Sailnovo "folding" eBike Review

Smaug

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Sailnovo Electric Bike Review (rev 2022-06-23)


OVERVIEW:
This is a mini eBike. It has one speed and is geared for about 10 mph pedaling quickly or 7-8 taking it nice & easy on flat ground. It weighs about 50 lbs., so although it is small, it isn't very light for its size. It's a good bike for low speed cruising on urban and suburban bike paths where the distances are a bit much for walking. It's good for an urban commute, too, especially one where bike paths are available.


PORTABILITY:
I bought this to have something that would fit in the trunk of my sedan, a 2022 Subaru WRX. As a reference, it barely fits and has to be put in an an angle, being careful not to catch & rip the weather stripping. Anything bigger would be no sweat. The seats don't need to be folded down. There's some room left on top of the bike and between its crevices for other stuff, but not too much. It would be an easy matter to get this into a hatchback or anything else with a tall opening.


HOW IT FEELS TO RIDE:
This feels nothing like a full size bike. It has small 14" wheels and a long stem on the handlebar, so it is twitchy. One-handed riding is not going to be on the menu for long unless you're a real daredevil. To an experienced cyclist, it's OK, as we have steady hands. Others will learn it, but it hurts to watch them as they're all over the place. More on this later.

With its small wheels, the ride could be quite rough. One reason I chose this model is because it has rear suspension, so every bump doesn't go right through the rump and up the spine. It's nice and works well.

Even though the wheels are small, the motor doesn't feel too torquey. They advertise a 500 W motor, but on the hub, it says 450 W. I suspect that is a peak value too, as it has nowhere NEAR the torque of my heybike Ranger, which has a 500 W motor too and larger 20" wheels and 4" wide tires. (granted the Ranger is running 48 V instead of 36 V)


PAS: (The Pedal Assist System) is not that well-implemented, but not dangerous, either. There is no selection for it; it only has one setting. When I start pedaling, nothing happens for the first several seconds. Then very slowly, it feeds more assistance. I didn't even notice at first; thought it was broken. As it feeds in more and more power the pedaling gets easier. I get up to 10 mph and my legs are moving like mad. Ghost pedaling doesn't work. The result of all this is that if you want to pedal to extend the range, the motor is constantly going on and off. Because of that, I think the best use of the pedals is to get it going up to about 8 mph; kind of a launch assist, then twist the throttle to maintain the speed I want. If you're OK going 9 mph or less, just turn off the power switch and pedal; it's easy enough because it's geared low.

THROTTLE MODES: There are three throttle modes selectable. Level 1 gets us to about 8 mph. Level 2 = 13 mph. Level 3 = 18.5 mph. (I'm a 185 lb. rider)


SEAT:
The seat is OK. It's comfortable for periods of less than half an hour; after that, my prostate area really gets sore. The cutout in the middle of the seat seems to be decorative; it is not well-placed and not deep enough to be effective on a guy. My fiancee rode this bike for about a half hour, and she said it was comfortable. Maybe it's designed for women?

The seat height gives full leg extension for my 10 year old daughter, who is about 4'6. I'm 5'8 with a 30" inseam, and I cannot get full leg extension. However, that doesn't really matter, because it's geared low enough that it's not needed unless you're trying to pedal uphill.


LIGHTS:
For making the rider visible at dawn, dusk and nighttime, they are great. The running lights can be switched on with the switch near the left grip. When braking, the rear light blinks brightly. This is a nice safety feature. The headlight is not quite adequate for pitch dark riding at 18 mph. It's not a focused enough beam. It's OK at 13 mph and under, though. I really like how the lights are integrated into the frame. A lot of eBikes advertise integrated lights, but when you look at them, they're mounted on brackets and not even the WIRES go into the frame. That's "lights included", not "integrated lights".


FRAME:
This is advertised as a "folding bike", which is a bit deceptive. Only the handle bar folds down. The seat telescopes down, but that doesn't make it a folding bike, either. Phrasing issues aside, it does fold small enough to get into a typical sedan's trunk, even a compact sport sedan like my Subaru WRX.

The *design* of the frame is quite elegant, I think, though that is subjective. What do you think?


