I had been looking for quite a while for a minimalist ebike, similar to the Ride1Up Roadster, but for shorter riders. I’ve finally found it! It is the Velotric Thunder 1 ST. The bike is offered in two frames sizes, accommodating riders from 5′ 1″ to 6′ tall. It also comes in a highly visible and attractive orange lava color that helps you be seen on the road. If you’re looking for a lightweight, stealthy ebike that rides much like a regular bicycle, but can help you on moderate hills or simply just help you ride farther, the Velotric Thunder 1 ST is worth considering.
Velotric Thunder 1 ST
- Lightweight at Just 36 lbs
- Minimalist Design – Doesn’t Look Like An Ebike
- 20 MPH Max Speed, Can Be Unlocked to 25 MPH
- Standard Size Tires of 700 x 40c, Can Accommodate Wider Tires
- Hydraulic Brakes
- 5-Pedal Assist Levels
- Torque Sensor for Smooth and Responsive Motor Engagement
- Quiet Motor
- Class 1 Ebike (Legal on almost all trails)
- 8-Speed Shimano Derailleur, 11-32T
- Narrow-Wide Chain Ring (Less Chain Drops)
- Thru-Axle Front Hub
- Integrated Front Light
- Available in Two Colors
- Available in Two Sizes, Small and Medium
- Accommodates riders 5’1″-6′
- 330 Lbs Payload Capacity
- Apple Find My App Compatibility
- Two-Year Warranty
- Integrated Battery Is Removable But Requires Tools
- No Display
- No Throttle. Can be a plus, depending upon legal requirements for where you plan to ride.
- No Suspension. Also, can be a plus for the reduced weight and greater efficiency. Road bikes typically don’t have suspension for these reasons.
- Rear Light Runs Off Separate Batteries
Where to Buy:
First off, the regular price is $1499, but you may be able to catch it on sale for $1299, like I did. Either way, the price is very fair for what you’re getting. The Thunder 1 ST only weighs 36 lbs, which is a featherweight compared to most ebikes, which push 60 lbs or more. At 36 lbs, this is an electric bike that most people can easily lift onto a car rack or a subway without straining their back too much.
The Thunder ST also handles much like a regular bike because of its weight and narrow tires. It’s nimble, yet stable. It also has puncture-resistant tires. If you’re simply looking for an ebike to help with hills and riding against the wind, this is a great option. You’ll still get a healthy workout without becoming winded.
The bike is also equipped with a torque sensor, which is typically found on bikes that cost more. A torque sensor will mean the bike pedals more like a regular bicycle, instead of the on/off feeling you get with a cadence sensor. If you enjoy pedaling a bike for exercise, you’ll enjoy a torque sensor. If you have sensitive knees, you might enjoy a cadence sensor more.
Motor & Battery
The 350 watt rear hub motor (with a peak of 600 watts) may not seem like much, but it will provide a satisfying amount of assistance, when you need it. If you ride on a lot of big hills, you’ll probably want more power, but for city riding and moderate hills, it should be fine for average weight riders.
It is equipped with a 36 volt 9.8 Ah battery with a claimed range of up to 50 miles. For lighter riders using the lowest pedal assist level, that’s probably possible. For many, I’d expect a range of around 30 miles, to be conservative.
Velotric is currently obtaining UL certification for the battery and expects it to be certified in June of 2023. Velotric’s other models are already UL certified, which is great to see.
The Velotric Thunder ST has an 8-speed Shimano Altus derailleur with an 11-32 tooth cassette. That’s a nice spread for an electric bike, especially at this price point, and in my experience enough for city riding.
It also has Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, which is a big plus. Hydraulic means far fewer adjustments and overall better stopping ability.
The tire size is what you’ll find on many non-electric bikes. 700 x 40 cc means good efficiency and less rolling resistance, while still providing some comfort over bumps. You should be able to zip along on the Thunder ST without the motor without feeling like you’re trying to pedal a riding lawnmower.
Heavy ebikes are not fun to pedal without the motor, and pretty much impossible on hills. With the Thunder ST, even if you run out of battery, you should be able to pedal it home without too much of a struggle, unless you encounter some monster hills.
Other notable features include an integrated front light (battery operated rear light), a quiet motor, a narrow-wide chain ring, so the chain stays on more reliably, a 330 lbs payload capacity, ergonomic grips, front thru-axle, 20 mph max speed that can be unlocked to 25 mph, and controls built into the frame. Pedal assist levels are controlled by a thumb pad on the handlebars. There’s no display, so if you want to check your speed or mileage, you’ll need to use a bike computer or your phone.
It also works with Apple Find My app, so you’ll be able to locate your bike on your iPhone. I have read that some people have had difficulty getting Bluetooth to connect, while others have had no problem. However, you can still operate the bike without using the app.
Something to consider when deciding on the Thunder ST, and other ebikes similar to it, is that it could easily be upgraded to suit your needs. Swap out to more knobby tires, and a wider handlebar, and it could be a fairly capable gravel bike. The frame can accommodate 50 cc tires, according to another reviewer. Overall, the Thunder ST has good frame geometry and standard wheel sizes, like a regular bicycle. So, if you’re coming from a gravel bike or road bike background, you’ll feel at home on the Thunder ST.
Something to note is that it does have a proprietary drive system, but comes with a two-year warranty. The battery is inside the frame, but can be removed and replaced using tools. The good news is that batteries typically last 3-5 years, so it’s not something you should have to do very frequently, but it does mean you’ll need to charge the battery while inside the bike. It also means that it’s probably just easier to bring the entire bike inside the house, instead of the garage, during those long, cold winter months to protect the battery.
The Find My App module, controller and battery are housed inside the bike’s frame. So is all the wiring. It gives the bike a very clean appearance and makes it difficult to tell that it even is an ebike.
You can also check out the other Thunder model, which has a few more smart features and longer range. It doesn’t have the small frame size, but if you’re average height, it might be worth checking out. If you want a more comfortable ride for off-roading or an ebike with more power, check out the Velotric Nomad 1 or Discover 1. I’ve heard good things about both.
Velotric As A Company
Is Velotric a good company? So far, I’ve only heard good things. It is very reassuring that they are serious about UL certification. Many larger ebike companies have yet to do this. I will share any good/bad experiences that I have. I normally order all bikes that I review, so I can experience the company as a regular consumer.
Check back for the full review of the Thunder 1 ST. I’ll share my experiences of the ordering process, shipping time, how it rides, and much more details on all its features.
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