The KQi3 Max is fast, fun, dependable, and stops on a dime.
NIU’s KQi3 Max may be one of the best electric scooters you can purchase for under $1000.
KQi3 Max Electric Scooter – The Lowdown…
Electric scooters from the Chinese company NIU have generated buzz for their exceptional value and build quality. Pronounced “new” in the English-speaking world, NIU is no newcomer to the electric kick scooter scene. The company has been around for over five years, making seated scooters, mopeds, and electric motorcycles for a mostly Asian market and for seated scooter share companies like Revel in the U.S. They introduced the KQi2 Pro, their first electric kick scooter in 2021, and three additional KQi3 models — Sport, Pro, and Max — followed.
The full company name in Asia, Xiao Niu, means “little cow,” which is why the logo and some of the scooter design look like upturned horns. “Little cow” may not make some potential buyers think of speed. But like a young calf, NIU’s electric scooters are dependable and strong – and like a charging bull, they’re surprisingly fast and can stop on a dime, two qualities that characterize the KQi3 Max, the prize of NIU’s electric scooter line, and a step up from the already excellent KQi3 Pro, once called the “Mercedes-Benz of electric scooters.”
The KQi3 Max is a serious competitor for best electric scooter in the $900 – $1000 range. Among other scooters in this price range — such as popular commuter favorites Segway G30 Max, Apollo Air 2022, and the AnyHill UM-2 — the KQi3 Max stands out for its surprisingly quick acceleration, faster top speeds, powerful dual braking system, spacious deck, and tubeless tires, among other features we’ll discuss below.
KQi3 Max Specifications
|Motor||Brushless DC 450W Motor with Peak Power Output of 900W|
|Battery||Battery: 48V 608.4WH Li-ion battery|
|Charge Time||Charge Time: 7 hours|
|Range||40 miles (64 km)|
|Max Speed||22 mph|
|Braking System||Dual Mechanical Disc Brakes + Regenerative braking
|Tire Type||9.5-inch pneumatic tubeless tires|
|Lighting||Front & Rear LED / Side reflectors / Always-on Halo Driving Light
|Max Load||265 lb (120 kg)|
|Scooter Weight||46.3 lbs (21 kg)|
|Size (L x W x H, cm)||Unfolded: 46 x 21 x 46
Folded: 46 x 21 x 20
NIU KQi3 Max Video Review
Check out this video review of the NIU KQi3 Max from ESG.
NIU KQi3 Max Pros
Fast acceleration and high top speed
Great range for its size
Excellent for heavier riders
Unbeatable braking power
Tubeless, self-healing tires
Better hill climbing than other scooters in its class
Cool red cables!
NIU KQi3 Max Cons
Not the most portable
No zero start option
KQi3 Max Summary
NIU exceeds expectations for the “Max” version of an electric scooter model, a designation that usually means a minor upgrade or two over all other versions. In this case, it means not only a larger battery for more range, but also higher speeds, faster acceleration, and better braking than the Pro, all while retaining the faultless build, relatively low weight, and good ride quality we’ve come to expect standard with NIU electric scooters.
The Max can reach a top speed of 22 mph – rare in scooters of this class. Its dual mechanical disc brakes are even better than the already-superior brakes on the Pro version of the KQi3. Some might even say the Max, with its distinctive red cabling and red accents on the deck, even looks cooler than the Pro, though that’s entirely a matter of personal taste.
Speed & Acceleration
The KQi3 Max does not, it’s true, look like the fastest electric scooter in the pack. Except for that exciting bright red cabling, it keeps the largely utilitarian look of the KQi3 Pro, which NIU refers to as its “SUV” scooter for its heavy-duty dependability. The Max hardly disappoints in this area, boasting the same 265 lb max load as the Pro. But while it weighs in at almost two pounds heavier than its predecessor, the Max accelerates from 0 to 15 almost a full second faster, with a thumb throttle that can feel a little jumpy in less-than-experienced hands.
NIU has done a great job of orienting new riders, however, with some mandatory tutorials through the app when the scooter is purchased new and a limited speed of 9 miles per hour for the first mile while in “New User Mode.” While this might annoy riders who don’t need it, the extra caution not only protects the company from liability, but it also ensures that by the time you’re through these initial steps, you’ve got a pretty good feel for the scooter’s controls. The feature is consistent with NIU’s concern for rider safety, about which the company has learned a lot in their time as builders of some of the best electric scooters in the seated market.