REAR SHOCK:
It is quite effective. It's more than a barrel bushing. It might just be a spring in there, but whatever it is, it works. With the small wheel and lack of front suspension, we can feel every bump in the hands, but the riding posture of this bike doesn't have much weight on the hands, so it's not too objectionable. They made the right call here. Having front suspension would add another 5-10 lbs to an already heavy compact bike, as well as adding cost.


VALUE:
Speaking of cost, I paid $480 for this bike on Amazon in June 2022. The white one cost more. I consider it a good value, if if holds up well.


SAFETY:
I was surprised to see the UL Mark on a sticker on the bike frame. I think it's counterfeit though, because there is no Control Number or File Number associated with it. (I'm a former UL engineer) The power supply for charging it is also marked with UL, but it appears to be legit. The power supply gets quite warm while charging the bike's battery, but not "hot". They just chose the right size charger and are squeezing the most power out of it. The connector is a simple barrel connector with one contact in the center and the other concentric around it. It makes a good connection and doesn't get warm while charging. My other eBike, the heybike Ranger, which cost about 3X as much, has a fancier looking three-pin connector, but sometimes gets warm, which means a lot of power is being lost making heat there, due to a high impedance connection. The charging jack is supplied with a rubber cover. (if the fender breaks, the rear wheel would roost water in that connection, which would likely short out the system if it was salt water)

SUMMARY:
+ Compact enough to fit in a sedan trunk when folded
+ Well-built
+ Plenty fast for its wheel size
+ Elegant design
+ Functional rear shock
+ Good brakes

- A bit heavy, for its size, at 50 lbs.
- PAS is not well-implemented; it's only useful to assist the motor to get going.
- Advertised 500 W hub motor. It does not feel like it puts out 500 W worth. Hub says 450 W, which might be a peak rating. ...or maybe it's only 500 W when fed 52 V? (which it's not here)
- It's only worth pedaling to get started or for low speed, power-less cruising. Consider it more of a large-wheeled, comfortable eScooter with a pedal back-up.

BOTTOM LINE:
Buy this with the right expectations and you'll be happy. It's not a good climber, but is a good low-medium speed cruiser.

I'll update this as time goes on and as responders here remind me that I left things off.
 

Smaug

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I've had this coming up on a month now, and here are some more "mature" feelings about it:

- The only way this bike lets me get exercise is when I turn off the switch. It's good transportation, but not a good bicycle replacement.
- The seat was really bad; I replaced it with a top-selling $25 one from Amazon, and it's a big improvement.
- It's pretty heavy for its size. This weighs around 50 lbs, even with its non-folding frame, single speed and 14" wheels. By comparison, the Lectric XP Lite I just bought weighs 46 lbs. with 20" wheels and a folding frame. (though it gives up the rear suspension than the Sailnovo has) I'm starting to wonder if it uses NiMH batteries, instead of Li-Ion...
- Ignore any maximum range estimates in the ad copy. It's not practical to pedal this bike, unless you're OK running at about 7 mph. Faster than walking still, but consider it more of a back-up or a way to help the poor little power system climb hills without drinking all the battery's juice from a couple hill climbs. Look for user reviews of what to really expect. I estimate 10-15 miles is a reasonable estimate. (180 lb. rider, pedaling on starts and to help the motor uphill)
- The odometer is wildly inaccurate. I have a known 4.4 mile round trip commute, but this only shows 1.6 mile per leg.
- The headlight is good for rider visibility, but is not powerful enough to ride safely at night at the bike's top speed of 18.6 mph. Plan on throttling back to PAS 2 = 12 mph to be safe. (there are three PAS levels.)
- The horn is not very loud. It would work at low speeds in quieter areas, but that's all.

+ The rear suspension is really good. I'm glad I got this instead of the Jetson Bolt Pro.
+ The tires are nice. I'm SO glad they resisted the urge to put big fat knobbies on it
+ I like that the lights are really integrated into the frame. Other bikes advertise this, but then there they are, mounted on a bracket with bolts and exposed wiring going into a harness.
+ I like the frame design. It looks good and allows the aforementioned integration.
+ I took the bike for a ride along the lakefront bike/pedestrian path. It is perfect for this kind of use, and that's why the ad videos show it in this environment.
+ I took it grocery shopping a couple times; it's great for the smaller loads in a big backpack
 

Hoggdoc

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I've had this coming up on a month now, and here are some more "mature" feelings about it:

