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What’s NIU with you?

December 1, 2019
NIU electric scooters

Chinese scooter maker NIU’s electric scoots are now on sale at Genuine Scooter Co. dealers in the U.S. (Photos: NIU)

Today is the day a select dozen Genuine Scooter Co. dealers begin sales of the NIU electric scooter line in the United States.

The company’s scooters made their U.S. debut last summer in New York City with scooter-sharing service Revel Transit. Nine-hundred-fifty bikes are available for time-based rentals via smartphone app in the NYC boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, which coincidentally is where the folks NIU is most interested in reaching are likely to live.

At the moment, the model lineup consists of three trims: NQi GT (MSRP $4,599), NQi Sport ($2,899), and MQi+ Sport ($2,699; prices don’t include tax/title/setup or any tariffs that may apply). A fourth version, the U+, will arrive later.

NIU NQi GT

NIU NQi GT

I’m guessing most readers of this here blog will be interested in the NQi GT. The motor is from Bosch, the batteries from Panasonic (just ilke a Tesla Model S or X). There are three riding modes: Sport, which yields a top speed of 45 mph (70 km/h); Dynamic, touted as the all-round, everyday mode; and E-Save, the one you’ll most likely use if you guessed slightly wrong about the distance between points A and B.

There are two lithium-ion batteries, each rated at 35aH, each easily removable for charging wherever you need to. NIU sez range in Sport mode is 60 miles, at 45 mph; that figure rises to 80 miles in E-Save. The batteries weigh 24 lbs. (10.9 kg) each, and have an LED level indicator. A 3-hour flash charge gives you 60+ miles of range. Of course there’s an app for it.

NIU scooter x-ray

As you can see, NIU’s scooters are otherwise a pretty standard modern design—tubular steel frame, attached plastic body panels. Likewise with the suspension, dual dampers up front, a coil-over in the rear, attached to a swing arm. The batteries are under the floorboard to keep the center of gravity low. Brakes are hydraulic discs on both ends.

While the company is aiming its products at folks living in excruciatingly hip urban enclaves (the bikes feature sophisticated security and alarm systems), I’m thinking NIU scooters will prove popular with another cohort of scooter buyers.

A Genuine Buddy riding on the back of an RV

(Photo: Vespa Portland)

Over the years, scooter dealers have told me time and again that large chunks of their 50cc scooter sales are to people like the owners of the RV above. Something to make the beer run to the KOA Kampground convenience store, or noodle around the national/state park. An electric scooter can be plugged into the RV (there are usually generators), so no need to carry messy, smelly, flammable gasoline in a can. No maintenance, either.

No doubt electric scooters of all brands will prove popular on sprawling college campuses (like, f’rinstance, the University of Arizona). A 30-mph top speed would not only be more than adequate, in just about all U.S. states it makes the scoot a moped. No driver’s license, no title, no registration required (usually… check your local laws).

Plus: Well-engineered, well-made, and substantially cheaper than a Vespa Elettrica.

Minus: Pricey vs a combustion 50cc scooter.

The details

MSRP: $4,599 (NQi GT)
Built in: China
Construction: Tubular steel frame with attached plastic body panels
Curb weight: 209 lbs (95 kg)
Length: 70.9 in (1800 mm)
Width: 27.5 in (700 mm)
Wheelbase: 50.4 in (1280 mm)
Seat height: 29.1 in (740 mm)
Front susp: Adjustable telescopic fork
Rear susp: Swingarm w/adjustable coil spring & telescopic damper
Front brake: 8.7 in (220 mm) hydraulic disc
Rear brake: 7.0 in (180 mm) hydraulic disc
Front tire: 90/90-12
Rear tire: 120/70-12
Engine: Bosch sealed permanent magnet motor with vector control
Power/torque:  3.2 hp (2.4 kW) @ 0+ rpm/n/a

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