While NIU advertises a maximum speed of 20 mph, users can use the “Custom” mode to up this max to 22, and they’ll find that extra 2 mph coming in handy when competing for space on heavily trafficked roads. Some riders may be upset by NIU scooters’ lack of a zero-start option, another nod to safety. In order to engage the motor, the scooter must be kickstarted to around 3 mph.
Battery Life & Range
Electric scooters with the specs of the NIU KQi3 Max are not built for long, off-road adventures or racetracks – they’re built for everyday commuting to and from the office, light grocery shopping, and most any other local errand. This means they need adequate range to get you where you need to go and back — or at least enough range to get to where you can stop a while and charge the battery — without introducing so much weight that the scooter is impossible to carry.
With its 608Wh (watt-hour) battery, the KQi3 Max has extended its range over the rest of the KQi line. The company calculates 40.4 miles under the most ideal conditions, which never obtain in real life. Real-world tests put this at around 23 miles in Sport mode, still a respectable distance for a fast, fun, affordable electric scooter. (Mileage will always vary, depending on terrain, weather conditions, battery condition, and rider’s weight.) NIU’s app provides detailed info on battery health so you can monitor how your riding habits affect the scooter’s range. E Save mode, which caps your speed at 9 mph, will give the scooter the most range overall.
The KQi3 Max uses the same configuration as the KQi3 Pro – a single rear-wheel-mounted brushless motor. The Max, however, delivers 100 more watts of power, with a 450W motor, for a total maximum output of 900W. This gives the Max some better-than-average hill-climbing ability. It beats out the Pro, averaging around 1 mph more on steep hills, and almost 2 mph more than the Segway Ninebot Max. More motor power also means better performance for larger riders. While we rated the KQi3 Pro highly for its 265 lb weight limit, the Max promises higher speeds and faster climbs under the same load.
Construction & Quality
It’s no surprise that the KQi3 Max is a well-built, beautifully-engineered, reliable scooter since NIU has already mastered the art of making small electric vehicles. It’s hard to find fault with the very good quality construction of the KQi line. These scooters’ shortcomings are down to matters of preference and fit, not build quality. And given the two-year warranty on all major parts, it seems that NIU has the confidence to stand behind their products should anything go wrong.
While you’ll get better range by pushing the KQi3 Max’s pneumatic tires to the max recommended pressure, running them a few PSI lower will activate the full power of tubeless tires to absorb vibrations for a smooth ride. This is often necessary in the absence of any suspension system when the roads around you aren’t the best maintained.
Although the scooter lacks suspension, like all of NIU’S electric scooters, the Max’s air-filled tires and excellent build quality do a good job of damping most road vibration. They aren’t so great on bigger bumps, dips, potholes, railroad tracks, etc., and you’ll want to steer around such things, when possible. The $600 KQi2 actually provides a slightly better ride because of its full 10-inch tubeless tires.
NIU has captured a distinctive, signature look for its electric scooters that doubles as a rarely-seen safety feature – an always-on halo of light around their large LED headlights. Along with this daytime driving light and the aforementioned bright headlamp, the scooter has the usual reflectors — in this case, very well-placed high up on the stem and directly below the headlight. Along with its more-than-adequate headlight, the KQi3 Max features a bright LED tail light and a brake light to signal to those behind you when you’re coming to a stop.
NIU makes is the only electric scooters on the market with dual disc brakes for under $1000, in addition to its dual regenerative brakes. Disc brakes can sometimes require a little adjustment to get right, but the chief advantage when properly set up is their ability to modulate braking power.
With the KQi3 Max’s mechanical disc brakes, we get even more precise braking. The calipers squeeze both brake pads equally toward rotor, instead of just on one side like most mechanical brakes. The KQi3 Max’s fire-engine-red disc calipers are even better than the Pro’s, and perform even more like a set of hydraulic disc brakes, a further demonstration of the company’s commitment to safety.
The KQi3 Max adds a couple pounds to the Pro’s 45 lbs for a total weight of around 47 lbs. Otherwise, its folding dimensions are identical. It sports the same extra-stable folding mechanism, with no stem wobble when upright. And its stem locks securely in place when folded. The scooter folds easily and fits into the trunk of a car and isn’t difficult to carry up a few flights of stairs when the need arises. It isn’t the lightest scooter in its class, by any means, but it doesn’t feel particularly heavy or bulky when carried.
