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Reviewed: NIU MQI GT Evo

NIU MQI GT Evo

With petrol prices surging and emissions regulations tightening, there’s arguably never been a better time to buy electric – especially with the growing number of models on the market today. While the more powerful electric motorcycles haven’t quite taken it to their combustion rivals in times of price and performance just yet, in the lower capacity sector, well, they are near enough on par. But why buy electric? Well not only are you saving the planet, but after you’ve forked out the cash on buying one, running costs are incredibly cheap. Not only are maintenance costs incredibly low due to the lack of moving parts, but you also save cash by sticking them on charge instead of refuelling. There’s absolutely no noise pollution, but of course there’s no tailpipe pollution too. There’s a whole host of budget models on the market today, but NIU’s MQI GT Evo is aiming high at Yamaha’s NMAX 125 and Honda’s PCX125 (read our comparison between them here); two big hitters and massive sellers in the UK market. Those two petrol powered machines come in at £3,400 and £3,549 respectively. At £4,099 after some government grants, the NIU is a bit more expensive to buy, but what goes into this technologically advanced Chinese scooter?

NIU MQI GT Evo


Actually, quite a lot. As far as headline figures go, you get a 5Kw motor that will offer up speeds of over 60mph, which is a first for a NIU model. The MQI GT Evocomes equipped with two removable lithium-ion batteries, which offer up to 60 mile of range, and can be fully charged in around five hours from flat – although an hour’s charge will give you around 15 miles of range. To charge, all you need is the included charger which plugs into a regular, three pin outlet, and you can either keep them in the scoot when charging, or take them out and into the house or office if that’s easier. As far as functionality goes, the NIU comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity that will connect your phone to the app and allow you to alter the suave looking LCD dash, alongside being able to see things like battery percentage and usage, and even the ability to alter settings, such as the sensitivity of the alarm and the keyless ignition function as well. On the subject of features, the NIU also comes equipped with a USB port and cruise control which is a really nice touch on a scooter. Couple that with one year breakdown cover, a two-year warranty on the bike and a three-year warranty on the battery, and it sounds like it could be the real deal. But the big tell comes for the ride, so we took some out for some dual carriageway, B-road and city riding to see how it stacks up in the real world.

Going down more of a retro look than a sporty one, the MQI GT Evo looks incredibly smart in the flesh, and bold in the white or orange colour schemes too. The finish on the paintwork is good and the keyless ignition works really well, with an intuitive and easy to use interface. Although I didn’t connect my phone to the bike, we had a demo of how it works and its features and it’s an incredibly good system, that really will come in handy if you own one. The first thing I noticed about the NIU as that it feels like a proper scooter, and not just a little toy; although it weighs about the same as its petrol rivals, the seat height is a big chunk higher which is very noticeable, although the riding position is nice and comfortable. As far as the riding experience goes, it’s always refreshing to jump on an electric machine as not only are they insanely quiet, but they’re also super smooth – and the NIU is absolutely no different. I tried all three modes, but the highest powered ‘Sport’ was my favourite, offering an impressive amount of power all the way up to, and beyond 60mph. It really did pull like a 125cc, and to my surprise it was more than happy to sit at 60mph too, with the cruise control offering another dimension of luxury that you don’t find of the NIU’s internally combusted rivals.

NIU MQI GT Evo

And even at that speed, the range didn’t fall as drastically as you might either, although it was in the town where the MQI GT Evo shone the brightest. With its instant torque it effortlessly darts away from lights and roundabouts, and it’s incredibly nimble and well balanced which makes tight manoeuvres an absolute doddle. I did find that the middle, ‘Dynamic’ mode was ample when the speed limit doesn’t rise about 40mph too.

NIU MQI GT Evo

There are a few things that I wasn’t a big fan of, though. The biggest thing is that although the batteries are easily removable and a doddle to change, they actually sit under the seat, meaning under seat storage is incredibly limited, and although you can run the bike on just one battery for a bit more space it reduces the speed, and also the range too. Another thing is the stand; the side stand is at a slightly odd angle when it’s down and the centre stand protrudes out quite far, and just doesn’t look very tidy. Plus, it doesn’t take much for it to get it scraping on the ground either. Unlike the Yamaha NMAX, it doesn’t come with anti-lock brakes, if that’s something that you’d like to see – although I personally found the linked disc brakes worked well enough.

Conclusion

All in all, the NIU MQI GT Evo is an impressive bit of machinery. For most people who ride around town on a scooter the 60 mile range is more than ample, and thanks to the standard three-pin charging system it’s more accessible and easier to own too. Couple that with the snazzy Bluetooth features, USB port, cruise control and that impressive top speed, and you can see that the MQI GT Evo really does mean business. Sure, it’s not without a few flaws, but overall it’s one of the best functioning electric machines that I’ve ever ridden.

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