Last Updated on November 10, 2022 by Igor Karni
Launched in France in 2020, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike is practical in many ways. We tested it for 100 kilometers (62 miles) over several weeks. Here is our feedback.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike at a glance
- Nice design
- Convenient size
- Dynamic electricity assistance
- Affordable price
- (removable battery)
- Average autonomy
- Assistance is limited to 20 km/h with 50% of autonomy left
- Flagrant lack of comfort (hard seat, no suspension)
- Capricious gearshift
- Impractical headlights
- Lack of compactness once folded
XIAOMI on all fronts
Xiaomi is primarily known for its catalog of smartphones. In that case, the Chinese brand has slowly but surely positioned itself in many other niches: from electric scooters to connected bracelets through a smartwatch and even TV boxes in the form of HDMI keys.
It is, therefore, almost unsurprising to see the Chinese manufacturer enter the electric bike segment with its Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike. This two-wheeler is, in fact, the European version of the QiCycle EF1, already available on Chinese territory for a few years but launched in Europe in 2020.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike Datasheet
|E-bike model||Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike|
|Maximum speed||25 km/h or 15.5 mph|
|Engine power||250 watts|
|Levels of electric assistance||4|
|Declared autonomy||45 km|
|Declared charging time||240 minutes|
|Weight||14.5 kg / 32 lbs|
Presentation of Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike
Design and frame
At first glance, the Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike has that little something that sets it apart from other bikes: a cute and modern side, materialized on the one hand by its small size, and on the other hand, by its beautiful chrome effect. In short, the two-wheeler attracts the eye and has not failed to pique the curiosity of many pedestrians and other cyclists.
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike – which we’ll call that from now on – is a folding electric bike made entirely of aluminum alloy: from its frame to its handlebars, including its fork, seat post, and pedals. This material is mostly used on bicycles because it is relatively light, affordable, and easier to work with than steel. Another advantage: it does not rust.
Unfolded, the bike measures 1290 x 540 x 1010 mm, according to the official product page. Folded, the bike reaches 1300 x 240 x 600 mm: it’s very practical, but we’ll return to that later in the test. With its original design, this bike has an open frame: no tube to hinder your leg from riding it.
As far as finishes are concerned, the result is what is expected to be for an electric bike sold at 1000 dollars or euros: although visible, the welds are slightly hidden by the chrome effect. At the front, the visible cables necessarily tarnish its aesthetics, but we can’t blame it either: we are not dealing with an ultra-refined high-end bike. The big horizontal tube certainly gives it some character, in our opinion.
The big horizontal tube was not installed there by chance. It hosts, in fact, the cylindrical Lithium-ion Samsung 18650 battery with a capacity of 209 Wh (36V, 5.8 Ah). Good news: this battery is removable. Taking it with you to recharge at the office or home is reasonably practical, even though the e-bike’s compact size is enough to take it everywhere.
To remove the battery from the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike, loosen the two clamps located at the base of the seat and under the horizontal tube, and remove the seat completely from the bike. The battery release button is located under the rear light. On the battery, four lights indicate the remaining autonomy level – not with much precision, of course, completed by a small flexible trap door under which the charging port is hidden.
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike benefits from a 250 W brushless engine in the middle of its front wheel. Xiaomi does not specify its brand. A brushless engine can be more durable, less cumbersome, and better performing. It is also supposed to produce less noise, but this is not especially the case here (we will address this later) without being a defect.
The electric bike also includes a TMN4 torque sensor. The operation of the torque sensor is simple: it measures the force of your pedaling and thus adapts the power of the electricity assistance according to it. In short: this sensor is supposed to give you the right level of assistance according to the effort produced.
That is in contrast to the rotation sensor, which activates the assistance when the crankset turns, regardless of your force.
Read also: Front, mid-drive, or rear e-bike motor. Which one to choose? And, What are the differences between rotation and torque sensors?
