Electric mobility company NIU has just launched one of the sleekest looking light electric motorbikes we’ve seen in years. But before you get too excited, we should note that the new NIU SQi is first launching in the company’s domestic market of China.
A company insider could only tell Electrek that timing for an overseas launch of the NIU SQi was “TBD”.
Even so, you couldn’t be blamed for already getting excited over the design.
While the signature NIU halo headlight is there, the rest of the bike makes a stark departure from NIU’s typical design scheme. Most of the company’s electric mopeds could be described more as “cute” or “welcoming” with their rounded designs and flowing lines.
But the NIU SQi is downright sci-fi looking. If the Terminator needed a light electric motorcycle, this is what he’d ride.
That being said, the aggressive look of the SQi goes only as deep as the body panels, at least in the Chinese market version.
Local laws that define electric bicycles and limit their max speed to 25 km/h (15 mph) have neutered the SQi into a fast-looking but slow-riding two-wheeler.
“Electric bicycle?” you may be asking. Yep, that’s right – take a look right below where the NIU SQi’s swingarm meets the frame. That’s a set of bicycle pedals cleverly camouflaged away. They’re just far enough back to probably be super awkward to use, and just far enough into existence to keep the SQi legal as an electric bicycle and not classified as an electric motorcycle.
For anyone who wants to be free of the hassles of licensing, insurance, registration and other drags that come along with motor vehicle ownership, that’s a clever workaround. But for those that want high speed and high power, you’ll likely want to stick with NIU’s actual electric motorcycle, the NIU RQi.
The rest of the specs are also more befitting of an electric bicycle than an electric motorcycle.
The rear hub motor is listed as a modest 400W, though that’s at least the continuous power rating. The peak power output is likely higher.
The battery is 48V and comes in either a 20Ah (960 Wh) or 24Ah (1,152 Wh) option. They provide a claimed 65 to 75 km (40 to 47 mile) range, respectively. The batteries are removable for charging off of the bike, and NIU is well known for its quality battery packs.
The NIU SQi also inherits a number of other NIU features, including connectivity through the company’s smartphone app. That means riders can use GPS to locate their bike as well as take advantage of battery monitoring, vehicle diagnostics and settings – all remotely controlled from the rider’s phone.
There are a pile of other features as well, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what they are. The product page is written in Mandarin, and I’ve gotten about as far as I can go with Google Translate.
What I can more easily gather are the prices, which range from RMB 8,999 to RMB 9,599 (approximately US $1,330 to US $1,420).
From the images, the bike also looks rather small for a motorcycle, putting it more in e-bike geometry territory. It’s likely similar in size to something like a Super Soco TC-series light electric motorbike, which will have it feeling more like an electric bicycle beneath you and less like a 500+ pound electric Harley.
The NIU SQi is obviously designed for the local Chinese market, at least in its current form. But the bike is certainly too sleek and impressive looking to spend the rest of its life stuck at pedal bike speeds.
We have to imagine that it is only a matter of time before NIU brings the SQi to international markets. And when it does, higher speeds will be on the table.
A company insider confirmed to Electrek that a 45 km/h (28 mph) top speed is a possibility in international markets, making the SQi a street-legal class 3 electric bicycle in the US or a speed pedelec in much of Europe.
The design is another interesting entry in the half electric bicycle, half electric motorcycle space. We’ve seen plenty of companies produce motorcycle-inspired electric bicycles lately, and we’ve even seen e-bikes that look like bicycles but would be better classified as motorcycles.
What do you think of the NIU SQi’s design and features?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
And while we all collectively wait for the rest of the world to get access to this awesome little electric moped, take a gander at NIU’s larger electric motorcycle and other fast electric scooters in my video visit with the company, seen below.
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Author: Micah Toll