- The future of urban mobility
- In the saddle
- In the city
- Comfort / Duo
- Mobile app
- NIU N1-S test video
The future of urban mobility
Electricity is exploding, both at the level of car manufacturers who all have development plans with specific ranges and at the level of VAE (Electrically Assisted Bikes), not to mention the manufacturers of 100% electric motorcycles.. All of this offers urban mobility solutions at a time when certain city centers are becoming closed to traffic and when it is planned to eliminate thermal energy in a few years. An offer is also developing at the level of small urban scooters, in particular with rental offers such as Cityscoot, Coup avec Gogoro. In short, electric is the urban mobility of tomorrow, on two-wheelers and to understand the changes that are taking place, it was important to test to get an idea. There is everything on the market and difficult to get an idea with a short try. We therefore chose to take an electric scooter over a week in order to test its daily use with a recent model built by the Chinese NIU and its N1-S model. If NIU doesn’t tell you anything, DJI will tell you more because the two companies belong to the same group, NIU having been founded in 2014 by one of the founders of Baidu, the Chinese Google. And if Chinese often means expensive and unreliable, NIU has chosen quality elements here, in particular with a motor signed Bosh, using Lithium-Ion batteries supplied by the best: Panasonic, LG and Samsung. NIU announces 600 charging cycles, or 30,000 km minimum. The N-Series model is therefore quite excellent on paper. Test
The NIU offers a vintage look with its angular shapes and imposing front apron. We can not say that we are in the canons of aesthetics, but the tastes and the colors, in the end, we do not care, especially since the headlight sports an elegant LED signature and the rear light LED also (just like the indicators) has the advantage of being large and therefore clearly visible. We also appreciate the large flat floor for its carrying capacity, facilitated by a hook. There is a storage compartment at the front in addition, which allows you to store some business menus and especially to charge the laptop, since a central USB socket offers real additional utility. Side and central stand make parking easier. Note that the Bosh motor is here placed in the hub of the rear wheel.
Vintage line with flat floor
Under the plastics, there is a steel frame, which NIU claims to have worked against corrosion with multiple treatments ranging from electrophoresis to phosphating without forgetting electrostatic spraying. And the swingarm incorporates an alloy of aluminum and titanium. Finally, NIU announces that it has developed an anti-UV paint to protect the paint over time..
In the end, the N1-S is not that small with its 180 cm long and 70 cm wide.
LED rear light
There are two particularly important things in electrical: the design of the battery and its management / protection system. NIU used the best battery manufacturers to create a battery designed through 180 cells, connected in parallel. The manufacturer has added PTC technology thus compartmentalizing each cell and protecting the entire system. Because a poorly designed battery depends on its weakest or defective element, an element that can compromise the effectiveness of the assembly in cases of poor design. NIU also claims to have developed a Battery Management System (BMS) inspired by the automobile, ensuring its longevity and its 600 recharging cycles; the whole being guaranteed by cons only two years. Because with 600 cycles allowing 50 km minimum, we could do 30,000 km and it takes a few years to do 30,000 km only in town.
Then there is a Bosh motor of 2400W maximum developed by BOSCH with its Field Oriented Control * management system from NIU, all offering a maximum torque of 120 Nm, yes 120 Nm announced by the manufacturer. NIU also announces that it will be able to recycle 6% of braking energy thanks to its EBS electric braking system..
Slender and long despite appearances
Still in terms of technology, the N1-S comes with an original anti-theft system, triggered with the remote control, which signals the movement or attempted movement of the scooter, both via the indicators and the siren. And when the mobile app is working, an alert can also be sent to the mobile phone.
In the saddle
The low seat allows everyone to sit naturally on board. It’s small, light, especially in sensations despite the 95 kilos on the scale and in the tradition of mopeds. However, the handlebars fall well under the hands with a very natural position. The wide flat floor allows you to have all your comfort even with packages.
In front of us, we have a nice modern and elegant dashboard with big, clear and easily readable information: load and speed in particular. The totalizer is smaller but remains readable, while a bargraph shows the power demanded from the electric motor instantaneously, facilitating eco-friendly driving. That said, the eco driving indicator can even be displayed in sport mode, as long as you are downhill. It just lacks a small clock and a partial trip, more useful in everyday life than the outside temperature. Finally, a dial on the right stalk allows you to choose its mode, between eco, intermediate and sport mode. And rare thing, there is a warning, very useful, especially when you are in eco mode.
