Introduction - Gotway
The Gotway company is on the market almost as long as the electric unicycles themselves. Gotway is known mostly from releasing faster and faster electric wheels. However, many Internet users claim, it is famous due to lack of good taste. It's a fact. When reading their technical specs, I had mixed feelings, comparing them to the actual vehicle photos. Their design definitely won't blow you away - the devices look more like prototypes, that can't possibly match the high specifications - at least that's my impression.
Before we could consider expanding our offer and stock Gotway models, I needed to see what the Gotway brand fans are so excited about. Finally, I have received one of the flagships - Gotway ACM16 - the newest 2017 version (thank you Gotway!). Here are my thoughts after performing various tests.
The device weight and troubles with carrying it
The model I had a chance to test has batteries of the total 820 Wh capacity and it weights 18 kilograms (versions with higher capacity are even heavier). I must admit, like for a unicycle without a built-in trolley handle, it is really heavy. The lack of a telescopic handle in this model is really a pain for city riders.
Of course, the manufacturer has an accessory that solves this problem - and I really recommend to get one.
At the beginning, I wasn't convinced to attach the trolley handle accessory. First, it doesn't make it look better (see the photo). Second, it requires screwing the handle to the casing. In the case I change my mind and unscrew it, it will leave ugly holes in the casing, which will additionally allow for the rain to come in. However, one short ride in the city is enough for everyone to attach this "cutting edge" accessory into the brand new Gotway casing.
Heads up! Lifting the device accidentally, using the trolley handle accessory, can result in tearing it away, causing serious damage to the casing. Is this what you expect from paying much more for ACM16 than for competitive unicycles, that have built-in, reliable trolley handles for years now?
What's interesting, there is a lot of empty space inside the casing, which Gotway engineers could use for a built-in trolley handle. Despite this is the next generation of the Gotway's flagship, the company still haven't decided to listen to their customers. It seems like their engineers don't care about designing their own electric unicycles properly.
In the picture: comparison of the KingSong KS-16S built-in trolley handle (on the left) to the original Gotway ACM16 trolley handle accessory (on the right).
ACM16 versions: the batteries, motor and dimensions
Regarding the dimensions, the 820 Wh version height and length is really similar to other 16-inch wheels.
However, ACM16 is one of the widest unicycles on the market, because of the large batteries and lots of unused space inside the casing. Among the available versions, the 680 Wh capacity version has identical casing, but the 1300 Wh and 1600 Wh are even wider (see the photo)!
The technical spec claims that Panasonic is the battery manufacturer, which is definitely an advantage of this device. Charging the 820 Wh battery takes about 6 hours, while the 1600 Wh version about twice as long.
On the model I've got you can do up to 65 km on a single charge - assuming a flat surface, nice weather, economical ride and that you weight less than 80 kg.
The motor rated power is 1500 W, and the maximum power output is 3000 W - identical as in KingSong KS-16S.
In the picture: the wider ACM16 1300 / 1600 Wh version (on the left; source: www.speedyfeet.uk), the narrower ACM16 version with 680 or 820 Wh battery (on the right; real photo of the reviewed model). The blue arrows indicate where to pay attention.
Gotway ACM16 is equipped with a strong front lamp, with two modes: steady and flashing light (you shouldn't use the second one due to your own safety).
The rear lamp is actually a LED strip with 5 colourful diodes, which doubles as the batter indicator. When braking, all the LEDs turn red. When riding, they change colours and animate the wheel rotation.
Besides these lamps, ACM16 does not have any additional lights, like side LEDs known from other electric wheels. However, side lights are secondary - the most important fact is Gotway has all the lamps required by the law and that's all you need for riding at night.
The pedals are mounted about 13 cm above the ground, and are a bit V-shaped, which makes it harder to scratch them. Their main advantage is that they are magnetic and huge. It is really easy to close them with your feet.
The pedals are finished with a durable and thick grip tape, which looks like small stones. It is hard to move your foot in winter shoes, but at least the grip will serve you a while - it is very hard to rub it off.
Heads up! These pedals are available in the newest ACM version only. The previous iterations are equipped with other pedals - much smaller, above all.
It was a good decision to introduce these pedals, if you don't mind the huge "Made in China" engraver.
ACM16 has also big and soft pads - they are very comfortable.