Xiaomi has opted for a Shimano Nexus 3-speed transmission. In addition, the Nexus systems have the particularity to offer a hub with integrated gears. In other words, the Folding Bike does not have a derailleur since the gear changes are made directly in the hub. Also, the bike has only one sprocket.
This system brings several advantages: there is no risk of derailing (we have never encountered this problem on more than 100 kilometers of use), minimal maintenance, chain jumps are non-existent, and the whole benefits from always helpful waterproofness against rain and dust.
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike is equipped with Caliper front brakes (also called side-pull brakes), which can be found on many entry-level road bikes. However, they are not the most powerful. At the rear, the cycle is equipped with drum brakes, which generally provide smooth and good-quality braking.
One of the first major weak points of this Xiaomi Folding e-Bike is its equipment, or rather its lack of equipment. On the side of the headlights, the bike provides you with some (with a major flaw, see below) front (0.5 W) and rear (1 W) lights directly integrated into the horizontal tube. They are not adjustable.
Reflectors are also present on the seat post, handlebars, and rims. On the other hand, forget the mudguards to protect you from wet grounds (the experiment was bitter) and a luggage rack, even if the latter’s absence is not a problem considering its size.
Finally, let’s note the presence of a kickstand, which is always welcome, and a bell that doesn’t fall perfectly under the thumb for small fingers.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike on the road
As Xiaomi doesn’t specify the best measurements for the Folding Bike, the seat adjustment is generous enough to fit the maximum of potential riders. From the top of my meter seventy-five, I could find the perfect height to unfold my legs to the max. There is plenty of extra room for taller riders.
When you get on the e-bike for the first time, the feeling of dominating the bike is palpable: the bike is not very big, so you feel it. Your body tends to lean forward slightly because of the lower handlebar position compared to a more conventional bike. The open frame makes sense here: climbing on your bike is incredibly easy.
Balancing and handling
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike has good handling. Its small 16-inch wheels offer a more than small turning radius, but at high speeds, the feeling of safety is not optimal either, as the e-bike is more difficult to control. That is particularly noticeable in tighter turns. Moreover, it is well known that the stability of small folding bikes is not the best.
Its balance is correct, thanks to the cylindrical battery in the horizontal tube. But I still advise you not to let go of the handlebars since the arrival of the electricity assistance can create slight jolts depending on the strength of your pedaling.
Weighing 14.5 kilos (32 pounds), the Xiaomi Folding e-bike concentrates more weight at the front, where the motor is located. So you’ll feel it when you carry the bike unfolded.
Wheels and comfort
With 16-inch wheels, the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike necessarily makes some minor concessions. Therefore, starting with the performance, it is lower than with larger wheels. The grip is also lacking, especially when starting the pedal stroke; it is a little too powerful. In addition, sometimes, the front wheel slipped, even on dry ground.
Comfort is not the strong point of this Xiaomi Folding e-Bike either: first, the seat is not very comfortable after several dozen minutes of riding. Secondly, the total absence of front, rear, or seatpost suspension makes it challenging to ride on uneven roads or over curbs.
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike should not fully meet your expectations for those who love hard braking. The front brake lacks punch, counterbalanced by a more pronounced but soft and progressive feel from the rear drum brake. Also, beware of the little wheel lock-up when you push the levers hard; it can happen. Even if they did the job, we would have appreciated more powerful brakes.
Electric assistance and speeds
Like the battery, the electric assistant’s behavior is a critical part of an electric bike. The torque sensor installed on the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike has a definite advantage: it responds instantly to your needs according to the force transmitted through the pedals. In this little game, the bicycle is very responsive.
In a few powerful pedal strokes, you are propelled to a speed of 25 km/h or 15.5 mph(the maximum speed authorized in most of Europe for electricity assistance) thanks to an instantaneous torque. Adapting or getting out of a delicate situation is very pleasant and practical.
This system gives the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike a good dynamism that allows it to overtake another cyclist riding at an average pace thanks to a more assertive pedal stroke, bringing this famous instant torque. However, this is only possible if you use the highest gear, number 3, and the highest assistance.
