Xiaomi Electric Scooter

Cool factor 5/5
Usability 4/5
Value for money 4½/5

Electric scooters are popular in Europe, readily available to rent via apps to get around cities quicker. But they are controversial — some countries have banned them because of safety concerns.

In SA, electric scooters are not allowed in public because they do not have pedals like bicycles. If you buy one, you can only use it at home.

Syntech supplied us with the Xiaomi Electric Scooter 1S soon after I moved to a house with a long driveway. Before that it would not have been legal to test it on the communal roads of an estate.

The 1S is classified as a toy. It weighs 12.5kg, has a 250W electric motor, features 8.5-inch tyres — including a spare — and comes with charging cables.

It has an 842mAh lithium battery that charges fully in 5½ hours and gives the scooter a range of 30km. It features a low-tech screen, power button, brake and accelerator on the handlebars, and lights at the front and back.

The 1S is suitable for 16-to 50-year-olds up to a weight of 100kg, and a recommended rider height of 1.2m-2m. It can be folded in three seconds and stowed in a car boot.

The scooter was easy to set up; an Allen key is provided to screw on the handlebar that paired to my iPhone within seconds on the Mi Home app. The app lets you access battery life, average speed, duration of a trip and settings.

The 1S is fun but the kickboard is narrow; both feet don’t fit side by side. You kick-start it and once you’re coasting at 5km/h, you can hit the accelerator.

It has three speed modes: pedestrian, up to 5km/h; standard, up to 20km/h; and sports, up to 25km/h. Don’t be fooled, standard is fast, and you should always be aware of your surroundings.

It has double braking: the front being an eABS regenerative system that prolongs your range like an electric vehicle, and the rear is conventional. The efficiency of the recovery can be adjusted on the app.

The Xiaomi Electric Scooter 1S is not a toy for kids. It’s very much a grown-up gadget, and a helmet should be worn at all times. It is meant for private use, but if you want to take it on quiet suburban roads, prepare for any consequences.

It costs R8,999 at Takealot.

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