Last fall I walked into my local NIU dealership and rolled out on a shiny new black-and-red NIU NQi GT electric scooter. I’ve been steadily putting on the miles, though between lockdowns and traveling (believe it or not!), I haven’t ridden as much as I would have liked. But having now zoomed past 1,000 km (600 miles) on the odometer, I figure it’s time to let you know my full thoughts on this fun-loving city-conquering electric scooter.
My initial impressions were largely positive when I reported on my first few rides.
And now the more miles I put on the scooter, the more I realize this is hands down one of the best ways to get around the city.
With a zippy top speed and enough range to let me get away with a once-a-week recharge, the NIU NQi GT electric scooter is the ultimate urban commuter vehicle.
Make sure to watch my video review below to see me cruising the streets of Tel Aviv while I tell you all the things I love (and the few things I don’t love) about the scooter. I worked hard on that video; you wouldn’t just skip it… would you?
NIU NQi GT electric scooter video review
NIU NQi GT tech specs
- Motor: 3.5 kW Bosch rear hub motor
- Top speed: 48 mph (77 km/h)
- Range: Up to 87 mi (140 km)
- Battery: 2x 60V 35Ah (total of 4,200 Wh)
- Curb weight: 243 lb (110 kg)
- Max load: 593 lb (269 kg)
- Brakes: CBS hydraulic disc brakes
- Suspension: Hydraulic fork, dual rear hydraulic shocks
- Wheels: 14″
All of the performance you need
NIU has always rated the NQi GT series for 70 km/h (43.5 mph) top speed, so imagine my surprise when I hopped on the first time and it took me right up to 80 km/h before I could feel the electronic limit was reached.
Like most vehicles though, the speedometer is a bit optimistic. GPS-verification told me that the scooter’s fastest 80 km/h was more like a true 77 or 78 km/h. I don’t know why NIU still lists 70 km/h on all of their literature, because you’ll definitely see the speedo hit 80 if you’ve got enough room to run.
This is of course an urban-oriented electric scooter though, so I rarely find myself pegging the digital needle. While NIU gives you three ride modes (E-Save, Dynamic, and Sport), I ride around in Sport mode 100% of the time so I have full power on tap and all of my speed available if I should need it.
That means I get a real world range of around 100 km (62 miles) per charge. If I rode in Dynamic I would of course get better range, but that would limit me to something around 55 km/h (32 mph), and I don’t like hitting that electronically limited speed and feeling the power drop off suddenly.
The 100 km of real world range is also pretty convenient, since I just look at my battery percentage and know that I have around that much range left. If I see 60% charge, I know I’ve got a good 60 km of range left.
That’s realistically more range than anyone needs for a city scooter, but I like the large battery capacity because it means I’m charging around once a week instead of every evening.
So the speed is plenty and the range is more than enough. The only complaint I have when it comes to range or battery is how they’ve programmed the “limp home” mode. Many e-bikes and e-scooters have this, where power is limited when you have almost depleted the battery. This helps prevent the battery from working too hard at very low voltage, which can be tough on its life expectancy.
The problem is NIU decided that from 15% battery and lower, the scooter will force you into E-Save mode, which has me riding at around 20 km/h (12 mph). It only happened to me once and it scared the crap out of me. I was fortunately close to home and was able to pull off of the main road I was using and get onto a side street where my slow speed didn’t make me a hazard. But yeah, I’ve basically come to the conclusion that the last 15% of the battery is more or less unusable; it’s for emergencies only.
I try not to let the battery drop below 40% anyways just to be safe, but ever since my first deep discharge test I’m even more aware not to drop as low as 15% anymore.
When it comes to power, I find that I accelerate faster than most 125cc scooters I pull up next to, though they can often overtake me once I hit my speed limit. I have enough low-end power and torque to hold my own with 250cc scooters, but only for the first few seconds until they can spool up higher power at higher RPMs. Ultimately, I’d put the NIU NQi GT somewhere between 50cc and 125cc scooters when it comes to power, but skewed toward the 125cc end.
Daily use and convenience
Using the scooter is super convenient for city dwellers.
Parking is a non-issue since it can park just about anywhere. I live in Tel Aviv and not only are there plenty of scooter/motorcycle parking spots, but you can also pretty much park anywhere you want on the wide sidewalks as long as you aren’t blocking foot traffic. Pulling up next to a utility pole or anti-car parking pylon (which are both already out of the main path) is a great option.
When it comes to getting around a city, oh my goodness – you just can’t beat the convenience of an electric scooter like this. Scooters in general are one of the best ways to get around a city. They are faster than cars meaning you shoot away when the light turns green. They can be parked anywhere. You can weave through stopped or slow moving traffic (assuming your area permits lane splitting/filtering). Skipping to the front of every traffic light and then blasting off when the light turns green is a special kind of satisfaction.
I can literally get places in half or a third of the time compared to cars in Tel Aviv. A 30-minute car trip can be a 10- to 12-minute scooter trip. It’s gotten to the point where when I ride as a passenger in cars in traffic, I just sit there eyeing the wasted space between the rows of cars.
