Cheap Aliexpress Foil Review

Muscles

Billy Hamilton status
Jun 1, 2013
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Found this on youtube and thought it was interesting. I have limited knowledge of foil surfing but figured someone might like to see the video.

Did some digging and it looks like they sell for $350 USD plus shipping and tax. The wing area is 300 sqin.

I will say that I've bought some really good sets of future fins on Aliexpress. You have to sift through a bunch of stuff to find the right seller but sometimes there's deals to be had.

One of my acquaintances works in Aerospace manufacturing and said China steals the designs of everything they make (literally). He told me that a ton of stuff you can buy on Aliexpress comes from the same factory as the name brands. Anyone tried one?

 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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A few guys online have started on the aliexpress foils. The thing most of them do is take the front wing from one brand and the rear wing from another brand and then sell it as a full set. They're going to be heavy and probably flexible aluminum masts.

There's really no cheap way to try this sport unfortunately. Better to just spend the $1400 to big winds and get a Takuma Kujira for 10% off. You know you're getting a current generation foil that works really well.

Edit: The problem with this sport is you spend $1500 for a foil and then 2 months later want to spend $2k on a new setup so that you can spend $600 for extra wings.
 
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juandesooka

OTF status
Jan 12, 2009
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That set up would be a decent intro to winging: assuming the connections are all tight with no wiggle. 30" plus mast and a 2000+ cm2 front wing ... that's going to be beyond challenging to learn to surf foil on

I did the Ali Express thing for my first foil...an unpainted copy of the Takuma V100. I was only willing to take the chance after a first-hand review though, as it's hard to know what you're buying -- even the photos usually don't match what they are selling.

I continue to believe the best intro is to buy last year's ultra-rad must-have gear used for half price, then pass it on for a little less a year later when you are ready to upgrade.
 
Mar 20, 2019
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Yup when I started I got a Chinese knockoff of a naish, second hand from a friend of a friend. It worked well for learning. But at the time there really wasn't a second hand market for foils. 2 years later there are heaps of really good foils used on Craigslist. You can save a few hundred for something that might work, or just buy a quality used setup that you can then resell for almost same price 6 mo later.

Plus if you get a setup from axis, gofoil, etc when you want to upgrade you just need to buy a front wing, instead of a whole new setup.
 
Aug 23, 2020
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The only way to save money is buying good stuff used. You try to save money by going cheap on new equipment and you.... get what you paid for- end up wasting lots of time effort and money buying twice... correcting course after flailing on stuff with inferior design and build quality. I've never been involved in a sport where little details mean so much in regards to performance such as it is in foiling.
 

r32

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Can confirm china does steal everything. They don't abide by patent laws. And yes, a lot of knockoffs come out of the same factory as the name brands. They simply pull them off the line before branding or a few dozen boxes of products go missing before they reach the shipping department. You can walk the streets of Beijing and get real-deal Oakley or Rayban sunglasses for $10.

Also, they are masters of making knockoffs. They'll take an original, scan it with some 3D imaging tools or measure by hand, build some quick molds and be up in running in no time. The saying in business goes they can produce a fully working prototype of anything, within 48 hours.
 

juandesooka

OTF status
Jan 12, 2009
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Can confirm china does steal everything. They don't abide by patent laws. And yes, a lot of knockoffs come out of the same factory as the name brands. They simply pull them off the line before branding or a few dozen boxes of products go missing before they reach the shipping department. You can walk the streets of Beijing and get real-deal Oakley or Rayban sunglasses for $10.

Also, they are masters of making knockoffs. They'll take an original, scan it with some 3D imaging tools or measure by hand, build some quick molds and be up in running in no time. The saying in business goes they can produce a fully working prototype of anything, within 48 hours.
Agreed...and that's why you need intel to get a good deal, one of the above is getting the brand name quality at a cheap price due to stolen IP, the other is a cheap copy that may look ok but probably won't work right and you aren't saving anything.
 

Muscles

Billy Hamilton status
Jun 1, 2013
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Agreed...and that's why you need intel to get a good deal, one of the above is getting the brand name quality at a cheap price due to stolen IP, the other is a cheap copy that may look ok but probably won't work right and you aren't saving anything.
But how bad could a cheap copy be?