We apply the brake and press the green starter button … No noise, that’s the advantage of electric power. The P parking light just goes out. And the reaction to the handle is instantaneous. The danger of stopping the electric is still there: forgetting that in fact the scooter is started and inadvertently leaning on the handle to turn it. Fortunately, a safety device automatically turns the scooter off after a few minutes (just like deploying the side stand).
Start-up and warning
Natural position on the handlebars
In the city
The NIU’s throttle grip is very sensitive and immediate acceleration, really immediate, without any progressiveness. It looks more like an on / off handle at startup. To be honest, it’s unsettling, especially since the first reflex is to cut and then turn around and the scooter then makes small jumps. Compared to many electric scooters or even electric motorcycles, this on / off responsiveness is not pleasant and we would have liked better progressiveness on the first few millimeters of the handle. The advantage is that we start faster than all cyclists, or even faster than almost all 125 thermals. Yes, with the electric, the maximum torque is instantly available and you can feel it. On the other hand, once launched, the handle is very precise and then makes it possible to stabilize its speed at the desired speed … in town, almost permanently. And of course, we start again at the next red light. In fact, the solution is to switch back to eco mode (1) for starting. The brutality is then erased and you just have to turn the thumb mode dial in a very simple and intuitive way to switch back to sport mode after a few meters. And since you can feel the guts of each mode under your finger, this is done without having to look at the switch. Because as much, brutality is clear at startup, it does not exist when switching from one mode to another. And then, over the days of testing, you get used to the scooter to no longer even use this change of mode when starting. It’s the difference between a one-hour contact in town that would leave the model unpleasant feeling and then her final appreciation as the days go by. You get used to the character and the start to actually keep the throttle "full" and the jumps at the start just give way to "fiery" starts that are totally controllable..
50 km / h fully loaded, 45 km / h otherwise
The NIU is small and fits perfectly between cars to interface. Well started and when the battery is charged, you can even tickle the 50 km / h counter, at the start, in Sport mode (3). Once the load drops, we go back around 46 km / h, which is in town is sufficient.
When in mode 2, intermediate, it actually limits the maximum speed to 34 km / h, without one having the impression that the acceleration is limited compared to the sport mode.
On the other hand, we will avoid the eco mode (1), because at 18 km / h, we do not feel safer than with a bike, or even less, because in view of the size seen from the rear, motorists expecting at a greater speed and come at you a little quickly, or even honk your horn, thinking you are going slow on purpose. While I had fallen into eco mode automatically because under 15% load, I even had a motorist pulling up to me to ask if I had a problem and if he could help. It is rare but it confirms that the eco speed is to be reserved for use in the countryside.
On the other hand, I have systematically passed all the cyclists, including a duo, not only at the start but even afterwards. The electric is here superior to the thermal, if we take into account the equivalence, that is to say that we only have an equivalent 50 cm3.
Is there even a need to talk about handling when talking about small displacement? It makes so much sense. But, yes, the NIU is maneuverable, including squeezing around when stationary between cars, if not the responsiveness of the throttle grip that takes a bit of getting used to. But at worst, we help each other with our feet.
3 driving modes
As for the tires, they were not faulted, even in the rain, with the sole reservation of avoiding braking too hard with in the rain..
In fact, we remember above all a very flexible driving experience (apart from starting) and without any noise. And while the electric causes the throttle to be cut, generally the equivalent of a brake stroke, this is not the case on the NIU which gives more an impression of freewheels. It is this smooth and soft side which gives an impression of pleasant driving, even if in electric, it is better to have a casting drive than driving with the handle constantly knocking..
We expect a soft braking such as exists on cyclos. This is not the case here and the dual circuit EBS braking to allow recharging during braking offers a good feeling and a progressive and safe power. It must be said that we have two discs, one at the front and another at the rear, which is rather rare on cyclos. So much so that we can block the rear, including in the dry. On the other hand, it brakes well and quickly, without being brutal. NIU are working on an equivalent 125, one could imagine almost the same braking on a more powerful model.
Disc brake and EBS system with regenerative braking
Comfort / Duo
Despite a fine double suspension at the rear, but combined with a well-padded saddle, the N1-S offers excellent comfort, eliminating pavement defects rather well, including the big ones. Even speed bumps are taken without apprehension. What is comfortable in solo is also in duo, where you can hardly feel the passenger. This means that the power of the scooter does not drop noticeably, except on the side..