Regarding the riding comfort - I don't have any complains about the pedals and pads.
External look and equipment
The ACM casing is created from a matte black and navy blue plastic. The finish and build quality is hard to accept. We get used to the world where all the electric unicycle casing screws are hidden. Gotway decided differently and the screws are visible in the casing. Some of them even distinguish themselves with deep holes in the casing. In reality, it looks really cheap and cheesy.
Later it turned out the external look is not the major issue here. The casing is made of two symmetrical parts, with a joint in the middle, parallel to the tyre. The leaking joint, with uncovered screws, is the reason why there was sand inside my casing, where the battery and other electronics is. If sand can get though, water won't have any issues with doing the same, easily.
My unit wasn't completely sealed with silicone - it's definitely not waterproof. However, the silicone won't help when you need to change the tyre. You'll see what I'm talking about on my disassembly video coming soon.
Similarly to KingSong unicycles, the unicycle has a USB port, which you can use to charge your phone for instance. You won't find speakers or a twilight sensor, however.
Heads up (again)! The USB port and charging port rubber plugs aren't tight and it's really easy to break them off and loose.
Now think about it - are 2200 EUR vehicles supposed to do so? Most of electric unicycles for half the price don't have issues like that.
Let's don't lie to ourselves - electric unicycles are modern vehicles and we want them to look modern. Even if the look is not the most important factor to us, nobody wants a device looking like made from an old computer and stereo - and this is exactly how the ACM looks like. The people reactions on the street confirm it - they are not as positive as when I'm riding a more modern-looking unicycle.
As for a company, which was working very long to finally be recognizable, Gotway has fallen to the last place in the "large manufacturers" ranking, because of the poor build quality. Here is my list of the biggest mistakes in this device production:
- The USB and charging port plugs can break off and tear off. Besides, they are not tight enough,
- Lack of modularity - if you scratch or even damage your casing, you will face a big issue - the casing has to be replaced as a whole. In order to do that, you need to disassembly the main board. At the end, the warranty and any waterproofing will be lost. In contrast, KingSong, Inmotion, IPS, Ninebot and many other electric unicycles are modular - you only need to replace the one external element that has been damaged (for example: a LED cover or outer shell). It does not require that much money and time, as changing Gotway unicycle covers,
- Lack of modularity - again - in the case of a hit, the Gotway ACM16 casing will get damaged very quickly, forwarding the oscillations to the core, including the main board. The competitive electric unicycles have at least two layers of the casing, to forward the whole impact (in most cases) to the external layer; and the main board is attached independently of the cover,
- Poor quality of materials used - ACM16 not only looks just cheesy, but also feels like that. Omnipresent, fragile plastic, lack of any hardening,
- Uncovered screws and holes in the casing - because of this the vehicle looks like a cheap "no-name" unicycle. All serious manufacturers have started covering the screws long time ago, for instance with LED rings or pads - which guarantees better water and dust proofing, and simply makes the cleaning process easy... which in the case of ACM16 is a nightmare,
- Lack of professional tightening and weak waterproofing - the ACM casing, as I mentioned earlier, is created from two main parts, screwed together and to the pedals. Unfortunately, the company didn't think about the casing joints and their protection. They allow to leak some water from outside (through the joints and screws), as from inside (through the wheel splashing the water onto the joints). The battery and other electronic plugs are not protected as well,
- Main board - despite the fact it looks like it was soldered by an electronic student as his homework, it is screwed to the pedal support, being constantly vulnerable to gentle bending, which can end badly after some time. Besides, except sloppy silicone-like plug insulation, the board itself isn't insulated at all, and the weird ACM casing design can cause water leaking in, even when riding through puddles,
- Screws and glue - ACM16 makes an impression like it was assembled in a hurry. The glue and silicone are spilled everywhere, and some of it had to get below one of the screws tightening the casing with the pedal support - at least in my unit. I couldn't loosen this one screw, then the center has got damaged, and I had to use a drill eventually. After many hours of agony, I finally made it and I found traces of glue (as expected) with lot of dirt inside. Fortunately, I cleaned up everything and used a better screw when reassembling the unit,
- Changing the tyre is a pain - because of the issue above, and many others - like the valve on the opposite side it should be - to just name one. Without disassembling the main board it is extremely hard to do, but I found a way you will see on my video later,
- Batteries inside - with a double-sided tape. Unfortunately, it doesn't look good. My first thought - it looks like the man who assembled this unit threw some waste paper inside instead of recycling it (see the photo).
