Over the past several months, I have been disappointed with the availability of scooters, even in downtown Minneapolis, where they seem to be on every street corner. In the afternoon, as scooter batteries start to deplete, the nearest one with a full battery can sometimes be blocks away in the wrong direction. If you want to travel outside downtown, your ride may be commandeered by another eager rider as soon as you park.
So I ordered an electric scooter of my own.
The Xiaomi Mi M365 Pro
After a lot of research, I decided on the Xiaomi Mi M365 Pro. It’s the upgraded version of the Xiaomi Mi M365, which is used in the Lyft electric scooter fleet. The handlebars on the Pro are about 39 inches (99 centimeters) above the ride platform versus 37½ inches (95 cm) on the Lyft scooter. The front wheel motor on the Pro is 300 watts (0.40 horsepower) versus 250 watts on the standard model. The battery capacity on the Pro is 474 watt hours (Wh) versus 280 Wh for the standard.
All of this makes a critical difference when the rider is a bigger person like me. Although Xiaomi advertises a 28-mile (45 kilograms) range, my actual range going from 70 percent battery to 2 percent was 7.39 miles, so theoretically a full charge could get me about 10.6 miles. If you weigh 130 pound (60 kg), then the 28-mile range may be achievable.
The scooter, even in its top “Sport” mode, is software-limited to 15.5 miles per hour (25 kilometers per hour). Going down a hill, I got up to 17.4 mph (28 kph). On my trip to the Venture North bike shop and café, I noticed the scooter straining to climb the many hills, and I helped by pushing. Venture North mechanics do not work on scooters. This scooter is not made to stand up against the beasts that you can find for thousands of dollars more.
Out of the box, the only assembly required was attaching the handlebars to the steering column. This is done with four screws. The included screws are cheap and degrade as you are trying to screw them in. Even when everything was tight, the handlebars still wobbled a bit. I went to an Arden Hills hardware store that carries an array of parts. I bought six high-strength screws in the same size and also bought a medium-strength threadlocker to apply to screws for tightening and the assembly itself too to firm things up. With $16 in hardware-store parts, I fixed the issue.
The next project I want to tackle is swapping in tubeless tires for my scooter. My research revealed a common complaint, that the pneumatic tires often got punctured while riding. I have been on the wrong end of bicycle tire flats over the years, so investing $57 in tubeless tires seems like a smart strategy.
I also may apply safety orange or yellow reflective tape on the steering column and along the chassis.
Securing the Scooter
The best way to lock up this kind of scooter is with a big U-lock for your bike, but instead lock around the frame joint near the front tire and secure to a pole or bike parking. The Xiaomi Mi M365 Pro does not come with a simple digital lock. There is a Mi Home app, but you have to set China as your home location for it to work, and it asks for so many permissions that warning lights were going off in my head, so I just switched the scooter display from kph to mph and deleted the app.
Final Thoughts on Day One
It rubs me wrong that I have spent $16 and could spend an additional $57 in just parts for a brand-new scooter. I expected more. I did consider buying the upcoming Bird One or Ninebot Kickscooter Max, but neither is here today and there is no guarantee they will be here soon. Minnesota summers are short, and I want to enjoy riding to my meetings and down Nicollet Mall while I can. So far, I am reasonably happy with the compromise I made. My friend riding the scooter above spent over $2,000 on his long-range electric bike that rides like a motorcycle. Two months in, he loves it. Maybe I can learn to love mine, too.
Riding to Bde Maka Ska on Day Two
During the evening of Day One, I charged up my Pro to 90 percent, then unplugged it for the night. I was paranoid about it catching fire if I left it charging all night. The Pro charges at a rate of about 68 W straight from the wall, according to a third-party app. So for the 474 Wh battery, it would theoretically take seven to eight hours to charge from 0 percent to 100 percent. Xiaomi advertises a charge time of eight to nine hours, so we would have to test more to know for sure. For comparison, a new 15-inch MacBook Pro has a 83.6 Wh battery and a 87 W charger.
I set out in the morning for Bde Maka Ska. I would normally take the Cedar Lake trail from downtown, but that’s closed after Target Field for now. So I headed south along the Hiawatha trail to the Midtown Greenway. One notable success: The Pro can power up the incline at the Sabo bridge, albeit at 9 mph (14 kph). Yes!
When I had the Mi Home app, I also set regenerative braking to the middle setting of “Medium.” This has greatly improved efficiency when going from stop sign to stop sign or charging up while coasting down the Sabo bridge. The Pro has great rear disc brakes, but I will avoid using them if possible.
Challenges at Bde Maka Ska
I made it to the lake! After charging up from 57 to 65 percent at Freewheel Bike, I rode three-quarters around the lake before the rear tire went flat and the battery started to overheat. I immediately turned off the scooter and walked it to a coffee shop. A friend later picked me up in a car for a fossil fuel ride home.
Final Thoughts on Day Two
I am now left without a working scooter. A family friend who works on cars and motorcycles wants to help work on it, so I think we will install some tubeless tires from Amazon.
I hope the battery temperature issue was just incidental. It may have cascaded from the flat tire.
The electric scooter market is nascent, so if you are pondering whether to buy one, I recommend holding off for a year or two until higher-quality scooters enter the market and battery technology improves. Scooters, like electric cars, will benefit significantly from solid-state batteries, but those may be a decade out.
Riding to Muddy Waters on Day Three
A week after my initial two days on the scooter, I was ready to ride again. I had replaced the rear pneumatic tire with a tubeless tire, which required two people for the leverage necessary to work the solid rubber onto the 8.5-inch rims. The new tire seemed to affect performance, or the scooter was degrading overall. On flat ground, I was able to get up to only 13 or 14 mph, and inclines were more of a challenge.
To ride to Muddy Waters on Lyndale, I rode down Portland to the Midtown Greenway and took that trail to Lyndale. Halfway along the Greenway, the scooter battery overheated and I waited a few minutes to cool down before proceeding. I charged up by 5 percent at Muddy Waters and went back via the Greenway and up Park. I arrived home with 9 percent battery. The calculated full battery range for the trip was about 8.1 miles, 23 percent reduced from before. The trip was very flat, so I think the scooter is starting to wear down after just a few trips.
I hope this scooter can handle downtown appointments within the “range anxiety” circle. I plan to replace the front tire with a tubeless tire as well, which may further reduce performance. As of day three, I am dissatisfied, but am also unwilling to pay much more for a better scooter with more range.
Do you own an electric scooter or electric bike? Do you have a favorite rental scooter? Share your own reviews and challenges in the comments.