The all-new NIU SQi may look funky… but it’s hiding a dark secret

The NIU SQi might look like a funky electric urban motorcycle... but then looks can be deceptive without the benefit of scale or well-lit imagery


We’ve featured a lot of Chinese motorcycles on these pages over the last couple of years, it won’t have escaped your notice.

While many have perpetuated that long-held stereotype that its products are simply poor facsimiles of rival models, this notion is steadily being replaced as more and more quality options emerge along the (metaphorical) Silk Road.

One such brand is NIU, one of the many ‘new generation’ firms sparking up with electric mobility at the forefront of their business model, which just seven years after it was founded (in 2014) is now ranked among the top ten best-selling two-wheel brands in the world.

However, while electric scooters have formed the basis for his rapid growth, NIU is now pushing into new segments with its latest creation, the motorcycle-styled SQi. Except, the SQi isn’t in fact a motorcycle… 

Glancing at the SQi here in the photos you’d certainly be forgiven for thinking this is a trendy looking small motorcycle, albeit one that does bear a rather striking similarity to the Husqvarna Svartpilen with its neo-retro inspired front-end and stubby swept up rear tail.

However, look a little closer and you’ll see something you wouldn’t expect to find on one… pedals poking out on either side.

They are the giveaway that expose the SQi to in fact be an e-bicycle powered by a combination of a small battery and the muscles in your legs.

It has been launched - in China initially - to satisfy the growing demand for ‘pushier’ push bikes that come with a bit of mechanical oomph, which have become a common sight in the UK as a popular choice to complete local deliveries.

With the law in China stating these e-bikes cannot exceed 25km/h (around 15mph), the SQi may looks like it zips along with gusto, but it only comes with a 48V removable battery - available in either a 20Ah (960 Wh) or 24Ah (1,152 Wh) options - to complement the power in your pedalling legs. NIU claims the SQi has a range of around 45 miles.

Despite the anti-climax of reality versus expectation here, the NIU SQi is essentially an extension of the firm's new line in full-size motorcycles, heralded by the launch of the RQi [above] this year as its first 125cc equivalent urban runaround.

Indeed, NIU isn't the only electric scooter company diversifying into bigger models, with UK top seller Vmoto Super Scoco preparing to launch the more dedicated Vmoto Stash in the coming weeks, following on from its TC range.