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The Niu KQi3 is the most comfortable and stable eScooter yet, clearly proportioned for adults (even tall ones). It won’t win any awards for speed, but if you want something doesn’t feel like a kid’s toy, this is it. Be sure to get the Pro version if you’re closer to the maximum weight of 220 lbs/100kg.
- Brand: Niu
- Weight: 18.5/20KG (40.8/44 lbs)
- Range: 40/50KM+
- Battery: 365/486wh
- Max. Load: 100KG (220lbs)
- Lights: Front halo light, rear brake light
- Brakes: Dual-disc front only (Sport model); front and rear (Pro model)
- Height Adjustable Handlebars: No
- Foldable: Yes, easy two-step folding mechanism
- Age Suitability: 14+
- Stable, smooth ride
- Plenty of safety features
- Chunky frame, wide deck, and large tyres
- App registration required to unlock core features
- 300W motor won't get you up hills without your input
Niu KQi3 other
If you’ve ever ridden an eScooter, and it felt like a kids toy, I completely sympathize. They’re just not made for adults, especially not tall ones. Niu is here to fix that.
Niu is already a highly respected maker of electric mopeds and has now turned its attention to scooters. The KQi3 is its first foray into the world of kick scooters, and if it’s anything to go by, Niu is about to be crowned the new king of eScooters.
Here’s why I think the KQi3 is the smoothest, safest, most comfortable eScooter yet. The KQi3 is currently in crowdfunding with delivery slated for August; early bird pricing starts at $469.
There’s no denying the KQi3 is the chunkiest eScooter I’ve ever come across. Weighing in at 18.5kg (or 20kg for the Pro model), you’ll find a number of design features that differentiate it from everything else on the market.
First, there are the handlebars, which sit at a 75-degree angle, and measure larger than average at 54cm (21.3″) wide and around a meter (39″) from the deck. I’m 185cm tall (6’1″), and it feels perfect. My wife is 173cm, and though she said it felt a little too high, she had no problems in use.
Then there’s the wide, rubberized deck, ensuring you have a good, comfortable standing position without compromising safety. The entire frame is made of thick, sturdy aluminum tubing.
Lastly, the 2.5-inch thick, 9-inch diameter pneumatic tires (65/65-6) ensure a smooth ride on urban terrain.
Although the handlebars are easy to fold over without straining yourself, the two-step locking mechanism feels very secure, both when upright or locked into the rear for carrying. That said, at around 20kg I doubt you’ll want to carry this around too much, so it’s more useful to be stowed away in the back of your car for the last few miles of your journey.
Out of the box, the only construction needed was to secure the handlebars with a few screws. After that, you should plug in the charger to ensure optimal battery life before your first ride.
Sport vs Pro Model
There are two models of the KQi3 for sale: Sport, and Pro. While visually very similar, some minor differences in hardware are worth considering.
- The Sport features a front disc brake only; the Pro model features both front and rear disc brakes.
- A 365Wh battery powers the Sport model, while the Pro is supplied by a 486Wh battery. This gives it an increased range of 50KM+, vs 40KM on the Sport model.
- The Sport model has a 300W motor, while the Pro features a 350W motor. Both are locked to the 25km/h maximum speed, however.
We got to test out the Sport model, in red. The Sport model is also available in blue, white, or plain black, though this only affects the trimmings—the main body of the scooter is still black. The Pro model is even more color-limited, with either subtle rose gold or white accents.
Though there’s little in the way of hardware setup to do out of the box, you will need to register your device using the Niu app, and run through some initial training. If you try to jump on and take your first ride without doing so, you’ll be disappointed, as the scooter will be locked in speed-limited training mode. You’ll also need to ride at least 500m before faster speeds are unlocked.
The fact that you must register your vehicle at all will be frustrating, but I can understand the desire to have users run through a mandatory training program first. We live in uncertain times for eScooters. Where I live, in the UK, they’re technically still illegal to ride in public. There are mounting safety concerns, so it’s a sensible move by Niu to ensure every owner is at least somewhat responsible.
Using the app does open up some useful features though, like the estimated time to full charge, and the ability to lock the KQi3. You shouldn’t lock the scooter for extended periods of time as a small amount of power is used, but for brief intervals, it’s a useful addition.
