NIU NQI GTS PRO (2020 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Electricity costs are just a penny a mile
  • Two removable batteries
  • Cruise control as standard

At a glance

Power: 4 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.1 in / 815 mm)
Weight: Low (247 lbs / 112 kg)

Prices

New £3,596
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Niu (as in ‘new’) are an electric scooter firm based in China. Their model range reads like a spilled tin of alphabet spaghetti, starting with the UQi (a £1500 underbone) and peaking with this, the NQi GTS Pro. A top speed of around 45mph puts performance somewhere between moped and 125cc, and means it’s strictly for urban use.

If you’re after a cheap-to-run, short-range traffic-busting runabout, the Niu does the job well. Ride to work, ride home, charge overnight, repeat – and all for a penny a mile. Never visit a petrol station, nor change oil, filters and spark plugs again. Being able to remove its pair of batteries is useful too, not just for the ability to charge them indoors but also if (or when) they need to be replaced in future.

Modern touches like the large LCD dash, one-button cruise control and smartphone connectivity mean it doesn’t feel nearly as cheap as its £3600 pricetag. However, as long as that amount also buys a faster, more practical and longer-proven conventional scooter along the lines of Honda’s PCX125 or Vision 110, petrol isn’t beaten yet.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Snarled-up traffic can be untangled with little effort. The Niu is small, light (just 112kg), extremely slim and has a supremely tight turning circle. Ride quality from the basic suspension (31mm forks up front, twin shocks out back) and dinky 14-inch wheels is fine on smooth city streets, but feels very crashy over potholes.

Brakes are plenty powerful but lack an anti-lock system. Instead they’re linked – one of the front caliper’s three pistons is operated by squeezing the back brake lever.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The Bosch-branded electric motor is built into the rear wheel hub, meaning no final drive to maintain and intuitive, silent, ultra-smooth twist-and-go drive. Claimed maximum power output is 3100 watts, which is a whisker over 4bhp in old-fashioned English, yet there are still three riding modes to let you manage all that power…

Full-whack ‘Sport’ is good for an indicated 45mph. ‘Dynamic’ limits speed to 29mph, which is fine in an empty town but just slow enough to find yourself holding up other traffic from time to time. ‘E-Save’ caps speed to a virtually useless 16mph.

There are two removable 2.1kWh lithium-ion batteries: one under the seat; one beneath your feet. But there’s a catch: only 85% of the total capacity is usable in practice. That’s because once charge drops below 15% the bike defaults to E-Save mode, instantly cutting your speed to 16mph. So you’ll want to be home before then, which gives a round-trip range of about 40 miles flat-out, or 70 miles if you restrict yourself to Dynamic mode and less than 30mph.

Batteries can be recharged in or out of the bike, and at 11kg each they’re light enough to lug indoors. Recharging from 14% to full takes between 5.5 and 6 hours, but only costs less than 60p – so a penny a mile is easily achievable. However, the charger is a standalone unit (ie not built into the bike) which is intended to be left at home. With no place to store it on the bike, this isn’t designed to be charged in public. The batteries also seem to self-discharge quite rapidly, their state of charge dropping by 17% when the scooter wasn’t used for a week.

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Niu are so, ahem, new that we haven’t got anywhere near enough experience to know how their bikes stand up to long-term use. We experienced no issues whatsoever during our two-week test, which is at least a promising start. That said, given the price (and the cost of two batteries), you’ve got to be realistic in expecting overall build quality to broadly sit at the budget end of the spectrum.

The batteries are warrantied by Niu for two years or 600 charging cycles, with replacements costing £1233 each.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
2 out of 5 (2/5)

If you restrict the field of rivals to other electric scooters, then you’re looking at something like Super Soco’s CPx, which is more expensive in its two-battery guise. But if you’re comparing the Niu with all scooters, then Honda’s eternally popular PCX125 is actually slightly cheaper – and the firm’s ultra-economical Vision 110 costs significantly less still.

As ever with electric vehicles, bear in mind that servicing is cheap, vehicle excise duty is completely free, and ‘fuel’ costs can be as little as 1p a mile. However, you’ll need to do a lot of miles to pull back the £1000 or so you’d save by buying a Vision.

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

The large LCD dash looks very smart, displaying speed and battery status really clearly, and it glows a variety of colours at night. Niu have a clever bespoke smartphone app too, which can actually use GPS to track the bike if it gets stolen – the value of that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And there’s even one-button cruise control as standard, which is great at helping stop you accidentally stray over 30mph.

However, there’s no underseat storage (unless you remove one of the batteries). The artificial ‘bong’ from the indicators gets tiresome too.

Specs

Engine size -
Engine type Air-cooled electric motor
Frame type Tubular steel
Fuel capacity -
Seat height 815mm
Bike weight 112kg
Front suspension 31mm forks, no adjustment
Rear suspension twin shocks, adjustable preload
Front brake 220mm disc with linked three-piston caliper. No ABS
Rear brake 180mm disc with single-piston caliper. No ABS
Front tyre size 90/90-14
Rear tyre size 110/80-14

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax -
Annual service cost -
New price £3,596
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 4 bhp
Max torque -
Top speed 44 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2020 Niu NQi GTS Pro

Sub-£4k electric scooter is newcomer Niu’s flagship model. Performance sits somewhere between moped and 125cc, with a 45mph top speed and useable range of 40-70 miles, depending on how you ride.

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