Children’s electric scooters have enjoyed great popularity since last Christmas; so much so us adults want a go, too. Xiaomi has the answer with its folding electric scooter, a fairly pricey toy but one that’s an awful lot of fun.
Xiaomi Electric Scooter review: Price and UK availability
The M365 isn’t officially available in the UK, though you can import it from China via sites such as GearBest.com, from which we received ours for review.
At the time of writing it costs £429.65, though Tech Advisor readers can grab one for just £334.17 with the coupon code XMHK01 (valid until 1 July 2017).
As ever when buying from China you need to factor in that you may be charged import duty, which is calculated at 20 percent of the value on the shipping paperwork plus an admin fee of around £11.
There are some other risks too, given that your rights are different when buying outside Europe (see our Chinese tech buying advice).
And then there’s the fact delivery times can be significantly longer.
In our case we waited several months for the Xiaomi scooter to arrive. We’re not entirely sure why, given that we received no correspondence from UK customs, but the tracking information showed that the scooter was held at Gatwick for two months after arriving in the UK.
Still, when it eventually arrived it was well worth the wait. Let us explain…
Xiaomi Electric Scooter review: What it is, what it does
This is not your average child’s electric scooter, as you can probably tell from the price tag. In fact, it’s really not ideal for children at all, because it stands 114cm high and is not height-adjustable (our eight-year-old could just about get on with it but smaller children will not). It’s also pretty heavy at 12.5kg, even though it’s built from aircraft-grade aluminium and quickly folds up for easier transportation, and it goes very fast. A little bit too fast for little kids.
Most electric scooters these days look like plasticky, bulkier versions of the old-school scooters with which we’re all familiar, and they can be pretty noisy. Kids reach speeds usually between around 8mph and 14mph, but with little control over their acceleration (or much else, it would often appear).
The Xiaomi Electric Scooter is more refined. It can travel up to 30km (nearly 20 miles, but the exact distance depends on how fast you go), and at up to 25km/hour (nearly 16 miles an hour). It does so almost completely silently, too.
A mobile app lets you track everything from the remaining battery life and distance to your average speed and controls for acceleration and cruise control.
Yep, cruise control. On an electric scooter. This one also has a kinetic energy recovery system and disk brakes (on the rear – at the front is an E-ABS braking system), which can shorten braking distance to just 4m.
Plus there’s a headlight and flashing rear brake light. The headlight is powerful enough to actually see where you’re going at night, too. Bonus.
Large 8.5in inflatable tyres mean the Xiaomi Electric Scooter can handle some offroading, and certainly low- to medium drop kerbs (but be careful). More importantly, it feels very stable in use, and you quickly get used to cornering and getting up speed.
A high-capacity 18,650mAh (280Wh) battery means it’s unlikely to run out of juice mid-play or halfway to your destination. When it comes to recharging we found it achieved roughly 20 percent per hour, so should fully charge from empty in five- to six hours. You’ll just need an adaptor for the two-pin plug, which GearBest will be able to provide on request.
Xiaomi M365 Electric Scooter review: In action
Everyone who tried this scooter wanted to take it home with them. It really is the toy that lets adults be kids again, and to do so in style.
As we mentioned we were very impressed with the speed and stability of the scooter, but we also liked how easy it was to put together and get going. Our only gripe here is it was missing two screws in the box to hold the handlebars to the main column, and we’re not sure they were actually there to begin with given that the box was very well sealed.
To start using the scooter you press the power button on top, which activates four LEDs that show you remaining battery capacity, and pull up the small kickstand. The scooter needs to be moving before the motor will kick in, so give it a push and then pull down the lever on the right handlebar.
How far you push down this lever controls how quickly you accelerate, though you’ll also find you can change the acceleration mode in the app settings. Three are available, though we didn’t notice an obvious difference between them.
On the other handlebar you’ll find a brake lever and a bell, with the latter also used to hold down the handlebars in the scooter’s folded position. Folding the Xiaomi takes just seconds, but while this makes storing the scooter much easier we wouldn’t want to carry it too far like this.
It’s built from a very premium-looking lightweight aluminium, but even so the battery and motor mean it weighs in at a hefty 12.5kg. At 108x43x49cm folded it’s still quite bulky, too.
There’s very little about the design that we can fault. Locking it up might prove difficult, though you could loop a chain through the rear wheel, and ideally you’ll want some sort of phone mount or holder to make proper use of the app.
We weren’t confident enough in our testing to take one hand off the handlebars to pull out our phone and check the speed, so we had one person on the scooter and one with the phone. The drawback of this is you need to stay within Bluetooth range, giving you less distance to build up speed. Nevertheless, we managed to record 16.2mph from the Xiaomi.
(In this situation, integration with Android Wear would be very handy, though there’s nothing stopping you using a Speedometer app with your smartwatch.)
The MiHome app itself isn’t the easiest to use for UK users. We originally selected US as the locale since it was the only English language in the list, but then discovered several features were missing and found it impossible to link the scooter to our Xiaomi account. We recommend you select Mainland China instead.
Actually, scrap that. We recommend you ditch MiHome and download Ninebot. It connects much faster and gives you access to all the same features. Both apps are free from Google Play. The dashboard is prettier, too.
Xiaomi M365 Electric Scooter review: UK law
Before you rush out and buy this adult electric scooter we must warn you that electric scooters are not legal for use on UK pavements, and it sounds silly but since they are treated in the eyes of the law as mopeds they must be road legal, taxed and insured in order for you to ride them on the road.
If you’re going to do this you’ll also need to make sure you are adequately protected – in other words, you’ll need a helmet. And you need to be 16 to ride a moped in the UK.
That said, we’ve not heard any cases of kids – or adults – being pulled over by the police and fined for using an electric scooter in the UK.
Our best advice is to stick to private land as much as you can (where you’ll also be safer), and to enlist a healthy dose of common sense at all times. If you’re going to use an electric scooter irresponsibly, expect to be pulled up on it.