NIU KQi3 Pro
Will the halo be the next Mercedes badge? That would be interesting to see.
Introducing the hot new kid on the block, NIU. They’re not entirely new in the commuter space; they’ve been one of the world’s largest high-volume manufacturers of electric vehicles for almost a decade. And now, they’ve entered the electric scooter space guns blazing.
Did you know NIU is currently the only scooter company registered in NASDAQ?
We’ve already ridden and experienced the KQi2 Pro electric scooter, and we loved it. The KQi3 promises to be bigger and better, and right out of the box, we certainly approve of that message. The build quality feels vehicle-grade because, duh, they know how to build vehicles.
But we’re not big on appearances and prefer to get our hands dirty. We’ll review NIU’s kickscooter against some of the best performers in its price class and see how it fairs against the competition. So, stick around for the most unbiased review of NIU’s KQi3.
|Tested top speed: 18.6 mph*|
|Tested range: 20.9 mi*|
|Weight: 45 lb*|
|Max rider weight: 220 lb|
|Water resistance: IP54|
|Effective Braking System|
|Above Average Speed and Acceleration in its Class|
|Great Build Quality|
|Thoughtful Safety Features|
|Wide Comfortable Handlebars|
|Lengthy App Set-Up|
|Lack of a Zero Start|
* Based on our performance tests which may differ from manufacturer’s claims.
Our content is independent, but buying through our links may earn us a commission.
Our Take: A kickass commuter scooter from the hottest new brand. Solid as a Benz, with top-notch quality at garbage scooter prices.
NIU KQi3 Pro Electric Scooter Summary
In an ever-growing space, it feels like e-scooter manufacturers are reaching for the stars more and more in terms of pricing. So, our interest is piqued when we come across a relatively affordable scooter!
The KQi3 Pro is the performer in NIU’s current line of three; they also have the KQi3 Sports and the KQi2 Pro. It is also the most expensive, but not by a large margin. NIU has a huge manufacturing capability from their larger moped-style scooters, which is great for keeping costs low.
The KQi3 feels like what the standard should be for new-age commuter scooters. If we overlook the lack of suspensions, this scooter has everything a novice or expert rider wants from their electric scooter.
The scooter has an above-par performance. It has a smooth throttle, and the accelerations feel equally as smooth. The KQi3 doesn’t get to a heart-stopping top speed, but at 19 mph it is averagely and sufficiently fast. The rear motor with a 700 W peak power generates enough torque to go up typical hills without losing speed.
At 21 miles of range, we can see that NIU experience start to show. The scooter’s robust battery is protected by proprietary tech that ensures you keep getting higher miles per watt-hour than average. To add to this, the ride comfort is not too shabby; therefore, you won’t experience too much fatigue during your commute.
For a first kick scooter, the KQi3 impressed us. They could have retained the 10 inches tires that we had on the KQi2 for ride quality, but this is just one of the considerations you’ll be forced to make when choosing between the two iterations of the e-scooter.
Other differences you might want to consider include:
- The KQi2 is cheaper by about $200.
- We should expect greater power output from the KQi3 with a 350 w (700 w max) motor vs. the KQi2’s 300 w (600w max). This also means that the KQi3 is a better hill climber.
- The KQi2 is lighter at 41 lbs, while the KQi3 weigths 45 lbs.
- The KQi3 comes with a larger 486 wh battery against the KQi2’s with a 365 wh battery. This directly translates to the KQi3’s longer range of 20.9 miles vs. the KQi2’s 15.7 miles.
- The KQi3 has a higher top speed at 19 mph against the KQi2’s of 16 mph.
- The KQi3 has a better braking system comprising dual mechanical disk brakes + regenerative braking. The KQi2 comes with front drum brakes + rear electric and regenerative.
Therefore, if you’re after top performance, then the KQi3 is a no-brainer. Alternatively, the KQi2 delivers a more comfortable ride and helps you save on dollars, but you have to contend with average performance.
NIU KQi3 Pro Alternatives and Competitors
Ninebot Max vs. NIU KQi3 Pro
Longer range, but more expensive and a little slower.
