I’m a big fan of getting around on two wheels. The convenience and speed of having such a small ride is something that just can’t be overstated, particularly in light of our current traffic situation. Even better than either a motorcycle and a bicycle is the humble electric scooter. Once a niche product, there’s no denying their increasing popularity. Helping this along are brands like Mi, who have the affordable MiJia electric scooter. We take a look to see if it’s worth your investment, or if you should just stick to a bike.
The MiJia is designed to be simple. Our unit, dressed in a simple black with a few red accents here and there, was created with minimalism in mind. There are no decals, logos, or colors to be had on the scooter, and it’s so sleek, people have no idea it’s a powered vehicle until you glide smoothly away.
The wheels on the little scoot are 8.5-inchers, giving you about three inches of clearance, so off-roading might not be the best idea with the MiJia. Weight comes in at about 12 pounds, and while it’s far from impossible to lift, up and across an overpass might be about the limit of what most people will be willing to carry it. Fortunately, the stem folds down and locks into the mudguard, making it significantly easier to carry.
The scooter is built around an aluminum alloy frame for both strength and weight reduction, and is powered by a 250W electric motor that can push you along at a maximum of 25 KPH. The batteries, located in the step board, charge in five hours with the supplied wall adapter, and store enough juice to travel 30 Km at least on paper. Realistically though, it’s more like 20 Km on a full charge, which you can achieve in about five hours.
You get rear disc brakes, and being electric, releasing the thumb-actuated accelerator or pulling the brake lever also engages regenerative braking, slowing you down, and recovering some power in the process. Should you need a little more range, you can set the scoot to energy-saving mode, limiting your speed to 18 KPH for a little more distance. Safety features include an LED headlight, and LED tail and brake lights.
User Experience: 4/5
The prospect of getting on a small electric vehicle can be a little unnerving. Seeing the MiJia though doesn’t quite make that first impression on you. It’s unassuming, sleek, and well-built, which does a lot in instilling confidence in its would-be rider.
Once you have a little speed going from an initial kick, you can hit the throttle and let the hub motor do all the work. Because of the smallish wheels and electric motor, it gets up to speed quickly. Releasing the throttle smoothly slows the scooter down and recovers some power. Should you need to come to a stop in a more timely fashion, there is a brake lever on the left which engages the rear disc brake. Out of the box, the rear brake is on the weak side, and doesn’t lock up. I’m not a fan of that, so adjustment was necessary.
Riding the seven or so kilometers to work daily is no issue with the scooter. It’s fast, and has the ability to weave between stopped cars, or be walked on the sidewalk where the situation requires it. Air-filled tires dampen a lot of the vibrations you’d normally get from uneven roads, but having no suspension means a lot of the bumps still go through. As long as you stay away from the larger bumps, you’ll be fine.
While the MiJia is a superb mode of personal transportation, there are a few things you should bear in mind before making the jump. While it’s on the whole a well-built machine, there’s a reason it’s as affordable as it is. There’s a little play in the stem of the handlebars, at the folding mechanism, which is a problem so prevalent, there’s a 3D-printable fix widely available on the Internet. There’s also the small matter of riding in the rain: don’t do it. There are some very angry pixies dancing around in the batteries, and they don’t take kindly to moisture. Though it does have an IP rating that puts it safe from dust and the occasional splash of water, it’s not the best idea.
Advertised range is 30 KM, but on the street, it’s more realistically 18 thanks to hills, braking, and the like. Regenerative braking does happen though, so plan your stopping early for the best results. The amount of energy recovery can be set in the accompanying app.
Overall, I’m extremely pleased with this scooter. For city riding, short trips, and just cruising, it’s both fun and convenient. I’m able to make the trip from the office to my house much faster than a car, or even a motorcycle. It’s much like riding a bike, but with less effort, and a little more speed. If it rains, you get tired, or otherwise want a break, fold it up, book a ride, and toss it in the trunk. It’s great!
Amazing value. There are faster scooters with more range, but they’re heavy and thrice the price. There are lighter ones, but they’re terrible for longish trips, and there are cheaper ones, but they just don’t have the style the MiJia does. For what it is meant to do, and at a price of PHP 18,850, it’s perfect.
If you need a last mile solution, or need a quick way to make short trips, this is the way to do it.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE August 2018 Issue.
Reviewed by Ren Alcantara