Woosh Woosh Santana 3 Review

Shane Kelly

Finding my (electric) wheels
Jul 16, 2014
Woosh Santana 3 Review

My bike arrived on the 15th of June 2021, and was unpacked by me (67, male, retired) after 45 minutes of careful instruction reading, careful removal of the (big!) box. The box was damaged, and was noted by the courier as such, but I took pictures anyway.
After unpacking, I examined the bike closely and found that the back mudguard had come adrift with the retaining bolt actually passing through the hole in the mudguard. I fixed this by using two large(ish) washers either side of the hole, and it is fine now. To do this easily, I had to remove the back wheel. Good practice for if/when I got a puncture, and also gave me no excuse to not fit the new Schwalbe Marathon Tour tyres I bought. So that done, I then replaced the front tyre as well.
I did my own version of a Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI), and then a test ride without installing the battery. The gears wouldn't shift into 7th gear, so I queued up a gear indexing job, but it turned out that the metal loop used for the gear protector had been pushed in, preventing the cage from moving to 7th gear position. A little bit of force in the right place solved the problem.

Next day, battery charged, installed and tested, I took a run at a local hill that always defeated me on my non-electric bike - I could never get closer than 20 meters from the top, no matter how hard I tried.
With the electric bike, I got to the top, although totally winded with shaky legs.
Here is what I did wrong:
I bumped the assistance level up to 5, the gear down to Granny Gear (1st), and pedalled like crazy. The bike responded by leaping ahead until it eventually slowed to 4 mph, and I had to stop or fall over.
What I do now:
On approach to the hill I select assistance level 3 and pedal as hard as I can in 2nd gear. This usually results in me getting to the top breathless, but not totally winded, and able to carry on without my usual rest stop at the top. Nice!

So, 5 weeks and 200 miles logged, what do I think of my purchase?
Value for money - I wanted a Riese and Mueller e-bike at around £8000. It did everything except make the tea. But I still wanted to do some exercise, and my previous experience with a FreeGo Hawk (same weight, rear hub, heavy battery) led me to believe that I would get that with this bike, but probably not with an all-singing, all-dancing, R&M - plus any work to be done would probably need a visit to the dealer.

Solidly built. The frame does not twist (It's a step-through design). My maximum speed has been 33MPH (downhill, with a following wind!) and I felt quite in control. While the components are not top of the range, neither is the price. The components are brand name, easily replaceable (if Covid ever gives us a chance to recover our manufacturing capacity) and do not require any specialist service. Most of the parts recovered from my FreeGo Hawk are functionally equivalent, so that's a plus for me.

None specific to the Santana 3 - all the cons are applicable to most e-bikes:- Heavy, limited to 15.5mph assistance (legal requirement), basic gearing (7 only on this bike) and no USB out on the battery pack.

I have done the following distances without draining the battery (mine is 17AH).
Day 1: 30 miles - started with battery fully charged.
Day 2: 18 miles - battery not charged since last ride.
Day 3: 12 miles - battery not charged since last ride, down by two bars on the controller.
Day 4: 7 miles - battery not charged since last ride, down by another two bars on the controller.
This was the expected battery discharge profile with a Li-Ion battery. For me, as I am able to pedal quite consistently, I am looking at about 60 miles range, with a small reserve. I weigh 17 stone, have been riding a non-electric bike for the last 3 years, and have had experience with an electric bike before. Your mileage may vary :)

Eight Weeks in and just on 400 miles ridden
Over the last three weeks my bike has developed a case of the dreaded "bottom bracket creak", ( look it up on YouTube for all the gory details ) which I tried to alleviate by tightening all the things the YouTubers recommended, but in the end I had to remove the bottom bracket, clean out the hole in the frame, degrease the threads of the bottom bracket, make sure they were all clean and then re-assemble. On an e-bike of this type the sensor and magnetic disk are attached to the bottom bracket and for good measure so is the chain guard support bracket - these three things mean you should take lots of pictures before disassembly, and refer to them during re-assembly. I learned this lesson in hindsight :) - but the upside is that I am now a whiz at removing and replacing the bottom bracket on my Santana 3 :).
For the record, the BB check was not in my version of a pre-delivery inspection, but should/would/could be in a local bike shops' version. If you are not confident of doing your own PDI, then do as Woosh recommend and get a local bike shop to do it for you.