Three levels of electric assistance are offered to the rider: Eco, Normal, and BO+. An unassisted mode is also available, but I strongly advise against using it because of the difficulties of dragging the bike without an electric boost. All modes can take you to a speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph): the effort is just not the same depending on the mode used.
The BO+ mode is, in my opinion, the most interesting because it is the fastest and the most adapted to urban riding: it brings you to a speed of 25 km/h (15.5 mph) quite easily. The speed n° 1 is, in my opinion, useless; on the contrary, the speed n°2 can help you to climb hills better. Speed n° 3 is probably the one you will use the most often, especially naturally, for its degree of assistance.
A minor drawback: I noticed irregularities when the e-bike approached 25 km/h (15.5 mph). The assistance stops suddenly and starts again in the stride. It is not the most pleasant, and we would have preferred to taste a slightly more stable system. But overall, the riding sensations are good.
Also, the gearshift has some difficulties working smoothly: switching from gear n° 3 to gear n°2 can sometimes take several seconds. Even for a 1000-dollar/euro e-bike, this kind of anomaly remains annoying.
E-bike mobile app and control display
If you’re familiar with Xiaomi-connected devices, then the mobile app available on iOS and Google doesn’t hold any secrets. It’s so easy to use that it’s no secret to anyone. The pairing between your smartphone and the e-bike is done through a simple Bluetooth connection. To do this, you need to turn on the screen on the handlebars, thanks to a button on the bottom edge.
As with any new connected product stamped by Xiaomi, you will need to assign the right functions first. Then, by pressing the bike’s map, you can access the percentage of battery remaining (convenient because it is accurate), the number of kilometers traveled in the day, and the total mileage.
A “More information” tab offers a bunch of statistics that might interest some: number of kilometers done per day, week, or month, duration of trips, average speed, and even the time slots of your trips. That can be interesting if you pay particular attention to your regular biking practice.
The handlebars’ left side screen acts as a control and onboard computer. It also serves to switch on the bike, engage the assistance and adjust the modes. It also displays your real speed, the time of your trip, and the number of kilometers. A small additional clock is also a nice-to-have feature.
Remember to press the power button again to activate the assistance when you turn on the screen. A rocket icon represents that. You can then press the physical arrows on the left side of the screen to move from one level of assistance to another. Finally, hold the power button to turn off the system for several seconds.
As for activating the headlights, a simple long press on one of the physical arrows is enough.
How to fold Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike
The Xiaomi Folding Bike has an advantage that other more traditional bikes don’t have: it can fold. Completely. Completely. Right down to the pedals, to tell you the truth. Step by step, here’s how to fold this electric bike.
How to fold Xiaomi Mi Smart – step by step
First of all, remove the saddle. To do this, and as explained at the beginning of this test, you need to loosen the two saddle clamps: one is at the base of the saddle, and the other is found just below the horizontal tube.
After removing the saddle, the e-bike’s rear frame must be folded. Then, the rear wheel tilts towards its front counterpart and is magnetized by an ingenious little magnetic system. From there, the e-bike is stabilized on its two wheels placed side by side, which are supported on the back of the horizontal tube.
For more overall stability, don’t hesitate, in the meantime, to reinsert the saddle and lock it with the clamp. The whole rear part remains fixed thanks to the seatpost on the ground.
The maneuver continues with the steering tube, which must be unlocked with a small latch. The tube with the handlebars will bend and go on the left side of the bike, next to the rear wheel. Then you just have to fold the pedals to complete the operation.
Minor drawback: the headtube doesn’t magnetize or attach to any e-bike part. So I sometimes find it a bit shaky, but nothing too annoying. On the other hand, the left brake tends to bother your right leg when carrying the bike. So, paradoxically, carrying Xiaomi Mi Smart folded is not very practical.
We have to admit that the Xiaomi Folding Bike’s format is convenient in everyday life: whether it is folded or not, the e-bike can easily find its place in a more or less spacious apartment, next to your desk, or even on a terrace (tested and approved when the latter remained open).
