REVIEW OF THE XIAOMI MI ESSENTIAL ELECTRIC SCOOTER
Written by Ed Wiles, Scootered Founder
Xiaomi have replaced their all-conquering M365 electric scooter but have confused matters slightly by creating two models out of the M365: the Xiaomi Essential and the Xiaomi 1S. The Essential is essentially (pun intended) the M365 with an upgraded dashboard, less powerful battery and cheaper price tag, whereas the 1S is essentially the M365 with the upgraded dashboard and slightly better battery. Oh, and both have better tyres than the M365. But let's have a closer look at the Xiaomi Essential.
You can also compare the new range of Xiaomi scooters.
The Xiaomi M365 e-scooter was first released in late 2016 but came to prominence in North America in 2017 and then Europe in 2018 when scooter hire company Bird put thousands on the streets of cities across those two continents. In April 2020, Xiaomi quietly released the Xiaomi 1S in China and then their new range, including the Essential, 1S and Pro 2, was leaked. Presumably, the awkward release was due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The EU/UK version of the Essential finally arrived in August 2020.
The Xiaomi Essential Electric Scooter is a foldable e-scooter designed by Chinese tech giant Xiaomi (pronounced "show-er-me"). It is manufactured by Ninebot, who also manufacture the Segway branded scooters. The Essential has the normal Xiaomi folding design, 20 km (12 mile) range, 20 km/h (12 mph) top-speed, 12 kg weight and pneumatic tyres. It also boasts cruise control, front and rear lights, E-ABS brakes and a phone app (the Mi Home app seen below). The frame is basically the same as the M365.
The handlebar height is not adjustable because of the folding system (part of the bell hooks on to the rear mudguard). It comes in a bespoke brown box (weighing 16 kg) and requires a small amount of self-assembly, inasmuch as you have to insert the handlebars and screw in four screws to fix them in place (so as to avoid an awkwardly large box for shipping). There is no spare tyre included.
The scooter's battery is located in the base and the frame itself is built from aluminium. It is strong and the simple folding mechanism means it can be folded or unfolded in a few seconds. This sturdiness and low cost (as you are not paying for carbon fibre) does mean it is reasonably heavy at 12 kg (though this is slightly lighter than the M365/1S). But this is as light as mid-range scooters come. One difference from the M365, apart from yellow reflectors on the EU/UK model, is that the external wires are neater in the Xiaomi Essential. They still have not figured out how to feed the wire to the handlebars internally (through the folding joint) but they have at least tried.
The display on the Essential is the same as that from the M365 Pro, meaning it shows your speed, battery level and riding mode. There are three riding modes: normal, pedestrian and sport. The accelerator is a button on the right-hand handlebar, while there is a bike-like brake on the left-hand side, as well as a slightly superfluous bell (which cannot be removed if you want to keep your Essential folded). A powerful LED light is built into the front of the handle for nighttime riding. Some have complained the light on the Xiaomis is too bright, but I disagree (it is not quite as bright as my bike light's top setting). There is also an improved rear light that flashes when you brake.
Riding The Essential
Like the M365, the Essential is well-balanced and easy to control. If you are not used to riding scooters or similar, the first time you ride any electric scooter is likely to be somewhat nerve-wracking. This is common and most people quickly lose any initial trepidation. Accelerating and braking are easy and effective. One problem I have encountered on my M365 is that the right-hand handlebar grip can get pushed up to the throttle, meaning the throttle may not automatically spring up when released. I have not encountered this on the Essential yet but would not be surprised if it remains a small issue.
The Xiaomi tyres are 8.5 inches in diameter and pneumatic. The idea is that air-filled tyres makes the ride smoother. The ride is indeed smooth as long as the ground itself is reasonably level. I have ridden the M365 extensively in Mexico City, where road repairs fall fairly low down on the "to-do" list, and found that, as long as major potholes are avoided, and a comfortable riding stance taken, most road surfaces can be comfortably traversed. Unsurprisingly, cobble stones present something of a hazard.
The only real issue I have found is a tendency to scrape the bottom of the Xiaomi scooters on pavement edges when I go from the road to pavement or vice versa but this could well be a result of my inherent laziness and simply not lifting it high enough off the ground. It is not particularly easy to take tight corners but, again, this may be more down to my own riding inadequacies than any flaw in the scooter design. I would also not rely on the built-in lock to prevent against theft.
We would always recommend wearing a helmet when riding an electric scooter. Most scooter injuries seem to happen when a pothole (or similar) is encountered and the smallish wheels are indeed susceptible to such obstacles. Please read my post Are Electric Scooters Safe? for more information and statistics on the safety of electric scooters. As we often point out, as of June 2020, it is not legal to ride privately owned electric scooters on public roads in Britain, although few police forces take any action against riders.
The Essential battery has a smaller capacity than the M365 battery and the scooter has a top-speed of 20 km/h (12 mph) and range of 20 km (12 miles). However, as the output is the same as the M365, this top speed must be an arbitrary cap within the firmware so as to increase the range (meaning you could theoretically hack it). Xiaomi claim they have improved their batteries, meaning they take less time to charge than the original M365 (or M365 Pro) and have longer overall lifespans. It seems the lifespan has been extended by lowering when a full battery charge is reached (ie when it is in fact only 93% of the capacity). It is worth noting that once the battery level drops below 5% the scooter performance drops fairly significantly.
The Essential is an excellent low-to-mid-range electric scooter. However, in making it more attainable, Xiaomi have of course lowered the overall performance, which means I cannot quite give it five stars. Of course, you could argue that a cheaper electric scooter could never attain five stars with this logic, and this is a valid point. It's just the way I feel about the Essential having got used to the M365 (although I do appreciate the Essential has improved tyres, dashboard and lights). The Essential, with its lower price despite the upgrades, is perhaps aimed more at a younger market (than a daily commuter) and it makes an for excellent entry-level scooter.
|Size (Unfolded)||108 x 43 x 114 cm|
|Size (Folded)||108 x 43 x 49 cm|
|Output||250 watts (500W max)|
|Range||20 km (12 miles)|
|Top Speed||20 km/h (12 mph)|
|Max Climbing Angle||10 %|
|Front Brake||E-ABS (Regenerative) Disk|
|Waterproof||IPX4: splash resistant|