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The Xiaomi QiCycle folding electric bike is a high-tech solution to urban mobility that doesn’t break the bank. In this review, I will be going over the pros and cons of this great little e-bike from the Chinese tech giant.
STOP PRESS!! Xiaomi has released a new, cheaper semi-folding e-bike produced under their Himo brand. Check out my review of the Himo C20 Electric Bike.
The QiCycle epitomises everything a folding electric bike should be. It’s fairly light (for an e-bike) at 14.5kg, it folds down quickly to a nice, compact size and above all – it is fun to ride!
Xiaomi is a Chinese tech giant and is well-known for its smartphones, laptops and other consumer electronics. This bike is brimming with technology, from the torque-sensing pedal assist to the colour display and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity (via a smartphone app).
The small 250w geared front hub electric motor has a top assisted speed of 12.4mph (20km/h) and produces about 8Nm of torque – not a lot by regular e-bike standards, but enough for an urban electric folding bike. Seamless pedal assist is provided courtesy of a torque sensor – a feature usually found on more expensive e-bikes.
The 36v5.8ah lithium battery pack uses high-quality Panasonic cells and is neatly concealed within the frame. The supplier claims a range of 28 miles (45km) which seems a little optimistic considering the battery’s capacity. A realistic range would be around 11 miles (17.7km) if using the pedal assist constantly and maybe around 20 miles or so if you are only using the assist when you really need it.
The colour display not only looks great but also provides the rider with a lot of data including power output (in watts), speed, battery remaining, trip function and power mode.
My only criticism of the display is in order to set it up you will need to download the QiCycle app from Google Play or the Apple app store, then connect it to the bike using Bluetooth by scanning the QR code which can be found in the settings menu on the display screen itself or the underside of the display unit.
Having a torque sensor on an e-bike in this price range is a bonus. Most cheap electric bikes use a cadenced-based pedal assist, meaning that as soon as the pedals are rotated the motor kicks in. Torque sensors on the other hand provide electric assist by measuring the force being applied to the pedals. This provides a very seamless power transition, making the electric motor feel more like an extension of your own pedalling ability.
The QiCycle uses a TMM torque sensor that is mounted on a sensor plate on the chainstay, this measures the deflection of the plate caused by the chain force. This, in turn calculates the pedal torque of the cyclist.
Shimano Nexus 3-Speed gear system
Another great feature of this bike is the excellent Shimano Nexus 3 internally-geared rear hub. This kind of gear system is usually only found on more expensive folding bikes like the Brompton.
Derailleur gears are not ideally suited to folding bikes, as they are prone to getting damaged easily whereas an internally geared system negates the need for an external derailleur.
Other benefits of an internally geared hub are you can change gears when stationary (something you cannot do with regular gears) and they are virtually maintenance-free.
The Xiaomi QiCycle is also equipped with front and rear lights, that are adequate for short-distance town or city riding.
Braking is provided by a front caliper and rear drum brake.
One of the deciding factors most buyers consider when purchasing a folding e-bike is the ease at which it can be folded down. The video below demonstrates how quick and easy it is to fold the Qicycle.
Riding the QiCycle
I had a go on a QiCycle last year and it is an enjoyable bike to ride. But the limits of the power and gearing are quickly reached when riding in an area with lots of steep hills. In fairness, this bike is designed with the urban commuter in mind and isn’t really intended to tackle 15% gradients!
On the flat and gentle inclines, it does the job perfectly, providing seamless assistance from the torque sensor as soon as you apply some force to the pedals. The brakes worked well enough considering I’m heavier than the 100kg maximum rider weight!
Personally, I think it is one of the best folding electric bikes in its class and would be perfect for someone who commutes by train but works a couple of miles from the station. Another great use would be if you had a motor home and wanted a fun way to get around whilst on holiday.
The Xiaomi QiCycle is available for global shipping from suppliers on Aliexpress who can ship from warehouses in the EU or direct from China, delivery times seem to vary between 30-60 days (for global delivery). Regional distributors can ship to European countries in 5-7 working days which is reasonable enough.