Bikes > Alternative

The Horwin EK1 is an electrifying proposition

Does P199,000 for an electric moped sound fair?

The Horwin EK1 brings a European electric moped flair to our shores. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The electric vehicle revolution is very much underway. For cars, we have had viable alternatives to our gasoline-powered carriages for some time now. For bicycles, we’ve managed to jam electric assist or even pure electric drive to make two-wheeling easier.

For motorcycles and scooters? Something about the limited onboard space and the energy density of dinosaur squeezings made internal combustion the viable way forward for a long while. It’s practically a solved problem now, though. The likes of Zero, BMW, Gogoro, and Super Soco have cracked problems, such as power, batteries, and recharge times that prohibited market viability then.

While somewhat unassuming at first glance, the EK1 does bring something new yet familiar to the table. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

We haven’t seen much of these full-featured electric mopeds and scooters on our shores as of late, however. So, frankly, the Horwin EK1 came as quite the surprise once we got to ride it around.

After picking the test unit up, I tempered my expectations a bit. While the 1,900mm-long, 690mm-wide and 1,130mm-tall scooter comes equipped with a 2kW (2.7hp) rear hub motor that can peak at 2.8kW (3.75hp) and 145Nm when needed, it’s limited to a modest 45km/h. That seems a little too slow for going about in the city.

The 2kW is limited to 45km/h, but gets you there quite quickly. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Boy, was I wrong. Provided you choose your routes right, 45-50km/h is more than enough for city centers. I was zipping through Makati, BGC, Pasig, and Mandaluyong, even overtaking underbone scooters somewhat frequently.

The instrument cluster's LED border turns from green to blue once you hit the speed limiter. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The motor will only take you to 45km/h, at which point the cockpit’s LED border turns blue, signaling that the speed limiter has kicked in. However, there’s nothing stopping a downhill from taking you past that.

Much like the Honda Dax e: and the Sundiro Honda S07 having a 400W motor and bike pedals thanks to being at the mercy of China’s GB17761-2018 e-bike standards, the EK1 has to play nice with the standards of its primary market, even if produced in China.

Europe’s Regulation 168/2013 decrees that a two-wheeled vehicle that’s powered by a motor no larger than 4kW (5.36hp) and no faster than 45km/h falls under the L1e-B e-moped classification, with the L1e-A reserved for pedal-assist bicyces that won’t go beyond 25km/h with sub-kW motors. Mind you, the former category still requires a helmet and a license in most jurisdictions in the EU, albeit easier to get than a full motorcycle license.

The 1.8kWh battery is enough for the city, but just barely. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The Horwin EK1 does come with the benefit of being under the L1b classification of LTO, meaning that you could ride it outside of the bike lane (albeit keeping it on the right side of the road as practical). A motorcycle-style helmet is legally required, however. Even the EU standard’s first tier for motorcycle gear is only tested to 40km/h, so you may still want to suit up even at the supposed modest speed it runs.

Horwin claims the 1.8kWh battery will take you 75km. After a 28km ride around the city, I managed to bring the battery level down to 49%. Extrapolating from that gives us roughly 57km of range while mashing the throttle wide open for most of the time. Even so, that’s a mere P21 for every full charge—or roughly 37 centavos per kilometer traveled.

You may connect the charger directly to the scooter, or take the battery out and charge it somewhere more convenient. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

It takes roughly five-and-a-half hours to charge the 26Ah battery with 5A of current, using either a port on the battery or on the scooter itself. The charging speed isn’t too bad, given that I’d just leave it overnight after a day’s commute.

If you need additional range, you can purchase an extra battery that you could bring along in exchange for cargo space in the underseat compartment. It looks like it could house a half-face helmet, but a full face wouldn’t fit in there no matter how I tried.

There's enough space for a second battery, but not enough for a full-face helmet. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

A front storage panel is also provided, alongside a USB port hidden inside. The faceplate is held closed with a magnet, and the panel rattles like crazy once you get going. Some weather stripping may need to be added to stop the clatter of plastic driving you mad.

