What is the best scooter for everyday life? Say, you are a student and you need a lightweight transport to get to the metro station every morning. Or, you are an office worker and you don’t want to use your car because of the insane traffic congestion. When going on foot is not an option, a scooter might be the only real solution you can think of.
When it comes to budget scooters, there is a huge variety of models to choose from. Today, I’d like to review what I consider to be probably the best scooter under $ 500 USD.
Xiaomi M365 Review
Meet the Xiaomi M365
The Mijia M365 cannot be really considered a budget scooter. It is sturdy, fast and fully functional. Once you get one, I promise you will not want to replace it with a more expensive and advanced model. It simply gets the job done and that’s all what matters.
Besides being the perfect workhorse, the M365 is also the kind of scooters you might use just to goof around and have some fun with friends. Even though it is not lightning fast, its agility and mobility makes this scooter a treat to drive.
In this review, I will go over everything that you might to know about the M365. Besides the classing unboxing-testdrive-specs structure, I will also detail the possible issues you might face with this scooter, as well as how to solve those. While I am enthusiastic about the M365, I also want to make this review as honest as possible, which is why if there are any downsides about this scooter, they will be mentioned here too. Without any further due, let’s get started!
Unboxing the M365
The scooter comes in a pretty big box. If you have to pick it up from a post office, you might not be able to fit it in the trunk. In my case, I had to put it on the back seats. The box is pretty big – it’s size is comparable to that of a 32” – 40” TV.
The M365 comes well packaged – there are no loose pieces – everything is fixed and well protected.
The scooter comes completely assembled with the exception of four screws. The package includes the hex key you need for the screws. Inside the box you can also find the manuals and documentation, a charger, an extended nozzle adapter, and two spare tires.
The only additional tool you need to have is an air pump. You can grab this cheap one from Amazon.
The M365 is very fun and easy to ride! I would say it is the perfect starter both for children and for adults. Unlike more powerful models, the M365 features a moderate acceleration off the line – in fact, in most of the cases the scooter won’t start moving until you help it a bit.
This model features two modes or speeds. The first one is meant to be used most of the times since it offers longer battery life at the expense of max speed. It is also the best setting to practice – it allows you to drive at up to 15 kmh (9mph) which is still three times faster than walk speed.
The second setting removes all restrictions and makes the motors go full speed. I’d only use it when I’m in a hurry, mostly because the range is reduced by half when riding at max speed.
I had no issue riding the M365 on wet surface. I mean, I would definitely not recommend taking the scooter outside in a rainy day, though don’t be too afraid if you do get to drive on wet surface – the M365 can handle it surprisingly well.
If you plan on using this scooter every day, I would definitely recommend you adding the following accessories to it:
- A rear view mirror – especially useful when there is a lot of traffic
- A horn – the scooter comes with a bell, though it is quite quiet
- A basket – the M365 is probably the best scooter there is for grocery shopping
- A phone holder – most of the features (such as current speed, battery levels, etc) of this scooter can be accessed through the official mobile app, which is why having a phone in front of you at all time is pretty handy
- A seat – not everyone will agree with me on this one; you might want to borrow a scooter with a seat and try it first, see if you like it
Some people have been complaining that the tires could be better quality. Personally, I haven’t had any issues with those whatsoever. I drive about 15-25 km on my scooter every day – I own several different models and the M365 tire quality is definitely not bad compared to others.
Depending on your weight and preferences, you might want to change the tightness of the suspension by slightly inflating or deflating the wheels. While deflated tires offer softer suspension, it comes at the expense of the max speed your scooter can reach. Depending on the tire pressure, you can lose up to 5kmh when going at max motor load.
One of the things you might need to get used to is the thumb throttle. When using for a long time – say, an hour straight, you might get a sore thumb. Thankfully, the scooter does offer cruise control. It might be of great help, in case the road is open, straight and without traffic – I would not recommend using cruise control unless you are 100% certain that you will not have to use your brakes anytime soon.
