Velotric T1 review in a nutshell: a snazzy city electric bike with plenty of app-controlled smart features. In a post-VanMoof-collapse world, this might be a slight issue for some, but if you're happy to risk it, you get an excellent value-for-money commuting machine.
Many electric bikes just pop an electric motor and a battery onto a fairly traditional bike frame to make a two-wheeled vehicle that goes a little faster. A few tries to make them smarter, like the VanMoof S3 or Urtopia ebike — both rather unfortunate in their own ways. The Velotric T1 (formerly the Velotric Thunder 1) joins them in the push to make a smarter ebike. The question is: is it good enough to be listed among the best electric bikes?
Velotric T1 review: price and availability
Priced at $1,799 (approx. £1,407/ AU$ 2,793) and available now at Velotric, the Velotric T1 is positioned on the lower end of the market, though it costs considerably more than the fantastic Ride1Up Roadster V2 that it’s set to rival. What you get for that money is extra stopping power, a multi-speed drivetrain, and some advanced smarts: GPS bike tracking, theft alerts, fingerprint unlock, and more.
Velotric T1 review: specifications
- Size range: Medium (Rider Height Range 5'6"-6'0"), Large (Rider Height Range 5'10"-6'3")
- Motor: 350W (600W peak) E35+ rear hub
- Top speed (motorized): 25mph
- Power: 36V 9.8ah (352.8Wh) Samsung lithium battery
- Control: Torque-sensor pedal assist
- E-bike classification: Class 1 (default), Class 3 (optional in settings)
- Speeds: 8-speed, Shimano Altus
- Brakes: Tektro hydraulic dual-piston disc brakes
- Frame material: Aluminum alloy
- Fork material: Aluminum alloy (thru-axle)
- Wheel size: 700x38c
- Weight: 36 pounds (rated); 37.6 pounds (measured Large model)
- Range: 70 miles (rated); 30.9 miles (tested)
Velotric T1 review: assembly
As a direct-to-consumer brand, Velotric’s bikes ship boxed up and require some assembly. This includes simpler steps, like attaching the pedals and slotting in the seat post, as well as slightly trickier ones: namely, attaching, straightening, and tightening the handlebars and stem. None of it was terribly difficult, and I had the bike fully assembled within a half hour and could have been even quicker if I’d skipped the simple but more tedious steps of attaching lights and reflectors.
In my case, the bike came with virtually no charge, so even though it was ready to ride right after assembly, it would have been as an analog bike. Charging the battery from empty to full takes 5-6 hours with the included 2-amp charger. As the battery is embedded into the bike’s downtube, there’s no removing it to charge separately from the bike.
Velotric T1 review: setup
Even assembled, there’s a little yet to do before the Velotric T1 is truly ready to roll. Velotric has an app and uses Bluetooth to pair the bike with your phone. From there, you can customize the power modes (including unlocking a 25mph top-speed), set up the fingerprint scanner, receive theft alerts when the bike is moved while ‘locked’ in the app, and check the GPS coordinates of the bike.
Unfortunately, a little bit too much is delegated to the app instead of living directly on the bike. This does make for an extra-stealthy ebike but also makes for clunkier control. There’s no seeing speed, range, or an odometer on the bike because it all lives in the app. The Velotric T1 has a special handlebar stem with a Garmin Mount twist-lock attachment for a phone, but that means semi-permanently giving up any case you might have otherwise used for your phone to use the sticky twist-lock attachment on the back of your phone. While this isn’t a dealbreaker, it’s the kind of functionality divide that’s worrying to see after the recent implosion of VanMoof threatened to brick many riders’ ebikes.
Velotric T1 review: design
Beyond all the smarts, the bike itself is a looker. The Velotric T1 is about as stealthy as the Ride1Up Roadster V2, and it offers similar riding capabilities. It has a 350W rear hub motor that peaks out at 600w, and it powers that with a 352.8Ah battery that hardly adds any bulk to the frame. Some of the frame welding is a little sloppy compared to the remarkably smooth welds on the Ride1Up Roadster V2, and the paint job is easily blemished, but it’s still a pretty bike. At 37.6 pounds, it’s also a full 3 pounds heavier than the Roadster, though that weight, given the extras Velotric includes, in understandable: the kickstand, lights, cassette, derailleur, and bigger battery.
A small control unit with three buttons on the left handlebar adjusts the assist level and controls the integrated headlight (the included taillight is just a basic, non-integrated unit). There’s also a fingerprint scanner on the top tube near the handlebars for turning on the bike. It also displays the power assist level with colorful LEDs and has a few battery indicator lights. I found the scanner hit or miss, often failing several times in a row even with the same finger registered multiple times (a trick to improve accuracy). This combined with the dubious reliability of Bluetooth sometimes made it hard to get riding quickly. While it prevents a thief from riding off with motor power, it doesn’t stop them from riding off with the bike.
Velotric T1 review: features
Velotric has designed the T1 with an IPX6 rating, which should protect the electronics from water damage it might encounter from even torrential rain. The first test unit sent over had encountered some evident damage in shipping, and after getting caught out in the rain twice, some of the electronics died, disabling all on-bike controls and lights, though the bike continued to operate. That unit was replaced, and after sitting out completely exposed in a day-long storm that came with a downpour of rain, the replacement unit continued to operate without a hitch.
