Xiaomi became known to the French general public through its scooters even before conquering the smartphone market with its products that are no longer presented. The enthusiasm for this new means of transport has indeed crystallized a lot around one model: the essential M365 which had already sold 560,000 copies worldwide by the end of 2018! We had also published a report on his condition after 1200 km on board.
- Build quality
- Real tires!
- Smooth driving
- Efficient braking
- Top screen
- Reliable points (rear light cables, mudguards)
We don't like
- Still a bit heavy and bulky when folded
- Lack of energy on the way up
Despite some concessions, this new Xiaomi scooter gives you what you pay for. Indeed, for € 299, the consumer can count on a product of undeniable manufacturing quality which augurs well for a good lifespan, knowing that scooters suffer a lot in the city (shocks, bad weather, etc.). It drives very easily with smooth controls and advanced electronic engine management that avoids the "turbo" effects that are not reassuring for beginners. To come back to the concessions to make, some did not really bother us. We are thinking in particular of the slightly reduced top speed or even the lower autonomy than that of the high-end models. Finally, the only truly penalizing limit in our eyes is in its weak capacity to face positive slopes.
Since then, the Chinese giant has been able to evolve its flagship product to the point of declining it in several versions, with three models on the new generation: Essential, 1S and Pro 2. The idea is of course to satisfy all budgets, but also to meet expectations based on user profiles.
The Essential also arrives at an affordable price, € 299 at launch, targeting different types of users. Young people, first of all, on a tight budget who want to discover the electric scooter without breaking the bank, perhaps simply to go to high school or college, but also young urban workers who do not necessarily seek autonomy and enormous power, because their path is quite short.
Finally, users who need to combine public transport and a scooter to go to work will appreciate the reduced weight of this new model when it comes to carrying the scooter in the corridors of the metro, for example.
The Essential copies the design of the Mi Electric Scooter Pro
The implementation of the Xiaomi Mi Scooter Essential does not require more than ten minutes. It comes almost ready to use. You just have to attach the handlebar stem assembly to the steering column via four Allen screws which have the good idea of being provided with thread lock. As always with Xiaomi, the essential accessories are provided: we thus find the adequate Allen key, emergency screws and a valve extension to facilitate tire inflation operations.
Once mounted, the scooter is ready to be used, the battery of our test copy, although new, even being 90% charged when it comes out of its box. But before setting off, a quick tour of the owner is in order.
The family resemblance with previous generations of Xiaomi scooters is obvious, and more specifically with the Mi Electric Scooter Pro that we were able to test last year. In fact, we find the same control screen with identical controls on the left with the one for the rear mechanical disc brake and on the right the throttle trigger. The front and rear LED lighting also has the same design. The chassis of the Mi Scooter Essential is dressed in a beautiful powder-coated anthracite paint. A robust finish a priori. The welds are wide and regular, which is reassuring about the reliability of the machine.
The folding system is simple and efficient. Note, however, that all the weight still rests on the rear fender, with the handlebars attaching to it. On the first M365, we had problems with this mudguard which had broken twice in 1200 km. Xiaomi has revised its system by adding two bars fixing the mudguard to the hub, enough to strengthen this part. Ditto for the rear light whose cables were exposed to all the external turpitudes on the first models of Xiaomi. Over time, they would tear, leaving the user with no back signal. The Essential corrects this problem by protecting these cables in a casing passing through the fender.
However, there is no escaping it, once the scooter is folded it remains rather cumbersome. Another downside, the height of the handlebars is not adjustable. It seems a bit high to us for people measuring less than 1.60 m. Xiaomi above all plays the reliability card by limiting the parts liable to break or complicate the maintenance of the scooter.
In addition, during our test, we did not observe any play in the stem, but the system remains the same since the first M365, we imagine that it could happen in the long run. Tightening of this part will then be necessary.
The Essential doesn't come with a suspension, either front or rear. The only small concession, the brand remains faithful to real tires. We therefore find 8.5-inch wheels dressed with tires equipped with inner tubes. A system certainly liable to burst, but which absorbs vibrations. These tires therefore improve the comfort, but also the handling of the machine.