Bottom Line:
I like my Santana 3, I think it will give me quite a few years of service. It is sturdy, has mainstream parts, a proven electric system (Bafang motor and electrics). If you are looking for a "Dutch" style ride at a price that won't break the bank, consider the Santana 3 from Woosh. It carries my 17 stone without complaint, I rarely have to dismount and walk it up hills (and I could totally avoid this by choosing flatter routes), the 17AH battery is all that I need for my usual rides, and while my backside and the seat are still having words with each other, a short break every hour or so stops the seat gaining the upper hand on the longer rides. My wish list for the Santana 3 includes a set of water bottle attachments somewhere on the frame, a choice of no throttle, a thumb throttle or a twist throttle, a little bit more clearance around the battery in the rear carrier so as to be able to attach panniers easily, and a choice to have no lights because the ones supplied are lights that can be seen, but you will have trouble seeing anything with them at night. Better to just budget for better lights if you do any night riding.

Hope this helps someone make up their mind.
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Esteemed Pedelecer
Jun 12, 2011
That's nearly £7000 you saved by not getting the R&M! With the money left over, you could buy a nice brand new Honda Forza and go on a luxury holiday, or support about 3 families in poor countries, like Bali, for a year while they can't make any money due to tourist restrictions, so are becoming destitute.

Interestingly, more R&Ms appear in the classified section than any other brand - most with very low miles and massive depreciations, so you did well to side-step one of those.

Shane Kelly

Finding my (electric) wheels
Jul 16, 2014
Yes, I did save a large amount of money, theoretically - I said I wanted an R&M, but really, that was more of a wish than me actually having the money :)
I hadn't checked out the classifieds prior to buying, but that sounds like good advice for anyone contemplating a purchase.
As to the Forza and its ilk, I have never had a hankering for that sort of two-wheeled vehicle. And while I am sorry for the Balinese, Scotland has the fastest rate of food bank proliferation in the UK and allegedly has the biggest drug problem in the UK, so I think I will make use of any spare cash closer to home.
Thanks for reading the review, you never know when you post these things if they are going to get read or not, so thanks for making it worthwhile to spend the time writing it.


Finding my (electric) wheels
Oct 29, 2017
Can you please explain the different approaches in getting up the steep hill? Why did the lower level of assistance work better?

Shane Kelly

Finding my (electric) wheels
Jul 16, 2014
Can you please explain the different approaches in getting up the steep hill? Why did the lower level of assistance work better?
Hi Paul,
My theory is that by engaging the granny gear I wasn't really contributing to the overall effort, just spinning the cranks, but not really pushing. By the time I was contributing to the overall effort, the hill got steep, the momentum got less and less and neither I nor the electrics could recover from that.
Now, as I approach hills I speed up as much as possible, select level three, and a suitable gear (lower for steeper hills) and mostly, with a good deal of effort and appropriate gear changes I have managed to climb short steep hills (provided I was moving at a decent clip before the hill) and long shallow climbs without getting off my bike. The hill mentioned in the review is still one that takes a great deal of effort, and if I am not properly prepared at the bottom, will have to be walked the last 20 meters or so - it is a fairly long steep hill that ramps up towards the top to a 12% grade. Not fun! Level 3 on the Santana seems to do the most for me on hills, but I have used level 2 and level 4 (rarely) with this method for some hills and I seem to be getting better at judging what is needed for each type of hill as I ride more of them.
Hope I have explained that well enough. It works for me, but your mileage may vary :)
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