With such subtle electronics, the Velotric T1 makes for a slick and subtle city bike. Its elegance is only further enhanced by internal-cable routing and a lovely paint job with a matte finish. Velotric decks the bike out with bosses for attaching a water bottle cage, rear rack, and even gear on the forks. The thru-axle front wheel is a nice upgrade from simple quick-release, and pairing that with a non-quick-release seat post makes for a bike with few parts that are easy to steal.
The 8-speed drivetrain is a simple but effective option from the Shimano Altus line. The shifter, unfortunately, cuts into the hand space on the right handlebar. The bike also has Tektro hydraulic disc brakes for strong stopping power.
The Velotric T1 rides on fairly thin 700x38c tires with a bit of grip. The aluminum frame is lightweight but a bit stiff, and without any suspension, the T1 is a bike you’ll want to ride around bumps and potholes. The frame makes for a medium-aggressive riding position, and the thin Selle Royale saddle is suited to this. The handlebar grips are quite thin, though, so the weight this puts into the hands isn’t comfortable.
Those handle grips are one of the first two things that should be replaced. The second being the pedals. They’re fairly simple aluminum pedals, but they’re awful. Beyond being quite narrow, hardly accommodating the width of my feet, one side has less traction than the other, which leads me to often flick at them until I get the grippy side after every red light I catch.
The Velotric T1 comes in two sizes. While the large model says it supports riders up to 6’3”. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone above 6’1”. At 6’3” with a roughly 34” inseam, I find the seatpost at minimum insertion isn’t quite high enough for me.
Velotric T1 review: performance
The Velotric T1 is an agile little road bike. Between its motor and effective gearing, it’s easy to get this bike going and keep it going. The T1 uses torque sensors to activate the motor, and it comes on smoothly. While I’ve grown accustomed to the sudden jolt of rear hub motors kicking in, the Velotric T1’s motor spins up its assistance gradually, avoiding that jolt. Crucially, it feels no less responsive as a result. As soon as I start putting real muscle into the pedals, I can feel the motor starting to give me that gentle push that makes accelerating and keeping speed up hills and against headwinds so much easier on an ebike.
The gears play an important role on this bike, so it’s key to use them appropriately. I’ve found the motor occasionally leaving me to fend for myself a little bit when I try to start up from a standstill in high gear, making it that much harder to get going. Fortunately, even with just a little bit of speed, it’s easy to shift back down to a lower gear in short order.
The bike isn’t a speed demon, but it’s happy to cruise up to 20mph without much fuss, and a bit of sweat will get it going beyond that. Despite its low weight, it’s not the nimblest-feeling bike. The handlebars have a bit of extra resistance to them that seems to stem from the way the cables are routed into the headset, notably resisting more as the bike is turned to the left. This impacted stability slightly and almost had me lose control riding hands-free. It’s something that might be remedied with a little fuss, but not an issue I’ve really encountered elsewhere (unlike overtightened headset bolts).
As good as the Velotric T1 is at going, it’s even better at stopping — a fact I’m quite thankful for. The two 160mm rotors paired with hydraulic brakes offer remarkable stopping power. I’m a big, heavy rider, and I like to go fast, but even while I’m flying down the road, the brakes are more than capable of stopping me in a single car length. While testing, I had more than one chance to put that emergency braking power to the test, including one screeching halt that might have been a bad few months for me had I been relying on lesser brakes. One downside to the brakes is that Velotric didn’t use brake sensors, so the motor won’t cut off when the brakes are pulled.
Efficiency is also a strong suit for the Velotric T1. From a 100% charge, I went 27.6 miles before the battery meter was reading 0%. Normally, that’d be the end of the story. In fact, quite a few bikes I’ve tested have their motor cut out before the meter hits 0%. Conversely, the Velotric T1 actually went another 3.3 miles with motor assistance after the battery meter hit 0%, making it one of the very few ebikes I’ve tested that I’m not worried will leave me up the river without a (motor-powered) paddle. That 30.9-mile range was also at a fairly high (though not the highest) assist level and involved a lot of stop-go riding on flat terrain. Lighter riders going on more consistent cruises with lower assist levels could see a lot more range.
Even when the motor isn’t helping out, the Velotric T1 is still rideable. Up to about 15mph, it feels much the same as riding an analog bike. After that, I began to feel a bit of the extra drag I’m used to from e-bikes on account of their extra weight and resistance from their rear hubs motors. But, should you get caught with a dead battery, the Velotric T1 will by no means be a sudden pain to ride a moderate distance to your destination.
Velotric T1 review: verdict
The Velotric T1 is a smooth-riding e-bike that just about no one would know is an ebike. Its power comes on so gently and quietly that the motor can almost go unnoticed, but the extra power won’t. With capable hardware, a snazzy design, and some extra smarts to boot, it’s truly a great bike. The only major concern comes from its reliance on an app for many features, given what we’ve seen happen with VanMoof.
Velotric T1 review: also consider
Going 30.9 miles on a 352.8Wh battery make the Velotric T1 one of the most efficient ebikes I’ve ridden, topping the Ride1Up Roadster V2 (which lacks gearing) by a hair, and only lagging behind two systems that don’t provide nearly as much assist power: Detroit Bikes’ E-Sparrow and the disappointing Swytch Kit.