I maintain that electric scooters are one of the best ways to get around the city. Of the commonly available scooters in the Philippine market, the Xiaomi Mijia stands out in its well-rounded package that offers portability, range, and most importantly, a reasonable weight. Its stock form is, however, a little watery. Inclines can be a problem, and it’s a little anemic off the line, and at top speed. My search for the best personal transport solution led me to Ekstreme Scooters in Quezon City. I had an upgrade done, boosting the battery a fair bit, and a few changes to make the upgrade possible.
The upgrade changes the overall design very little. Firstly, about an inch is added to the bottom of the deck. The gap is taken up by an LED underglow strip. Additional wires are routed through the scooter, at the same places the old cable housings go, so the rubber stoppers that keep them in place are split to make room, and cable wraps are added to tame the extra frizz. Dimensions remain the same, though a small charging port is added to the deck for the LED underglow battery pack, which is also installed inside the main battery compartment.
The main draw for the upgrade is additional voltage. It boosts the voltage up to 48 V from 36, installs the necessary voltage controller, and increases the top speed from 25 kph to a solid 35 kph, with more torque and greater acceleration. The upgrade requires that some systems be bypassed, so the power button is replaced with a key-turned switch, much like a car. Since the original board, controller and batteries are replaced, some functionality is lost. The upgraded performance comes at the cost of regenerative braking, Bluetooth control, the headlight, and the aforementioned power button, all of which are lost with the new hardware. Battery capacity is retained, so the real-world range of 18-20 km remains the same.
User Experience: 4.5/5
The original incarnation of the Mijia is a fine device for getting around a place like BGC, or possibly the Makati CBD. My purpose for the scooter involved busier streets, and so I felt the stock 36V configuration just wasn’t doing enough for my trip. Getting past swerving jeeps, parking vehicles, and faster-than-normal bikes needs a little more oomph than 36 V can deliver. The bump to 48 V is immediately felt from a standing stop. Where you had to give the stock form a little kick before you can gas it, the upgrade goes as soon as you give the throttle a twist. This can cause the front tire to spin out if you aren’t careful, but done right, the Mijia gets going in a hurry, with enough force to pull you back from the handlebars. On flat ground, it gets to top speed in about half the time from stock, and inclines that would bring the stock Mijia to a grinding halt, such as the steep section of Kamuning coming from EDSA, are not a problem in the least.
The additional speed can be a little intense, and bumps are magnified when traveling at that speed, so make sure you have a firm grip on the handlebars as you travel. Maneuverability is as good as it was before the upgrade, and the tires are more than capable of providing enough grip, even on turns at higher speed, but since even smaller obstacles can prove a problem for the equally small Mijia Tires, trying to get a full lean at turns might not be the best idea.
Something that you have to learn quickly is that the additional speed, loss of electric braking, and a read-mounted disc brake make for much longer stopping distances. Expect the rear wheel to lock up if all you do is grab a handful of brake. You’ll need to shift your weight to the rear and modulate your braking until you can brake hard enough to stop. It’s not an upgrade for newbies, and only years of cycling had kept me from making some mistakes that would have led to a crash. In particular, locking up the rear is going to happen quite a bit. If you have the skill and gumption to make it work though, the ride is amazing. The light, nimble scooter takes corners well, and should you need to fold it up and take it across a pedestrian overpass, up the elevator, or to your desk, it’ll do so happily.
The loss of Bluetooth connectivity isn’t really a big problem, and I really didn’t miss it at all. The loss of the light though, was something I had to make up for with a spare flashlight and bicycle mount. It might seem like you’re giving up a lot–and you are–but it’s all still worth it. I’m not particularly addicted to speed, but the upgrade elevates it from a casual little scooter to a real, practical way to get around in the city. There are other scooters that go faster, farther, and can handle bumps better, but all of them give up portability to do so. I’d hate to have to fold up and stow a dual hub scooter in the trunk of my car, much less carry it across a pedestrian overpass.
Another thing to consider is the charger. The old Mijia charger can no longer push enough power to charge the upgraded scooter, so a new one has to be purchased from Ekstreme Scooters. It’s quite a solid charger, with voltage cutoff, a voltage display, and fan to prevent overheating, though they will have to cannibalize your old Mijia charger for the charging end.
The base cost of the scooter is 18.5k, the upgrade costs 15k. This cost is easily offset by the fact that it still offers the best balance between portability and power. Again though, you have to keep in mind that this is an upgrade that I can only recommend to people with experience traveling on two wheels. Overall, if you fall into the exact niche that requires the things this scooter can deliver, it’s perfect, and great value. Should you not need the extra speed/power, or the portability, there are other options more suited to your situation. Oh, and you’ll probably void the warranty, so that’s something to bear in mind.
If you want to commute with unrivaled portability on “real-world” streets, this is how you do it.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE November 2018 Issue.
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara