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NIU Electric Motorcycle and Three-Wheeler Unveiled at CES

NIU, a high volume Chinese electric scooter manufacturer, is showing a new electric motorcycle and three-wheeler at CES in Las Vegas this week. The motorcycle is called the RQi-GT.

The RQi-GT carries a 30 kW (roughly 40 hp) electric motor, along with two removable 7 kWh batteries. Claimed top speed is 100 mph, and range is said to be up to 80 miles (most likely, this would result from conservative, city riding).

NIU promises several nifty features on the new RQi-GT, which is expected to be available in the U.S. market late this year. These include an active headlight (illuminates through turns), ABS, traction control, and a myriad of information through color TFT instrumentation … as well as your smart phone with an app.

The covered three-wheeler, is called the TQi-GT, which is also fully electric with a claimed top speed of 50 mph. Fewer details are available on this vehicle, but it is also expected in the U.S. market near the end of this year.

Designed and manufactured in China, NIU vehicles are known for good quality and performance at a very reasonable price. A 100 mph “commuter” motorcycle could be a big deal in the U.S. market, particularly if it is priced under $8,000, not an unreasonable expectation given NIU’s pricing of other vehicles it manufacturers. Take a look at the video below posted by an individual who frequently tests electronic mobility devices, including motorcycles. He thinks the NIU RQi-GT could be a “game changer.”


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51 Comments

  1. RyYYZ says:

    Ah, now I see. Two batteries that add up to about 7 kWh, not 2 7 kWh batteries. I’m much less impressed now. That’s a fairly small battery. I was thinking that was a Zero (low end) killer, but…not so much.

  2. Mick says:

    I finally got around to watching the video. If I drank a sip every time the guy says “urban”, I’d be passed out now.

    I be reeling pretty hard if I swilled something when he said “game changer”.

    What really bothered me about the video was how much the guy is fooling himself. He dreamed up, all by himself, a price that was $1000 more than a KLR650 for a motorcycle that has a pretty short leash.

    When I commuted on a motorcycle, I would do a 100 mile route on the way home that would include the twistiest bits that I could string together. The way I rode it would drain an 80 mile urban range very quickly. This bike might not make it on two charges.

    Game changer? No. You would need a huge population of people that have a VERY urban lifestyle and no interest in joy rides ever. Having lived in Paris for a couple of years, I am aware that there are people like that. But those people generally want better utility from their, mostly, scooters. This bike has the fashionable (nearly useless) abbreviated tail section that screams no storage. They are not going to flock to pay $8K for a 100mph thing that would be lucky to make it to CDG and back, and had no way to carry a passenger and their roll aboard. A stock KLR can easily do that for a thousand bucks less and a Ducati Scrambler is a luggage rack away from doing it for about fifteen hundred bucks more. Scramblers and R9T are popular in Paris as motorcycles go. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting an MP3 or the like. Many many of these thing have a lot of miles on them. You don’t log a lot of miles by riding something with a short leash.

    This thing might make an impact if it were priced like a Sur Ron. I have had to push my Sur Ron back to the truck a few times because I ran out of juice. Luckily I haven’t been more than a mile or so away. When you are commuting with something, you could easily be considerably further away when you bike goes flat. Electrics resist being pushed.

    • Dave says:

      “When I commuted on a motorcycle, I would do a 100 mile route on the way home that would include the twistiest bits that I could string together.”

      That’s not commuting. That’s joy riding. Bless you for it, but that’s a vanishingly small use case. EV’s aren’t designed to do that but should they be?

      • todd says:

        So the story is, “go ahead and use it but don’t try to enjoy it “.

        • Dave says:

          I was thinking more, “this is fun, just not that kind of fun”.

        • Mick says:

          The problem with changing the game to include joyless motorcycles is that not many people will want to play.

          • Dave says:

            There’s no such thing as a joyless motorcycle. Not many people (in America) want to play with the bikes we have now. Time for some different kinds of fun.

          • mickey says:

            definitely ev’s are a worthwhile pursuit. Eventually all of us “we like noise, vibrations and the smell of gas fumes” are going to die out, and generations of “we want smooth, quiet, and save the planet zero emissions” will be here to take our place. They will need something to ride.

            I still think at this pint electric scooters make the most sense, but what do I know?

  3. Bubba Blue says:

    Motorcycle Daily is good site. I check it every day.

    But, ahem, I think it might be time e to change “Motorcycle Daily” to “Motorcycle Weekly.” This has been the lead story for more than a few days. So was the last one. And the one before that.

    I know. There isn’t much going on with motorcycles these winter days.

  4. mkv says:

    Even the chinese are stealing State University names now. For a moment I thought that Northern Illinois University brought a motorcycle to show at CES

  5. Bob Loblaw says:

    Is that $8000 before tariffs?