The front compartment is convenient, especially with its USB charging port, but it could use some help in the fit-and-finish department. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

The dash is a nice LED display that’s visible no matter the weather. Besides the speedometer and the battery percentage, the motor current and the current “gear” selected is also shown. The top is a scratch magnet, unfortunately, and it shows the 2,000+km of use that the scoot has gone through.

The LED display is clear and bright even in direct sunlight. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The switchgear is adequate, but (perhaps due to my stature) they tend to be at locations my thumb simply cannot find on the first try.

You get buttons for the high- and low-beam controls, the indicators, the horn, and the cruise control (yes, cruise control) on the left side, while the right has switches for the running lamps, the hazard lights, and the park/reverse controls. The “gear” selector can also be found here, which specifies three levels of acceleration for the electric drive. For the entire time I had the Horwin, this stayed at Level 3.

The switchgear is adequate, but could be ergonomically better. PHOTOS BY HANS BOSSHARD

If you hold down the R/P button, you can actuate the throttle to reverse the EK1 under its own power. At 92kg, it’s not really a make-or-break feature, but it’s nice to have when parking and maneuvering. A center stand is provided alongside the side stand.

An 'R' icon indicates that the EK1 is in reverse. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The scooter’s body is finished in matte plastic, and boy, does the color pop.

Matte-orange is a great colorway for the EK1. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The EK1 gets projectors for both the low and high beams alongside a stylized daytime running lamp spanning the length of the headlight housing.

The center low-beam projector is flanked by high beams on either side. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

The running lamps extend to the lower front fairing, continuing onto the side of the bike and ending up at the rear taillights. The front and rear lightbars also serve as indicators, with the outermost thirds on either side flashing amber.

The same retroreflector-esque pattern continues with the front lightbar-indicator combo. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD
The taillight gets the same treatment, with bright LEDs in surprisingly aesthetically pleasing lensing. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD
While serving its job to keep you visible at night, the EK1's light design shines its brightest in the dark. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Corners and bumps are taken care of adequately by the EK1. It doesn’t hesitate nor wobble, and the geometry keeps it planted and stable either at 5km/h or 50km/h. It’s nothing to write home about, but that just means there’s nothing to complain about it either. The rear shocks have adjustments for spring preload should you have a rear pillion.

The preload for the rear shocks can be adjusted depending on how the moped will be loaded. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

And yes, the scooter does take a rear pillion. You get a powder-coated metal grab bar at the back, alongside retractable foot pegs for your passenger. The pegs are a bit temperamental to stow until you figure out not to push them in all the way when folding.

The pillion footpegs are a nice matte-aluminum finish, but may give you a migraine when trying to stow them for the first time. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

So, it does seem like a decent scooter for the city. It charges at a manageable speed, gets going with some vigor, has enough storage for a small bag and a helmet, and has enough range to get you around Metro Manila without breaking a sweat. What’s the catch?

At P199,000, the Horwin EK1 seems steeply priced compared to scooters at half its cost. Such is the price of electrification, unfortunately, but it’s one that comes with the advantage of running roughly five times cheaper than its ICE brethren in fuel cost.

As good as it may be, it's hard to ignore the question if the e-moped is superfluous here. PHOTO BY HANS BOSSHARD

Different countries have different consumer demands, and the e-moped in foreign territories raises the question of whether it even has a place in our market. I don’t think that’s entirely the case; it just so happens that the EK1’s niche is in its infancy, and one that’s ripe for the taking.

Regardless of which, it’s easy to understate just how fun you can have with such a docile and well-behaved electric moped. Even though it may not have the numbers to wow the average spec-sheet peruser, it will get you going without fuzz or drama. And, when purchased through Watt Mobility, you get a warranty for 20,000km or two years, whichever comes first.

Hans Bosshard

Hans is the ultimate commuter: He drives a car and he rides a bicycle. He also likes tinkering with mechanical stuff.