NIU KQi3 Pro: One-minute review
The NIU KQi3 Pro has made converts out of us, finishing the job that the TurboAnt V8 Dual Battery had started. We’ve previously been firm believers that the best electric scooters for city commutes have to be three things: sleek, lightweight, and compact. But, we’re prepared to admit that might not be the case, and this impressive yet affordable offering from NIU validates that.
It turns out that you don’t have to have the biggest tires to have the smoothest rides – according to the Book of NIU, they just have to be fatter, and that is gospel. Its 9.5-inch pneumatic tires deliver far superior shock absorption than any of the 10-inch tires we’ve tried, and that’s mainly due to them being 30% fatter.
It also turns out that electric scooter manufacturers can afford to deliver a top-notch, top-quality product without committing highway robbery. The NIU KQi3 Pro delivers better performance, better features, and a better build than many of its competitors for an even better price. It might not be the cheapest electric scooter on the market, but it’s certainly the best value.
At the risk of sounding unprofessionally biased, we are now loyal followers of the NIU KQi3 Pro, and for good reason. It’s simply the best electric scooter for students, professionals, casual commuters, and even the occasional off-road riders.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Price and availability
- How much does it cost? $799 (£699, AU$1,279)
- Where is it available? Available now
- Where can you get it? Available in the US, the UK, and Australia
NIU KQi3 Pro: SPECS
Top speed: 20mph
Range: 31 miles
Braking system: Dual Disc Brake (Front & Rear) + Regenerative braking
Max load capacity: 265lbs
The NIU KQi3 Pro is surprisingly affordable with its $799 (£699, AU$1,279) price of entry. That’s still a lot of silver coins for consumers on a tight budget, and there are certainly a lot of cheaper e-scooters out there that are impressive in their own right.
The Gotrax APEX LE, for example, which we are currently testing, is a snappy and stylish option under $400 / £400. There’s also the TurboAnt M10 that delivers a powerful performance and comes with a solid build for less than $500 / £500.
Having said that, the NIU KQi3 Pro beats out most of its direct rivals in price while completely owning them in performance. That makes it the best-value electric scooter we’ve ever ridden.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Assembly
- Minimal setup
- Partly charged
Proof that the NIU KQi3 Pro is ideal for most e-scooter riders, including novice riders, is its unbelievably easy assembly. If you haven’t even so much as stood on an e-scooter before, and you want to get one but are intimidated by the possibility of failing at setup, this is the scooter for you.
Literally, all you need to do here is take it out of the box, easily connect the main line connector, slot in the handlebar, secure it with four screws, and it’s ready to go. For some e-scooters, you also have to set up the brake line, which takes some upper body strength and possibly a lot of sweating.
The NIU KQi3 Pro comes partly charged so you can start practicing on it immediately after setup. You don’t even need to link (or, as NIU words it, “bind”) it with the app if you prefer not to – though we definitely recommend it as the app gives you access to more functionality.
Bear in mind that the Sport riding mode, which tops at 20mph, won’t be made available to you until you’ve clocked in 200 meters of travel on the e-scooter, as a safety precaution. NIU just wants to make sure that you’ve gotten to know your unit well before riding it at top speed.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Design
- Robust, road bike-reminiscent design
- Spacious deck, wide tires
- Not sleek or lightweight
Setting oneself apart from the sea of scooters isn’t easy these days, but the NIU KQi3 Pro manages to do it by combining that homogeneous look most e-scooters have adopted with dirt bike elements like plastics (well, one plastic above the headlight), a Halo headlight, and an abundance of reflectors. We adore the finished product, even though we’re not partial to the traditional dirt bike look.
Adding those elements also gives the electric scooter a look that says, ‘I can handle whatever you throw at me,’ without taking it so far that you’d be embarrassed to take it to work. In fact, it’s managed to find that sweet spot between sporty and classy that allows it to fit in just about anywhere. If you’re regularly commuting to work in a suit, you won’t clash with this ride.
There are a lot of other things we love about the NIU KQi3 Pro. Fair warning before you buy: we wouldn’t categorize this as portable or lightweight. It’s one of the biggest and heaviest commuter e-scooters we’ve tested. But, these days, being slim and easy to lug around no longer carries as much weight as it once did. There are, after all, many bike racks to secure these e-vehicles to, and if you’ve got something as robust as this, it’s kind of expected that you’re taking it all the way to your destination, instead of taking it part of the way then riding the bus or train.
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But, we digress. One of the best things about this electric scooter is that because it doesn’t really care about being portable, it can afford to go big on many things – particularly its deck, which is blissfully spacious, and its tires, which are 30% wider than most e-scooter tires and, therefore, better at shock absorption. And, because it’s unapologetic about being a heavyweight, you’re getting an excess of accessories here – there are two brake levers, a nice fairly big Halo headlight, (again) lots of reflectors, a decently-sized dashboard, and a sizable battery.
At the same time, it manages to keep a lot of vital things simple. There’s just one button for power, riding mode, light, and speed unit on display – the included manual tells you how many times you need to press it for each of those functions. And, the folding mechanism is surprisingly simple and easy to use. In fact, it’s one of the easiest folding mechanisms we’ve ever seen, which is impressive considering how big and robust the unit is.
