November 26, 2020

Is the Niu NQi GTS Sport Electric Scooter the Future of Personal Transport?

https://www.reviewgeek.com/54558/is-the-niu-nqi-gts-sport-electric-scooter-the-future-of-personal-transport/
Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $3,299

niu scooter right hand profile
Ste Knight

The Niu NQi GTS Sport is one of the latest electric scooters to be released by Niu. The brand, based in China, has a range of two-wheeled electric-powered vehicles, and this new addition to their lineup represents a rich feature set and great value for money.

Here’s What We Like

  • Great battery life
  • Charges quickly
  • Drives smoothly
  • Futuristic display
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Informative app
  • Lots of security features

And What We Don’t

  • Can’t override the auto battery save mode
  • No storage space if you have both batteries installed

The electric smart-scooter currently retails for $3,299 and is available via a number of retailers across the U.S. (Although looking at its “Find a Store” page, the majority of Niu dealers are based in the eastern states). This might seem like a large initial outlay, but you’ll see as you read on, it is definitely worth the investment.

The Niu NQi GTS Sport is a brilliant piece of equipment. It has so many positives and, in my experience of testing it for the past three months, I only encountered one issue (albeit quite a major one). With this in mind, let’s take a more detailed look at this fantastic mode of personal transport.

A Retro-Inspired, Yet Modern Design

Despite being a thoroughly modern vehicle, the NQi GTS I was testing comes with a gorgeous retro-inspired paint-job. The main colorway is black (you can also get a white version) and features bold red stripes to the side with a matching centrally offset stripe array to the front panel. This stripe design continues onto the front mudguard.

niu scooter front view
Ste Knight

In all, appearance-wise, the scooter looks as you would expect any scooter to look. It (perhaps obviously) has two wheels; both of these measure in at 16″. The scooter’s rear has the brake light and signal lights, with a reflector sitting on the rear mudguard for added visibility.

The scooter’s top has a generously sized and very comfortable seat, which lifts up to reveal the first of the scooter’s lithium ion batteries (more on these later). The seat is flanked by handles that offer something to grab hold of, if you take a passenger on the back, too.

The rear battery can be removed to offer a small amount of storage space, should you need it. This chamber also houses a charging port, which you can plug into directly from a power source. Doing so will charge both of the batteries if they are plugged in.

This is the first drawback where the Niu is concerned. Because one of the batteries is concealed below the seat, you have no space for luggage when it is in use. Rival brands, such as Artisan, get past this by concealing storage under the bubble-like wheel covers of their EV2000R model. This way, storing the battery below the seat isn’t a problem, as you still have space to lock essentials away from the elements. With the Niu, you can remove the under-seat battery but at a cost of 50% range.

niu scooter seat compartment
Ste Knight

Also contained in the seat box is the lock for the second battery chamber. This second battery recess sits directly below your feet. There is a hatch below the footrest, which pops open when you unlock it from the seat box. This can be a little on the fiddly side, but that’s only because it locks again when the chamber is closed. So if you drop the hatch door it will click shut, meaning that you have to unlock it again.

On the underside of the footrest are two stands: a single-leg kickstand and a double-leg kickstand. Obviously, these allow the scooter to remain stationary without falling over. We experienced some really high winds in the U.K. while I was testing the scooter, and I’m glad to say that both of the kickstands dealt with the elements without even breaking a sweat. Between them are pop-out foot supports—again for a passenger.

The front of the bike has the aforementioned mudguard, above which is the LED light. This is nice and bright, so it both lights your way and alerts others to your presence. On top of the front panel are the handlebars, around which the various controls are found. Between the handlebars is the full LCD dashboard, which offers plenty of information about the scooter and your current ride. (We’ll look at this in more detail later.)

niu scooter left handlebar
Ste Knight

Around the left handlebar, you’ll find the controls for the horn, signal indicator lights, and cruise control. There is also a button to flash your headlamp, should you need to signal to another driver that you’re giving them right of way at a junction or a turn.

niu scooter right handlebar
Ste Knight

The right handlebar has the all-important throttle (which is activated by twisting the handle, as with most motorcycles and other scooters). The power button is also located here, and must be activated every time you want to ride. It places the scooter into “Ready” mode, meaning that you can now operate the throttle to power the scooter.

niu scooter front panel usb port, hook, and mobile phone recess
Ste Knight

The paneling in front of your knees features a recess in which you can place your phone. There is also a small hook (which I used for hanging grocery bags) and a USB socket, so the scooter can even charge your phone if you want it to. Obviously, if you charge your phone, it will make a dent in the scooter’s battery life.