Its small size allows you to take public transport without any particular difficulty. There is no need to fold it in a moderately busy train, as the space in the train is sufficient. If you want to fold and carry it, its weight of 14.5 kilos (32 pounds) is undoubtedly in the low range of electric bikes, but it remains 14.5 kilos at arm’s length.
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike will suit users looking for a practical electric bike that can be placed in a not particularly spacious living room. The folding operation is a little tricky to take: but once broken in; the maneuver is done in one minute and thirty seconds on the clock. Once folded, the remainder of the dimensions is 1300 x 240 x 600 mm.
However, we regret one point: the impossibility of folding it in the middle – as some competitors offer – for even more compactness. Finally, I did not take advantage of the folding system during the weeks of testing since the bike, unfolded, is enough for itself.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Folding E-bike in everyday life
For this test of the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike, most of our trips were made in the city and its suburbs, for over 100 kilometers (62 miles). Categorized as an electric city bike, this Xiaomi two-wheeler was mainly put to the test on urban roads, on short (3 km / 1.5 miles), medium (between 6 and 8 km / 5 miles), and long (15 km / 10 miles) trips.
Xiaomi Mi Smart city test
To start the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike test properly, there is nothing better than a first 15 km (10 miles) ride mixing cobblestones, smooth surfaces, uneven roads, hills, and downhills. The majority of the trip was done with the highest level of assistance.
On bike paths, the e-bike is dynamic and versatile enough to easily pass other cyclists at a speed of 20 km/h (around 12 mph). However, for other cyclists going at 25 km/h (around 15 mph), the same speed as yours, in theory, the exercise is more difficult: the lack of assistance from 25 km/h (15.5 mph) combined with the small wheels makes the bicycle hard to push forward.
Don’t expect to reach 30 km/h (18 mph) without forcing yourself – as can be the case on carbon sport electric bikes – at the risk of running out of breath. The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike was designed to go up to 25 km/h maximum. And for the city, that’s more than enough.
If the e-bike easily passes the 24 km/h (14.5 mph), the 25 km/h (15 mph) threshold is more complicated to reach: you have to give a few good pedal strokes. We would have preferred to force less. I also noticed a slight anomaly on the gear lever from this first ride.
Sometimes, but rarely, this lever changes gear – from 3 to 2, for example – without being engaged. Also, shifting from gear 3 to gear 2 can take a few seconds before it happens. That lack of immediacy puts the e-bike even more in the entry-level segment.
On the cobblestones especially, it was not the time to celebrate. The lack of suspension shook my whole body, from my buttocks to my head. That is one of the Xiaomi Folding Bike’s shortcomings: its comfort. Also, the seat lacks softness and makes you uncomfortable after several minutes of riding.
You should also know that zero effort is not guaranteed: after a 53 minutes ride, I simply arrived at my destination in a sweat. The bike lacks punch on the hills: you either have to force yourself in gear 3 to reach 20 km/h (difficult to go higher) or use a loose gear 2 that causes you to make 10,000 pedal turns to reach a downhill speed.
It might have been interesting to add other gears for a more gradual effort. The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike requires minimal effort to receive an electric boost because of the torque sensor. To say that your heart rate remains stable throughout a ride would be a lie.
To put it plainly, the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike does its job well for trips of about ten kilometers (six miles), but it may not be the most suitable for distances above this. At the end of the ride, a small shower could prove refreshing if you’ve climbed a few hills during your trip.
Xiaomi Mi Smart home-to-work test
In my case, the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike was mostly used for home-to-work trips and some other short trips in town. A use which seemed to me much more adapted. Its autonomy allows it to make two 6 km (4-mile) daily trips without recharging it daily. We will return to this later in this test, but the autonomy of this e-bike is not its strong point.
In heavy traffic, the bike does an excellent job of weaving in and out of cars and other road users. Its brakes do an excellent job in emergencies but remember to be careful to press the levers as soon as possible. This e-bike is not the king of braking either.