Small weight, but small battery and small motor
To reduce the price of this model, Xiaomi has therefore not reduced the quality of the chassis or removed accessories such as the display. Most of the price savings came from the electrical part of the product. First “sacrifice”, the battery always placed under the deck sees its capacity reduced to 5,200 mAh against for example 12,800 mAh for the Pro 2 announced at the same time.
This has two direct impacts. The first on the weight which now stands at 12 kg, a good two kilograms less than its counterpart, and the second on range. The Essential must therefore be satisfied, despite the presence of a braking energy recovery system, with a range of 20 km depending on the brand, against 45 km for the Pro 2.
This battery powers an engine whose claims have also been revised downwards. Always placed in the front wheel, it delivers a power of 250 W (500 W peak) and a torque of 16 Nm. The Mi Scooter Electric Essential has to be content with a top speed of 20 km / h, 5 km / h less than the more top-of-the-range models which respect the legislation with a maximum speed of 25 km / h. It doesn't seem really awkward to us. On the other hand, the weaker capacities of this new scooter to climb the slopes seem more so. Xiaomi indicates that it will withdraw beyond the 10% slope.
A real screen on an entry-level scooter
Once on board, you don't really feel out of place, the Essential taking over the control screen of the Pro. This display is still easy to read. It provides access to essential information such as the instantaneous speed or the operating mode used. We find three modes that can be changed by pressing the big central button. These are Economy, Standard and Sport modes.
The first will limit the speed of the scooter to 6 km / h: it is therefore the one to use if you have to use portions of the sidewalk. Xiaomi is an eminently high-tech brand and its scooters are no exception. They can therefore connect to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The operation is going smoothly, whether tonight on iPhone or on an Android smartphone.
There is no official application specific for the scooter. You have to go through the Mi Home application, which manages all of the manufacturer's connected products: air cleaners, bulbs, security cameras, etc. and therefore scooters will therefore use the same application. It’s a bit confusing at first, but we got used to it.
It is thus possible to use your smartphone screen as a giant dashboard. It will also be used to access advanced settings and update the firmware of the Essential. Finally, the application allows you to lock and unlock the scooter, a kind of super ignition key. We check that the front and rear lights are on, even in daylight we always opt for this setting, prudence is the mother of safety, and off we go.
Xiaomi Essential: a scooter comfortable and safe
First observation, even in Sport mode, the trigger can precisely adjust the acceleration and maintain a constant speed. An important element for safety, as it facilitates adaptability according to the circumstances. We were thus able to maintain a constant speed of 12 km / h for a good kilometer on a particularly crowded Parisian cycle path at the end of the day.
Braking is always reassuring : it is also easy to dose, but in an emergency it can stop the scooter in less than 10 meters. By anticipating as much as possible and in quiet streets, it is even possible to use only the engine braking over long distances. It also improves the autonomy of the machine through energy recovery. You will understand, the Mi Scooter Electric Essential is a very easy model to drive, especially since its engine is managed smoothly thanks to a comprehensive software part.
Its excellent handling, the tires are probably not for nothing, quickly builds confidence, including beginners. Its engine is certainly not the most powerful, but its capabilities seem rather suited to the program. If the 15 km / h is reached very quickly, it takes a little longer to fetch the remaining 5 km / h and reach the maximum speed with a user of 75 kg.
The Essential is not comfortable going uphill
As we dreaded, the limits of this engine will appear rather facing the slopes. The false Parisian dishes are enough to see the speed of the scooter drop significantly unlike more torquey models. The slopes of Montmartre will have the last word and we are quickly forced to push the scooter.
Of course, with a lighter rider, 75 kg for us, let us remember, the Essential will do noticeably better, but in any case it is not advisable if you regularly have to contend with steep slopes. But on the flat no problem, its speed is enough for us for a "utility" trip. The battery life is not the highest we have seen either. Depending on your driving, the terrain faced and perhaps your weight, it should be between 15 and 20 km. A distance that remains comfortable for urban use, a "last mile" type of use.
Lighter than the brand's top-of-the-range models, the Mi Scooter Electric Essential still weighs 12 kg and its length when folded makes it difficult to handle in the crowded corridors of the Paris metro. It is also difficult to escape certain angry looks from certain users. Things are obviously less complicated in the RER and in suburban trains, means of transport more suited to multimodal uses.