A Dream to Ride

niu scooter right rear profile
Ste Knight

The Niu GTS Sport is truly a wonderful vehicle to ride. It has three speed-modes: “E-Save,” which has a maximum speed of 16 mph and isn’t really safe to use on busy roads at all. In fact, I rarely used this mode aside from once, and it wasn’t my choice. This is where the issue I mentioned earlier comes in.

See, if the battery drops below 10%, then the scooter automatically goes into E-Save mode. Great, if you’re several miles from home, and you know you’re not going to make it. However, I was riding along in the next mode up (Dynamic) at the maximum speed of 29 mph, in peak hour traffic. The bike decided it was going to simply drop down to E-Save mode, applying gradual automatic braking and taking my speed down to 16 mph while I was surrounded by cars traveling at 30 mph.

This is not safe. Yes, it is my responsibility to ensure the batteries are charged enough to get me to my destination. I had two miles left of my very short three-mile journey, so I knew I could get to where I was going and get back home again—my experience of using the scooter and noting its battery capacity and performance taught me this.

However, slowing the vehicle down automatically without my say-so is not something I want to happen in the middle of rush hour traffic. I read the user manual (online), and nowhere does it tell me that this is a feature, and a very dangerous one at that. Had a heavy goods vehicle been following me at the same speed, the consequences could have been horrific.

niu scooter bosch motor
Ste Knight

So, as mentioned, the middle performance “tier” is Dynamic mode. This is the one I used most of all, as many U.K. urban roads are 20 or 30 mph speed limit. The fact that Dynamic mode tops off at 29 mph means that I’m never going to be breaking the speed limit if a traffic cop is on the prowl. Even at 29 mph, the bike feels a lot faster, and the wind rushes past in a very satisfying manner.

The fact is many electric scooters in this price bracket top off at 30 mph. This is true for the Vespa Elettrica—a well-known brand in terms of scooters. However, the Niu will save you between $2-$2,500 when compared to the Vespa, with a third-speed tier thrown into the bargain.

The Super Soco CPx electric scooter is the only serious contender to the Niu NQi GTS Sport that I could find in terms of speed. It carries a very similar price tag but is able to get 56 mph out of its motor. This is 9 mph more than the Niu NQi GTS Sport even when it is at full throttle in the top speed tier.

Said top speed tier is called “Sport” mode. And, I’ll be damned if I don’t say this is an absolute laugh-riot to ride in. The top speed for sport mode is 45 mph, and you can really feel how light and rapid the bike is at top speed. So much so that I wasn’t quite prepared for the exhilaration as I accelerated the bike to top speed. Honestly, it is awesome fun in sports mode.

Where you really feel the muscle of the bike is at traffic/stoplights. As it is driven by an electric Bosch motor, rather than the combustion engine you’d associate with gas-powered scooters, it has pretty much instant torque. There were several occasions upon which I left Mercedes or BMW drivers revving in my dust, as I hit 29 mph within seconds of twisting the throttle, as the signal lights turned green. Hell, that felt really good.

niu scooter front brakes
Front brake disc. Ste Knight

In general, the NQi GTS Sport is a breathtaking electric steed. It handles wonderfully, with even a U-turn (a surprisingly difficult maneuver for a novice) remaining resolutely unproblematic. No mean feat when you consider the bike weighs 593 lb (gross) and is 1.9m long. Walking the vehicle on its wheels can be a bit on the laborious side if you need to push it out of a pathway or driveway, given this weight.

A reverse function would be nice in this instance. The Super Soco CPx that I mentioned earlier has a reverse function and doesn’t cost a great deal more. This would make backing out of car park spaces a breeze. Especially for someone who isn’t particularly tall like myself; I peak at 175cm in Air Max 90s, just for some context. The scooter can be a little difficult to move backward considering its weight in relation to only having your tiptoes on the ground.

Thanks to the powerful 220 mm three-piston hydraulic disc brake at the front and the 180 mm hydraulic disc brake at the back, stopping is (importantly) very timely. The bike is only relatively light, yet I don’t feel any lurch forward even when a hard brake is required. Given that you’re not protected in the same way as you are in a car, braking needs to be highly responsive and, with the Niu NQi, it thankfully is.