- The only way this bike lets me get exercise is when I turn off the switch. It's good transportation, but not a good bicycle replacement.
- The seat was really bad; I replaced it with a top-selling $25 one from Amazon, and it's a big improvement.
- It's pretty heavy for its size. This weighs around 50 lbs, even with its non-folding frame, single speed and 14" wheels. By comparison, the Lectric XP Lite I just bought weighs 46 lbs. with 20" wheels and a folding frame. (though it gives up the rear suspension than the Sailnovo has) I'm starting to wonder if it uses NiMH batteries, instead of Li-Ion...
- Ignore any maximum range estimates in the ad copy. It's not practical to pedal this bike, unless you're OK running at about 7 mph. Faster than walking still, but consider it more of a back-up or a way to help the poor little power system climb hills without drinking all the battery's juice from a couple hill climbs. Look for user reviews of what to really expect. I estimate 10-15 miles is a reasonable estimate. (180 lb. rider, pedaling on starts and to help the motor uphill)
- The odometer is wildly inaccurate. I have a known 4.4 mile round trip commute, but this only shows 1.6 mile per leg.
- The headlight is good for rider visibility, but is not powerful enough to ride safely at night at the bike's top speed of 18.6 mph. Plan on throttling back to PAS 2 = 12 mph to be safe. (there are three PAS levels.)
- The horn is not very loud. It would work at low speeds in quieter areas, but that's all.

+ The rear suspension is really good. I'm glad I got this instead of the Jetson Bolt Pro.
+ The tires are nice. I'm SO glad they resisted the urge to put big fat knobbies on it
+ I like that the lights are really integrated into the frame. Other bikes advertise this, but then there they are, mounted on a bracket with bolts and exposed wiring going into a harness.
+ I like the frame design. It looks good and allows the aforementioned integration.
+ I took the bike for a ride along the lakefront bike/pedestrian path. It is perfect for this kind of use, and that's why the ad videos show it in this environment.
+ I took it grocery shopping a couple times; it's great for the smaller loads in a big backpack
Sorry to say, but from everything you've written about this bike it sounds like pretty much a loser.
 

Smaug

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Sorry to say, but from everything you've written about this bike it sounds like pretty much a loser.
For $480, I think it's rather good. The main thing is not to expect to get much exercise from it.
Some people are not after that anyway.

I'm not disappointed in it.
 

Smaug

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I rode it to work again today; left the heybike Ranger (my usual commuter) at home. It was a nice experience; just different.
 

Smaug

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My sister’s family is visiting. I took the kids out for an eBike ride.

My niece (12) was speeding down the hill at full speed on the Sailnovo and saw the gravel where they had filled in the road after some sewer work. It was bumpy, too. She hit the brakes and immediately went down. She’s got some pretty serious road rash.

I blame mostly her poor judgement and lack of any of road cycling experience, but the small wheels and twitchy steering sure didn’t help. I’m not sure if she’d have crashed on one of my 20” models.

The bike is rashed up on the left side, but took the hit pretty well. There’s a rhythmic clicking from the back, I think where the rear brake disc got scratched. Left grip and brake lever are chewed up at the edges, of course.

The point of this post is just to point out that this isn’t a good general purpose eBike, not one for any kind of off road, even gravel paths. It would be good for tight, urban areas and exploring It’s at its best at low speeds and with some occasional pedaling thrown in.

The boot fell off of the kickstand and got lost when my stepdaughter borrowed it for commuting, so now it can only be parked on pavement or it’ll sink in and fall over. My stepdaughter is a careless 16 year old with no common sense, but this should’ve been glued on at the factory.
 

Snoop

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My sister’s family is visiting. I took the kids out for an eBike ride.

My niece (12) was speeding down the hill at full speed on the Sailnovo and saw the gravel where they had filled in the road after some sewer work. It was bumpy, too. She hit the brakes and immediately went down. She’s got some pretty serious road rash.

I blame mostly her poor judgement and lack of any of road cycling experience, but the small wheels and twitchy steering sure didn’t help. I’m not sure if she’d have crashed on one of my 20” models.

The bike is rashed up on the left side, but took the hit pretty well. There’s a rhythmic clicking from the back, I think where the rear brake disc got scratched. Left grip and brake lever are chewed up at the edges, of course.

The point of this post is just to point out that this isn’t a good general purpose eBike, not one for any kind of off road, even gravel paths. It would be good for tight, urban areas and exploring It’s at its best at low speeds and with some occasional pedaling thrown in.