  6. Artem says:

    Tooo expencive

  7. steveinsandiego says:

    yumpin’ yiminy, luv the three-wheeler. semi enclosure would be fine with me. my problem, tho, would be service. ain’t no wrench here…sorry, folks. i can gas’n’go, oops, er, ‘lectric’n go, but i need help if somethin’ conks out. gimme a nearby fix-it joint, reasonable rates…shoot, im good to go. tyvm.

  8. Artem says:

    The problem is high voltage.
    That is not that safe as it looks.
    AFAIK

  9. Grover says:

    How about showing me one with the range and performance of a Ninja 400 for $5,000? These e-bikes are expensive little critters and hopefully an increase in sales volume and battery technology will make them more attractive to the average motorcyclist. Right now they are just an overpriced oddity with a few admirers and even less people willing to actually buy one.

  10. Rhinestone Kawboy says:

    To Dave… and a lot of urban running about is done around here in the rain, and sometimes even snow too. My point was that bikes and scooters (that usually are not for touring either) still run in the rain more often than many think and is far from “virtually none” as you so state.

  11. ArTravlR says:

    I like the looks but just like my first wife, the numbers don’t work for me.

  12. RyYYZ says:

    14 kWh of batteries for < $10,000? We could have a winner here, as a commuter and around-town bike.

    That range estimate seems short for a bike with 14 kW of batteries. Maybe it comes with 2 7 kWh batteries but only one goes in at a time? Because that's about the same amount of battery capacity (14.4 kWh) as the higher end Zero bikes, and they've got quite a bit more range than that.

  13. RyYYZ says:

    Two 7 kWh batteries, for a total of 14? That’s about the same as the higher end Zero models. Can’t see any reason why the range shouldn’t be comparable to Zero’s. Would love to see this come in at something like the price mentioned. In reality, at this point electric bikes are best suited to commuting and around-town use, and few want to spend (at least) the price of an entry level litre class bike for that. You would need to buy a Zero SR, at USD$15,495 (less the $1,500 federal tax credit), before adding any charge accessories, to match this battery capacity.

  14. DP says:

    This is what is needed: defeat these impossibly high prices of western producers. After that happened, real e-bike breakthru will arrive. At the end all we will do is – service them.

  15. CrazyJoe says:

    What should I spend my money a Chevy Tahoe at $70,000, or the TQi? Ok, the Tahoe is actually $69,420 but why quible? I can’t afford one at either price but isn’t the TQi the the type of vehicle most of will be driving in the future because of the ridiculously high price of most auto’s only getting higher?

    Can I ask how much better range would a bike with AC motor get compared to a DC motor? Does a commuter need the performance a DC motor gives it?

  16. Ricardo says:

    I don’t know how Harley is doing with the Livewire sales, but this will definitely demise the possibility of it being successful in the electric motorcycle market…also watch out Tesla, low cost manufacturers are coming.

  17. Neal says:

    I’m not sure I’d ever pick this over a peanut tank Sportster 883 that should have weight, power, and range in the same ball park.

    • paul says:

      +1

      If I buy anything it would be an electric assist bicycle, not an electric motorcycle. I can get way more use out of the bicycle and keep my motorcycle for the reasons I enjoy now.

  18. beasty says:

    80 mile range under a conservative throttle hand…..sure.

  19. mickey says:

    Interesting. Typical styling for today.

    Check out chain slack on bike in bottom pic. Must be an artists rendering.

    Don’t think they will make electrics viable before I am done riding in the next few years. Perhaps my son will own one.

  20. Harry says:

    I have been checking labels lately to see where anything that I might purchase is made, and I’m sorry but my money is not going to go across the Pacific if I can help it.

    • Dan says:

      Yea, because those evil people overseas are stealing our money and things.

      • TimC says:

        If more people had this concern China wouldn’t be one.

        • Dave says:

          China isn’t any more of a concern than it ever has been. They’re getting more expensive (like Japan & Taiwan did). Soon we’ll be more heavily into Indonesia, India, Vietnam, etc. and our money will continue to cross the Pacific, because they provide the most value. Americans don’t want the jobs they’re doing. That’s why they’re gone.

          • red says:

            Yes Americans hate high wage manufacturing jobs. /rolleyes

            The reason the jobs are there and not here is profit margin.

          • Hot Dog says:

            The rich man gets all of the tax breaks for the last 35/40 years and sends his manufacturing plants overseas to get more profit. Greed over country, profit over everything else. ‘Merica, profit above all else.

          • Dave says:

            They’re not high wage manufacturing jobs, The products they’re making would be unacceptably expensive if they were made here. Americans won’t work for those wages, that’s why illegal immigrants come here to work.

          • Jeremy says:

            “Greed over country, profit over everything else. ‘Merica, profit above all else.”

            “The reason the jobs are there and not here is profit margin.”

