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It was close to 10 pm when I first hit the streets on the Navee S65. I had a meeting in Manhattan the next morning so I wanted to give this electric scooter a quick test ride first to make sure it worked fine before I took it on an 18-mile roundtrip from Brooklyn. The first words out of my mouth?

“What the heck?”

Not in a good way. On this quiet street in the middle of the night, this electric scooter was like a screeching banshee. I’ve tested a lot of electric scooters. They all vary in how much sound the motor produces, but I’ve never tested a model that gets this loud. Surely, something is wrong with this scooter, right? Apparently not. I was so flabbergasted that I even turned on my phone’s recorder and put it in my pocket to capture the audio (you can listen to it below!). I played it back to my wife when I got back home, and her mouth was ajar. It’s loud.

I still took it to my meeting the next day, and after my first full trip, it was a completely different story. I was grinning ear to ear, and my wife was surprised to hear me say, “This thing is great!”

Loud and Proud

Navee S65 scooter

Photograph: Navee

Navee is a relatively new escooter brand operated by Brightway Innovation Intelligent Technology, based in China. Brightway has received investment from Xiaomi, but Navee is adamant that it doesn’t have a cooperative relationship with the Chinese megacorporation, and it doesn’t affect Navee’s operation or product development.

Despite this disclaimer, the scooter’s app is the very same as Xiaomi’s Mi Home app (Android, iOS), which I also use to monitor my Smartmi air purifier (a subsidiary of Xiaomi). When I open the app, the scooter pops up right next to my purifier. It seems bizarre, but I’m all for consolidating apps. I’m glad I didn’t have to download another one.

Setup was a snappy affair and took no more than a few minutes—just hook up the handlebar. Even pairing the scooter to the app via Bluetooth was fast. Too bad the app itself isn’t all that useful. Apollo’s scooter app, for example, lets you control the speed of the scooter, the acceleration, and the strength of the regenerative brake. The Navee’s app … lets you see your ride history.

OK, you can also lock the scooter, turn on the cruise control, and choose to keep the taillight always on or off. It’s also how you’d update the firmware, but there were no firmware updates waiting for me, despite the fact that I received it several months ago and only unboxed it and started riding recently. This is either good or bad. Either the S65 is so flawless it hasn’t needed any updates, or there are issues but the company has yet to address any of them. Either way, the app is super basic, and I hardly bothered to open it after my first few rides.

Let me address the sound. The reason why the S65 is so loud is due to its 500-watt geared hub motor. Most scooters I’ve tested have gearless hub motors, which use electromagnets to turn the wheel and push the scooter forward. Geared hub motors use gears to create the movement to push the wheel. They have better hill-climbing ability and faster acceleration, but they aren’t as easy to repair and lack regenerative braking. They’re also loud.

I generally hate the idea of irritating anyone, so I was apprehensive when I took the scooter out the next day for my first ride. The good thing is, New York City is Very Loud™ when the sun’s out. Yes, on some streets, I was the loudest thing rolling through, but the S65’s high-pitch whine quickly disappeared into the everyday bustle of the city once I got onto a busy street, over the bridge, and into Manhattan. There were a few occasions when people looked to see who was making that screeching sound; I felt guilty.