Last but not least, I have had no issues riding this scooter at night. The front light illuminates about five meters ahead of you at full strength, after which the light starts to slowly fade. It’s not that bad, especially when you don’t go at full speed – you can see far ahead enough to be able to react in time.
The M365 comes with a decent motor. It is not the most powerful scooter out there – with a wattage of 250W/500W peak, the M365 can reach a max speed of 25 Kmh (15.5 MPH). Do notice that when battery is low, the scooter will start losing speed. Don’t expect it to go any faster than 15 KMH when the battery is about to die.
The M365 can carry weight of up to 100 Kg (220 lb). Not perfect indeed, though acceptable for a scooter of this price range.
Now, if you live in an area with a lot of hills, you might want to look forward a scooter with a more powerful motor. While the M365 can climb a steep slope, it greatly loses speed when doing so.
The max distance you can travel on this scooter is 30 Km (18.6 Mi). This is taking into account you are driving at a constant speed of 15kmh (9 MPH) on a flat surface. Two hours of battery life is quite impressive for a scooter, considering its charge time is only 5 hours.
Regenerative brakes definitely improve the lifespan of the battery. A regenerative brake is basically a system that engages the motor in reverse once you press the brake lever. By going in reverse, the motor slows the wheel down and recharges the battery in the process. This also prevents the wheel from locking.
How often do we engage the brakes in real life? Personally, I do that quite often when driving the city streets. I find myself pressing the brake lever every minute, or even several times per minute. Then, I got to accelerate again to regain the speed. Acceleration takes more power than steady movement, which is why regenerative brakes help to mitigate the loss of energy from slowing down and accelerating.
Simply put, regenerative brakes do not increase the 30KM max distance mark. Instead, they help you to keep closer to that mark even in an urban drive scenario.
Since the scooter costs $ 500 USD, I was expecting it to be somehow decent build quality. I was not wrong. In fact, it has exceeded my expectations. I am really impressed by how solid and rugged it is. I have noticed neither cheap-looking nor loose parts. The M365 is a robust scooter – I have the feeling that it can be exploited for years without the need of serious maintenance.
The frame is made of aluminum alloy – official specs state that it is aviation quality (probably 6061 or the 6063 grade). If you take a look at the welding, it’s pretty good – it is clean, consistent and even. I have some experience as a welder and I can say for sure that the aluminum part of the scooter is very well made.
The pedal board is covered in a layer of plastic. It feels solid and I have not heard any complaints about it deteriorating with use.
While the scooter is very well-made, there are some minor design flaws I will be talking about in the section below. Those issues can be easily fixed so they are not a deal breaker. That being said, if not addressed in time, they can render your scooter unusable.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the M365 comes with pretty much everything you need. It is foldable, making it easy to store it in your room. Unlike certain other scooters, the M365 is lightweight, which means that you will probably have no issues carrying it around. This is quite a big plus because more powerful scooters usually come with heavier motors and batteries, making them damn hard to lift.
At first glance, the scooter looks quite simplistic and straightforward – unlike more expensive models, the M365 has got no LCD screen – all you have is one all-purpose button and four small leds.
Don’t let this simplicity fool you though – the scooter stores a lot of data, which can be accessed through the official free mobile app. From there, not only can you check the battery level, current speed and total driven distance but you can also tweak a number of setting. The most interesting one is the Cruise Control – you have heard me talking about it earlier.
The app also features a smart battery management system – you get notified in real life if there are any issues. Talking about which, the battery comes with protection against overcharging, as well as overdischarging. Depleting your battery several times usually decreases its lifespan, which is why this scooter comes with a protection mechanism that prevents that from happening.
Taillights can be controlled from the app too; last, but not least, you can set up a password to protect your scooter from strangers. There are free firmware updates that come out from time to time that add new features.
Just make sure you buy a good phone holder! Driving with one hand is possible, though I would definitely not recommend doing it.
