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Electric cars are fairly common news these days, but the popularity of electric mopeds is on the rise. One of the main protagonists in this arena is Govecs, a Germany-based electric mobility company that produces the Go! range. We had the opportunity to test its Go! S1.2 recently, a £2,999 scooter in the same performance bracket as a 50cc scooter. Here's how it fared.
The Go! S1.2 is a fairly typical-looking scooter. It's not as attractive and stylish as a Vespa, but unlike electric cars, which tend to look ridiculous in comparison to their petrol counterparts, the Go! S1.2 looks fairly normal. In fact, if it weren't for the "Electric" motif scrawled on the side of the fairing, the absence of an exhaust pipe and the complete lack of any noise, one could be forgiven for thinking it was a traditional petrol model.
Getting around on the Go! S1.2 is loads of fun. Turn the key, wait a couple of seconds for the on-board computers to declare the system ready, twist the handle on the right side of the handlebars and you're off -- it works just like an ordinary scooter.
Govecs claims the Go! S1.2 also performs like a normal scooter -- and it's right. Unlike the quite awful Ego Street Scoota, the Go! S1.2 takes off quicker than bicycles and will keep pace with most entry-level scooters and slow-moving cars up until about 15mph. Above that speed, cars do bear down on you and overtake, but around town, anything larger than the Go! S1.2 usually gets caught up in jams, which leaves the scooter free to zip in and out of traffic.
The Go! S1.2 is extremely quiet in operation. It isn't quite silent -- the whir of its electric motor is evident at low speeds because of the lack of wind noise -- but it doesn't emit anywhere near the din heard from a conventional scooter or motorbike.
That's not a good thing. The noise of a petrol-powered moped is extremely annoying, granted, but it's hugely important as it alerts other motorists to your presence. People in SUVs are far less likely to accidentally run you over if they can hear you buzzing away, so you'll need to keep your wits about you and issue the occasional horn blast to warn people you're nearby.
The Go! S1.2's 3kW electric motor revs to 3,500rpm and performs well for the most part, accelerating from 0-45kmh in a brisk-feeling nine seconds. Sadly, Govecs has equipped the bike with an electronic speed limiter, which seems to apply the brakes momentarily to prevent the scooter from exceeding 45kmh.
This is designed as a safety feature, but it causes several problems. During acceleration, your bodyweight is pushed towards the rear of the bike. When the limiter kicks in, however, the Go! S1.2 suddenly ceases to keep accelerating at its previous pace, causing the rider's bodyweight to shift forward suddenly, changing the scooter's centre of gravity and destabilising the rider.
This is most evident when accelerating down hills, as the scooter picks up speed very quickly, then applies the brakes without your consent. It can be quite unnerving at best and is arguably quite dangerous (particularly on a slippery surface) at worst.
The speed limiter also causes problems during overtaking. If you suddenly decide to get around a row of slow-moving cars, you have to be aware that at some point during the manoeuvre, you'll hit an electronic 'wall' and the bike will relieve you of all accelerative force, forcing you into a gentle cruise when you least need it.
This can come as something of a surprise if surrounding traffic suddenly speeds up. Overtaking manoeuvres that seemed totally plausible at the start can leave you cruising helplessly in the middle of the road, begging for the power you had before the scooter reined you in.
Govecs intends to produce three versions of the Go! S1.2 -- one with a bargain-basement silicon battery (our test model) and two lithium-ion versions with increased range. We tested the model with the 2.4kWh silicon battery, which the company says has a four-to-five-hour charge time and a range of 50-60km.
In our test, we achieved a similar charge time, but slightly less than the quoted range. Using a mixture of the scooter's eco and power modes (selectable via a switch on the handlebars) we managed to travel a distance of 35km before it essentially ran out of power. Towards the end of the journey, the headlights dimmed, the scooter began to slow and, although the battery indicator claimed power wasn't completely diminished, we found we had to get off and push when we encountered any roads with the slightest of gradients.
If you intend to use the scooter on a daily basis and take it anywhere near its maximum range, make sure you charge it as often as possible.
Sadly, charging the Go! S1.2 daily can destroy the scooter. Govecs claims the silicon battery can be emptied and recharged just 300 times, which is fine if you only intend to use the Go! S1.2 occasionally, but terrible news if you're using it as a means of commuting to and from work. Anyone who travels the full 45km per day, recharging at the end of every run, will have to replace the battery -- at great expense -- within a year, which is a deal-breaker as far as we're concerned.
The Govecs Go! S1.2 isn't without its problems. It's pricey, you'll have to keep a keen eye on its range, and its limited number of recharge cycles is a massive cause for concern in the long term, but it's a helluva lot of fun to ride and cheap to run.
Edited by Emma Bayly