The e-bike market may be experiencing a boom right now, but with an elegant, step-through design, no-nonsense controls, and a foldable frame, the Ecotric Dolphin stands out in the crowd.
But, just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it’s good, so I picked one up, put it through its paces, and here’s what I discovered.
Ecotric Electric Bike Review
- Smooth Shimano gear system.
- 20 mph top speed.
- Easy to assemble (using YouTube).
- Fat tires offer great traction on wet and loose surfaces.
- Assist mode disengages instantly, giving you greater stopping power.
- Dual mechanical disc brakes work well.
- Motor ramps smooth to 20 mph.
- 48-mile range when riding economically.
- Awful assembly instructions
- Motor could be snappier off the mark.
- Not designed to tackle steep hills.
Where Can You Purchase The Ecotric Electric Bike?
Shop the Ecotric Dolphin E-Bike here.
You’ll notice right away how terrible the Dolphin’s instructions are, but don’t fret, as there are a number of excellent YouTube videos you can use to streamline the assembly process. I found it pretty easy, and managed to get it up and running in about 40 minutes.
Motor & Top Speed
Ecotric has decided to produce the 500-watt, hub drive motor in-house, and I don’t really have a problem with that, as I’ve tested them out on other models and been satisfied with performance. But, I have to say, this one didn’t feel quite as snappy off the mark.
This diminished acceleration likely just comes down to the fat tires rather than any functional defect, but it’s definitely something to note if you’re looking for efficiency from a static start, say, to keep up with traffic after a stop sign or red light.
However, during my tests I found that the Dolphin can reach its top speed of 20 mph quite easily, especially in the top pedal assist mode.
Tires & Terrain
You get some really nice 20 x 4” fat tires on the Dolphin. They handle wet, gravelly, sandy, and grassy surfaces really well, but for reasons I’ll discuss a bit later, that’s by and large the extent of the Dolphin’s application in terms of terrain.
It can handle the odd incline, but it’s not designed to conquer hills, so if you live in an area with lots of sudden rises and falls, it’s probably not for you.
Battery & Range
Much like the cruiser e-bikes you see on the market, the battery of the Dolphin is mounted on the seat tube rather than the down tube, which I certainly feel has its benefits.
First, it’s well out of the way of my feet and knees, so I can’t accidentally knock the key loose while riding.
Another benefit of this battery orientation is that it more or less aligns with your spine, stabilizing your center of gravity, making it slightly easier to balance, and handle the extra weight of the battery and motor.
The only drawback of this sort of mount is that I had to lift the seat to release the battery for charging.
Rated for 36 volts, 13 Ah, and 468 Wh, the battery is, well… it’s okay, just nothing special. I clocked in a recharge from 25% in about 6 hours, and found that a single cycle will take you between 15 and 23 miles using throttle, and as far as 48 miles when using a low pedal assist mode.
You get 3 tiers of power assist to play with, low, medium, and high, so it doesn’t offer the most nuanced ride ever, but for a ride around an urban or rural town area, that’s really all you need.
You can feel it kick in within half a pedal turn, which is okay, but it shuts off immediately, which is awesome, as it increases the stopping power of the bike in emergencies.
The highest level of power assist has some serious zip to it, getting you up to that 20 mph limit surprisingly fast, and, as mentioned earlier, the throttle isn’t quite so snappy, but provides a very smooth ramp up to the top speed, so it could be worse.
The controls are super simple on the Dolphin, so if you’re looking for bells and whistles, I’m afraid you’re out of luck. It’s a minimal LED (rather than LCD) display, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it displays the key information such as pedal assist level and battery reserve clearly, leaving nothing to distract or confuse.
It has a power button, a mode selection button, and what I’d consider the only advanced appointment, a 6 km button, which is essentially an assisted mode dedicated to walking the bike around.
As e-bikes can be quite heavy, I thought this was a pretty thoughtful feature — thanks Ecotric! The only feature I really wanted that wasn’t present in the control was an mph monitor.
