The name Okinawa may sound Japanese, but Okinawa Scooters 100 per cent suits on Nepalese road. This electric two-wheeler manufacturing company, headquarter falls in Gurugram, near Delhi. And the Okinawa Praise is the second electric scooter from the company, introduced late last year. The Praise is the flagship electric scooter from Okinawa and boasts of several best-in-class features and performance, including a range of around 170 - 200 km on a single charge of the battery, and a top speed of 75 kmph.
The Okinawa Praise definitely looks good, and the front apron with the wide strip of lights incorporating the LED headlight flanked by the LED daytime running lights make an immediate impression. It's a long, full-sized scooter and is longer than the 125 cc Honda Grazia and even the new TVS NTorq 125. The Praise looks big, long and definitely has road presence, and we encountered several admiring people who had a few questions about pricing, range and so on. Look closer, and the Praise rewards you with its long list of features, including the full-digital instrument console, USB charging port, cubbyholes to store a water bottle or two, and disc brakes on both front and rear wheels. The front disc brake employs two combined discs, with the caliper gripping both the smaller inner disc and a bigger outer disc. The front wheel is suspended from a hydraulic telescopic fork and the rear gets a pair of dual tube shocks. The underseat storage space is 19.5 litres, enough really to store a few knick knacks, and the charger (which by the way, takes up quite some space), but not enough to store a full face helmet.
In all, the Okinawa Praise certainly looks unique, and big, and has the qualities to make you take a second look, even if you're not shopping for scooters, and an electric one at that. It's an electric, so there's no noise, just a quiet electric hum which is barely audible in traffic. And that may be the key to you bragging about zero emissions and all, but India still has to warm up to the concept of soundless two-wheelers. And, when there's no noise, no sound, anyone can jaywalk in front of you, even when they see you coming, and other two-wheeler riders will make sudden turns in front of you, so you have to be on the horn a lot, contemplating the other motorist, or pedestrian's next move. It's a bummer, but not a deal breaker. You soon enough get used to the soundless way the electric scoot moves.
The Praise is quick, quicker than any electric scooter we've ridden so far, and the digital speedometer quickly climbs the numbers. There are two modes - Economy and Sport, with Economy offering better range but less power. The Sport mode naturally offers quicker acceleration, up to about a speedo-indicated 60 kmph. On the left handlebar, there's also a 'turbo' button, but don't be fooled into believing it's turbocharged, it just gives you a surge of more electric power which will see the speedo reaching out from over 60 kmph to an indicated 74 kmph during our test runs. So far, so good, and seems to be fast enough for the daily commute or even a quick dash to the suburbs. And a claimed range of more than 150 km (actually 170-200 km claimed range) will leave you without any worry of running out of charge. But ride it for some time and when the morning traffic starts picking up, 70 kmph on the Praise's speedo doesn't seem fast enough; in fact, even 60 kmph on the speedo seems a lot slower than it is. A quick comparison with our support vehicle, and a peek into the speedometers of a couple of commuter motorcycles confirmed our doubts. The speedometer on the Praise is, well, a little too optimistic, and is off by more than 10 kmph from the actual speed. So, we doubt if the claimed 75 kmph top speed is actually achievable. In reality, 60-62 kmph top speed is more like the actual top speed.
As long as you're riding on smooth roads, like most of the roads during our test ride, the Praise offered a smooth ride, mostly. It's only when you hit a few undulations on the road, or some joints on a flyover, the scooter jolts and bucks, despite the flashy looking suspension at both ends. Ride quality certainly leaves a lot to be desired, especially when the going gets rough. The Okinawa Praise's bouncy ride quality will make you re-think if it's the ideal ride for our road conditions, particularly when the current crop of scooters with internal combustion engines have changed the game many times over in terms of handling and performance. For an electric, it's still acceptable, but to really change the game in the scooter segment (electric or otherwise), the Praise needs a better, more comfortable ride.
The footboard is on the taller side, so the rider feels cramped, since you have to bend your legs a little too much. It's not excruciatingly uncomfortable, but definitely not a desirable riding position. Handling is neutral, and for most users, the Praise will not be much of a disappointment in that department. But again, when you compare other scooters in that same price bracket, the Okinawa Praise doesn't 'wow' you with its handling or give you the confidence to push the scooter around a corner. The MRF rubber is grippy enough, but the brakes need some fine tuning. Under hard braking, the rear locks up too soon resulting in a slight skid and the front lacks the bite or progression to shave off speed.