The beauty of an electric scooter over gas scooters though is how much nicer they are to operate. At a red light, the vehicle isn’t vibrating under you. You don’t have that lag when you start to accelerate. You don’t have listen to that awful “WHEEEEEEEERRRRRRR” noise every time you take off.
Charging is also very convenient on the NIU.
Charging can be done in one of two ways. Your first option is to plug in the scooter like an electric bicycle using the wall charger. That’s what I do. There’s a parking garage under my apartment building with a corner for charging electric bikes. I just leave my charger there, then roll up and plug in whenever I need a charge. If you have a house with a garage, this is how you’d likely charge.
For the many apartment dwellers who aren’t as fortunate to have a ground-level plug, you can simply park outside and take the two removable batteries up to your apartment to charge remotely. They each weigh 11 kg (24 lb), so they aren’t lightweight. But for a once-a-week affair it isn’t too bad.
The one thing you can’t do is charge one battery at a time. Well, you can… you just won’t get to ride at full power. I tried that initially as a way to avoid carrying two batteries upstairs at once. But the scooter is smart enough that it won’t let you use full power if the batteries have more than a 10% difference in charge levels, which I assume is to prevent one battery from having to supply full power by itself. If you take out a battery and ride with a single battery, you’re similarly limited to the middle speed/power mode.
The scooter is very smart in that way, perhaps too smart.
It is built with dozens of sensors and you can even perform a digital 100-point inspection via the phone app. It runs through all of the systems and lets you know if something is amiss. I’ve run the check 20 or 30 times and I’ve never found a fault, so I’m not sure what would happen if it did locate an issue. But it’s nice to know I don’t have to bring it into to the dealer just to perform a simple inspection of all connected components.
Another nice feature on the app is the GPS-location. Theoretically it could be helpful if you forgot where you parked, but I use it more to ease my paranoia that someone has stolen my scooter. When you lock the scooter via the wireless key fob (“beep beep!”), the app will alert you if someone touches the scooter.
I’ve gotten a few vibration alerts before that sent my heart racing, but my scooter was always still there so it must have just been someone bumping against the bars or something while parking next to me.
Once I got a notification that “your scooter is leaning” and immediately went into quick reaction force mode, running out to the front of my building expecting to confront someone trying to wheel the thing into the back of a van. As it turned out, it was during a crazy windstorm (I live a few hundred meters from the Mediterranean coast) and the scooter had actually blown over. It was actually my fault, believe it or not. The problem was I had parked it on the side stand, which is lazier than parking on the more stable center stand. And I had also parked on a bit of a downhill incline. So a big gust must have pushed it forward enough, helped by gravity on the incline, and the side stand simply folded. If I had either parked it with the nose pointing up hill, or had just used the stable center stand, it wouldn’t have happened.
Ever since, I always make sure to park on the locking center stand instead of the quick but less stable side stand. The side stand is great for quick stops if you need to run into a store quickly, but it’s not as good for parking on hills or on loose terrain like grass.
The NIU NQi GT has larger 14″ wheels compared to many other scooters, and its hydraulic suspension is quite good in the city.
I often hit speed bumps much faster than I should and the scooter just loves it. Between the suspension and extra cushy seat, my butt barely knows I hit that speed bump at reckless speeds.
The cruise control is also great for long straightaways and urban highways.
I think the seat is nicely designed, though my wife wasn’t as big of a fan of the rear portion of the seat until I added the NIU backrest. Now she doesn’t feel like she can slip off the back when I accelerate hard. Though at the same time she doesn’t hug me from behind as tight now so maybe that wasn’t a good move on my part.
The other NIU accessory I bought was the NIU phone holder. I 100% recommend you get this if you have your own NIU. It mounts on the mirror holder so it doesn’t clutter up the minimal space on the bars. There’s also a USB charging port right above the bag clip so you can keep your phone charged while the GPS navigation wreaks its havoc on your phone battery.
Value for money is key
There certainly aren’t as many electric scooters as gas scooters to choose from. In some areas, especially in the US, NIU could even be your only choice.
But even without a plethora of options, NIU is still a great choice thanks to its high-tech design and reasonable price.
In the US, the scooter is priced at around $4,500, while Europeans will find it for around €4,500. That’s a pretty penny above gas scooters, but not that much more than most electric scooters in this class. And when you add in the telemetry, GPS-services, smart sensor suite, and all the other electronics that make this a truly “smart” scooter, the price is definitely worth it. Even small touches like the auto-cancelling turn signals add to the smart features. And while that doesn’t sound like much, even high-dollar electric motorcycles like those from Zero don’t offer auto-cancelling turn signals yet.
While this is my daily driver and completely replaces a car for me, others may find that it makes a good “second car” type of vehicle. You may still need a full car for longer trips or to carry more stuff, but an electric scooter like this can absolutely replace many car trips in cities. Not only will it be quicker and cheaper than taking a car, but the ride will be a lot more fun too!
While I still love my electric bicycles and other forms of micromobility, using the NIU NQi GT as my main form of daily transportation has been an incredible experience and I would recommend it to any city dweller looking to save money on car payments, gas, parking, and other expenses while spicing up their commute.
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Author: Micah Toll