Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022

People ask me about e-bikes more than any other tech item. And I get it: the bikes are so prevalent – at least here in Southern California – that odds are if you don’t already own one, you probably know several people who do. And with gas prices through the roof, e-bikes are such a practical way to get around town. I ride one for any errand within five miles, because it’s fast, reliable, provides good exercise and fresh air, and uses no fuel.

But here’s the thing: A lot of companies have introduced models the past two years. And to be honest, I’ve tested plenty but write about few. That’s because many of the ones sent my way are utterly horrible. They’re billed as affordable but are in reality cheap, poorly built, and have little power. So if I write about one, you can bet it’s decent and worthwhile. Such is the case with the Velotric Discover 1 urban commuter e-bike.

It arrived three weeks ago, within a few days after I ordered it. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box: All of the parts were neatly organized and protected. Trust me, this is rare. And putting it together was both minimal and breezy. Maybe I’ve just gotten better at the process over time, having assembled roughly 25 e-bikes. But for the Velotric, I put on the front tire, handlebars and pedals. That’s it – even the seat came assembled. The entire process took less than a half-hour. A one-person job. Which was a sign of things to come.

I powered on the Class 2 bike and was off-and-rolling. Everything was smooth, quiet, fast and powerful. The 3.5-inch backlit LCD display clearly shows all of the pertinent information – speed, odometer, pedal assist level, etc. – even under bright sunshine. The throttle, situated on the right handlebar, rocks. I tried zipping up the steep hills in our area, and they were no problem for this step-through model.

It’s easy to get on and off. Anyone between 5’1” and 6’4” can sit with a comfortable straight-back riding posture. Speaking of, the adjustable-height seat is comfortable – a rarity these days. The manufacturer says the bike gets up to an impressive 60 miles on a single charge, thanks to its premium Tesla-grade 48V 14.4Ah removable battery that’s certified by LG/Samsung and a self-developed powertrain system. In my testing, I didn’t quite get that but I was riding in windy conditions on steep hills. But the bike is designed to handle 15-degree hills effortlessly, due to its 500W motor (Peak 900W) and 65Nm torque. And the battery charges from empty to full in six hours, which is pretty decent. There’s also a Shimano seven-speed gear shift system, front and rear lights, rear light with braking high-beam function, bell, reinforced aluminum frame and 26-inch tires with puncture-resistant liners. Total weight with the battery and rear rack is 75 pounds. It’s the complete package. It accelerates and brakes smoothly, as well. And it’s offered in five colors.

Honestly, even though this bike only costs $1,399 right now, it has all of the features and might of a much pricier model. I cannot yet speak to its durability and longevity, but so far, so great. And it’s a lot of fun. I’d use it over a car any day.

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