Apollo Air Pro Vs. NIU KQi3 Pro
Best cornering due to front suspension, but slower, poorer at hill-climbing, and more expensive.
KQi2 Pro Vs.NIU KQi3 Pro
Lighter, cheaper, and a slightly smoother ride, but the KIQ i3 is faster, with better range and better braking.
Comparison scooters section
Is it Good for Bigger, Heavier Riders?
The KQi3 is big dawg approved but has a low cap on the weight limit.
Commuter scooters generally struggle when it comes to heavier riders. The tiny motors do not produce sufficient torque to carry riders on the extreme end of the weight spectrum. The KQi3’s 350 w motor can only carry riders weighing up to 220 lbs. Most scooters designed for big riders average at a 265-weight capacity, so heavier riders should know they have options.
Within the recommended weight, riders should not experience a lag in performance. The scooter also comes with a wide deck that gives enough leg room for riders with larger feet. They might not enjoy the footrests, but no one really gets to enjoy those. The 46 inch handlebar height is ideal for riders up to 6 inch. Additionally, the 21 inch wide handlebars allow bigger riders to adopt comfortable riding stances.
So, this scooter is great for heavier riders on the lower end of the heavy spectrum. And if you’re heavier than 220 lbs or taller than 6 inch, it’s advisable to look for something more accommodative.
NIU KQi3 Pro Review
Results below are based on our independent performance testing and not data provided by the manufacturer.
|Acceleration (0 to 15 mph)||5.2 seconds|
|Top speed||18.6 mph|
|Braking distance (15 to 0 mph)||10.0 feet|
|Hill climb||16.0 seconds|
The KQi3 is a smooth operator–you’ll never see her coming. The acceleration beats about every other scooter in its price class. From the 0-15 mph mark, the scooter only takes 5.2 seconds, which is surprising since the throttle comes on so smoothly. The acceleration is 46% faster than the KQi2 Pro and 2-tenths of a second faster than the fast Ninebot Max. This acceleration is also toe-to-toe with the resident speedster, the Fluid Mosquito electric scooter, which comes in at 5.1 seconds.
If you were planning to go head to head with your neighbor on his bicycle, then you just might beat him to your destination. The KQi3 gives you a decent 18.6 miles per hour, which is a bit lower than NIU’s claimed top speed of 20 mph, but just like cars, almost all scooter speedometers read 5 to 10% higher when measured against GPS.
Against competing scooters, the KQi3 performs averagely. It is faster than the Ninebot Max’s 18 mph top speed and the KQi2’s 16 mph. The Apollo Air Pro goes a little faster at 19 mph. These top speeds may not be the fastest, but they are quite typical of scooters with lower-rated motors.
The KQ’s top speed is also regulated by its three gear modes:
- Eco save mode:
- Pedestrian mode:
- Sport mode: top speed
- Customized gear mode via the app for preferred top speed.
We never underestimate the convenience of a good hill-climber, and the KQi3 is just above average for its price tag. The KQi3 electric scooter sustains 17 mph on typical hills. It climbed our usual test hill of 200 ft, 10% grade at 7 mph, which is 27% faster than the KQi2, and a match-for-match with the Max. If you live in a city with only a few slopes, this is an adequate commuter scooter.
Range and Battery
For a commuter scooter, you want a scooter than can reliably get you to your destination and back, whether it’s grocery shopping, going to school, strolling around the block, or as part of your last-mile commute. The KQi3 gives a good range per dollar, thanks to the high miles per watt-hour. This electric scooter will carry you through a tested range of 21 miles, compared to the KQi2’s 16 miles and the Air Pro’s 18 miles. This is one of the few areas where the Max shines over the KQi3 with a 28 miles range.
The range test ran on full throttle and only stopped for red lights and stop signs. Needless to say, riding on E-save could double your mileage over that of the e-scooter in its top performance. Also, a little bird tells us that the US market might soon get the KQi3 Max, which comes with a battery even larger than Ninebot Max G30. The Max e-scooter is expected to give you 40 miles on a single charge. This is great news for anyone that’s really concerned about range without wanting to sacrifice build quality and performance.