The main problem I observed during my rides was the lack of mudguards. It’s an ordeal during bad weather or on wet ground. After 20 minutes of riding, my buttocks and the back of my legs were swimming in water. In my opinion, selling an urban electric bike at 1000 euros without this kind of accessory is almost scandalous.
Fortunately, specific mudguards are available for sale for a few dozen dollars/euros. Another mishap: when the battery drops to 0%, I wish you good luck finishing your route. Without assistance, the bike is extremely difficult to move forward. So remember to recharge it as needed.
The experience was sometimes frustrating: as explained above, the assistance only propels you at 20 km/h (12 mph) when the autonomy drops below 50%. After that, it becomes difficult to overtake other riders. As a result, the e-bike loses its dynamism and is less efficient.
The motor also tends to emit a whistling sound typical of electric machines: I don’t find it very annoying. On the contrary, it can act as a sound signature that can naturally alert other cyclists. Finally, although nice, the integration of the headlights is a problem: since they are nestled in the frame and not on the head tube, so your lights don’t illuminate your road when you turn the handlebars.
Let’s emphasize its hyper practicality again: the e-bike is easy to carry, to get off the building, or to ride to the office. I’ve even taken the elevator with three colleagues without us all being stuck together. At work, storing it in the hallway was no problem.
A riding range of about 30 km / 17 miles
Real autonomy vs announced autonomy
Xiaomi does not hesitate to communicate the autonomy of its e-bike within a range of 45 kilometers (28 miles). However, do not expect to reach this threshold with the highest assistance mode. According to my calculations, after a few hundred kilometers, the autonomy of the Xiaomi Folding Bike oscillates between 25 and 30 kilometers maximum (15 – 18 miles). More like 25 (15.5 miles).
To give you an idea, the e-bike’s battery level dropped to 80% after a 6.2-kilometer ride (3.7 miles), then to 55% after another 6.1 kilometers (3.7 miles). In the typical city, stops and restarts are frequent due to the heavy traffic. So naturally, the electric motor is under greater strain during its regular intensive acceleration phases.
Charging and discharging
The manufacturer does not communicate the number of charging cycles for its e-bike. It is, therefore, difficult to know after how many kilometers and recharging sessions the battery loses efficiency. But in general, consumers don’t have too much to worry about on this point.
I did notice a minimal loss of energy (from 55% to 54% of remaining autonomy) after having left the e-bike at rest for several days. This loss is certainly minimal, but it is accurate. The complete recharge takes about four hours: a green light appears when the battery is full.
To ensure the battery is 100%, don’t hesitate to turn on the e-bike and your mobile application, then check the battery percentage indicated on your smartphone.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike price and availability
The Xiaomi Folding e-Bike is available for 999 dollars/euros on the brand’s official website and other commercial platforms. However, its price can drop by several hundred euros (up to 500 euros) depending on your region, department, or city, which may offer a financial incentive for the purchase.
And of course, you can find this Xiaomi electric bike at brick-and-mortar retail locations, often at a certain discount as well.
Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike – final test score: 7 /10
The Xiaomi Mi Smart Electric Folding Bike is aimed at a relatively specific type of user: city dwellers looking for an affordable electric bike that is very practical to carry. On this point, the e-bike ticks all the boxes with its format adapted to small spaces, a neat and modern design, and a not-so-straightforward-at-first, but a perfect folding system.
But the Xiaomi Folding e-Bike has some shortcomings: first, the autonomy is limited to about twenty kilometers (15 miles). The short and medium trips are thus more challenging. Shorter home-to-work trips would be easier. Be careful, though: the electric assistance is limited to 20 km/h (15 mph) when the battery drops below 50%. The experience becomes frustrating.
The rest of the e-bike equipment reflects its entry-level positioning: good but not perfect brakes, a lack of comfort (seat too hard) in the absence of suspension, nicely integrated but impractical headlights, and a capricious gearshift. Note, however, the good transmission system: the bike never derailed.
Remember to buy mudguards too, or you might have a tricky experience in case of bad weather. Sold at 999 euros or dollars, the Xiaomi Folding Bike is rated 7/10 for all these reasons.