Xiaomi M365 Specs
Max Speed: 25 Kmh (15.5 MPH)
Max Distance: 30 Km (18.6 Mi)
Charge Time: 5 hours
Motor Wattage: 250W Brushless
Max instantaneous power: 500 W
Weight: 12 Kg (27 lb)
Max. Rider Capacity: 100 Kg (220 lb)
Tire Size: 8.5-inch, inflatable with and anti-slip treads
Recuperative and disk brake on both wheels
Braking Distance: 4m (13.1 ft) on dry flat asphalt at 20 Kmh (12.4 mph) speeds
Lights: 1.1W LED headlights and taillights
Folded dimensions: 1079x430x490 mm (42.5×16.9×19.3 inches)
Extended dimensions: 1079x430x1140 mm (42.5×16.9×44.9 inches)
Material: Frame and Handle made of aerospace aluminum forging alloy
Water and dust resistance IP54
Common Problems and Fixes
Here is a list of common problems people encounter and how to fix those:
Loose Rear Brakes
Most units come with loose rear brakes. You will have to adjust those to be achieve full brake traction and power. However, make sure you don’t tighten the brake too much – just enough for the brake pads to be really close to the disk without touching it.
Due to a design flaw, the lock that is situated on the joint of the headset and the main bar tends to break pretty quickly. This is because it gets a lot of wear and tear when it starts vibrating. The more it wears, the more it vibrates, until eventually it gets very loose and breaks. Sadly enough, this happens to virtually everyone who uses the scooter often. As for today, people have found two possible solutions to that:
Solution a. might work when your lock is still intact and you’d like to prevent it from breaking. This solution is about adding a spacer inside the joint. The size of that filling must be large enough to remove the slight side play between the two pieces. The spacer also removes the metal to metal contact, suppressing the smallest vibrations.
Fans have designed and are 3D printing that spacer piece. Here is a link where you can order yours. Some people also use silicone, though I would not recommend you doing that. Mostly because while silicone fills the space up, it does not remove the side play completely. I suppose it is because silicone is a bit too soft.
Solution b. If your lock already broke, or if you have been using your scooter for a while without doing the fix I have detailed above, you might want to replace your existing lock with a stronger one. Here you can buy a heavy duty lock. Combine that with solution a to greatly increase the lifespan of your newly bought piece.
Brake Light Cable Wear and Tear
As you have probably noticed, the cable that powers the brake light is situated under the mudguard. This means that the distance between it and the wheel is very small. Over time, the wheel eventually ends up damaging the cable. To prevent that, you might want to buy this little mod that adds a layer of protection to the wire.
This one does not happen to everyone, though I would recommend you to apply this fix nevertheless. Here is why.
The body of the scooter is made of aviation grade aluminum, which offers superior protection. Since the battery and electronics are situated under the pedalboard, they are well protected from the top and sides. The problem is in the flimsy bottom cover, which is made of thin plastic.
In the case of a collision or prolonged use, the plastic cover might easily break, leaving the battery and electronics exposed. In addition to that, it is not well sealed against moisture.
In order to fix that, a group of fans have designed and are manufacturing their own version of the box cover that is way more rugged, durable and features cushion to give the electronics proper support (the cushion keeps the cables and boards in a fixed position, preventing vibrations and the subsequent wear and tear). During the installation of the new cover, you can also apply a little bit of silicone seal to make the box almost 100% waterproof.
Sadly, the site of the manufacturer is in Russian, though I can order one for you – just let me know in the comments section below or contact me via email.
Where to Buy Xiaomi M365
Parts and Accessories for Xiaomi M365
Do I recommend this scooter? Yes. It is arguable the best scooter in its price range. Besides being a means of transport and a time saver, it is very fun to ride. It is rugged and will serve you for years if you apply the fixes we have been talking about before.
As for today, you cannot buy the M365 on Amazon. I believe Gearbest offers the best deal, though the stock is limited. On the flip side, they have a flash sale with a 25% discount, meaning that they give the scooter away at only $ 400 USD. The flash sale ends mid August or when all units are sold.