Something else you will not find in your run-of-the-mill electric scooters is that the KQi3 Pro electric scooter maintains 90% of full speed up until the last 2 miles of the range test. However, the e-scooter slows down noticeably to about 12 mph as the last bar on the battery meter starts blinking. Towards the end, the dash turns bright red, displays a warning code, and periodically beeps to ensure that you’re aware that the scooter is out of juice–getting caught off guard is a thing of the past. And, at this point, you have about a mile of battery before it completely drains.
The 48V battery charges with a 2amp charger and takes about 6 hours to reach capacity. Charging it overnight means it will always be ready for you when you get up, as would plugging it in the minute you arrive at the office; just be sure not to overcharge it. But not to worry; the battery comes equipped with proprietary NIU Energy BMS, which provides 14 different levels of protection, including overcharge protection.
As always, we love a scooter that challenges the status quo. The KQi3 is the only scooter under $1,000 that comes with dual mechanical disc brakes. It comes with front and rear mechanical disc brakes responsible for its record-breaking braking. Long-time sub $1000 braking champs Ninebot Max gave us a stopping distance of 11.0 ft from 15 mph–0 mph but were recently overtaken by ANYHILL UM2 at 10.5 ft. Now, KQi3 electric scooter shatters both records with an amazing braking distance of 10.0 feet.
The disc brakes plus regen brakes feel like power brakes, and riders with smaller hands will greatly enjoy this feature. They are also slightly different from the norm. First, they are part of the aesthetics-they look quite good. Second, and more importantly, they come with calipers that squeeze from both sides like hydraulic brakes, while most mechanical brakes only squeeze from one side. The result? It takes less hand strength to stop, and it’s not easy to overdo it.
The regenerative braking is also an extremely rare variation. Typical regen brakes use the on/off switch to turn the regen brake fully on or off, but the KQi3 Pro has a variable switch in the lever that triggers the regen depending on how hard you squeeze, i.e., the harder you squeeze, the more regen braking. You can also adjust the strength of your regen brakes on the app, between low, medium, and strong.
Also, despite the great braking power, there’s minimal disk brake lock. Therefore, this allows you to brake with minimal instances of skidding or falling.
The KQi3 electric scooter looks good and feels solid, but when it comes to ride quality, the scooter excites and disappoints in equal measure.
The frame and stem of the KQi3 Pro feel ultra-solid, which is almost similar to what we had to say about the Ninebot Max. The lack of suspension is quite obvious, but the tubeless pneumatic tires come in handy to smoothen out road impacts. However, on the very roughest pavement, the grips can get a little buzzy. We would recommend taking the tire pressure down to 45 psi to make the tires easier to roll on and improve traction.
The scooter’s geometry allows riders of most heights to adopt comfortable positions. The scooter has wider than average handlebars, which is great for handling. The handlebars and the 15-degree steering angle give the scooter extra stability in straight lines and in corners. And in addition, the grips on the handlebars are excellent; they have a wavy texture, which is quite comfortable, and they don’t slip out of place.
Good handling is also one of the reasons why the Apollo Air Pro, Ninebot Max, KQi2, and KQi3 Pro all come with rear domiciled motors. A rear-wheel drive also allows for more responsive steering and improves the road feel, especially for riders who like to wheelie off curbs. However, of the comparison scooters, the Apollo Air Pro with front suspension retains the best handling. But it’s followed closely by the KQi2 and KQi3 Pro. The Ninebot Max tails behind the rest with handlebars 3 inches narrower than the KQi3.
The KQi3 Pro electric scooter doesn’t have a zero start function. The reason is probably that NIU didn’t want novice riders to get caught off guard, and we totally get that. However, the way the kick-to-start engages can take a little getting used to. It doesn’t let you throttle first and then kick. Just like the Ninebot Max, you have to kick first and then throttle. It’s the kind of thing you probably get used to pretty quick, but it’s annoying when you get it wrong.
