MCN grabs a ride on one of only two pre-production RQi electric 125s in existence

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Chinese company NIU has just released details of its new 125cc equivalent electric bike, the RQi Sport.

The world’s largest manufacturer of electric urban mobility solutions, NIU has produced more than two million vehicles since its birth in 2014.

The electric equivalent of a 125cc petrol bike, and A1-legal, the RQi is powered by a 7.5kW electric motor with two removable 2.6kWh batteries. NIU claim this provides a range of 70-80 miles in Eco mode, with a recharge time of about seven hours through a domestic three-pin supply.

With a top speed of 62mph (which can be briefly boosted to 70mph via an overdrive button), the RQi boasts an impressive spec list, with forward and rear facing cameras recording your ride, keyless ignition and steering lock.

You also get a TFT dash with diagnostic information Bluetoothed to an app on your phone and an inbuilt GPS tracker, plus a radial front caliper, USB port, inverted forks, cruise control, launch control and variable power modes. But you don’t get reverse mode, or traction control, and it has combined brakes rather than ABS.

Occupying the middle ground in the urban electric market between the basic Super Soco models (£3000-£4500), and premium bikes from the likes of Zero (from around £12,000), NIU importer Sinnis expects the RQi to be priced in the region of £9000 when the final production model arrives in the UK in October. But what does it feel like to ride?

It feels physically large and considerably more substantial than a petrol-powered 125. Weighing 186kg, a large proportion of that bulk comes from the two 24kg batteries, positioned vertically below the ‘fuel tank’ cover.

As the RQi is quite short and stumpy, it’s a bit reluctant to turn compared to a lightweight 125. But the trade-off is stability, and at low speed the NIU is very manageable, helped by a 825mm seat height and narrow waist.

Town work is no issue and the throttle is pleasingly predictable, although you need to learn to not apply the brake and throttle together as this confuses the system and it gets a bit snatchy.

Out and about the RQi feels sportily set-up with a firm seat. The rear shock damping is a bit harsh but nothing too unpleasant, and it can happily cope with dual carriageway speeds, although the almost complete lack of engine braking takes getting used to and isn’t variable.

The boost button unlocks a welcome extra bit of top speed for overtakes and you can accelerate faster than a petrol-powered 125. Overall, for urban riders there is little the RQi is lacking – aside from a helmet lock.

NIU RQi Sport highlights:

  • Removable batteries can be changed simultaneously
  • Front and rear recording cameras
  • Big bike feel, great acceleration
  • Keyless ignition as standard
  • TFT dash contains GPS tracker