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The ACL test drives e-scooters

Published on 09.06.2021

The ACL has put together an overview of 4 electric scooters in the A1 category, with a power limit of 11kW/15hp, or the equivalent of a 125cc combustion engine.


This category is essentially the gateway to the world of versatile motorcycles that perform well enough to enable you to travel safely on most main roads. Most of these models, for example, can reach a top speed of 100km/h or more.

As a reminder, the A1 licence is available to those aged 16 and over, provided that you have completed 12 hours of theory lessons and 16 hours of practical lessons. If you already have a driving licence for another category of vehicle, only 6 hours of theory lessons are required.




These are the models we got the opportunity to test-drive:
  • BMW C-Evolution: 11kW – 130km/h max – €15,000
  • ECCITY 125+: 8kW – 120km/h – €7,590
  • SILENCE S01: 7kW – 100km/h – €6,616
  • NIU Nqi: 3.1kW – 70km/h – €4,699

As you can see, these are 4 very different options in terms of both performance and price, although they do all fall into the same A1 category.

All 4 scooters were tested on the same 23km route both through and outside of the city of Luxembourg in good weather conditions (temperatures of 15° to 20°C, which is great for the battery life).

We evaluated them based on the following 4 main criteria in order to determine our favourite and to highlight their respective qualities and shortcomings:
  1. The practical aspects: driving position, seat comfort, storage capacity, features, build quality, ease of parking and operating logic.
  1. Safety: Brake and throttle power and proportioning, control ergonomics, lighting efficiency and mirror quality (vision and vibration).
  2. The electrics: range, charging time, removable battery or absence thereof, integrated or external charger, and finally length of charging cable.
  3. Driving: acceleration, maximum speed, shock absorption and the handling/stability compromise.
 
The results of our evaluations can be found in the summary table at the end of the article, but before that, we have decided to highlight some of the most notable features of the various models.
  

The practical aspects

The BMW C-Evo clearly stands out from the crowd with its near-perfect build quality and its high-end features, which include heated handles and an ultra-comprehensive digital colour screen, the high price point of this scooter, of course, justifying the incorporation of such unusual features in this category.

The Silence S01, meanwhile, holds it own thanks to its excellent build quality and more noticeably its ample storage areas, not to mention its pleasant driving position, regardless of the driver’s height.
It is also worth noting that the BMW, the Silence, and the Eccity all have a reverse gear (which is easy to achieve with an electric engine), and when you think about the weight of the BMW, this can be a pretty valuable aid! 

The Eccity and the BMW are both fitted with fixed batteries, so you will need to have access to a charging point at all times.

The NIU has the smallest battery (4.2kW), but at only 10kg it can be lifted from the base in seconds, making it relatively easily to take with you (thanks to its built-in handle) and recharge wherever you like. 

The Silence battery, meanwhile, is mounted on a removable trolley with wheels, meaning that you can take it with you just as you would any other piece of wheeled luggage.
In terms of connectivity, the NIU, the Silence and the Eccity have all developed their own smartphone apps, allowing you, for example, to monitor the charge status, the battery consumption, the location of the scooter, its mileage, etc., and the Silence app even allows you to share your scooter with whomever you like using just a code, thus eliminating the need for a key!

Electric vehicles can offer various engine settings to enable you to achieve top speeds, improve responsiveness or drive economically, and the BMW and the Silence are no exception, with both offering a choice of settings.
If you need to carry a passenger, you will be pleased to know that all 4 of these motorcycles are authorised to do so.
 

Safety

The scooters are all equipped with disc brakes, but only the BMW has ABS (anti-lock braking system).

As for the quality of the lighting, the BMW and the Silence are the most efficient, while the NIU and Eccity are similar but just a little less efficient.

With regard to mirrors, we were less impressed by those on the NIU than the others.
 

The electrics

The ranges of all 4 scooters proved to be very close under our driving conditions and it would be impossible to call based on this criterion. We managed to get a range of around 100km out of each.

