When Blueshark launched the R Series electric scooter range in Malaysia earlier this year, I didn’t really have high expectations on the Blueshark R1 as it was coming from a brand that I’ve never heard before, and it just didn’t look like the typical scooters we’re used to seeing like the Yamaha Nmax or the Honda Vario just to name a few.
The quirky design, the colours it came in, and the fact that it is electric, resulted in me assuming that the Blueshark R1 is nothing more than a toy for the rich, which will be used by Datuks or Tan Sris to take their grandkids to the playground and back, and nothing more.
However, after spending a couple of days with it, I realised that all my preconceived notions about the R1 were completely wrong and there is just so much more than what meets the eye.
Overview of the Blueshark R1
First unveiled at the 2022 International Greentech and Eco Products Exhibition & Conference Malaysia (IGEM) in Kuala Lumpur, the Blueshark R1 is available in two variants which can be purchased or leased for a monthly corporate rental.
While the entry-level variant called R1 Lite goes for RM7,190, the high-spec R1 which we’re looking at here is priced at RM9,390. Meanwhile, the monthly corporate rental rate is RM487 per month for the R1 Lite and RM547 for the R1. Keep in mind that the price here does not include the batteries. So, how?
Powered by a rear hub-mounted electric motor producing 5 kW and 201 Nm of torque, the Blueshark R1 comes with two swappable batteries that have a total capacity of 2.88kWh, providing a claimed NEDC range of 110km. These batteries, which can fully be charged in 3.5 hours each, can simply be purchased for about RM3,000 per battery, or rented at RM79 per month.
BlueShark is also offering a full-fledged battery-swap program, allowing users to easily swap their battery pack for a charged one at selected stations that are available in a few locations around the Klang Valley. You can either pay RM1.95 per swap, or subscribe to one of the available Battery Subscription Plans:
- BlueSwap Lite (RM59/month, up to 36 battery swaps)
- BlueSwap Standard (RM99/month, up to 70 battery swaps)
- BlueSwap Pro (RM139/month, up to 120 battery swaps)
So, depending on your budget, you can choose to either buy the batteries, rent them, or simply swap them at the nearest battery station when they are low on juice.
In case you’re wondering how much it is to purchase the top-spec R1 here together with the batteries, the price is RM14,800, while the R1 Lite asks for RM12,600 including batteries.
Fully imported from China for now, the R1, which will be locally assembled in the near future, actually comes with an impressive list of standard equipment. We have LED headlights with DRLs, an LED taillight, front and rear disc brakes, the ArkRide operating system which offers Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation, media playback, over-the-air updates, a digital video recorder (dashcam), a 10.4-inch full colour high-definition display, as well as a proper audio system with speakers!
At a glance, one might mistake the Blueshark R1 for a version of the Vespa from a distance as it features the iconic shape of a classic scooter. However, once you have a closer look, you will notice that the R1 looks much more futuristic and minimalistic.
Only once you see the 10.4-inch digital instrument panel do you realise how modern this scooter is, and how much is actually going in beneath the simple design. While the thick leather seats offer great level of comfort and support, the riding position is very relaxed as well.
Even big individuals like me who measures 179 cm and more than 100kg in weight could ride the R1 comfortably for a long time, so don’t be fooled by the images as this thing is actually bigger than it looks.
The first thing that you need to do before riding is download the Blueshark app and pair your R1 scooter to the app via Bluetooth. Once your scooter is paired, all the necessary information such as the battery life and whatnot can be accessed through your mobile device. How cool is that?
There are three riding modes to choose from, which are Eco, Comfort, and Sport. There is also a Rocket mode for additional boost while accelerating (at the expense of some battery life of course). The difference between the three modes are basically the range, the power, and also how the R1 responds to the twist of the throttle.
Throughout my stint with the R1, the mode of choice was mainly Sport as power delivery was more seamless and it just felt the closest to a regular bike with an engine. In Comfort mode, the R1 was not as responsive as the power was limited in order to make things more relaxed. Last but not least, Eco mode saw the R1 behaving in the most relaxed manner.
Although the claimed maximum range is 110km with a fully charged battery, I only managed to clock about 70km as the R1 was mostly in Sports mode, and I was using the Rocket mode quite a bit for that extra oomph whenever the traffic light turned green.
Since there is no engine, there is little to no vibration while riding the Blueshark R1, making it such a relaxing experience. There is no engine or exhaust noise as well. So, if things get quiet, you can either enjoy some music from your phone via the speakers, or turn on the artificial engine noise which could be done by a push of a button.
Bumps and lumps were tolerated decently by the standard suspension setup and the thick tyres. The only downside is that there is no ABS, which means that you have to be a tad extra careful if the road is wet or sandy. Other than that, the R1 is smooth as butter on the road. Interestingly, it was able to hit the claimed top speed of 80 km/h even with me, a 100kg-plus rider on it!
The best part about the Blueshark’s dual battery setup is that the scooter can run even with a single battery in case the other one runs out of power. The catch is that you can ride at a maximum of 40 km/h and cover half of what is claimed. However, the charger (if you buy the R1 with the battery) is compact enough to be fit in the storage compartment under the seat.
All you need is a regular three-pin plug point to which you connect the charger. After that, just pull the battery out of the R1 and slot it into the charger and wait for it to finish charging. If there is a battery station nearby, you can opt to swap the battery for RM1.95 (one-time swap) and move on with life. So convenient!
The build quality of the Blueshark R1 is also decent, as there was no squeaks, rattling, or any unwanted vibration throughout my stint with it. The materials used to make components like the stand, the handlebar, the foot pegs and all are of decent quality.
In all, the Blueshark R1 is a well-thought-out product that is ideal for someone with a daily commuting distance of about 40km to 50km. While you can charge the battery at home, you can even charge it at your desk in the office, thanks to the compact design. In addition, it feels so relaxed and comfortable to ride.
On top of all that, there is an audio system, an under-seat storage compartment which can fit a helmet, and a hook under the instrument panel to hang a helmet or the food which you just packed. What else do we need in a scooter? Plus, the cost to service the Blueshark R1 is only RM45, which you will have to pay only once in every 6,000km.
Although we are unsure how reliable and durable it will be in years to come, the fact that there are plans to locally assemble the Blueshark R1 is good news as availability of parts would not be an issue. So, let us wait and see… but, for time being, the Blueshark R1 certainly has a lot to offer for a scooter that is priced between RM7,000 and RM15,000.