The throttle function is controlled via a twist grip rather than a button, which I personally feel is much more intuitive and enjoyable to use, but, unless you have experience riding motorbikes, may take you a bit to get used to it.
Brakes, Suspension, & Handling
The Dolphin arrives with two 160 mm mechanical disc brakes, and although hydraulics would be better; however, due to the relatively mild top speed, and the fact it’s not designed to go off-road, I honestly think hydraulics would be overkill.
The mechanical units with CStar calipers do a fine job of keeping your ride controlled and safe. I found them to have great stopping power, and they’re actually calibrated pretty well right out the box, but one thing I’m not so pleased about is the noise.
If you’re going over 15 miles per hour, and you hit the brakes, they can be a little screachy.
You don’t get any dedicated suspension on the front or rear wheel, which In know will be a deal-breaker for some, but with the fat tires softening out the surface below you, as long as you’re only using this thing on grass, concrete, and asphalt, you won’t miss it.
Handling-wise, it’s a pretty sweet setup. Perhaps the head tube could be a little more angled to make turning the handlebars a bit easier, but I actually think the slightly increased resistance helps to stabilize the bike in motion, something that less confident riders will undoubtedly appreciate.
Frame, Drivetrain, & Weight Capacity
As a step-through design, the aluminum frame is incredibly easy to mount, making it a solid choice for those with low leg or hip mobility.
It’s also foldable, which I can see earning it a place on an RV or boat, where every cm of space counts, but bear in mind that even when folded, it will still need a box that measures 36 x 28 x 21”.
If you plan on using it for a commute, after a spot of e-bike origami, it should fit beneath your desk while still giving you plenty of wiggle room to stretch out throughout your work day.
Having said that, at 55lbs, it’s not exactly featherweight, so if your workspace is up a few stories, you’re probably better off taking an elevator.
Speaking of weight, the Dolphin can support up to 200lbs, which isn’t a lot, but it is quite a diminutive design with a rather middling battery, so it’s perhaps unfair to expect anything more.
I’d describe the drivetrain as entry level — not great, but not terrible. I do like the Shimano 7 speed shifter on the handlebars, though. Apart from the 5th-to-6th transition, which is a little rough, changing gears always feels nice and smooth.
Ideally, I’d like a few more gears, as when you breach the 15 mph zone on pedal assist, it can feel like you’re pedaling a little too quickly, but other than that, it’s a good system.
Ecotric really get the saddle right on the Dolphin. It’s thick, it’s plush, and it feels good under the tush! It’s exactly what you need for 23–48 mile ride. That doesn’t mean you won’t want to switch it out, as I know that these bulky designs aren’t for everyone, but, for me, it was just right.
Even though you don’t get any suspension whatsoever, the combination of the chunky seat and the fat tires really does make for a great ride. I mean, I’m not going to be taking it up a mountain any time soon, but for a ride around the neighborhood, it feels silky smooth, so don’t let the lack of a dedicated suspension scare you out of riding off curbs.
Value For Money
I really like the Dolphin, but, in my opinion, it is a little overpriced. After all, the components are entry level, and the appointments are basic. Having said that, it is unique, and with scarcity, comes value.
The Final Verdict
As you now know, the Ecotric Dolphin is by no means a perfect bike, but it’s many shortcomings don’t exactly make it a “bad” design; you just have to understand who it’s aimed at and what it’s designed for.
Due to the mileage, it’s not great for overly long commutes, and you can tell just by its shape and scale that it’s not suited for serious cyclists.
The Dolphin is all about taking things easy and having fun. It’s the perfect vehicle for a weekend ride around town, popping to the local grocery store, meeting friends for lunch… that sort of thing.
I feel like it could be improved by a few extra gears, a fluorescent visibility line around the tires, and perhaps a slightly snappier motor, but all in all, it’s a great bike!
I give the Ecotric Dolphin 500-Watt Electric Bike 3.9/5