It is also worth noting that the NQi GTS Sport comes with a feature called “regenerative braking.” This means that when you brake, you get a little bit of power back in the battery.

niu scooter front shocks
Niu Front Shocks. Ste Knight

Riding also feels very smooth. This is thanks to the oil-damping, direct-acting shock absorbers at the front and rear of the vehicle. Bumps in the road don’t jar too much, which means you can retain control of the scooter even when you’re on a road in pretty bad condition. (Believe me, in the U.K. there are a LOT of urban roads in bad condition.)

Based on riding performance alone, I would recommend the Niu NQi GTS Sport highly, and I can’t stress that “highly” enough here. It excels on the roads and is an excellent mode of urban transport. The 60-mile range is perfect for a wide variety of journey types, from shopping, to work commutes, to visiting nearby relatives. (It has been a godsend for me to visit my elderly house-bound grandma during the current health crisis.) I love it, and I am confident anyone who buys one based on this review will love it, too.

Is the Future Electric?

One of the most prominent features of the NQi GTS Sport is the fact that it relies solely on electricity to run. This is also one of its best and most important features, as it means there are zero carbon emissions when actually riding the scooter. It also means it is incredibly cheap to use, as you don’t have to fill it with gas all the time.

niu scooter headlamp
Ste Knight

You’ll know from my review of the Turboant electric scooter, I am a massive advocate for any tech that offsets the carbon emissions and e-waste created during its manufacture by reducing or completely negating the carbon emissions and e-waste once it has reached the consumer. Electric vehicles like the Niu NQi achieve this and, through charging via a regular powerpoint, place the onus back on the electricity providers to find greener ways of producing energy than burning fossil fuels.

Yes, it charges from a regular wall socket and uses electricity to do so. However, the amount used is almost negligible. A full charge of both batteries costs in the region of 50 cents, giving you 60 miles of range at top speed. That is absolutely nothing when you consider the amount it costs to run a larger gas-powered vehicle like a car. Plus, it’s much better for our seriously waning environment than a gas engine.

Niu advertises the charging time as being between 4-7 hours. I only ever had to charge them for 3-4 hours, and this was from a practically empty battery pair, every time. The batteries can be linked together via a manifold, meaning that both can be charged at the same time from one wall socket.

Niu charger and manifold to simultaneously charge two batteries
Ste Knight

In terms of the 60-mile range, this certainly rings true, as I was able to complete approximately that distance over several days, after which I was required to charge the batteries again. I will point out that, as with any electric vehicle, the harder you push it, the quicker the battery will die. If you don’t drive it (mostly) sensibly in terms of speeding around like Ghost Rider’s electric little brother, you’ll notice that it runs out of juice that little bit sooner.

The range puts it ahead of other similarly priced eScooters. Peugeot’s E-Ludix model, for example, is a similarly priced scooter. However, it is only capable of traveling 30 miles on a single charge. Likewise, the Zapp I300 may offer more in terms of performance. (It is capable of pushing 60 mph at top speed.) However, it, too, only has a range of 30 miles, with a price tag that adds over $2,000 (even more with accessories) to that of the Niu NQi GTS Sport.

You might be concerned that an electric scooter might not like being out in the rain. Well, worry not, because this scooter has automotive-grade waterproofing around its important components, so it isn’t going to short and explode between your legs just because it is a little bit rainy outside.

Secure at All Times

For the security-conscious among you, you’ll be delighted to know that the NQi GTS Sport comes loaded with features. It has a regular alarm, so you always know that if anyone tampers with it—you will be alerted straight away, providing you are in earshot. This is activated and deactivated via the included key fob.

niu scooter keyfob
Ste Knight

The alarm isn’t so sensitive that you can’t bump the scooter with the alarm activated. This is good, as I am forever forgetting to turn the alarm off before I clumsily remove the bike cover. If it was super sensitive, I can’t imagine my neighbors being too impressed. However, try to wheel the bike away, and the alarm will start blaring; this should put potential thieves off in an instant.

Even if thieves do manage to take the bike, they’ll be left pretty disappointed as it can’t be jump-started like a non-electric vehicle. They’ll also be open to getting caught, as the bike is fitted with a tracker, so you can locate it using the app (more on the app soon) even if a thief does manage to bypass the alarm somehow, or you forget to arm the security system when you’ve finished riding.

You can also lock the motor using the ignition key, adding a further layer of security. Plus, the weight of the bike means that one person would have a problem stealing it, especially if they planned to throw it on the back of a truck and cart it off somewhere. Lifting it is a three-person task, so unless your local motorcycle thief actually is Ghost Rider, I doubt they’ll be shifting it on their own with much dexterity.

