When I moved back to my hometown of Pokhara amidst the pandemic in 2020 to work remotely, I didn't need to move around much. However, when the world began to open up again in 2022 and mobility became essential again, I needed something quick, efficient, and unique from the crowd.
I decided that an electric scooter would be the perfect solution and NIU NQi Sport was my choice. After using it for almost a year and riding it over 2500kms in various terrains and weather conditions, I am happy to share my review :
Aesthetics and Ergonomics
The design of the scooter looks very well thought with attention to minimal aesthetics. On the front, it has an LED headlight with iconic NIU circular DRL and an NIU logo at the top. Wrapping the sides are gently contoured body panels and the use of repetitive shapes to form a very clean aesthetic. The battery compartment on the bottom of the scooter may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, but it serves a practical purpose. The low placement of the battery keeps the center of gravity low and improves the stability and handling of the scooter.
The LED headlight of the scooter effectively illuminates the surrounding area at night, and is cleverly embedded into the lower half of the body to prevent insects from hitting the rider's face. Under the seat, there is an ample amount of boot space on offer and I can easily store my helmet and vehicle documents. The under seat storage also doubles as a battery compartment if I want to add an extra battery for a longer range. Everything works in unison to make the two-wheeler look aesthetically pleasing yet highly functional from the saddle mounts to the two-way passenger footrest, to the body panels and the tail lights.
The front LCD digital dashboard is clean and easy to read even during bright sunny days. The USB port under the dashboard is useful for quickly charging my phone on the go, and the hooks along the side are useful for hanging small shopping bags and groceries.
The built bottle holder is also convenient during the ride. The rearview mirrors are small but effective, providing a wide view of the traffic behind them. Overall, the NQi Sport is a well-designed electric scooter that is unique on the road.
A 2400W brushless DC motor made by Bosch powers the scooter providing it with smooth and swift acceleration. It makes it an excellent option for daily commuting or tackling hills. The minimal vibrations of the scooter also make for a comfortable ride, reducing fatigue at the end of the day. The motor can easily push two adult passengers on a steep uphill. However, I had to be prepared for the occasional heat-ups during up-hill climbs.
Being an electric scooter, the initial torque while accelerating is impressive. While the max speed of the scooter is capped at 48km/hr, I can confidently overtake slow-moving vehicles on the road without any hesitation. The throttle response however lags a little before you feel the torque compared to other electric scooters of similar capacity. I believe this is something NIU can easily solve via a software update down the line.
The NIU NQi Sport electric scooter has 12-inch anti-skid tires, with a thicker width on the rear tire for better traction and a thinner width on the front tire for easier maneuvering. Both have hydraulic disc brakes on them, and their braking performance is very spot on even while braking at higher speeds. Like other EVs, the sensor on the brakes cut off throttle power and put regenerates the momentum into charging back the battery.
The extended-range NQi Sport that I own has a 60V 35Ah Lithium-Ion battery. For my use case, the real-world range of up to 60-70km on a single charge is more than sufficient for my needs. I haven't had to worry about running out of power halfway through my ride.
The battery weighs 11kg and you have two options for charging the battery. You can either plug the charger directly into the scooter or by removing it from the scooter for more convenient charging. It takes about 3-4 hours and 3-4 kWh of electricity to fully charge the battery from a 10% charge, which is the level I typically let it drop to before recharging. This means that it barely costs about 35 cents to fully charge the battery here in Nepal, making it one of the most economical ways to get around.
On top of that, the scooter also has a regenerative braking system that puts some of the energy back into the battery when the brakes are applied. I've noticed that this system can return about 1/3 of the power used during an uphill climb while going downhill.
For example, if the climb drains 30% of the battery, the regenerative braking on the way back can put about 10% back into the battery. Overall, the charging and regenerative braking systems of the NQi Sport are efficient and reliable.
Build Quality & Comfort
The balance of the scooter is both in its sleek design and its interfaces, like switches and dashboards, create a robust riding experience. The body material, switches, and paint quality of the NQi Sport feel extremely premium compared to other electric vehicles in the market. To maintain the shine and protect the plastic parts from fading, I have also applied a Diamond Coating to the scooter. This coating not only helps to keep the scooter looking shiny and new, but it also makes it easier to clean and maintain.
The rider's seat on the NIU NQi Sport electric scooter is comfortable, even for longer rides. A larger pillion area could add comfort for a passenger. As a tall rider, I am able to sit about two inches higher than on other traditional scooters. This gives me a commanding view of the road and helps to improve stability, especially when I'm navigating rough terrain.
The scooter has held up well, thanks to its higher ground clearance and robust 12-inch anti-skid tires. They have a thicker width on the rear tire for better traction and a thinner width on the front tire for easier maneuvering. The hydraulic disc brakes on both tires provide responsive and reliable braking performance, even at higher speeds. It has dual suspensions on both wheels, like traditional motorcycles. However, the damping performance feels somewhat mediocre, and there is room for improvement in this aspect.
The buttons on the handles have a premium feel and are ergonomically placed for easy reach. I've also used the scooter on rainy days and had no issues thanks to the fully waterproof components. The NQi Sport is a reliable and enjoyable electric scooter that can handle a variety of conditions.
The NIU NQi Sport electric scooter is packed with smart features that make it a pleasure to ride. One of the most useful features is the self-canceling indicators, which turn off after you make a turn.
The scooter also has cruise control, similar to newer four-wheelers. I can activate it with a press of a button and it disengages automatically when I increase the throttle or apply the brakes. It also comes with a built-in key fob, which helps you locate the scooter in a crowded parking space.
The key fob has three buttons for locking, unlocking, and locating the scooter. In addition, the scooter has vibration sensors that trigger an alarm if vibrations are detected while the scooter is locked.
One of the most impressive aspects of the NQi Sport is its cloud-based electrical control unit (ECU). The ECU has a SIM card connected to my local carrier. It communicates with NIU's servers over the internet to send real-time GPS locations or alerts to my phone. The app can be used to view the available range and past routes, and perform smart checks in case of any device or sensor failures.
While I'm overall very satisfied with my NIU NQi Sport electric scooter, there are a few areas where I think it could be improved. For one, the charging time of 3-4 hours can be quite long when you need a quick top-up to reach your destination. It would be great if the charging time could be faster.
Additionally, the coverage of service centers could be wider. It can be challenging to find the right people to solve problems when they arise, especially since this is a new technology. The suspensions could also be better tuned to absorb bumps more effectively. A wider pillion seat for the passenger would also be appreciated for a more comfortable ride. One technical issue that I have noticed is the problem of brake pads hitting the rotor even when the brakes aren't engaged. This not only makes the battery lose unnecessary power in the form of heat but also causes squeaky noise during the ride. Finally, the initial investment in the NQi Sport is quite high, and it would be great if there were government subsidies or 0% EMI facilities available to help make it more accessible.
Despite these potential improvements, I'm extremely happy with my purchase of the NQi Sport and would definitely recommend it to others for its performance, reliability, and efficiency.