No one wants to break a sweat travelling to work, thus the popularity of final-mile transport solutions such as scooters and ‘segways‘. However if you want to travel faster or further, an ebike is the way to go. We take a look at the Mi QiCycle, a fantastic commuter-friendly folding ebike from Xiaomi.
Whilst this isn’t a bike to chase your Tour de France dreams on, it is a genuine tool for transportation. It is fantastic fun to ride and and thanks to its punchy motor, an accessible way to get into cycling if you are unfit.
What is the Mi QiCycle?
The Mi QiCycle is a road-legal electric pedal-assist folding bike from Xiaomi. It has a motor in the front wheel hooked up to a battery in the crossbar. As you pedal the system drives the front wheel, assisting (with adjustable power strength) your progress for up to 28 miles (45km). Its compact folding design makes it Ideal for commuters who travel on trains during rush hour or holiday makers.
Mi Qicycle at a glance
- Matt-black frame, folding pedal-assist bicycle
- 250w front hub motor (rated to 180w continuous output), that adjusts power based on your pedalling
- Can assist up to 28 miles (around 45km)
- Removable 36V 5800mah/208Wh battery
- 16 inch wheels, Shimano caliper brake up front and roller brake at the rear hub
- Only 14.5kg in weight
- Three speed Shimano rear gear hub with grip shifter
- 1.8inch tft display controller and trip computer
- Folding pedals and a kickstand
- Reflectors on seatpost and wheels, plus integrated front and rear lights
- 16 inch wheels, Shimano caliper brake up front and roller brake at the rear hub
Unboxing the Mi QiCycle
To remove the box lid, cut off the centre of the white sticker and pull the tabs outward, the cover can then be slid off. Inside is an accessory box containing the pedals, charger and more.
Mi QiCycle Box contents
- Folded QiCycle bicycle
- Folding pedals
- Power adaptor and wall plug
- 15mm Pedal spanner
- 5mm Allen wrench
The bike has plenty of packaging to remove once you have it out of the box. It comes mostly assembled but you will need to install the pedals, tighten the handlebars and charge the battery. Mi provide all the tools and accessories you need to do this.
With the kickstand down, this is the ideal time to get acquainted with the handlebar release. Swing the bar upwards, ensure the silver metal catch is correctly seated (as in the third photo below) before levering the quick release catch closed. Finally rotate the safety catch around the quick release to secure it.
When installing the pedals ensure you put the right pedal on the correct side (under your right foot). The left pedal has a reverse thread to ensure it doesn’t come undone when pedalling, thus you need to rotate it anticlockwise to do it up. Use the included pedal spanner to ensure everything is nipped up.
The tyres will need inflating then finally you will need to loosen the two hex bolts (with the Allen key provided) on the handlebars to rotate it up into place, before securing it again.
How long does the Mi QiCycle take to charge?
From empty the QiCycle battery takes three hours to charge with the included adaptor. There is no need to remove the battery from the frame, although it is often easier than taking the entire bike inside. Flip the small rubber cover off the side of the battery and insert the 5-pin connector before plugging it into the wall.
The intelligent smart battery has a small indicator on the exposed end, press the button once to display the current battery level. Four lights indicate between 100% and 76% charge, three 75-50%, two 49-25% and one 11-24%. One flashing light indicate that you have 10% or less left in the battery.
The seatpost runs through the battery so you will need to release the quick releases and remove that first. Afterwards depress the release button (underneath the battery but illustrated in the first photo below) and slide the whole unit out of the back of the frame.
The 5800mAh (208.8Wh) 36V battery measures approximately 455mm long and 55mm in diameter with the battery management system included with it.
We love that the battery is removable and the charger small, and portable. You can leave your bicycle locked outside the office/pub and take the battery inside with you. At only 1.43kg you could even buy a couple of them and store them in a backpack allowing you to cover long journeys without a charge point at the end.
How do I fold the Mi QiCycle?
The big selling point of the QiCycle is its ability to fold:
- Release both quick releases and slide out the saddle
- Holding the handlebars straight and kickstand folded, lift the end of battery up
- Allow the rear wheel to swing under until the magnet on the side comes into contact with the tab on the front wheel
- Holding the crossbar in one hand, reinsert the saddle and secure the quick release
- Rotate the safety and undo the handlebar quick release, folding it down
- Push the pedals ‘into’ the frame and swing them down
Or if you prefer seeing all that in action, check this video from the manufacturer:
Its important to ensure the magnetic tabs on the wheels meet properly or the bike will try and unfold when you pick it up!
When folded the bike takes up 100 x 45 x 65cm, larger than some premium folding bicycles but still small enough to get into the smallest of car boots.
Whilst it isn’t as light as some bikes, the compact size means it can be carried into your home or office with ease.
Ideal tyre pressures for the Mi QiCycle
Xiaomi recomend a tyre pressure between 35 and 40 psi. Fitted with the common schrader valve, finding a suitable pump should be straight forward. The tyres themselves are rated from 35 to 65psi and if you are on the heavier side we would suggest inflating them to a slightly higher pressure.
The 16 x 1.75inch tyre size is used on other bicycles and there are plenty of alternatives available on the market if you wanted something with greater puncture proofing, less rolling resistance or just something more colourful.
Riding the Mi QiCycle
Road legal ebike
With its 250w motor pedal assisting you up-to 15.5mph (not a ‘hard’ top speed limit for the bike) the Mi QiCycle is legal to ride on public roads in the uk.
The handlebars are wide enough for a comfortable ride with the two brake levers, a reflector and bell mounted. The right hand grip also functions as a ‘grip’ shifter for the rear geared hub. Rotate the inner portion of the grip towards you to ‘up’ the gearing when travelling faster. The gearing is ideal for ’round town’ use, although the three gears are quite closely spaced meaning scaling a steep hill without battery power can take some work.
Bikes with small wheels can feel unstable, but we felt that with the motor driving the front wheel, the bike actually helps you to balance, generating that gyroscopic effect even at low speeds.
Turning the bike on
The bikes ‘e’ abilities are operated from the controller found on the handlebars. This features a 1.8in (160×128 pixel) TFT screen with two buttons on the side and a power button on the bottom.
Press and hold the bottom button for three seconds to power on the bike. Its advisable to do this with the bicycle stationary and no pressure on the pedals. The Mi logo will appear and the bike will configure itself ready for riding. Note that the QiCycle can be ridden as a normal bicycle with the controller turned off.
In use the controller displays the current speed, battery life, wattage and distance of the current ride. When stationary it gives a % readout of battery life as well as odometer for distance covered.
Adjusting the saddle
To adjust the saddle height, remember that you must undo both the lower and upper quick release latches. The seat post is keyed so that it will stay straight on (a great design choice) and has measurement markings allowing you to quickly return the seatpost to the right location for you.
Note that the minimum saddle height is 83cm from the floor thus suited for cyclists over 5ft 2inches (157cm+) in height and above.
Adjusting the assistance
The QiCycle has three assistance modes, economy, normal and boost (bo+). In eco mode it will provide up to 50% of electric assistance, allowing for some help whilst retaining the maximum range.
In normal mode it will attempt to match your pedalling power output with up-to ‘100% assistance’ (Assuming you aren’t Chris Hoy) allowing for a balanced power through both wheels. Boost mode is designed to put down the most power through the front wheel, again proportionally based on your pedalling and should be reserved for climbing steep inclines as it will deplete the battery the fastest.
You can also run the bicycle with the controller powered up but providing no assistance in the last ‘off’ mode, allowing you to use the trip computer and activate the lights.
Turning on the lights
With the bike powered up, from the main-menu press and hold the ‘up’ button to turn on both the front and rear lights. An indicator appears on the screen to show which lights are lit.
You can turn on just the rear light by pressing and holding the ‘down’ button for a few seconds and vice versa for just the front. Holding down the same button will turn the light off. The lights are good quality for bundled units and are well positioned/angled for street use.
Adjusting the settings
Only a few settings can be adjusted in the menu, such as the backlight but it does show you system info and allow you to reset the trip computer user data.
As with all our transport solutions, we urge our customers to exercise caution and use relevant safety equipment whenever operating them. Check and adjust your brakes regularly, especially if its raining. Purchase a helmet (modern lightweight, comfortable solutions are cheaper than you think) bright clothing and other items from a reputable local bike shop. Pay attention to pedestrians, cars and follow traffic laws (especially when it comes to red lights) but most of all enjoy yourself!
Securing the folding ebike
Due to the swingarm design of the QiCycle, there are no secure ‘triangles’ in the frame to place a good quality u-lock through. Our best attempts involved removing the seatpost to secure the frame and battery (through the resulting hole) to a bike stand, then using a cable lock to secure the wheels. This then leaves you with the saddle to carry around. Ideally we recommend taking advantage of the compact nature of the folding bicycle and advise taking it inside (where possible) at your destination.
Bike maintenance and repairing the QiCycle
It is worth periodically checking your brake operation along with how tight the handlebars and saddle are, these can be easily adjusted with an Allen key and a spanner. The manual provides some torque values for securing the levers, bars, saddle and wheelnuts (32-44nm for the later) should you have the tool available.
Should you opt to drop the QiCycle off at a local bike shop, the benefit of Xiaomi fitting quality Shimano parts is that bike mechanics worldwide will be familiar with them when it comes to adjustment, repair or even compatibility for replacement.
We are fans of teardowns, allowing you a closer look at exactly how the product goes together. The ‘teardown kings’ iFixit have produced a detailed teardown that shows how the bike comes apart which could be useful should you wish to replace or upgrade components.
The manufacturer recommends you avoid leaving the bike outside for extended periods in hot sun or heavy rain, as well as avoiding submerging the hub motor in water/puddles. They also state that the battery should be charged ever 2 months when not in use to maintain its health.
Removing the QiCycle pedal assist speed limiter
Yes, there are firmwares out there that will remove/increase the maximum assistance the QiCycle can produce. Not only are they tricky to apply but they will put added stress on the motor and potentially invalidate your warranty, thus we advise against it.
At time of writing bikes that assist you beyond 15.5mph (or have motors more powerful than 250w) need to be insured, taxed and registered with the DVLA as a motor vehicle. As we understand it, in the eyes of the law you’d also need a driving license and to wear a motorcycle helmet to ride it 🙁 Considering these issues we’d advise all our customers to leave their QiCycle’s standard!
What would I use a Mi QiCycle for?
- Commuting : Ideal for journeys in cities involving trains during rush-hour where full-size bicycles
- Inner city transport : when you want to arrive at a meeting in the middle of summer without breaking a sweat
- Mobility & Fitness : Not everyone is healthy enough to cycle moderate distances, its fantastic fun and an accessible way to get into cycling if you are unfit or elderly.
- Tackling tricky terrain : This is an ideal way to tackle journeys involving hills without breaking a sweat
- Holidays : Folded it easily fits in the car boot and is a relaxing way of exploring a promenade or European city at your leisure
Should I buy a Mi QiCycle?
If like many of our staff you live in a city, then its a resounding yes. Say goodbye to queuing in traffic and spending half an hour finding a parking space only to be charged £4 an hour to park there! Chuck your travelcard, get some fresh air and arrive on time. Whilst this is not the outright cheapest electric bike on the market, in our opinion its design and quality make it by far the best value.
- Assisted – Unlike segway solutions such as the ninebot mini, you can continue riding the bike by pedalling should the battery run flat!
- Inexpensive – When you consider it includes the motor, controller and the battery (not to mention the bike itself!) it is a great deal especially compared to a £2000 electric Brompton!
- Road legal – Ride this on the roads safe in the knowledge that it is legal.
- Fiddly at first – but can be folded in 30 seconds once you ‘get the knack’.
- Folded Size – Whilst it does fold down, it is larger than some of the more premium manual folding bikes.
- Difficult to secure – you are better off taking it inside with you rather than locking it up
- Battery life – can be short if like us you get addicted to the boost mode, but recharge times are quick.
If you are shorter than 5ft2 you might struggle with the minimum saddle height and if you are over 100kg you are unlikely to hit that 28 mile assist range even in eco mode (but you will love the boost mode up hills!). Lastly note that in the UK you need to be over 14 years old to ride an electric bicycle, so this isn’t suitable for children.
Where can I buy a Mi QiCycle?
You can pick up the international edition of the Mi QiCycle on our webstore today. All of our stock is based in our UK warehouse and includes free next-working-day courier delivery to mainland UK addresses, so order today and it could be with you tomorrow! Our range of Mi/Xiaomi products are backed by a 12 month limited warranty and the selection is growing every week.
From our own personal experience, we would advise against ordering from the far east, where models can arrive with (potentially indecipherable) Chinese character readouts on the display, the brakes fitted the wrong way round (leading to an exciting trip over the handlebars the first time you try to stop) and warranties that are arguably non-existent.
What alternatives are there to the Mi QiCycle?
There are obviously other pedelec/e-bikes on the market, but we feel that currently few offer the flexibility, quality of components and finish at such a low price point. Thus if budget is the key factor and you feel this is too expensive for an off-the-peg solution, we’d suggest considering an old-fashioned ‘manually propelled’ bicycle!
If a bicycle isn’t for you, why not consider the Mi Electric scooter? Whilst it doesn’t have the range of the Qi Cycle it is arguably even easier to ride. If you are looking for something altogether different, consider the Ninebot Mini, a Segway tech powered self-balancing scooter that offers futuristic hands-free operation!
RC Geeks : Electric Transport Nerds
Do you have any questions about the Mi QiCycle? Perhaps you have specific questions or challenges for the bike? Alternatively you might know of another personal transport product you’d like to see us review? Perhaps you have noticed an error in the article or some facts are now our of date? We are always interested in your questions and suggestions so please leave them in the comments section below!
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- 16 inch wheels shimano
- 16 inch wheels shimano caliper
- brake at the rear hub
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- inch wheels shimano caliper brake
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- shimano caliper brake up front
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- wheels shimano caliper brake