Simple, too, is its operation. This is one intuitive electric scooter, easy enough to use that even those with zero e-scooter experience will learn to ride it within minutes. And, thanks to its rubber handles and textured rubber deck surface, it’ll keep all your vital parts in place as well.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Features
- Sport Mode unavailable until 200m
- Always-on Halo headlight and rear light
- Anti-theft (hurrah!)
For an electric scooter that’s under $800 / £800, the NIU KQi3 Pro is brilliantly packed with features. It offers some safety features, which we like to think is NIU’s way of clapping back at e-scooter haters, like Sport mode being unavailable until you’re ridden it for 200 meters and Pedestrian mode limiting speed so you can ride it in high foot traffic areas without knocking people around like bowling pins.
There’s also the always-on Halo headlight and rear light, which we think is a good idea since many riders aren’t disciplined enough to turn those on even at night. Turning on the light switch just brightens that headlight more, much like you’d turn on the high beams when you’ve got low visibility.
More experienced riders will also appreciate the cruise control function, Custom mode, and zero starting, which basically means you don’t have to give the scooter a helpful kick-off (though if you’re a novice, you can turn the non-zero starting on, turning it into a kick scooter.)
Perhaps our favorite feature here is the anti-theft function, as not a lot of scooters, even the pricier ones, have it, which is kind of ironic since those are the models that are more likely to get stolen. You will need to link the scooter to the app to utilize this feature, but once it’s linked up, all you need to do to activate it is press the lock button on the Vehicle page. Once it’s activated, an alarm will go off if someone tries to wheel the scooter away, ride it, or turn it on. And it will continue to beep until it’s left alone.
This anti-theft feature isn’t powerful enough to know when someone’s carried it off and loaded it in the back of a truck, but at least it’ll prevent that thief from ever riding it.
Sadly, it only has an IP54 dust and water resistance rating, which means that you shouldn’t use it during downpours and when there’s a bit of flooding. But, who wants to ride an electric scooter in the rain anyway?
NIU KQi3 Pro: Performance
- Picks up speed fast and 20% hill grade
- Range up to 31 miles and top speed 20mph
It’s hard to write about the NIU KQi3 Pro’s performance not because it’s not good but because you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything to complain about. This e-scooter is snappy and picks up speed fast, especially when you turn off that kick function and let its throttle do all the hard work. This goes from zero to 9mph within seconds, which does mean that if you’re not experienced, you shouldn’t be so generous when pushing down the throttle.
Pricier scooters only have a 15% hill grade rating, but this one’s a dream for hillside residents like this reviewer. When testing this around our hilly neighborhood in LA, it kept a nice 7mph to 9mph speed on a 20% hill grade, which is what it’s rated for. Other e-scooters we’ve tested on this hill have struggled, topping at a slow crawl of 4mph – and that’s with a bit of assistance from us.
That 700W motor is relatively quiet as well, quieter than some of its rivals, in fact. And, that just adds to its elegance, which you’ll probably want if you’re riding to work in a tailored suit.
Meanwhile, those 9.5-inch wheels are a revelation. Personally, we prefer electric scooters with 10-inch pneumatic tires as those are much better at shock absorption, but these smaller ones on the NIU KQi3 Pro have opened our eyes. It’s not so much the size of the tires as the thickness that offers a smooth ride, and these 2.5-inch-thick ones are proof of that.
We always test e-scooters on a very rugged, pothole-laden road behind our street, and this is the first one we’ve taken there that’s actually passed with flying colors. For the first time, we didn’t vibrate going over the big cracks, which made for a very pleasant and smooth ride.
The brakes are regenerative, and you can actually choose just how much of that power you want to recycle via the app. But, with a 31-mile range, thanks to its powerful battery, you can last for three days on a single charge if you’re commuting a total of 10 miles per day, and longer if your commutes are shorter.
If you don’t use it every day, on the other hand, you’ll be thankful for the fact that the e-scooter seems to preserve its battery life longer. Just be sure to check the battery level the night before if you haven’t used it in a long while. Charging time to full is six hours, after all.
Beware of those brakes, however, as they are quite responsive. We recommend getting used to them first before riding at 20 miles per hour; lest risk getting thrown off the e-scooter for braking too hard.
Should I buy the NIU KQi3 Pro?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
NIU KQi3 Pro: Report card
|Value||This model has a much lower price tag than expected considering its features and power.||/ 5|
|Assembly||Setup and assembly is so easy, you’ll be riding in no time after unboxing.||5 / 5|
|Design||This sizable e-scooter comes with a sizable deck, an intuitive user interface, and a design that’s reminiscent of dirt bikes.||4.5 / 5|
|Features||It’s a feature-rich model with things like a bright Halo headlight and anti-theft technology.||4.5 / 5|
|Performance||Snappy, responsive, and powerful, with excellent shock absorption, this is among the most impressive e-scooters we’ve tested||5 / 5|
|Total||The NIU KQi3 Pro is pretty much close to perfection.||5 / 5|
- First reviewed November 2022
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