As someone who isn’t a car person, being told that a new offering is “the Honda Accord of e-bikes” doesn’t get much resonance. As far as I can see, the implication here is that the bike is just a bit more expensive than the low-end offerings, yet offers something much closer to a high-end experience.
Even if that wasn’t the intended message, it seems to be what the bike — the $1,299 Velotric Discover 1 — delivers. There’s nothing fancy about the ride, and the bike won’t draw attention or raise questions. But in terms of the overall experience, it delivers something a little closer to a high-end e-bike at a price much closer to a no-frills budget option.
what you get
The Discover 1 has a standard U-shaped frame. There is no top bar, which makes getting on and off easier and easier for people with limited mobility. If, like me, you’re irreversibly trained to throw your leg over the top bar when you get on your bike, halfway through the process that will lead to awkward moments where you realize you’re not doing the moves your brain just made. need to complete will start automatically. In any case, the lack of a top bar means that the bike’s other tubes and joints have to be significantly stronger to maintain a stable frame. This makes for a pretty heavy bike unless you go up in price to where carbon fiber is an option – and it’s not for the Velotric.
The weight of the Discover 1’s frame requires decent power from both the motor and brakes, and Velotric delivers. Strong disc brakes provide a lot of stopping power and the front suspension absorbs some of the forces of fast braking. Meanwhile, the 500W motor provides enough torque (65 Newton meters) to not only get the bike moving, but also keep it moving on reasonable slopes. You can find hills that overwhelm the pedal assist and slow you to a stop, but you have to go look for them.
The motor is mated to a battery that delivers just under 700Wh, enough to get 70km (45 miles) of range without pedaling; pedal assist increases the promised range to nearly 100 km (60 miles). If you only use the bike to run errands in the city, you probably only need to charge it once a week. The Discover 1 offers a decent-sized LCD screen that provides a clear, intuitive display of stats such as battery level and speed. Two buttons give access to different levels of power assistance and let you turn the lights on and off. An on/off button and throttle for pedal-free power round out the electronics.
Nice things that some companies charge extra for, such as mudguards, a rack and a kickstand, are all part of the standard package. The tires are big and thick; in combination with the front suspension, they make the ride comfortable, even on questionable road surfaces.
But for me, the standout feature was the bike’s gears—seven of them on a rear derailleur. The previous three bikes I tested (not all budget models) offered a fixed gear, and there are plenty of conditions where that’s fine. But the Velotric reminded us that there are also plenty of situations where that isn’t the case. More generally, gear gives you a lot of flexibility to tailor your ride for everything from training to relaxation. For me, the mere presence of gears was almost enough to justify the hundreds of dollar difference between the Discover 1 and budget e-bikes.