It looks as though the UK is edging closer towards the legalisation of electric scooters on public roads. As of July 2020, only e-scooters hired from public rental schemes can be used on the road, but riders must have a driving licence, even though they are not required to hold insurance or wear a helmet.
We can only hope that if this first stage goes well, full legalisation of private scooters will soon follow, as many people would much rather ride their own electric scooters than have to hire them.
Should this be the next step, many commuters will no doubt be interested in the Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooter, since this is currently one of the most popular models in countries where they are already legal. You can already buy this scooter in the UK, but only for use on private land. Given the popularity of this model, it’s likely that many of the new rental schemes in the UK will use them too.
This is a chunky, adult size scooter that can carry a rider weight of up to 100kg, and the unit itself weighs 12.5kg so it’s light enough for most people to carry. The handle folds down, so it can be easily carried on trains or busses without taking up too much space.
Top speed is 15.5 miles per hour, which is inline with the maximum assistance speed for electric bicycles. The Xiaomi Mi Electric Scooter features a 280Wh (watt-hour) battery which, the manufacturers claim, is good for around 18 miles range before it needs to be recharged.
As with all personal electric vehicles, this very much depends on a number of factors including the rider’s weight, road conditions, hills, wind, speed and riding style. Putting the scooter into “economy mode” reduces the speed in favour of extending battery life, so if you plan to do a longer trip or you’re just worried about running out of juice, switch this on. A full battery recharge takes five hours.
The wheels use chunky 8.5inch tyres to help keep the ride smooth, and these are inflated to 50psi. We’ve heard complaints from some users that fixing a puncture on this scooter can be a very difficult job because of how tricky it is to remove and replace the tyres. A common fix is to use some inner tube sealant to protect against minor punctures, and simply reduce the chances of you needing to perform a roadside repair.
Another note on the tyres; these are small compared to any bicycle wheel, so you need to be much more aware of the road surface. Pot-holes, drains, gutters, speedbumps, these are all potential hazards that can kick you off the scooter, so you’ll need to pay much more attention to the tarmac ahead of you.
Front and rear wheels feature ABS equipped disc brakes to help you stop quickly and safely, which is an important concern since these scooters are most likely to be used in urban environments where pedestrians have a habit of stepping out into traffic while staring at their phones. This also means there’s only one lever to operate the linked brakes, not two separate ones like on a bike. It’s a regenerative braking system too, so some of the energy you use to stop the scooter is fed back into the battery to help extend range.
Standard equipment includes integral front and rear lights, a bicycle style bell, and a side-stand to keep it upright when not in use.
It’s a great tool for whizzing around the city. For example, if you’re one of the thousands of commuters who has to walk/drive to a train station, then catch a bus or tube to your place of work at the other end, this can save you a lot of time and hassle. If needs be, you can conveniently recharge the battery at work.
Some might be tempted to use this for longer commutes of 10 miles or more. This is really stretching the capabilities of the Xiaomi Mi, because it’s unlikely to be very comfortable for that distance, and it’s most likely slower than a bicycle, especially since you’re only really going to hit 15.5mph in ideal conditions on flat roads and a lot of the time you’ll be going slower. Each to their own however, and if you find it feasible to commute for those kind of distances then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
If range is an concern for you, it might be worth considering the upgraded Xiaomi Mi Pro, which offers a similar package but a significantly bigger battery pack which should get you a real-world range of 25 miles in a single charge. It costs about £100 more.
The motor is quiet, giving off a kind of electric whizzing sound, but you’ll barely notice it and it’s certainly not loud enough to warn other road users of your presence – another reason to pay close attention to hazards.
The manufacturers recommend against riding this scooter in the rain, which could be problematic for British commuters. However, it’s not really got any meaningful water-proofing, so on soggy days you’ll need to leave it at home or risk causing damage. Electricity and water are never a good combination.
A best selling electric scooter that’s proven popular with commuters all over the world. It has a few quirks (like the fiddly tyre changes) but there’s nothing seriously wrong with this model that should deter potential buyers.
For under £450 you get a capable, robust commuter, which also happens to be a lot of fun. Real world range will be far less than the claimed 18 miles for many users, but this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.
Hopefully we’ll soon be seeing a lot more of these moving people around our cities safely and quickly.