What's the charge time and range?
The Praise comes with 6 lead acid batteries, producing a combined 72 volts and a total capacity of 45Ah. Charge time required is 8 hours, but the drawback here is that the cable is quite short. Meaning you would need an extension to charge it or have a charge point close to the vehicle. Also it’s best not to leave the scooter in an open space for charging during the rains, since the charger has exposed fan vents.
Okinawa’s claimed single-charge range of 170-200km is high for any electric scooter in India today. This meant putting it through a range test in real world.
Result: In Eco mode, we managed 110km, while in Sporty mode, the numbers went down to 78km before the batteries drained. While the figures aren’t anywhere close to Okinawa’s claim, they are quite commendable. So you can ride quite a bit and not worry about charging constantly.
The alarming bit was that our scooter indicated a full battery life irrespective of distance covered. Besides that the tripmeter resets every time you switch off the scooter, so you need to keep track of the distance covered through the odometer, which is annoying.
During our range test, Sporty mode felt best to ride in as Eco mode restricts speed significantly, making it difficult to keep up with even city traffic. Also, climbing flyovers is no problem - just don’t do it when your battery starts losing steam, because the Praise struggles on inclines at low charge levels.
Unlike superbikes with power modes, the three modes on the Okinawa Praise don’t restrict power. Instead, they restrict speed. In Eco mode the scooter achieves an indicated 40kmph (true speed of 33kmph). In Sporty mode, it goes up to 62kmph (true speed of 51kmph) and in Turbo mode the indicated top speed of 74kmph is actually VBox-tested speed of 62kmph.
While you get the option of riding in either Eco or Sporty mode, the Turbo mode only offers an extra boost of speed for fast overtakes. Hence, this mode lasts for a minute and is accessible in Sporty mode only. Turbo mode also cuts off if you get off the accelerator or apply the brakes, a precautionary measure. And using 60 seconds of boost cuts down your range by 2km.
So the top speed isn’t much. But is it quick enough to reach 60kmph? Not really. The Okinawa Praise takes 24.1 seconds to touch 60kmph, which is 13.5 seconds more than the slowest scooter we have tested, the Honda Activa 5G. And 0-40kmph is achieved in 9.43 seconds, which proves its struggle to gain another 20kmph. The times achieved somewhat reflect the throttle response of the Praise as well. Cause the initial few degrees of twist helps build up speed. But wind the throttle further and power delivery just feels flat.
What about ergonomics and comfort?
Reach to the handlebars is quite relaxed. However, the problem lies with the raised floorboard, a necessity in order to fit the batteries underneath. Add to this the short seat height of 774mm (4mm more than the NTorq’s) and what you get is a fairly awkward and uncomfortable riding stance, even for a someone of average height. No surprise then that the handlebars will hit your knees at every turn. Thankfully though, the floorboard has a swept-up front which makes ample space for your feet and allows your knees to sink in a bit provided you extend your legs forward, giving you a better turning radius before the handlebar digs in. Nevertheless, the odd posture still takes a toll on your back.
The pillion backrest offers good lumbar support but getting your leg over it requires serious flexibility. The room for pillion is very limited and the backrest only makes it tighter, especially if someone plans to sit sideways. The pillion footrest position is also rather uncomfortable.
The Praise’s telescopic front forks and the rear twin shocks are gas-charged (first in segment). So, does this improve ride quality? Well, the suspension is set up on the softer side. As a result, the front forks bottom out over almost every bump and pothole, unsettling the rider. Rumble strips are badly felt too. And ut it gets worse while riding over expansion joints on flyovers, as the jolts can even knock the handlebars off your hands.
Riding solo, the rear bobs a bit after tackling potholes and bumps, but with a pillion onboard the rear bottoms out as well. So overall, it’s is an uncomfortable experience.
Does it handle well?
Okinawa hasn’t mentioned the kerb weight of the Praise anywhere. But going by our calculations, the Praise is a fairly heavy scooter. To give you an idea, a 12 volt 45Ah lead-acid battery weighs about 15kg. And the Praise packs in six of them to generate 72 volts. This should bring the battery weight to about 90kg. So expect the scooter to weight around 140-150kg.
Since most of the weight is concentrated on the floorboard, the front feels unusually heavy. As a result, you need some extra muscle input to manoeuvre the scooter at slow speeds (compared to a conventional scooter). At such speeds, the high-set floorboard also proves to be a hindrance while putting your feet up and down, which is annoying in heavy traffic conditions.
The brakes look promising! Are they?
The Okinawa Praise gets a fancy-looking setup that’s unlike any scooter in India. The front setup includes two discs, with a single caliper for both with individual pistons for each rotor. The rear also gets a disc brake.
But while the brakes themselves look fancy, the numbers aren’t. While most conventional scooters manage 60-0kmph in under 20 metres, the Praise takes a whopping 32.5 metres. This is mainly due to the amount of mass it carries. The brakes also tend to lock up easily under hard braking.
Is it a practical scooter?
Starting from the front, the Okinawa Praise gets two fairly decent-sized cubby holes behind the front apron. The one on the left comes with USB mobile charging. However, keeping a phone there would be risky as it may get tossed out while tackling bumps. The floorboard might be awkwardly tall, but it’s also amongst the largest we have ever encountered on any scooter, so you get a lot of room to keep bags. Plus, with your feet stretched ahead, there is enough room to carry quite a lot of stuff.
The same can’t be said about the 19.5-litre storage space. Cause while it may sound generous, it’s quite oddly shaped and shallow as well. And if you intend to carry the charger, it’s gonna get tighter.
Security features include one that renders the scooter immobile when the side stand is down. The Praise also comes with a smart key with scooter lock feature. So if someone does try to steal the Praise, its motor will resist any movement. And if someone still tries to push it, it will sound an alarm. It also gets reverse assist, but that fails to work consistently. Not to mention, there’s zero intervention while reversing up a climb.
Should you buy one?
We rode the Okinawa Praise around town for quite some time before we actually put it through a thorough testing regimen. So we had a fair idea about what to expect, and to be honest, those expectations weren’t quite high. While the Praise did manage to meet those expectations, there was one particular aspect where it exceeded. That is the distance covered per charge, which is quite practical in the real world. Even the performance is decent enough for city commutes. But it really falls short in terms of ride quality and ergonomics.
So is the Okinawa Praise the best electric scooter in India? Not really. But what really works in its favour is that it is actually available in quite a few cities across India. To top it off, it offers reasonable value too, at Rs 59,899 (ex-showroom Delhi), especially considering that it offers a lot more features compared to most other scooters, even conventional ones.
Can you use it on a regular basis? We certainly believe so. But should you buy one? Well, if you are willing to live with the compromises involved, then why not!