Comfort saddle reinforced by good suspensions
NIU announces 80 kilometers of autonomy (at 20 km / h), but this is essentially counting the eco mode, which limits the speed to 18 km / h. Suffice to say that in the city, we are never at this type of speed. In sport mode, allowing to be at 45 km / h (or even a little more depending on the conditions), the range is closer to 50 kilometers.
On identical journeys, taken under the same conditions, consumption varies between 15% and 20% per 10 kilometers! Consumption tends to be greater when the battery is at half load than at full load. It must also be said that it happens to leave the scooter at a certain battery level and that this level rises between the evening and the following morning (without recharging so far) by about 5%.
As soon as we reach 20% charge, a light red battery indicator lights up on the meter … but we quickly reach 15%. At this time, the scooter automatically switches to eco mode! So you can’t do the last kilometers quickly, even knowing that you can reach your destination with the remaining charge in sport mode. We are then overtaken by the bikes !
On our test model, regardless of the charging time, we failed to charge more than 83% (anyway the charge light automatically turns off when the system judges the charge to be complete). No longer being able to use the scooter in sport mode below 15%, so this makes (83-15) 68% payload compared to the 100% at the start. Suddenly, doing about 25 km per day, I had to charge every two days, which is restrictive.
The main strength of the model is the ability to extract the battery and take it home for a recharge. This is done in a few seconds, because it is enough to unlock under the saddle with the key, to open the central hatch of the floor, to disconnect the plug to take the handle of transport. Note, however, that with its ten kilos, when you already have the helmet and some things in your hand, you try to avoid doing it every day. But this has the advantage of being able to leave the scooter outside when you don’t have a garage. And when you have a garage, it’s easier since you just have to open the saddle to connect the cable directly to the socket..
NIU announces a full recharge of the 29 Ah battery in 6 hours. This must be at the beginning of the battery’s life, because on our side, by recharging while the battery was at 10%, it only returned to 75% of charge after 7 hours. And this, we only know by reconnecting the battery, the charger does not indicate the charge level, but just having a red led to indicate if the battery is charging..
The NIU has a small safe to store a small jet and of course an anti-theft device. We can add a rain suit, with a set of jacket and pants.
The scooter is light and therefore pushes very easily in the garage but not only, because in the event of complete discharge, it remains very easy to push in the street.
The majority of electric two-wheelers offer a mobile application, making it possible to provide more data. NIU therefore has its own app which allows you to see what is left of battery, follow recent routes, have a scooter fault report, locate the nearest gas station and browse the user manual on the scooter. application. It also offers an anti-theft function, by detecting in particular if the scooter has moved. We dream about it on all motorcycles.
The application is easily downloaded from the AppStore or the GoogleStore. On the other hand, registration necessarily requires his phone and despite entering a correct phone number, the app always informed me that the validation code received by SMS was invalid. So I couldn’t get it to work before calling the NIU service who manually unlocked my phone number, not to mention a few Chinese messages in the middle of the screen. NIU is working on a new app for 2018, which should fix these issues. Application is not mandatory on a daily basis.
NIU N1-S Electric Scooter
It seems that the first models had problems with the ECU and the link between mobile application and geolocation, but all the electronics being connected with the scooter, this could have caused the scooter to malfunction..
The future of urban mobility may be here, when all thermal vehicles will be banned. Naturally, we dream of a greater autonomy, allowing to space the charges even when we can take the battery home. Now, after a few days of testing, we forget the look to appreciate the machine in its aspect of practical everyday companion. On a daily trip of 10-15 km urban, I am barely slower than on a motorcycle, having already calculated my average speed, at 35 km / h. The electric offers the advantage of not risking being flashed at more than 50 km / h on one of the 5 existing radars between my home and the office. You would almost only have to choose between the white, red and black colors if the price at 2,899 euros does not make it more expensive than some 125 thermals. And we are actually looking forward to the equivalent GTX 125 models with more range and top speed. In the meantime, do at least one test, perhaps the way to get another idea of the mobility of the future, especially as NIU is also announcing technical improvements for 2018 of its model, in particular regulating the brutality of the start-up..
- removable battery
- components signed Bosh, Panasonic / Samsung
- brutality at startup
The NIU N1-S technical sheet
NIU N1-S test video
- Itinerary: city
- Model mileage: 200 km
- Thanks to Urgence scooters, Paris, for the loan
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