It’s been three months since I started riding my NIU MQI GT electric scooter, so I thought it about time to write a review! I’m new to the world of mopeds, motorbikes, and riding generally, but riding my scooter has been a blast. With an interest in sustainable travel and EV, and a history of city cycling, this felt like a natural step up for getting around Brighton. Here’s how I’ve been getting on…
Why Choose A NIU MQi GT Electric Scooter?
Perfect For Urban Riding
The NIU MQi GT is designed with the urban commuter in mind. It’s the perfect bike for my lifestyle – I make short trips around Brighton’s bustling city centre and occasionally further afield. As an electric scooter, it’s incredibly easy to ride, too. There’s no gears, just an accelerator and brakes, and three riding modes that give a different speed range (‘E-Save’, ‘Dynamic’, and ‘Sport’ to hit the top speed of 43mph.)
With city riding I tend to stick between 20 – 30mph. This means I tend to leave it in the ‘Dynamic’ riding mode, where the bike is most comfortable, and can still whizz off when the lights turn green. Having a look on the NIU app, my past trips show that I tend to ride around 5-10 miles most weekdays. This encompasses trips to the office, to see friends, to meetings, and everywhere else in-between.
I also like the potential of having a passenger on my NIU MQi GT. This is the only electric scooter in the current NIU range that’s big enough for two. For that reason it has a slightly extended rear, as well as neat hand rests and foot rests. At the same time, this does make the bike more bulky, and combined with the two heavy batteries in the trunk, can be a bit daunting. For this reason, it took me a few weeks of practice before I could get the bike onto its main stand. Even now can sometimes feel quite heavy for my admittedly weak frame. Having ridden a single-person MQi briefly, it’s definitely a lighter, easier scooter to ride, but it also lacks the power and passenger option of the GT.
Easy & Efficient Battery Charging
In the three months of having my scooter, I’ve only had to charge it a handful of times. The scooter is powered by two heavy-duty lithium batteries and these run a 3000W Bosch motor, making it the equivalent of 125cc. When it comes to impact, this is the main drawback: lithium isn’t great for the environment. However, lithium battery recycling is quickly catching up. And, considering I can carry my batteries into my flat, charge them with renewable energy, and not spew pollution while whizzing about… I’d say it’s still a massive improvement!
Digital Monitoring & Security
The NIU is the first vehicle I’ve owned that comes with its own app, so forgive me if this is already a popular thing. When I discovered this, my mind was blown! On the NIU app, I can track so much. The current battery charge, where my scooter is parked, where I’ve ridden it recently, and other settings like alarm sensitivity. The app’s security features work even when the bike is off, and even when the batteries are disconnected.
I tend to park my scooter on the road outside my apartment, which comes with pro’s and con’s. Pro: it’s close by. Con: it’s only possible to see it if I peer out of my living room window. Thankfully, the NIU app helps me to monitor what’s going on; fellow riders parking up may trigger its vibrational alarm, but that’s fine. The real bonus was having it alert me to the vehicle leaning alarm just after midnight only a week ago, when some prankster on a motorcycle knocked my scooter over and promptly rode off. Cue me running out into the street in my slippers, cursing but also thanking my lucky stars! I was able to quickly assess the damage (none) and get my scooter back to a safe position before heading to bed.
Riding An Electric Scooter: What You Need To Know
The NIU MQi GT is a modern-day equivalent of a sexy 60’s Vesper. Actually, maybe better: it comes without the planetary impact, and with a little more oomph! Here are my top recommendations for getting to grips with one:
1. Get Your CBT Certificate
In order to legally ride an electric scooter on the road, you’ll need to pass a CBT (Compulsory Basic Training). This is a day-long training session that will get you used to the controls of a motor scooter, with practical exercises in a controlled space as well as on the road. You’ll also need good knowledge of the Highway Code. (Unless you’re looking to ride a scooter that has an engine size under 50cc – if not, you will need to do this even if you have a driver’s license.)
I booked my CBT in with Saferide, a motorcycle and scooter training school based in Southwick. Amazingly, the staff there had their very own NIU scooter to learn on! This meant I was able to get to grips with an electric scooter during my training. I passed the CBT feeling confident to ride my own NIU out onto the road.