Each scooter is fitted with a charging cable measuring between 2.35m and 2.95m, which is also neither here nor there, and all are able to recharge their batteries completely overnight, though the BMW charger is the most powerful and fully recharges the battery in just 4 hours, despite its large capacity. The original charger that comes with the Eccity requires 9 hours for a full charge, but an optional rapid charger can be used to reduce the charging time to 4 hours if necessary.

Interestingly, the Silence, the BMW and the NIU all offer a regenerative braking system (whereby energy is recovered when braking).

Last but not least, we should point out that the NIU, the Silence and the Eccity all feature an electric engine built into the rear wheel, freeing up space and increasing cargo space, while the BMW has incorporated the engine into the chassis, which improves road-holding and suspension comfort.
 

Driving

 
Braking distance: we performed 5 emergency stops from a speed of 30km/h to a complete standstill on all of the scooters. In order to stand out in this test, they needed to combine powerful braking with good stability. The Eccity came out on top here, taking only 2.5m to come to a halt. The BMW performed almost as well, despite its greater weight, coming in at 2.83m. The Silence is fitted with very sharp brakes that you have to get used to and took 3.41m to come to a halt, whilst the NIU took 4.2m to achieve the same result. With a total of 1.8m separating the best braking performance from the worst, that is quite some difference when it comes to safety!
Acceleration: their 0 to 40km/h acceleration reflects the dynamism of these scooters and their ability to slip easily in and out of traffic. Given their very different technical specifications, it is no surprise that the results can vary by double! At just 2.42 seconds, the BMW accelerates like a large-cylinder motorcycle, whilst the NIU, at 5.8 seconds is the least dynamic of the bunch.
Top speed: we believe that in order to be able to travel safely on most roads a scooter should be able to reach a speed of 90km/h, allowing it to slip easily into the flow of traffic without presenting an obstacle to other users. The BMW reaches 130km/h easily, while the Silence (100km/h) and the Eccity (120km/h) can also both exceed 90km/h. The NIU, however with a measured speed of 70km/h, cannot compete on this front and would be better suited to use in urban areas, avoiding fast roads.
Handling: we tested this aspect of the scooters among the cones of a small gymkhana course to see which performed the best and offered the best experience. The Silence seemed to be the most balanced and efficient in this exercise, closely followed by the NIU and the Eccity. This was also where the BMW started paying for its portliness, which made it the least adept at swinging quickly between obstacles.
 

Conclusion

Our comparison looked at 4 electric scooter solutions, with each manufacturer highlighting different qualities and the ultimate decision depending on your expectations and your budget.

The BMW C-Evo is a top-of-the-range scooter with a flawless finish and a level of performance that far exceeds those of the other 3 scooters. Its built-in charger is the most powerful and it is also the best scooter for fast or even sporty driving. That said, practicality is not its strong point, and its price may put some people off. Although its power is limited to 11kW, it is, in fact, capable of delivering 35kW instantaneously, which explains its performance. We would not recommend this model for novice riders since its weight and acceleration require a certain level of experience.

The NIU, on the other hand, behaves more like a 45km/h super-scooter (AM category), its more modest performance making it perfect for use in urban environments but also less versatile. That said, its small portable battery, dedicated app and low price will no doubt appeal to those looking for an urban scooter that they can charge anywhere.

The Eccity is a good option for someone looking for a good top speed (120km/h) with a budget half that required to purchase the BMW. The dedicated app is also handy when it comes to managing its usage and the optional rapid charger even more so,  making this the perfect scooter for riders who often find themselves in a hurry and have a reasonable budget.

Last but by no means least, the Silence was actually our favourite, as we found it to be the most versatile and comprehensive in terms of what it offers. It certainly combines many different qualities, including storage space, a decent level of performance, a reverse gear, efficient lighting, a removable battery, comfort, a comprehensive digital screen, a dedicated app and a good price, meaning that it will no doubt appeal to a wide range of users!

It is worth remembering, finally, that these vehicles are eligible for a government bonus equal to 50% of the purchase price excluding VAT, up to the value of €1,000.


* depending on the option (original charger/rapid charger)

Still need some information? Contact the ACL Mobility Loft. We will be happy to answer your questions.
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