The boot fell off of the kickstand and got lost when my stepdaughter borrowed it for commuting, so now it can only be parked on pavement or it’ll sink in and fall over. My stepdaughter is a careless 16 year old with no common sense, but this should’ve been glued on at the factory.

I hope your niece feels better soon, Smaug, and wasn’t banged up too bad. At least it sounds like she was wearing her Mithril armor.

I admit wondering about the little wheels on those bikes and how tolerant they are to small potholes and divots in the road or path. It might be like falling into the Grand Canyon, depending on the size. Have you found that to be an issue at all?
 

Smaug

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I hope your niece feels better soon, Smaug, and wasn’t banged up too bad. At least it sounds like she was wearing her Mithril armor.

I admit wondering about the little wheels on those bikes and how tolerant they are to small potholes and divots in the road or path. It might be like falling into the Grand Canyon, depending on the size. Have you found that to be an issue at all?
Small potholes just feel like big potholes on a bigger-wheeled bike. Big potholes would cause a crash.

She’s healing up OK. Poor kid, she got the flu or noravirus the next day, wrecked her visit with us.
 

"A"

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My experience with similar micro, folding ebikes with small wheels, I find that it's best to keep them under 20 mph operation.
Steering on them are very quick, when combined with higher speeds, rider can lose control very suddenly.
Recovery to regain control of the ebike is not so intuitive, even for a seasoned rider.
Casual cruising is great with them; just not meant for performance riding.
 

Snoop

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My experience with similar micro, folding ebikes with small wheels, I find that it's best to keep them under 20 mph operation.
Steering on them are very quick, when combined with higher speeds, rider can lose control very suddenly.
Recovery to regain control of the ebike is not so intuitive, even for a seasoned rider.
Casual cruising is great with them; just not meant for performance riding.

For me, the biggest thing was learning to gain a constant awareness of the PAS being on.
I’ve tried to get in the habit of toggling it to zero with my thumb when I come to intersections, so I don’t inadvertently have the bike jump me out into the road before I’m ready.

The closest I came to a wipe out so far was when I was casually pedaling in a park on a curbed road, and came to a stop to listen to a couple musicians playing their guitars. The music probably helped take my awareness away, forgetting my PAS was on 3 at the time, and as I was getting ready to move on, my foot was subconsciously pushing on the pedal a bit. The bike suddenly took off and I was edging the curb with my tire. Aside from a few scuffs on the rubber, and looking like more of an idiot than I normally do, I was able to regain control without splatting.

There are definitely a couple added inherent risks associated with ebikes. Fortunately they can usually be attenuated I think was a little added caution and experience.
 

JerryB

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My experience with similar micro, folding ebikes with small wheels, I find that it's best to keep them under 20 mph operation.
Steering on them are very quick, when combined with higher speeds, rider can lose control very suddenly.
Recovery to regain control of the ebike is not so intuitive, even for a seasoned rider.
Casual cruising is great with them; just not meant for performance riding.

I totally agree.....my bike has 20x3 tires......great ride but not the same as a full size tire......as mentioned many times....I ride for exercise with a new knee and hip......20mph is rare for me.......I ride in PA 1 or 2 95% of the time......7 to 11mph is a very nice ride for me.....I am retired....no hurry.....we live rural....I drive 55mph most of the time. Life is good.
 

Smaug

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For me, the biggest thing was learning to gain a constant awareness of the PAS being on.
I’ve tried to get in the habit of toggling it to zero with my thumb when I come to intersections, so I don’t inadvertently have the bike jump me out into the road before I’m ready.
I do this too, on my other eBikes. It's a bit hard to explain this to newbies how this works.

[...]

There are definitely a couple added inherent risks associated with ebikes. Fortunately they can usually be attenuated I think was a little added caution and experience.
Cheers to that!

PAS setting isn't a factor on the Sailnovo, as it only has one setting: on or off. If it's on, it gently assists; takes awhile to ramp up, it's never surprising, as it can be on my other two eBikes. What's very different about it is that it gently ramps up so that I barely notice it, and when it gets to the point where I'm ghost pedaling, it turns off again. It takes long enough to ramp up that it's not really useful. It would be easier and more predictable to just to use throttle when needed.
 
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