Niu MQi+ Sport
- Lovely clean design
- Good sized battery
- Extremely nippy motor
- Not great for heavier pillion passengers
We have already looked at one Niu 28mph electric moped, the NIU UQi GT SR and judged it to be, "a very attractive option for clean, green commuting and... great value for money". Here we take a look at the pricier and higher specced NIU MQi+ Sport which gets a bigger battery along with other 'extra' features and, as you might expect, steps up in price. Notably though, it remains in the same 50cc-equivalent moped class, so 16-year-olds with a CBT certificate and insurance can ride it, as can AM licence holders.
What do you get?
At the heart of the MQi+ Sport is a 1.4kW rated motor and 2kWh under-seat battery that can be charged on the bike or after removing it. As with the majority of mopeds, the stylish ABS plastic bodywork hides a hefty steel frame and there is an alloy rear swing arm, so it is no lightweight at 72kg when compared to even heavy e-bikes. However, it's about par for the course for a moped of this spec.
There are also 'linked' hydraulic disk brakes and beefy looking front and rear suspension. There is a 10-inch mag wheel at the front whilst the rear wheel is actually just that large, gearless Bosch motor. Road style CST tyres feature on both wheels.
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Niu MQi+ Sport
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A tour of the cockpit fills you in on what other features the MQi+ Sport has. Like all mopeds it is a twist grip control but there is also a useful cruise control for faster straight roads, whereby just pushing the cruise control buttons holds your speed until you touch the throttle or brakes again. The brakes themselves are linked, meaning that pulling on either lever will activate both front and rear brakes simultaneously, but smoother more controlled braking is achieved by using both levers in the conventional manner.
The main features on the LCD display are the battery charge indicator (battery bars and percentage) and the speedo. There's a mode indicator (mode 1 is a low speed 'get me home' setting and mode 2 full speed) and various icons at the top related to GPS functioning. Time and odometer are also clearly displayed. It's all large, clear and highly visible in all conditions.
A series of coloured lights just above the display show when your indicators or full beam lights are activated (the MQi+ Sport has daytime running lights front and rear) and when the moped is in 'ready' mode. The latter is a reassuring safety feature meaning you have to press a ready button to make the throttle 'live', reducing the risk of an accidental take-off whilst you are off the bike or getting ready to go. There's also a pretty audible electronic horn, a small bottle/phone holder at the rear of the steering column and a USB charging port close by. In short it all has a very practical and well-thought out feel to it.
The cavity under the seat not only holds the battery, there is also space to slot the rather bulky 5 amp charger in there. There is also an optional helmet box that that can be affixed to the rear of the frame where it sits over the rear of the back wheel - that still just about leaves room for a small, light pillion passenger.
Moving to the rear of the bike, there are retractable foot pegs and a grab rail should you want to take a small passenger. The seat easily flips up if you want to remove the battery, which has a carry handle, and the key 'ignition' can also be used to activate the steering lock for extra security when parked.
The associated app works much as expected and has many of the features you'd also find on a standard e-bike app, including trip history, percentage of battery left, range estimate and GPS map location should the moped go missing etc. The key fob features the ability to alarm the bike when away from it too.
On the road
The MQi+ Sport felt as any good e-moped should in busy town traffic: lovely, quick acceleration off the mark to get clear of busy traffic at junctions and comfortable and stable on the open road. With that 28mph top speed limit it feels more secure in 20mph and 30mph zones than on roads with faster speed limits, where you can feel a bit exposed - though of course not as exposed to large traffic whooshing past as on a 15.5mph e-bike. The suspension soaks up potholes well and the brakes are effective. Overall it feels safe and stable in all conditions and corners very well on the grippy road tyres.
Estimated range is pretty good compared to other e-mopeds we've tested, as you might expect as the MQi+ Sport has the biggest battery ebiketips has yet tested at 2kWh. It took my 76kg frame around 38 miles over hilly country but in fairly mild conditions. Niu claims 60 miles in ideal conditions. Whilst it would certainly be easy for a lighter rider in easier terrain to get well in excess of 40 miles, 60 miles seems very unlikely in any real world conditions.
The lighting on the MQi+ Sport is outstanding with very visible daytime running lights and a full beam option at the front and highly visible rear lights, brake lights and indicators. There are even small sidelights in the middle of the moped, while the bright white plastic alone is a great visibility feature.
If I was being ultra-critical I would have liked more modulated braking and acceleration as both could feel abrupt in certain circumstances (Niu says its regen braking feature can reclaim up to 6% of energy, though again this is unlikely in real world conditions). Slightly wider rear view mirrors would also have made manoeuvres a little easier.
Acceleration up hills felt very good for a 28mph limited model, some of which can slow to less than e-bike pace up steeper slopes. Not the MQi+ Sport though, which maintained at least 20mph plus on all hills on my regular very hilly commute, except a single drop to 15mph up a 20% plus gradient. That's highly respectable and it meant my commute time was nearly cut in half compared to most e-bike times.
Whilst there is room for a pillion passenger, I felt I would really want a bigger, more powerful model to maintain the spritely performance of the MQi+ Sport and keep it moving safely in busy traffic. However, pillion riding may suit a much smaller, light rider and similarly-sized passenger.
I felt the MQi+ Sport stacked up really well against the previous, admittedly less pricey e-mopeds I've tested and it's certainly currently the leader of the pack in performance terms. Niu is a huge global manufacturer so you should be secure in the knowledge that service and spare parts will be around for quite a while - especially with the UK e-moped market showing signs it is about to really take off. The all important battery gets a two-year warranty but claims a five-year life cycle, which sounds about right, though it's likely to have a harder life than on an e-bike as it's hauling a bigger load and there is no human pedal power to ease the strain on it.
£2,699 is the customer price, but there will be a number of extra costs. These include "on the road" fees which are dealer dependent and normally charged to cover administrative fees (£99 is one example we found), while registration of a new motorcycle/moped is £55 (paid by the new owner directly to the government, which may or may not be absorbed in the dealer admin fees. Road tax is free for e-mopeds but still needs to be applied for.
It will be interesting to see if my genuine enthusiasm for the MQi+ Sport is maintained over the coming months and years as there are now more and more 28mph e-mopeds in the £2,000-£4,000 price bracket. There are many East Asian brands you may never have heard of making their way to the Europe and the UK, whilst the most famous names like Yamaha only last year announced their latest and most technologically advanced line of e-mopeds. The future for this relatively new form of super-practical urban transport certainly looks exciting.
"Road tax is free for e-mopeds but still needs to be applied for."
Road Tax? What's that then? Come on, a cycling journalist really ought to know better than to use that term!