The new Gotway ACM16 after opening the main board side. The photo perfectly shows the poor build quality. Take a look how the main board is assembled and how risky it is. It's easy to damage by external factors.
In the picture: comparison of other electric unicycle interiors. From the left side clockwise: Inmotion V8 (main board and battery are protected additionally with plastic casings; aesthetic and tight wire setup), KingSong KS16 (well insulated, main board hidden under a separate plastic cover, completely insulated to prevent water damage), KingSong KS14 (similar like in KS16, with even better protected main board and batteries), Ninebot One E+ (main board attached separately in the pad on the opposite side, with dedicated casing). IPS Zero main board (not shown in the picture) is closed in a metal casing completely insulated from water; besides it is attached to a separate, internal shell; all cables and plugs are insulated - it is one of the best waterproofing jobs on the market.
As almost all models on the market, ACM also has Bluetooth, which allows you to connect via the mobile app dedicated for Android, BlackBerry and iOS.
The app main features:
- setting the riding mode: sports, medium, leisure. These modes change the "softness",
- calibrating the device,
- displaying the battery charge status, current speed, device temperature,
- setting the speed limit,
- adjusting the alarms and tilt-back, with an option to disable them completely. It is a unique feature, but also a very dangerous one, as when the alarms and tilt-back are off, nothing will remind us of reaching the maximum speed, which will eventually result in falling off the wheel badly, even with some injuries. What's interesting, one of the official Gotway distributors has already experienced falling of his Gotway (read more on forum).
The unicycle is very agile, despite its size and weight. I must admit, the ride experience is pure joy when you don't know what's inside the wheel.
Gotway ACM16 has also a big cut in the wheel area, therefore it's great for off-road. The manufacturer is proud the device handles 30° very well, which is similar like in Ninebot One E+, KingSong KS16 and IPS Zero among others.
The maximum speed is 35 km/h in the 820 Wh model, but some 1300/1600 Wh users show on their videos that they can ride even faster (up to 45 km/h theoretically).
In most cities it would be hard to reach even 35 km/h. Let me also remind you, that the manufacturers will be limiting the speed for European market soon, because of the new EU PLEV directive.
I had a chance to ride about 31 km/h a few times. Due to safety, you should always wear a full motorcycle armour, when riding that fast, and even that doesn't guarantee not getting any small injuries.
As I mentioned earlier, my test ride video is coming soon. I must admit, if I knew earlier how this unicycle is built inside, I would never risk accelerating to that speed. Because of the poor build quality, riding fast on Gotway electric unicycles is very risky.
The die-hard Gotway fans say the main advantage of Gotway unicycles is ability to ride very fast, which is allegedly super entertaining.
I admit, that every ride, after disassembling my ACM16, was a pure adrenaline - increasing with speed.
One of the largest distributors of the company has posted an interesting video, in which his another Gotway model turns off after reaching speed a bit above 20 km/h. Well... everyone learns from mistakes. It was also a lesson for me. From now on, I will do the disassembly first, then the test ride, to know what I can expect... or maybe it's better to not know and ride without unnecessary fear?
Bottom line: despite the poor build quality (present in all models of this firm), the device is great for off-road usage, but in the city - despite high level of ride comfort - it is hard to use because of the weight, lack of a trolley handle and lack of or weak waterproofing.
Gotway ACM16 is recommendable for people who do not care about the build quality, general design and aesthetics, and who want necessarily spend a lot of money. Depending on the version, Gotway ACM cost from 1400 EUR up to even 2200 EUR. For this price, everyone expect premium quality, which Gotway doesn't deliver in any of their products. Instead of lying to ourselves and making excuses that the ACM is not so bad and the money was spend well, let's face the truth - above 1200 EUR you can find vehicles made much better, with built-in trolley handles and much richer equipment.
If great performance is your priority, KingSong KS-16S Sport is a cheaper and much better option. It has identical performance to the ACM16 version I tested, with much higher safety level and much better quality.
What do you think about ACM16? How do you like it? Do you think it's worth the price? Let me know in the comment section below.
Maybe I simply haven't had enough luck yet to get a good Gotway unit?