I've bought dozens of fin sets as well as other things off Aliexpress and they were all great. People always knock my fins when I tell them where I got them. But, you could never tell the difference next to a $150 future set. Fins are not exactly complex pieces of engineering like a computer.

How much complexity is there to a foil? It's a big piece of molded resin, aluminum, and 6-10 bolts. I often wonder how much of the hate for Aliexpress gear is just gate keeping because someone has a cheap build. The same way surfers on $1500 boards snub the $400 overseas produced ones.
 

Hdip

Michael Peterson status
Apr 23, 2005
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Pretty huge. I've learned on Naish which is what many of the ali express models are copies of (with different back wings) I moved on to Lift and it was way smoother and user friendly. AXIS even more so.

It's not a cheap sport. That Takuma lol 1600 I sent you in PM should be well worth the money.
 

juandesooka

OTF status
Jan 12, 2009
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But how bad could a cheap copy be?

I've bought dozens of fin sets as well as other things off Aliexpress and they were all great. People always knock my fins when I tell them where I got them. But, you could never tell the difference next to a $150 future set. Fins are not exactly complex pieces of engineering like a computer.

How much complexity is there to a foil? It's a big piece of molded resin, aluminum, and 6-10 bolts. I often wonder how much of the hate for Aliexpress gear is just gate keeping because someone has a cheap build. The same way surfers on $1500 boards snub the $400 overseas produced ones.
I have no problem with Ali and love scoring cheap s**t when the suckers are paying full price. I buy knock off fins too, because I am going to break them off kiting anyway and sadly I don't surf well enough to tell the difference. Foiling is different. You can get away with crap wings kite foiling because you're water skiing under a big kite and there's power to spare. In surf foiling, the difference between success and failure is razor thin and crap gear will lead to a crappy experience. Especially learning. And also if you want to progress above barely intermediate.

Buddy and I were DIY'ing wings, I churned out 5 or 6, him 10 or more, pretty much given up. "looks simple, how hard can it be?" The subtleties in design and particularly in tuning do matter. If you are a super talented athlete and have an immense amount of water time to experiment, then you can probably make marginal gear work...short of that, pay the man for a ticket and enjoy the ride right away. IMHO.
 
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waxfoot

Gerry Lopez status
Apr 21, 2018
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Cheap Chinese sh!t can led to expensive medical bills.

Just because they copy stuff, doesn't mean they test it after its produced. Don't support that sh!t

 
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Clamsmasher

Billy Hamilton status
Apr 22, 2013
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A few thoughts on the Chinese stuff...

Yes, their flaunting of intellectual property is problematic. That being said, western companies have fallen over themselves to farm out every piece of work possible, and they know the deal. You can be sure that the big foil players give a little love here and there to get some advance knowledge of the other guy’s new lines, so I treat their complaints with automatic contempt. If they want my sympathy, they can build them here. SAB Moses manages not to use Chinese labour.

Early on I had a Naish knockoff. It was kind of ingenious in its construction, super light and went better than the original Naish due to not being made of roof tiles. Worth the money, and if I still had it I'd be winging the balls off it on windy days. Granted it was a definite gen 1 foil, but value for money. No chance of upgrades to wings etc as mentioned above, but easy to build one for it.

I also had another which was basically the Blue Planet Rock Steady, an orphaned design which I got 2 different sets of wings with. This was built so strong, I left trenches in the reef at my local. Again, worth the money, and I lost less money on both these foils the I would flipping a 2month old GL wing.

As mentioned above I found it best to have the most advanced, tuned up gear possible for prone, but on a wing, for the most part it doesn't really matter

PS, the smart way to buy Chinese isn't through AliExpress, you have to contact the sales reps through Alibaba. They sell samples very cheap.4CFB16D2-3737-4210-9B79-97BF486CE844.jpegC083DEDD-36A5-4477-A789-70ACF77D4CFB.jpegA74E0725-38F6-45E4-8A71-6F73AF4C3D7B.jpeg05C938F4-7F65-4632-A412-4A078514499E.jpeg
 
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Clamsmasher

Billy Hamilton status
Apr 22, 2013
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Furthermoar,

These things aren't going to explode like a carbon bike.