While locked, the scooter can’t be easily pushed away. Any attempt to power on, accelerate, or simply push the scooter, will result in a flashing screen and annoying beeping noise. It’s not a loud alarm by any means, but it’s noisy enough to alert anyone nearby that something isn’t right. However, it doesn’t alert you through the app, which seems like a missed opportunity.
Another neat feature you can configure is the level of regenerative braking, which we’ll talk about in more detail later; and of course the ability to check your ride statistics.
I should note that I’ve been using a TestFlight version of the software, so it’s still subject to change and the experience has been buggy. The onboard computer didn’t seem to register any of the journeys I initiated through the app mapping system, for instance.
One aspect of the scooter that isn’t currently configurable is that you need to push off before the accelerate button will work—you can’t just stand on the scooter and press go. This is likely intended as a safety feature, though it’s not really one I appreciate. Again though, this is not the final version of the software and this may be changed by the final release.
Regenerative and Physical Braking
The Niu KQi3 features both physical disc brakes and automatic regenerative braking, the latter of which can be configured through the app.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of regenerative braking, it essentially means the motor is running electrically in reverse, so rather than power being converted to a rotation motion, the rotation is converted to power. This is activated any time you’re not actively accelerating, so it’s constantly recharging the battery.
On the weakest level of regenerative braking (or energy recovery as it’s sometimes called), you won’t notice much difference. You’ll still be able to let go of the accelerator and cruise along. However, on the strongest level, you’ll notice the slow down as soon as you stop accelerating. It also means you can go downhill without wasting energy on a physical disc brake.
While the Pro model features both front and rear dual-disc brakes, the front-only braking of the Sport model along with regenerative braking seemed more than sufficient for me even on steep inclines. On other models, front-only braking has meant I have to my weight significantly to avoid going over the handlebars; that just wasn’t the case here. Everything is balanced beautifully.
People tend to have a love/hate relationship with regenerative braking though, preferring to cruise along on flat ground. If you know you’re going to disable it completely, I’d strongly suggest getting the Pro model with both physical brakes for safety.
Speed and Range
Niu claims the Sport model can achieve a maximum range of 40KM, while the Pro model should reach 50KM+. But this will be under ideal conditions: flat, good terrain, with a rider no more than 75KG, and with regenerative braking fully on.
In my testing, a full charge netted me around 20KM, though I had to work this out manually with Google Maps. This is short of the stated maximum, but a number of factors contributed to the difference. Firstly, I’m at the far end of the maximum recommended weight (if not a smidgen over it).
Second, we live in a fairly hilly area, and we’ve been testing on a variety of terrain, from regular tarmac roads, to light gravel paths, and the grasslands on the moors. It handled them all comfortably (certainly a lot smoother than other scooters I’ve tried, including the Kugoo ES2 I was following along on to film from)—but it inevitably takes more power to push a heavier load, or to ride over unsuitable, hilly terrain. You can therefore consider 20KM to be a minimum range you might expect, rather than an average.
25km/h is the maximum speed in most of Europe, while the US model will be limited to 20mph. Again, that’ll depend mostly on your weight, and the terrain you’re driving on. On flat streets, I was hitting about 15km/h.
Should You Buy the Niu KQi3?
The Niu KQi3 is the most fun I’ve had for a product review in a long time. I’m not generally the type of person who wants to hop on an eScooter for fun: it’s a tool to get me from A to B. But I have found myself wanting to jump on the KQi3 and go for a ride, just … because.
It’s not absurdly fast, and it doesn’t handle offroad riding all that well thanks to the lack of suspension. But in urban environments, it’s a smooth, safe, and comfortable ride that’s clearly been designed with adults in mind. eScooters have finally grown up!
That said, if you’re on the heavier side, or live somewhere hilly as I do, I would recommend that you opt for the Pro model, rather than Sport. In my experience, the Sport model is ever so slightly underpowered, such that I needed a fair bit of input to get up even slight inclines. Admittedly, I’m extremely lazy and somewhat fat, so perhaps the additional effort required on my part is a good thing after all. Still, unless you’re dead set on the sporty little red number, the Pro model might be a better choice.