The Greaves Ampere Zeal does all it says, and with flair. So has it cracked the code?
“What scooter is that? I didn’t even hear you overtaking me!”
It’s not often owners of ‘conventional’ bikes say that. After all, most people imagine electric scooters as slow, whiny toys that run out of juice easily. So here’s the Ampere Zeal, to set the record straight.
First, the 55kmph top end means it has enough oomph to keep up with traffic. And the instant push from the wheel-mounted motor is what caused the prior exchange, the owner of the thumper catching up only at the next signal.
Visually too, the Zeal is nigh-identical to the average ICE-powered scooter. It has an ample seat, telescopic forks and dual shocks at the rear, and is shod with tyres that you’d find doing duty on many mass-market scooters. It even has what the brand calls Harmonised Braking System, running a cable from the rear brake to the front, a staple on most scoots. All of these lead to the Zeal handling just like any other scooter would, responding promptly to the sudden steering inputs we make when dodging potholes, a common fixture on Indian roads, come monsoon.
In fact, a few facets genuinely stand out. The first is the brilliant headlight, a great help in those rainy nights, and for worst-case water-logging scenarios, the Zeal even has a trip switch (like you have at home) under the seat, which doubles as a handy option if you need to park it for extended periods and don’t want the battery draining. The battery’s location does eat into the luggage space, though, which is big enough only for your mobile, wallet and a few documents at best.
The Zeal impresses on the daily commute, as you can alter throttle response by a toggle switch. The low mode, suitable for rush hour traffic, limits the top speed to 39kmph, thus reducing stress on the battery, whereas the high mode quickens throttle response and takes the Zeal to its 55kmph top speed.
Getting to office, I see the battery level has dropped a bit. Now, extracting it from under the seat is a chore, something the good folks who’ve made the Zeal thought of, and added a secondary charging port on the body just below the seat hinge. Just park the Zeal near an outlet, connect the charger, and you’re sorted.
It’s lunchtime, and I feel like treating myself. But despite charging since morning, the Zeal’s battery is still a bar short of full, so I elect to order in instead. Later, while wolfing down the Chinese food I ordered, I hear a cacophony of beeps and wails. Sprinting to the parking lot, I see a sheepish-looking chap plugging his ears while the Zeal impersonates an air raid siren. The poor guy had leaned against the Zeal while engrossed in conversation, and the movement activated the alarm. A noble idea by the creators to discourage would-be vandals, but I feel the sensitivity seems like overkill. Speaking of which, there’s also a loud beep every time the key is turned on or off. A helpful reminder if you’re the forgetful type, but the trick gets old soon.
It’s now tea time, and the battery, too, has topped up, so off I go to a nearby eatery. I’m at a fair clip when a distracted teenager wanders into my path. A quick dab on the brakes and the deceleration is rapid, as the wheel-mounted motor switches off as soon as the brakes are engaged. The teenager, meanwhile, has the deer-in-headlights look on his face, and a dab of the horn (which, curiously, is on the right-hand-side too, as the moulds for the dashboard are obtained from an ICE-powered scooter brand) brings him out of his stupor. As he saunters away, I realise the switchgear is quite a stretch to operate.