NIU KQi3 Pro Features
If you’re looking for an electric scooter you can comfortably bring up a couple of flights of stairs, 3 at most; then this is the scooter for you. The NIU KQi3 Pro has a quick and easy folding system. The stem latch is as beefy as the one on the 2 Pro and just as secure. To fold the scooter, simply unclip the latch on the stem; it reveals a second safety clip. Unhook the second clip and fold your handlebars towards the deck.
The deck latch is the belle of the ball–even better than the one on the Ninebot Max. It has an easy click-to-position mechanism. And to unfold, you simply press the button extension to release the handlebars for repositioning. It is sturdy and effortless to operate, which we absolutely love. The stem also offers a comfortable grip when lifting the scooter. And at 45 lbs, most adults will probably break a little sweat getting it off the ground, but they’ll manage. The 46 inches length also means it will fit most trunks.
The benchmark for displays is over the moon, but we appreciate just having one on a commuter scooter, as most manufacturers are notorious for leaving it out. The one on the NIU KQi3 electric scooter is simple; the display is low resolution and displays information in the form of pixel art-like characters. However, it is easy to read even in direct sunlight.
Turning on the headlights dims the display. So, if yours is hard to read, turn off the headlight, and it will automatically brighten the display. For safety, the headlight retains a halo light to keep you visible.
The display on the KQi3 electric scooter shows the speed, mode, and battery level. The display also comes with one button that performs multiple functions, such as:
- One long click turns the scooter on
- With the scooter on, one short click changes speed modes
- 2 clicks toggles the headlight on or off
- 3 clicks change the mileage units from miles to kilometers and vice versa
- 5 clicks drop the scooter into walk/pedestrian mode
The e-scooter connects to an app that locks the scooter, tracks routes, allows you to adjust the energy recovery, or customize the exact top speed. The app also lets you toggle cruise control on or off and update the firmware. Finally, it runs the user through a novice tutorial that locks the scooter in Eco mode until the rider can complete the instructions. More on that to come.
The KQi3 electric scooter has a beautiful, round, high-mounted headlight that functions as a daytime running light and has strong illumination for nighttime riding. The headlight has a halo that is always on and serves as the daylight. This is also prime for its aesthetics.
The headlight’s angle is adjustable for low-light riding efficiency. With the lights turned on, the strong beam has an illumination distance of 60 ft. On the other hand, the taillight is not so bright. The taillight also functions as a brake light and blinks when stopping, which is great for alerting other road users of your intent.
The scooter is also fitted with quite a number of reflectors, including one uniquely under the headlight, for improved visibility.
The scooter is equipped with wide 10 inches x 3 inches air tires that deliver a superb ride quality on city tracks. The wide tires are great for grip and handling. The e-scooter’s pneumatics also sustain a decent level of comfort on paved tracks with cracks, through light gravel or grassy trails for a limited period before the vibrations begin to transfer to your body.
On the flip side, the tires are susceptible to bursts and punctures. For low-speed commuting scooters, solid tires work better compared to the inconvenience of changing tires. However, one could add sealant to get ahead of pricks and punctures by giving the tires self-healing properties. But in the absence of suspension, one could also see why NIU went for the pneumatic tires.
The winged deck design is probably one of the most attractive elements of the scooter, but it is not the most functional. The steep angles on the front and rear design make it difficult to rest your foot on either part unless you’re comfortable with a really awkward placement. All the same, the deck is wide at 20 inches x 7 inches, allowing riders to settle on an ideal riding position. It also has an antislip rubber with ridges that aid in riding grip. In addition, the rear wing on the deck extends over the rear fender, preventing the fender from the accidental breaking that happens when riders step over it. You might want to avoid rolling over curbs and other road obstacles, as the 3 inch clearance will probably get your deck scrapped.
The overall design is intentionally clean and minimalist, which keeps things easy to use. We’re calling it the Mercedes Benz of scooters, and the way it’s packaged is all the reason why. As good evidence, think of the little plastic covers pretty much everywhere–the charging port, the fenders, the display, etc. The clean fit and finish also feel vehicle grade…well, because they know how to build them. Just think of the well-routed cables and the running day lights.