NIU already beats much of its competition by offering tubeless pneumatic tires over the tubed variety. Going tubeless means you can ride with lower pressures for more comfort without having to worry about flat tires from pinched inner tubes, the most common kind of flat.
With the KQi3 Max, NIU ups its game even more, offering its first scooter with self-healing tires. These seal when up right away when punctured, making them basically immune to flats.
Yes, like the KQi3 Pro, the Max’s 9.5 inch tires aren’t as great at absorbing vibrations as the KQi2 Pro’s 10-inch tires. But bringing the tire pressure down a few PSI won’t compromise safety and will greatly improve comfort.
The KQi3 Pro has plenty of space for larger riders with wider stances on its grippy, rubber-covered, 20 in x 7 in deck. Three inches of ground clearance makes for a low center of gravity and contributes to the e scooter’s overall feeling of stability on the road. Keep your Pro looking great and avoid curbs so as not to scratch the deck and ruin this scooter’s sleek black finish.
Controls & Display
The simple design of NIU’s cockpit makes it easy to focus on the road instead of the screen. The KQi3 Pro dash shows large, pixelated numbers for speed and five asterisks for battery life. At the bottom, just above a multi-function physical power button, the display shows which of the preset three gear modes (or additional custom mode) the scooter is currently set to.
At the top are four color indicators for lights, Bluetooth, temperature, temperature, and fault warning. Like the KQi2, the dash is bright, even in sunlight, and gets a further assist from a tinted shade placed in front of it.
The KQi3 Pro, like all NIU’s scooters, has an IP54 water resistance rating, which makes it suitable for riding in light rain. It should not, however, ever be ridden in heavy storms or through puddles since submerging the scooter in water could render it fully inoperable.
Reliability, Warranty & Customer Support
NIU’s warranty is best-in-class, or was when it was first offered with the company’s KQi2 Pro. Now other companies are also offering 2-year warranties on all major parts, perhaps inspired by NIU’s customer successes. These are well-engineered and well-built electric scooters that demonstrate NIU’s expertise in building electric vehicles.
This is not an “issue,” but something for buyers to know: First time users will have to connect their scooter to the app, walk through a tutorial, and learn to ride in the slowest “eco save” mode before unlocking the top speeds. This might seem like overkill but it protects NIU from liability claims — in the event of an accident — that novice riders weren’t given instructions on how to ride safely. It also lessens the chances that such riders will have an accident.
The KQi3 Pro may require some minor adjustment to its disc brakes to get them working perfectly, and the scooter’s tire pressure should be checked regularly and the tires topped off when necessary. Otherwise, the Pro should require very little maintenance other than keeping it clean and dry.
KQi3 Pro: Is it worth the money and is it worth buying?
The NIU KQi3 Pro fulfills the expectations of an “SUV of electric scooters” in the best possible ways – by being durable, dependable, comfortable over long rides, and fast and powerful enough to get the job done, if that job is an everyday commute or local errand run. It’s not built for the racecourse or the trail but it’s also a serious electric vehicle that doesn’t ever feel like a toy or novelty because of its exceptional built quality.
The KQi3 Pro is built so well, in fact, that NIU is willing to stand behind all of the scooter’s major parts with an outstanding 2-year warranty. It’s not the perfect scooter, no such thing exists, but it’s got more to please a wider range of riders than most in the under $1000 category and is without a doubt an excellent value for the money.
You can improve your KQi3 Pro with the following accessories:
- LED headlights
- Livall smart helmet
- NIU 360-degree phone mount
- Electric scooter cupholder
- Universal waterproof electric scooter handlebar bag
- Universal electric scooter basket
- Extension bar for electric scooters
Other Similar E-Scooters
- Apollo Air Pro
- Segway Ninebot Max
- ANYHILL UM-2
- EMOVE Touring
- Fluid Freeride Horizon
- Okai Neon Pro
- Unagi Model One
Josh is a writer, electric vehicle fanatic, avid cyclist, and all around gearhead.
- Powerful motor to effortlessly tackle hills
- Dual suspension
- Has a long-range
- Very wide deck for increased stability
- Great lighting for visibility
- Excellent braking distance
- Very heavy
- Not suitable for beginner riders
- It has a tall folded height which compromises storage
- Long recharge time