The Niumobility app adds further security features, such as alerting you if someone is touching it. It will even tell you if the scooter is vibrating more than it should be, like if someone is trying to move it off its stand.

Stay Well-Informed

niu scooter display
Ste Knight

So, what of the dashboard display? Well, I absolutely love it. When you power the bike up, the screen is illuminated with waves of RGB light. This is gorgeous and adds that extra splash of pizzazz to the whole experience. The display finally settles on white (against a black background) for an easily decipherable and well-lit screen. The aforementioned Niu contender, the Super Soco CPx, does have an LCD screen, but it is incredibly boring to look at (it almost looks like a calculator display), with a lot of empty space.

In terms of information on the screen, you have the time in the top left, followed by the confirmation that the bike is connected to the cloud service for both journey and theft tracking. The scooter connects automatically when you switch the bike on. This is achieved via a cellular network, as all Niu scooters have a 5G Vodafone sim card built in. There is no cost to this service, either!

Below the cloud connection icon is the battery indicator, which indicates the battery level as a graphic and a percentage. This is very helpful when you’re on the road, and you need to know exactly how much juice is left in the scooter.

The right-hand side of the screen displays the speedometer in a nice oversized digital font, so you can’t really claim “you didn’t know you were speeding, officer.” The center of the screen displays the drive mode you have the bike in (E-save, Dynamic, and Sport). The bottom of the screen has the throttle display, so if you’re in Sport mode and driving at full-throttle, for example, the indicator at the bottom of the screen will fill up to show you how much throttle you’re actually applying.

The Vespa Elettrica, mentioned in a previous comparison, also has an LCD dashboard display. The difference here is that it is a touchscreen, too. You can use it to make calls and such. However, I would genuinely question the sense in a) using a touch screen, and b) making a call, when you are on a scooter. You need to remain aware of your surroundings at all times given that the crumple zone, when riding such a vehicle, is pretty much your face.

Niu has done well to inform the rider of everything they need to know during the ride. The screen displays all the important info you need at the time of riding and, if you really do need to make a phone call, you can pull over and do it. That way you aren’t endangering your own life or the lives of others.

Average speed tracking. Final location. niu app route map screen

As mentioned, there is also a Niu Mobility app that works in conjunction with the scooter. This is brilliant, as it offers a wide range of data to be delivered to you at any time. You can map your own journeys, as well as checking the distance and the average speed.

You can locate the bike just by looking at your smartphone. It even alerts you if there is anyone tampering with the bike, so once again we have an excellent focus on security via the app as well as the scooter itself.

niu app battery monitor nou app journey analyzer niu app diagnostics score screen

The app also has a full diagnostics suite, so if you feel like there might be a problem with the scooter, you run the checks and then are given a final score at the end. This represents your Niu’s health, with a max score of 100.

Finally, the app allows you to check the battery stats. This means you can see the amount of energy used, displayed as a percentage, the number of recharge cycles for each battery, the battery temperature, and the battery score (which is an indication of the overall condition of the battery).

Preferential Personal Transport?

Nui logo.

The Niu NQi GTS Sport is truly a wonderful piece of technology, and I will feel genuinely bereft when the review unit leaves my driveway for another lucky reviewer to test out. I’m not exaggerating when I say it has given me a new lease of life, and the freedom it offers at a minuscule fraction of the costs to run a car or truck is priceless.

There is something about owning this kind of vehicle that just makes sense. It might have a fairly high initial price point, but a lot of gas-powered scooters also retail within this range. The amount of money you’ll save on gas here has to make it a no brainer, surely? It rides smoother than butter, and it does not a jot of harm to the environment as you go about your business.

For me, this is a brilliant example of an electric scooter in terms of design and functionality. If Niu allowed the owner to override the somewhat dangerous automatic battery-saving function (or ditched it completely), then it would, in my eyes, be a completely perfect product.

If you don’t have the budget for the Niu, then obviously you will need to look for something cheaper. Bear in mind, though, that if you do you will then make sacrifices in terms of speed, power, and range. At this price, with a 60-mile range and a 45 mph top speed, you’re going to struggle to find an electric scooter that can match the Niu NQi GTS Sport.

Rating: 8/10

Price: $3,299

Here’s What We Like

  • Great battery life
  • Charges quickly
  • Drives smoothly
  • Futuristic display
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Informative app
  • Lots of security features

And What We Don’t

  • Can’t override the auto battery save mode
  • No storage space if you have both batteries installed