(It’s worth noting that once you have a CBT certificate, you can legally ride on the road but will need L plates displayed on the front and back of your bike. You’re also required to pass your full test within 2 years of taking the CBT.)
2. Get Your Gear
On my CBT, I learned that UK law requires all motorcyclists to wear British Standard helmets, or equivalent. It meant that before I could ride my NIU MQi GT off the lot, I had to get a helmet. Off I went to The Cafe Racer, a style-forward motorcycle apparel store close to Brighton. There, I picked out my DMD open-face helmet, as well as a bubble visor, and protective leather gloves. On my bike I can reach up to 43mph, so I figured these would keep me safe. I also always wear jeans and boots when I ride – or on my more stylish days, my Sophie Hawkins denim jumpsuit!
3. Get To Grips With It
Riding an electric scooter is incredibly easy, but it’s worth finding some time to practice when you first start riding. With the accelerator on the right handle, and the brakes in front of the handle bars as per any bike, you can stop and go easily. However, there are some quirks. For one, the bike is silent. This means pedestrians and cyclists don’t tend to anticipate your arrival as quickly as they would – so be wary. Drivers, on the other hand, treat me like any other road user.
It’s also good to learn how to glance between the road ahead, the speedometer on the dash, the mirrors, and the controls. After three months of riding, it’s second nature. But to start, it was a little trickier to do, and especially at higher speeds than my trusty push bike. I also found flicking on my indicators without looking hard at the beginning, and would worry I was going to hit the horn (tucked underneath) or the full-beams. Sometimes I even did! But over time, I’ve found riding easier and easier.
4. Get To Know Your Routes
When I first started riding, I’ll admit I was a little nervous. Actually, nervously excited probably is more accurate. I love riding around! It feels like the city is much more accessible, and I’m now able to travel further distances that I wouldn’t have bothered with on the bus. That being said, I did find it useful to learn a few routes when riding, including the best places to park my bike.
In Brighton, motorcycles are considered a more environmentally-friendly way to travel around the city. As such, parking bays are free! It’s definitely a bonus when it comes to travelling on my NIU – no pricy parking, no fear of parking tickets, and there’s parking bays almost everywhere. I now have a few favourites saved to memory. This means I can have a seamless journey without having to ride around looking for somewhere to leave my bike!
For occasional journeys, I’ll also attach my phone to the scooter so I can follow my GPS. NIU sells their phone mounts for a very reasonable £30, and I’d recommend getting one before riding your bike off the lot.
My Top Tips For New NIU Electric Scooter Riders
And finally, here’s a few handy tips from a new rider who had to learn these for herself…
1. Take your batteries inside when it drops below freezing. Have you ever found your phone loses charge more quickly when it’s cold? This is a REAL thing, and for the NIU, the batteries may lose charge a little more quickly when it’s cold. To keep them in tip-top shape, take the batteries indoors when outdoor temperatures drop below freezing.
2. Keep your app up-to-date. This will also occasionally update the scooter’s own technology, which is important to ensure it works smoothly and provides you with all the features, including the pesky alarm sensitivity setting that I unknowingly had set on max and let a neighbour endure overnight during high winds…
3. Get a cover and chain padlock. This is especially true if you plan on keeping your electric scooter parked on the street, but it’s worth having these in the trunk for times when you might get caught out or need to leave it somewhere. I also like to keep a hi-vis jacket, microfibre cloth, wet wipes, and small tools on the bike in case I need them.
4. Ride with a backpack. Or, consider getting a scooter box. The NIU has very limited storage space due to the two batteries taking up much of the trunk space. Combined with the above kit, and cover and chain, there’s not really any room left! For this reason, I always ride with a waterproof backpack, and keep an additional bag inside there in case I need to fill this too and use the front hook.
5. Look after yourself. Riding a motor scooter is a blast! That said, it comes with the obvious dangers – chiefly, bad weather and bad drivers. Hand cream, lip balm, and warm clothing are a must when riding in cold weather. While protective clothing isn’t a legal requirement, it’s a good idea! And go steady. This bike is quick on acceleration so you can usually get up to speed very quickly, which can be immensely satisfying when lights turn green, but it’s best to ride in a steady, confident manner rather than timidly or aggressively. Enjoy the ride!