Niu Kqi3 Max electric scooter review

One of the best electric scooters for getting you wherever you need to go

NIU KQI3 Max parked on sidewalk
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Niu Kqi3 Max is the best all-around electric scooter we’ve tested. While commuters and those who need to carry a scooter up stairs will find the Unagi Model One a better fit, the Kqi3 Max’s range, performance, and handling make it an awesome ride.

Pros

  • +

    Fast

  • +

    Great brakes

  • +

    Powerful for hills

Cons

  • -

    Heavy

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Niu Kqi3 Max: Specs

Size (unfolded): 45.5 x 46.1 x 21.3 inches
Size (folded): 45.5 x 46.1 x 19.8 inches
Weight: 46.3 pounds
Motor: 450W, 900W peak
Max speed: 23.6 MPH
Battery: 46.8V 608.4Wh Lithium Battery
Estimated range: 40 miles
Tires: 9.5 x 2.5-inch
Max rider weight: 265 pounds

To some degree, riding any electric scooter involves some amount of fun, but some are more fun than others. The Niu Kqi3 Max is one of those. It’s fun and fast, has a long range, and is very comfortable to ride.

Among the best electric scooters, the Kqi3 Max isn’t the lightest of models — if you have stairs to climb, look elsewhere — but its 450W motor is powerful enough to get even larger riders (like myself) up hills. Add to that a great design, grippy brakes, and an app that lets you customize your ride, and you’ve got an excellent all-around electric scooter.

Read the rest of our Niu Kqi3 Max review to see if this is the best electric scooter for you.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: Price and availability

The Kqi3 was first released in 2022, and is available in three versions: The Kqi3 Max, which I tested, costs $999, has a 450W motor, a 40-mile range, and a top speed of 23.6 miles per hour. The Kqi3 Pro retails for $799, and has a 350W motor, 31-mile range, and a top speed of 20 miles per hour. The Kqi3 Sport sells for $699, and has a 300W motor, a range of 25 miles, and a top speed of 17.4 MPH.

The Pro version comes in black with gold trim, while the Sport model is offered in black with four trim options: white, blue, red, or black.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: Design

The Kqi3’s headlight is a large circular LED; it looks kind of like one of the best ring lights, and certainly stands out among the other electric scooters I’ve tested. Its taillight is more traditional — a red LED bar across the back of the fender.

The Kqi3 Max is equipped with dual mechanical disc brakes, which are probably overkill but certainly look cool — they’re painted red — and stop the scooter incredibly fast. It also has a rear electronic brake which can be used to recover a little bit of energy and put it back into the battery; Niu says at the top setting (which you can adjust in the Niu app), you can get about 4% battery life back. It’s not a ton, but it’s something.

NIU KQI3 Max front wheel

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Kqi3 Max’s deck is spacious — a good 22.4 x 6.3 inches — which gave my feet plenty of room to rest. Like many electric scooters, the deck is covered in a rubberized material that offers plenty of grip for your shoes.

NIU KQI3 Max baseboard

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

At 46.3 pounds, the Kqi3 is pretty hefty. Although you can fold its handlebars down very easily — it has a simple but effective latching system — you’d have to be pretty strong if you wanted to carry it around.

NIU KQI3 Max folded

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

For that, you’ll want something much lighter; the Unagi Model One, for instance, checks in at around 27 pounds and is a good deal smaller, making it better for those who need to lift their scooter up stairs. However, the Unagi’s ride isn’t as smooth, as it has smaller rubber wheels.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: Performance

This scooter was a real joy to ride. While its 450W motor is on paper not all that much more powerful than other models I’ve tested, its peak output of 700W really gave the Kqi3 Max some real pickup. It was most noticeable when getting started — the Kqi3 got up to speed faster than other models — and on hills, where this scooter excelled where others dared go. 

On my standard test hill — a 6 percent road grade — the Kqi3 Max was able to maintain a speed of around 10 MPH, which is pretty good. Other scooters, such as the TurboAnt V8, which has a 450W motor, could muster 6 MPH at best.

NIU KQI3 Max parked on sidewalk

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I then took the Kqi3 Max on an adjoining street, which has a much steeper grade — around 9 percent in one section — that’s a bane to both scooters and cyclists alike. Here, the scooter slowed down to about 5-6 MPH, but still kept chugging.

On level terrain, the Kqi3 Max quickly accelerated to its max speed, and flew me around my neighborhood with ease. It doesn’t have any suspension, but its large 9.5-inch self-healing tires more than padded things along my ride.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: Battery life

Niu says that the Kqi3’s 46.8V 486.7Wh Lithium Battery is good for a range of up to 40 miles — similar to the 40+ mile range of the Segway Ninebot Kickscooter Max and the TurboAnt V8. Also like those other scooters, the Max’s actual range was much less in my testing. 

After riding it up and down a good number of hills and at full speed, I was able to get about 20 miles out of the Kqi3 Max before it needed a recharge. To be fair, the expectation vs reality of the Kqi3 Max is not too different from other scooters I’ve tested. If you’re smaller or lighter than me, or plan to ride it on mostly level roads, you’ll most likely see a better range.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: App

One clever feature in the Niu app lets you increase the maximum speed of the Kqi3; while you only get a boost to about 23MPH, it feels like you’re unlocking a cheat code.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Other features of the app let you see how far you’ve traveled on the scooter, your average speed, and where you’ve gone (provided you initiate a riding session in the app). The app also lets you remotely lock and unlock the scooter — a nice safety measure — and adjust how much.

Niu Kqi3 Max review: Bottom line

As someone who reviews a lot of electric scooters, there are generally several models in my garage at any one time — much to the chagrin of my wife, who would like to park our car in there sometime. Lately, when I’ve opened the door and picked a scooter for a pleasure ride, it’s been the Niu Kqi3 Max. It’s fast, it’s fun, and it’s powerful enough to get me up and down the hills in my town. It looks great, too. At $999, it is on the pricey side, so I also suggest taking a look at the Niu Kqi3 Pro, which is $200 less. 

If you need to lug an electric scooter on a train or up a flight of stairs, the 26-pound Unagi Model One is still the best option. But, as the best all-around electric scooter — and don’t mind the price — the Nui Kqi3 is at the top of our list. 

Mike Prospero
U.S. Editor-in-Chief, Tom's Guide

Michael A. Prospero is the U.S. Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide. He oversees all evergreen content and oversees the Homes, Smart Home, and Fitness/Wearables categories for the site. In his spare time, he also tests out the latest drones, electric scooters, and smart home gadgets, such as video doorbells. Before his tenure at Tom's Guide, he was the Reviews Editor for Laptop Magazine, a reporter at Fast Company, the Times of Trenton, and, many eons back, an intern at George magazine. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College, where he worked on the campus newspaper The Heights, and then attended the Columbia University school of Journalism. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, electric scooter, or skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine, smoker, or pizza oven, to the delight — or chagrin — of his family.