Electric mopeds are growing in popularity, and whilst their UK sales are still tiny compared to the huge success story of e-bikes over the last decade, it's notable that in February 2022 over half of new moped sales were electrics. Here we take a look at the very reasonably priced Super Soco CU Mini, its £1,754 on-the-road price notably cheaper than most of the competition.
Up to now ebiketips has featured mainly e-bikes of course, but with e-mopeds slowly but surely gaining in popularity, it's worth taking a look at the basics of what they are before we get into the details of the Super Soco specifically.
AM licence e-moped vs e-bike
What are AM licence e-mopeds and what are the pros and cons compared to an e-bike? For a bit more detail, take a look at our guide to the best electric mopeds you can ride on an AM licence, but essentially the AM licence is the one you can get at 16 if you want to ride a 50cc moped that can go no faster than 28mph (45km/h).
Cyclescheme is an employee benefit that saves you 26–40% on a bike and accessories. You pay nothing upfront and the payments are taken tax efficiently from your salary by your employer.
It's also worth pointing out that if you passed your driving test before February 1, 2001, you can legally ride these sorts of mopeds with no L plates, without taking compulsory basic training (CBT) or a full moped test.
You can also see where AM licence e-mopeds - or 28mph e-mopeds, as you might also see them called - sit in the pantheon of smaller electric vehicles by checking out our guide to light electric vehicles you can ride in the UK.
The most obvious difference is speed: 28mph mopeds achieving almost twice the speed of e-bikes which are limited to around 16mph. Mopeds offer more comfort than a lot of e-bikes too, with a plush bench seat, full suspension and large volume tyres to soak up the worst that UK roads can throw at them (though in cold weather the rider will cool down quicker, due to their higher speeds and lack of exercise compared to e-biking).
The downside, as mentioned, is that you need to register and insure it and wear a fully compliant motorbike helmet. There will also be MOT fees to pay - these begin three years after first registration according to the government’s MOT checker.
Super Soco CU Mini - the spec
Like much of the competition, the Super Soco CU Mini has a tubular steel frame with basic, steel sprung, non-adjustable suspension front and rear. There's a big bench seat but no facility for a pillion passenger and fairly minimal carrying capacity in the form of a bag hook at the back of the steering column. It suited the test rider's 5ft 8in build but may not be too comfortable for much bigger and/or heavier riders.
Whilst this class of 28mph moped (technically known as L1e-B vehicles, just like speed pedelecs) is allowed a motor rated at 4Kw, Super Soco have chosen to keep things light and simple with a 600W rated rear hub motor activated with a simple-to-use twist-and-go style throttle. There's no drivetrain or gears to worry about and virtually nothing to maintain.
A 1.1 kWh, 7kg lithium battery sits securely locked under the seat. It is a doddle to remove and has a handy carrying handle. Again, it's small compared to much of the competition but relatively light to carry and quick to charge.
There are also 130mm hydraulic disc brakes; a keyless ignition and alarm, all on one fob; and a nice, highly visible dashboard showing speed, odometer and percentage battery level.
There's also a Bluetooth and app combo to provide tracking and a remote alarm feature. The motor also locks when the alarm is set so the moped can't easily be rolled away.
Super Soco CU Mini on the road
The CU Mini is comfortable and very, very easy to use. The seat is super comfy and the suspension and tyres really even out fairly big bumps - even at 30mph at the bottom of a steep descent. After a constant diet of e-bike testing, it also felt luxurious to be able to just sit there and easily see what's behind with the aid of dual wing mirrors and to have turn indicators easily available for safe manoeuvring.
The big weakness is that the power available from the 600W motor only really works over flatter or slightly hilly terrain. It just doesn't have the oomph to accelerate the 50kg of bike plus rider weight quickly, or to take you up anything but a moderate hill at more than 20mph. On very steep hills it slowed to less than 10mph.
We found the range to be up to around 15 miles in hillier conditions and around 20 miles over much flatter terrain. This is in sub-zero testing conditions, so summer riding should produce a considerable improvement. By way of comparison, a good mid-drive e-bike like the Neomouv Adonis 2 has around half the battery capacity but twice the range and can go off road and carry more luggage more easily.
Clearly where the CU Mini excels is for short urban trips over relatively flat ground. If that's what you need then it's a very attractively priced way to get about. Once you've paid the small price premium against a new petrol-powered 50cc moped then the CU Mini should save money compared to petrol power with cheaper 'fuel' and fewer repair costs as e-mopeds have far fewer moving parts compared to their petrol-powered cousins.
There's not much competition at this price level with most 28mph e-mopeds costing at least several hundred pounds more. Probably the stiffest challenge comes from Lexmoto's E-Lex which has (anecdotally - we haven't actually tested one) a bit more oomph in its motor.
If the fairly narrow optimum real-world riding conditions of the Super Soco CU Mini fit your travel habits, it's certainly a bargain.