E-bike company Velotric (led by one of the founders of e-scooter hire company Lime) has launched a new electric bike that can keep running for up to 80 miles, and is far cheaper than other bikes in the same ballpark.
After a successful crowdfunding campaign (opens in new tab), the Velotric Discover (opens in new tab) is now in production with deliveries expected to begin in December. Backers will pay a reduced price of $1,299 (about £940 / AU$1,700), and when the bike goes on general sale in the coming months, it will have a recommended price of $2,099 (about £1,500 / AU$2,800).
To put that into context, our current top-rated e-bike, the Cowboy 4, has a maximum range of 43.5 miles in optimum conditions and costs £2,290 in the UK, with an early bird pre-order price of $1,190 in the US.
If you need more range, the Specialized Turbo Vado 4.0 can keep rolling for 80 miles, but will set you back $3,550 / £2,900 (about AU$4,700).
As Autoevolution (opens in new tab) reports, Velotric doesn't seem to be cutting corners when it comes to the bike's components. These include a Tesla-grade 692Wh battery certified by LG and Samsung, and a 500W motor (though in order to comply with local laws, that will need to be reduced to 250W if the bike is sold in the UK and EU).
There's three-level power assist, though at the time of writing we don't know whether the settings will be customizable through an app like those of bikes with Bosch or Shimano drive units.
The Discover has a hybrid design, with a step-through frame and upright riding position, coupled with a front suspension fork to absorb shock from uneven road surfaces. There's no mistaking it for a conventional push bike, but the battery is fully integrated into the frame for a slimmer profile.
The North American spec includes a push-button throttle, but again, this will need to be tweaked for a EU/UK release, where e-bikes can only offer power assistance while the pedals are being turned.
Overall. it's a practical design best suited to city riding. We don't yet know how much it will weigh, but it looks as though it'll be similar to the 21kg Specialized Turbo Como SL – or slightly more when you factor in the suspension fork.
We hope to put the Velotric Discover through its paces ourselves once it goes on general release, so we can see whether it really rides rings around the competition when it comes to everyday commuting and errands.
Analysis: can e-bikes really go the distance?
When you're buying an e-bike, it's important to bear in mind that the quoted range is almost always calculated under optimum conditions. The real world performance will depend on a host of factors, including total weight (including you and any cargo), tire pressure, gradient of your route, road bumps, and even the weather and your preferred riding position. Cold weather will also reduce range, as will wind resistance.
The way you use the battery will have a big effect as well. The quoted range will assume you're riding the bike in 'eco' mode (its lowest power setting), but if you choose to let the motor take more of the strain then you'll get far less mileage out of it. Similarly, if you only call on assistance occasionally, you might eke out more.
If you're only using your e-bike for relatively short trips around town and your regular commute, that's unlikely to be an issue, but for longer weekend rides it's worth planning your route carefully, bearing in mind that you're very unlikely to get the full quoted range out of a single charge. E-bikes are notoriously heavy, and you don't want to be left having to pedal a 20kg bicycle up a steep hill to get home and plug it in.
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