Need I point out that sitting on one of those black dildos violates the first rule of foiling. PROTECT YE THY NUTZ AND TEH FACE.
 
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waxfoot

Gerry Lopez status
Apr 21, 2018
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Furthermoar,

These things aren't going to explode like a carbon bike.

Need I point out that sitting on one of those black dildos violates the first rule of foiling. PROTECT YE THY NUTZ AND TEH FACE.
I don't think you need a big imagination to think about how many ways a low quality foil can fail or injure you. I'm not claiming yours is, just saying that I trust "western" QC standards more than I trust some Chinese knockoff merchant.
 
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Clamsmasher

Billy Hamilton status
Apr 22, 2013
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I understand your point.
I won't be buying one again, I found them useful in the bad old days when some of the brand's were selling pretty much obsolete crap for top dollar, not releasing new wings etc.
If you want to access some reviews of those foils though, you have to read them from Eastern Europe or South America....they tend to be the biggest buyers because of the expense of USD gear from the US.
 
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Mar 20, 2019
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I had that bottom one. Vertical tail wing was ground off by my buddy. Thing went well. But there's so much better stuff out there now. 2 yrs ago it was a different story.
 
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True! I wasted a whole season a few years ago trying to learn to kite foil on a POS liquid force "happy foil". My buddy lent me his liquid force rocket foil, which was easier, but nowhere near the armstrong kit I have been riding - night and day.
 
Aug 28, 2020
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I held off writing this until I had some water time. I bought a cheap Chinese foil (under $400) off Amazon for something new and different to experiment with. It was cheaper than I could have bought a single front wing for my existing foil system. Here's the link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07ZLZXGJL/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I knew at this price this would not be a top-notch piece of equipment, but I was willing to take a risk. The fit and finish are lacking. I did the following modifications:
- Filed the fuselage socket slightly to get the mast to fit into it. It would not fit as delivered.
- Drilled out four of the baseplate holes to accept standard 8 mm bolts. Countersunk those holes.
- Slightly increased the countersink bevel on both front & rear wings so the hardware would sit more flush.
- The bolts that attach the fuselage to the mast and base plate to mast are too long (holes are not threaded deep enough) so I cut the bolts down by ~1/4".
- The fit of the fuselage into the front wing is loose. I put 5 layers of aluminum tape to tighten it up and one end is still a little sloppy. I may shim it more to reduce stress at the bolt locations.
- One of the wing tips came damaged so I ground it down slightly on each side to get rid of the cracked tip. There was a void in the tip, which I filled with JB Weld 2-part epoxy made for carbon.

The assembly is a full 5 lbs. lighter than my previous Slingshot I84 with same 71 cm mast length. Instead of two 8 mm bolts per connection it uses three 6 mm bolts to attach mast to baseplate and mast to fuselage. The wings have a nice looking shape, higher aspect than I84. I would estimate the front wing is about 1600 cm2.

I switched to Armstrong foils in January and have been winging and wake foiling on the HS1850 and 1250, and I love them. I have about 15-20 wingfoil sessions and about as many wakefoil since switching to Armstrong. I put this Chinese foil on the wakeboard today to try out behind the boat. It rode really nicely, to no surprise. The tail stab is bigger than my 232 Armie and the whole setup handled really nicely. I surfed the 2nd wake behind my 13' Boston Whaler (i.e. tiny waves) and it was very fun and handled well. I did 4 or 5 wake transfers (2nd to 2nd) and it pumped and glided smoothly. Overall I'd say it was a decent value after I put some time in fixing deficient construction. The lightweight alone was a plus compared to the heavy Slingshot stuff. I won't be giving up my Armstrong gear but this is worth keeping on the boat and using regularly.

I will try to remember to take some pics.
 

juandesooka

OTF status
Jan 12, 2009
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Thats helpful, thanks for posting. The amazon link is unavailable, but pretty sure this is same one on Ali:

I am not averse to the cheap china gear, but the quality is so variable, that my rule is "never without a first hand review". I have a few friends that are foil-curious, intrigued but not yet willing to take the plunge....cost is a factor. I started on the SS stuff, and while it's decent enough, I am a little reluctant to push people that way now. This seems a possible middle ground option...costs the same (or cheaper) as used SS gear, but possibly a little higher quality.
 
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