- An affordable and sleek folding bike that hides its electric system in the frame and seat post, MXUS hub-drive, 36v 14ah battery, 7 speed Shimano cassette, thicker tires, and mechanical brakes with motor inhibitors
- The bike folds well, you can walk it when folded or even slide the seat post down through the frame to use it similar to a chair, allowing you to sit on the saddle of the bike while it is folded in a stable manner
- For $1,299, there is a lot to appreciate like the integrated headlight, but you can take it to the next level with optional features such as bags, a rear rack, or a front basket
- There is no suspension of any kind on the bike, the smaller wheel diameter has a higher attack angle too, so you really feel the bumps of the road, definitely best in short trips rather than long hauls
To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by Qualisports. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of Qualisports products.
So today, I am checking out the Qualisports Dolphin which is new to me, but apparently they have been around for a while. They have been making bikes worldwide under a number of names, but the Qualisports brand is used for the United States. The bike is similar to their Volador, so you may see some parallel information in this review, but I will call out the new changes as we go along. One cool side note is that the bike was named literally a day or two before I reviewed it. Apparently, they asked fans for aquatic name suggestions and Dolphin was in the top 3. Sam’s wife said they should do the Dolphin name, so the company said “Alright, Dolphin it is!” and I guess the rest will be history! So the Dolphin is an affordable ($1,299) 20” wheel folding electric bike, but aside from the hub motor, it doesn’t look electric, it looks quite normal. That is mostly due to the battery being integrated in a unique place, the seat post. That comes with its own pros and cons that we will jump into later, but for now, I can say it definitely makes for a clean frame and a beautiful look. The bike comes in 2 colors, matte black and dark metallic gray, but the red you see in the video is just a prototype. The aluminum alloy frame is rigid all around and doesn’t provide for any suspension or absorption of any kind apart from the tires and a slightly comfortable saddle that I would still however classify as an active saddle. The tires are 20” x 2.35”, so a bit bigger than what you see on the Volador. I wouldn’t call these fat-tires, but they are definitely capable with comfort and stability. However, larger tires may mean it won’t fold up quite as compact as the Volador. Although not on the prototype in the video, the bike will come with these nice sturdy steel fenders. Steel fenders are great but they can rust if the paint gets nicked or scratched and left outside over time. I do see some included lights which is very considerate, but I should note the rear light is not integrated, so do make sure to turn it off when you are done using the bike so you don’t wast those AAA batteries. The front is integrated which I love, but it should be noted that if you have the front basket, it will not point where you steer due to the mounting of the light. Looking around, there are some bottle cage bosses, a quick release on the seat post clamp, and a kickstand positioned out of the way to eliminate pedal lock when reversing. The Dolphin has some nice wire wraps, but it should be noted since this is a folding bike, the wires are not internally routed… this is pretty common since folding bikes need that maneuverability when bending so the wires don’t get pinched. Qualisports also has some accessories that go well with the Dolphin; in the video I review one with an optional $50 rack with nice standard gauge tubing. There is also a $60 basket that can mount to the front and they even offer a $50 bag for the bike itself that it will fit into when folded. This is a nice touch since there are actually places where you may transport this when folded where they require it to be in a bag. When loading this bike with accessories however, I would be careful in placing a trunk bag, since it could block that rear light. Overall the bike we tested weighs 47.7lbs, (so almost 8lbs heavier than the Volador) folds up quite well with some good locking points, and can even be walked easily if you leave the seat post up. Other features include Velo grips (non-locking), a little flick bell, plastic chain guard, and trigger shifters.
Driving the Dolphin is a planetary geared hub-motor from MXUS. The motor is 350watt nominally rated with a 12 magnet cadence sensor and throttle. I love that the cadence sensor is sealed, that really helps keep road debris out, and I wish more manufacturers went with this setup. The max speed is 20mph, so with that throttle and pedal assist, that makes this a Class 2 ebike. The power ramps up kind of slow, but the smaller wheels do have a mechanical advantage to it as well. Overall, it’s a nice linear power delivery. It’s quite efficient, really a power sipper and I found it both to be very quiet and smooth. The Dolphin would be a great last mile vehicle for both students and commuters. The electrical system is rounded off with these nice motor inhibitors, another feature I love to see in bikes because it really makes the ride that much safer. On the mechanical side, you get a 7 speed Shimano Tourney derailleur with 14-28 teeth and a 52 tooth chain ring in the front…. that rear setup is a little limited, so you may be spinning a bit more at higher speeds, but otherwise great for a commuting around town. For stopping power, you get some 160mm mechanical brakes. Mechanical brakes are easy to adjust and maintain, however, the stopping can take a bit more accusation in the handle, especially for that rear brake.
Powering the Dolphin is a 36v 14ah battery, which is about double the amp hour rating of the Volador and Nemo. What is really interesting is that the battery is located inside the seat tube. That aspect brings with it is own pros and cons… on the one hand, it is very discreet, clean, protected, and likely won’t advertise that it is an electric bike to would be thieves. On the other hand, you cannot change the seat post to a suspension seat post to increase comfort, and it limits you to just the one battery type style. You can actually remove the seat post, the entire thing is removable if you wish to take the battery with you somewhere. The charging port sits protected under the seat front and faces upward from the tip of the tube, like where you would put a straw in for a drink pouch. The charger itself is pretty portable at 1.3lbs and charges at 2amps, which is a little slow, but helps maintain a healthy battery life. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Controlling the Dolphin is done though this plastic display mounted on the left. It is backlit, but is not removable as far as I can tell and doesn’t seem to swivel either. The controls feature a Power button as well as an Up and Down button for scrolling. Along with the speed here in MPH, it shows a 4 bar battery info graphic, with the outline of the battery logo itself acting as a 5th bar. So basically, it reads out in 20% increments. It also has readings for a timer, distance, and what level of assist you are in. Assist levels range from 0-5, but I did notice that 0 also locks out the throttle, so if you want to use that throttle, make sure to push the assist into 1-5. If you press Power lightly again, you can cycle through current speed, average speed, max speed, voltage, and odometer. Holding down the Up button will get the display to turn on its backlight. This also activates the integrated headlight too. Hold the Down button will active a walk mode. Finally, if you turn the display off, then back on, begin to hold down Up and Down together and you get a deep menu that lets you configure things like top speed, wheel diameter, and MPH to KMH. Believe it or not, you can go even deeper by holding Up and Down again and again to get into a series of coding menus if you really want to get into the nitty gritty. Qualisports also has a in-depth manual online for those interested.
All in all, the Dolphin is a great option at that $1,299 price point. It’s not often you see bikes like this with unique features and aesthetics when browsing other affordable options. Another neat feature is that when the bike is folded, you can push the seat tube down through the frame and the lower part is sturdy enough to act as a chair leg so to speak, and it allows you to sit down on the seat comfortably while waiting for a train, bus, or just need a moment to relax. With all these unique features, there are some tradeoffs to consider. The most obvious is that there is no suspension of any kind. This paired with the high seating, high handlebar, and attack angle make for a bumpy and twitchy ride. Definitely not something to look forward to if you have a commute with long distances. Some of the parts are generic like the brakes and pedals, but I suppose that is to be expected given the price point. The bike really shines as a last mile vehicle, great for little hops across the way and getting in and out of transportation like buses, trains, subways, etc. The ability to sit with it, store it, and walk with it are great. And it looks good too! I should also mention that the bike comes pretty much assembled from the the get go and you can even get dealer support. I think Qualisports did a good job here and I am excited to observe their growth and thank them for the opportunity to do so.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own a previous version of the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the Qualisports ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
- Really just a beautiful bike, I love how the battery is hidden and out of the way, it doesn’t look like a typical electric bike to most people so it could deter would be thieves as well
- When shopping for affordable bikes, you usually get some bottom of the barrel options, its nice to see the Dolphin bring a purpose built bike with unique features and aesthetic to the segment for just $1.299
- A lot of times with bikes like this you have to go online to find them, Qualisports also has a dealer network so you can get established and knowledgeable help and service which is great
- Has some really good locking points and is a nice folding bicycle, that battery position is really is beautiful and it keeps the battery out of the way
- If the bike is folded and you prop up the seat post, you can hold the seat and guide it as you walk it and it glides straight with no problems
- The seat post itself is sturdy, you can push the seat tube down through the frame and the lower part is sturdy enough to act as a chair leg so to speak, and it allows you to sit down on the seat comfortably while waiting for a train, bus, or just need a moment to relax
- The bike comes pretty much fully assembled so you don’t have to worry about putting pieces together or needing complicated tools
- The display has a very deep menu section that will let you configure just about everything with the electrical system if you are a real tinkerer and want to get things just right, they will be posting a in-depth manual online with information too
- Some lights are included for both the front and rear, I particularly like that the front headlight is battery integrated and can be turned on and off via the display
- Trigger shifters are my favorite and I cannot count how many affordable bikes actually chose a thumb shifter with their throttle, I really appreciate the trigger shifter and throttle setup Qualisports went with on this bike
- The power delivery is nice and linear when using the electrical system and I am a big fan of motor inhibitors on brakes, so I am grateful they included them here
- Some great optional accessories are available like a rear rack, front bucket, and even a cover bag that you can put the bike in when its folded
- A lot of the features on this bike like the optional cover bag, the seat post chair setup, and being able to walk the bike when folded really help this stand out as the perfect last mile vehicle, this would be great for a student that has to take a tram to campus but still has a mile or two to get to class, or the subway commuter that has a long walk to his loft, you can tell they really thought out the design of the target user
- The bike does not have any suspension or much comfort aside from what the tires can handle, it should be noted that you cannot swap out the seat post because of the integrated battery, similarly, you cannot swap out the fork either, I like this bike a lot, but it probably won’t be my top choice for a lengthy ride
- The tires here are nice but have neither puncture protection or reflective sidewall, also, there is no quick release on either wheel
- There is no slap guard on the frame where the chain rides along, I would recommend protecting it with an aftermarket neoprene slap guard or at least some box tape
- Some generic parts here and there like the brake system, plastic pedals, and plastic display, but that is to be expected since the price of the bike is so low
- There is no derailleur guard which would be nice if it was here because it would protect that derailleur when folding or shipping the bike as well as if it took a spill
- The ride is a little twitchy because of the riding geometry and the bumps you feel, it really is best for short rides or as a last mile vehicle
- The included rear light takes batteries instead of being integrated into the battery pack itself, so it could be a bit of a hassle to turn it on and off separately, additionally, you could forget to turn it off and drain the batteries leading to having to replace them more frequently
- The display is easy to read and backlit, but I do wish it was removable since the rest of the bike hides the fact that it is electric really well
- Only comes in darker colors, so be aware that visibility, especially during the night, may be difficult
- Official Site: https://www.qualisports.us/