You can get the scooter with either a rose gold highlight on the stem or in full black attire. The KQi3 is made of aero-grade aluminum for weight purposes and durability. NIU has also branded their scooter with many logos and badges, making it pretty hard to mistake for anything else. The rubber-covered deck is inscribed with a clever pun, “NIU Way Forward,” which a lot of people find cool.
The scooter comes with wide handlebars for improved handling. At the center is a minimal display, while the ends feature a pair of quality, wavy-textured rubber grips. The scooter also comes with a mini motorcycle-style shield, providing shade over part of the display.
The battery is a further show of keenness on build quality. It is fitted with patented NIU BMS that provides the battery with 14 levels of protection. NIU claims the system has covered the rider network for over 10 billion kms/ 6.2 billion miles of total recorded mileage. This speaks volumes to durability and reliability.
The scooter is IP54 protected. The manufacturer warns against riding through more than 2 cm of water, which is great since riders are not left winging the limitations of the protection. Sensitive parts like the charging port come with extra protection. It has a hinged, springed rubber seal that eliminates the risk of being left open or falling off when riding; it snaps back into place when the charger is not connected.
Safety should be every rider’s top priority, and the guys at NIU understood the assignment. The scooter has a number of safety-enhancing features, e.g., best-in-class stopping distance, excellent day and night visibility, easy throttle, a bell, and no zero-start (though we wish that could be unlocked for more experienced riders). These tweaks work in tandem with the riders’ instincts and experience for safe riding.
However, there are things you’ll need to know before taking your maiden ride.
- When you pull your KQi3 Pro out of the box, you have to plug it in for a minute, or the scooter won’t turn on at all. The reason is that the scooter is shipped with the battery in “transportation mode,” and plugging it in is how you wake up the battery.
- Then there’s the App. To get the scooter out of ECO mode, you need to download the app and go through a short tutorial. The tutorial is smart enough to know if you’re doing what it asks you to do. For example, when the tutorial asked me to grab the front brake, and I grabbed the rear brake, it wouldn’t move on until I got it right.
- Once you’re through the tutorial, to unlock top speed, you’ll still need to cover 500 meters riding in ECO mode with the app open. If you have no experience with riding scooters, starting out at 9 mph is probably not a bad idea.
The scooter comes with a 2-year warranty. But, this is a strategy we’ve seen before when Korean manufacturers were trying to break into the US market. How does it go?
“Hey, you don’t know us yet, so here is a huge warranty so you know we’re serious.”
They proceed to cover all of the most expensive parts, including the battery, motor, controller, and dash, for two years.
You need to consider the warranty and what it covers as these things speak to quality. The longer the warranty, the more confidence the manufacturer has in their product. Think of GoTrax and their 90-day warranty and what that says about the guarantee you get on reliability and durability.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Review Conclusion
Our content is independent, but buying through our links may earn us a commission.
They are not very old in the scooter game, but after experiencing the KQi3 Pro and KQi2 Pro electric scooters, we feel that NIU has a place in the electric scooter space. They have vast experience in Vespa-style scooters, and that likely gave them plenty of insight into what works for the commuting space.
The ride quality and performance are above average for the price, and you certainly get better value than with other scooters in the category. You won’t have your mind blown, but you get average speed, decent range, okay ride quality, great safety measures, excellent build quality, and an outstanding warranty.
For a first kick-scooter, the results are also surprisingly good. NIU has given us a scooter that’s perfect for all commuters, with special regard for novice riders. So, if you’re looking for a scooter to make short trips within the city, the NIU KQi3 Pro electric scooter gives good value for your dollars.
NIU KQi3 Pro: Technical Specifications
Note: These specification are provided by the manufacturer and may differ from our real-world testing.
|Folded dimensions||46 by 21 by 21 in|
|Motor power, continuous||350 W|
|Top speed||20 mph|
|Battery capacity||486 Wh|
|Battery recharge time||6 hrs|
|Max rider weight||220 lb|
|Brake type||Disc + Disc|
|Tire type||9.5 in Pneumatic (Tubeless) + Pneumatic (Tubeless)|
|Built-in lights||Front + Rear|