            The reason those jobs are there and not here is because we, the people who buy stuff, won’t pay the extra premium to acquire the same product simply for the purpose of having it made in the US. There just aren’t enough Harry’s out there. As far as profit margins go, yes, the margin percentages are bigger, but the overall profit per unit typically stays the same since the selling price is also lower (luxury brands/products excepted.) I’ve done a fair amount work in the past involving moving production to different parts of the US or overseas, and it has always been a matter of survival for those companies, not greed.

          • mickey says:

            Good thing there aren’t profiteering billionaires all over the globe, they are just in America lol

            Asking how much profit is enough, is like asking how much horsepower is enough.

  21. I hope to own an electric motorcycle before I die. This will not be on the list. I like the styling and performance of some of the Zero models.

  22. todd says:

    The bike is interesting for people who aren’t interested in the regular Ninja 300, R3, CBR, G310, Duke 390, etc. as long as they have a place to charge. Traction control on a 40hp bike is a little silly unless they haven’t worked out the smoothness of the speed controller/throttle. Looks fairly heavy but that is par for the course with electric bikes for now.

    • Robert Mudry says:

      Todd, the need for traction control comes from a unique characteristic of electric motors i.e., their maximum torque is at zero RPM and there ain’t no clutch to feather.

      If you bip the throttle slightly, then the front wheel comes off the ground. It’s why you learn to turn the motor off before you dismount. Found that out the hard way…

      • todd says:

        I guess it’s the same thing as accidentally dropping the clutch while stopped, in 3rd gear. Just like a gas motor, the amount of torque is directly related to the amount of throttle applied – so not exactly giving you full torque if you blip the throttle. Thankfully the (single) gear ratio is typically much higher than a gas bike in first gear. That’s why I usually compare it to 3rd gear.

        • Dave says:

          T/C on smaller bikes is becoming a thing because they’re mostly ridden in Asian and European inner cities where the streets are very slick when they’re wet but that’s not a common condition for an American rider.

          I could see this being more important on an electric motored bike because the power output/delivery is much more instantaneous. I would also expect these to reach more people who aren’t already experienced riders.

      • Jeremy says:

        Todd has probably forgotten more about electric motors and drive systems than the rest of us know collectively. However, I do know enough to say that the power for an electric bike is indeed feathered out. Otherwise, you’d either break something or loop the bike anytime you touched the throttle from a dead start.

      • Mick says:

        All of the electric motorcycles that I have ridden have what I consider to be an annoyingly slow ramp rate programmed in to the motor controller to help prevent mishaps.

        • todd says:

          There’s more than just a ramp rate issue. Most electric vehicles have a single gear ratio that must allow for reasonable acceleration yet still provide the sort of top speed people expect from a motorcycle. You can gear it for snappy acceleration but it will have a low top speed. Most give that up for something resembling passing power at highway speeds.

          • Dave says:

            Within a reasonable performance expectation, electric motors are much less dependent on gear reduction because the RPM range needed is relatively small.

            Stator pulse timing can maintain the motor’s efficiency across a very broad rpm range. I assume that’s being employed because it’s pretty well developed in the radio control hobby world where motors routinely rev above 25,000RPM.

  23. Dave says:

    If it’s US road legal, I think the TQi-GT is the story. When the motorcycle arrives we motto-luddites will complain it out of existence but semi-enclosed light commuter is a game changer.

    • SausageCreature says:

      I don’t think the semi-enclosure changes the game that much. Inclement weather, you might say, and for chilly mornings I might agree. But rain is another matter, and just having a top over your head helps less than you might think. How many cars do you see with all the windows completely down in heavy (or even moderate) rain? What happens when the car in the lane next to you hits a puddle? What do you actually get in return for the additional cost and weight?

      I notice that BMW stopped selling their covered scooter (and I’ve never seen one in the wild), so adding a roof to a scooter doesn’t seem to have changed the game very much so far.

      • Dave says:

        I think how well it dealt with rain would be dependent on how well they’ve dialed the aerodynamics. It certainly wouldn’t replace full enclosure and a heater/AC, but I don’t think that’s really the point.

        How many motorcycles or scooter do you see (in America) when it’s raining now? Virtually none. In Europe, people ride mid-displacement scooters in winter with custom fitted weather aprons.

        I think it could change the game as much as an umbrella does for walking..

        • Rhinestone Kawboy says:

          You must live somewhere where it seldom rains then. Riding in the rain is becoming much more common in the Eastern part of the USA. I’ve been on different road trips to the west where you ride rain or not. Even riding in slightly cool whether which never took place in the 70’s that I seen, now is prevalent as soon as the temps get above 40 (and there is no snow on the road).

          • Dave says:

            I live in the midwest, where we get all kinds of weather. Worth reiterating, this is meant to be an urban runabout, not a highway touring machine.