Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in Napier Lopez is a writer based in New York City. He's interested in all things tech, science, and photography related, and likes to yo-yo in his free time. Follow him on Twitter.
I tend to gravitate toward ebikes that are light and nimble. I like ebikes that feel more like regular bikes, especially those that use torque sensors for the smoothest pedaling experience.
The Velotric Discover 1 isn’t quite that. But for an MSRP of $1,899 (currently on sale for $1,399), it’s a pretty sweet ride in an accessible form factor and a strong first entry for a new company entering a crowded ebike market. The Discover 1 doesn’t stand out in any single metric, but it comes together in a package that feels smartly put together.
Let’s get the specs out the way:
- 500W Motor (900W Peak)
- 65 Nm torque
- Thumb throttle
- 692 Wh, 48V battery
- 60-mile claimed range
- 48V 3A charger (that’s faster than normal for this price range)
- 29 kg (64 lb) weight
- 200 kg (440 lb) max load
- 65mm spring suspension fork with preload adjustment and lockout
- 26 x 2.5” puncture-resistant tires
- Fenders and rear rack included
- Mounting points for a front rack (not available yet)
- Integrated headlight and taillight
- Available in yellow, grey, cyan, black, and white colorways
Velotric’s upright, cruiser-ish design takes a one-size-fits-most approach. The bike is only available in a single frame size that’s said to fit riders from 155 cm (5’1”) to 193cm (6’4”). The step-through frame makes it easy for most people to get on and off the bike, and though the stem can’t be adjusted as on other ebikes, the swept-back handlebars can be angled to fit different riders.
I’m 183 cm (6’) and found the bike comfortable, as did a 165 cm (5’5”) friend of mine. Your mileage may vary, but the design should be comfortable for most riders, even if it’s not optimal.
The universality of the design extends to the choice of components. The bike uses beefy balloon tires that are just shy of being true fat tires. I’m happy about that particular choice; it can be hard to find replacement tubes and tires for fat tires in many bike shops.
The chunky design, combined with a 65mm suspension fork, makes for a very cozy ride — especially if you add a suspension seatpost like the Redshift Shockstop. The mostly-upright geometry makes it easy to see the road ahead of you, aided by the fantastic built-in lights at night.
Kudos to Velotric in that regard — it has one of the best standard headlights I’ve seen at any price point. Likewise, the beefy fenders hug the wheels nicely, the battery is nicely hidden in the downtube, the display is large and modern, and the built-in rack feels sturdy. These small design choices help add up to a bike that feels a bit more classy than you’d expect from its price tier.
The Discover 1 uses a cadence sensor to detect your pedaling; this functions kind of like a pedal-activated switch. Though the Discover 1 has a fairly smooth acceleration curve, it isn’t as smooth as an ebike with a torque sensor, which instead considers how hard you are pedaling.
Smoothness aside, the latter can be particularly useful when starting from a stop or climbing a hill. Luckily the presence of a thumb throttle largely makes up for those scenarios.
Meanwhile, the mechanical disk brakes are nothing to write home about, but they’ll still stop you much faster than the rim brakes on typical analog bikes. I actually prefer mechanical brakes to hydraulic brakes because they are far easier to adjust and fix should something go wrong.
Velotric claims riders will get “up to 60 miles on a single charge.” As always, an ebike’s range can vary dramatically depending on a myriad of variables including the ebike’s payload, terrain, assist level, throttle usage, and more — but 60 miles is a reasonable claim.
As a heavier rider, I found 30-40 miles to be typical for assist level 2; I wouldn’t be able to get 60 miles unless I ignore the throttle, use assist level one, and ride on flat terrain. On the other hand, when I let my friend ride the Discover 1 on a 45-mile loop, her battery only dropped one notch out of five after using level 1 for most of the trip.
While testing the Velotric Discover 1, I kept wondering whether I would recommend the bike over a more established company competing in this category like Rad Power Bikes, Aventon, or Juiced Bikes. Sorry to be predictable, but the answer to that is “it depends.”
The Discover 1’s spec sheet doesn’t do much to differentiate it from the competition, and as a new company, only time will tell how it handles aftermarket support. I appreciate the bike is tested to the UL 2849 ebike safety standard, but it would have been nice to see a warranty beyond 1 year if Velotric is so confident in the longevity of its design.
Still, the overall comfort, polish, and choice of components make the Velotric Discover 1 feel a little more expensive than it is. If you like the design and the price is right, you should have few reservations adding it to your list of potential ebikes.
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