There are a ton of electric bikes that are in the budget friendly category. You can find them online as direct-to-consumer, on Amazon, or even direct from Chinese makers, but which ones are actually good? Which one is the best? Well, that’s always subjective, but there are certain criteria to consider. Consumer Reports believes that the Velotric Discover 1 is the best budget ebike on the market. Is it? Let’s take a look.
Velotric, velo which means bicycle in French, is a fairly new ebike company in the United States, but they’ve gained a lot of momentum early on by producing popular models. The two latest models, the Thunder and Thunder 1 ST, now renamed T1 and T1 ST, have gained a lot of attention. In fact, I bought the Thunder 1 ST for myself, and you can read the review, here.
Velotric sells online, and has several dealers throughout the United States. They’ve gained a loyal following, but like any brand that becomes popular quickly, goes through growing pains. Matching manpower with increasing customer service demands is always difficult. Many ebike companies have struggled in this area, but overall, from what I can tell, Velotric has a positive rating with their customers. Not all reviews are glowing and positive, but overall, their customers are happy, especially with the Discover 1 model.
The Discover 1 is offered in a step-thru frame and high step for taller riders.
I follow both Velotric user groups on Facebook, the official one, and one that is less moderated, and noticed that people are very happy with their Discover bikes. The Thunder series receives the most complaints, mostly due to software issues with the fancier Thunder model, and not the smoothest torque sensor from the Thunder 1 ST. I’ve been enjoying my Thunder 1 ST, but wish it was a little more fine-tuned. Still, I’ve been happy with it.
Anyway, I haven’t been seeing complaints about the Discover 1. What kind of bike is it? The Discover 1 is a commuter style ebike, meaning that it’s meant for the city and pavement primarily, has lights, fenders, a large center display, a throttle, and an upright riding position, so you can see traffic, and front suspension for those less than perfect city streets.
It’s more manageable than a fat tire ebike, but still provides good stability and comfort.
I’m assuming that what impressed Consumer Reports the most about the bike is the fact that it is UL certified. This means that it has gone through rigorous testing to ensure the electrical system and battery is safe. The bike shouldn’t burn your house down, and that’s kinda nice!
It won’t be long before UL certification is required of all ebikes sold in America, so Velotric is already ahead of the curve. I like that.
Something else I like, and I would assume Consumer Reports likes, is the pricetag. The full retail is $1599, but you can often find it on sale for a few hundred dollars less. Right now, it’s going for $1249, and that’s going to give you a bike that is UL certified, built well, with hydraulic brakes, nice components, and some fun colors to choose from.
The first thing I noticed about Velotric’s bikes is that there are several colors to choose from. That’s rare for budget friendly bikes, or really even more expensive ones. I get so tired of drab colors, so it’s great to see bright, vibrant, and attractive colors to choose from. Not only do they look nice, but brighter colors are safer on the road.
Battery and Range
The 48 volt 14.4 Ah battery has a range of up to 60 miles, in the most ideal conditions. A more typical range would probably be around 40-50, but that’s still good. The 500 watt rear motor has a peak output of 900 watts, with 65 Nm of torque. That means it has plenty of power for most people’s needs, especially for city riding, or on friendly bike paths. It’s not a powerhouse for mountains, but good for most other locations.
The 7-speed drivetrain is average. The Shimano Tourney is entry level, and might leave some wanting a bit more. It’ll get the job done, but if you’re picky about gears, like me, you might want to upgrade.
Originally, the Discover 1 had 3 pedal assist levels, and mechanical disc brakes, but those have been upgraded. It now has 5 levels of assist and hydraulic brakes. It’s reassuring to see that Velotric continues to improve their bikes based on feedback.
Velotric offers a two-year warranty, which is above industry standards. Most ebikes have a 1-year warranty. They even extended the warranty for those customers who purchased before they offered to a two-year warranty. Originally, it was 1-year.
Velotric, the Company
Is the Velotric Discover 1 really the best budget ebike on the market? Well, it’s definitely one of the better ones, and the UL certification is a big reason for that. From hearing from those who own the bike, I can also say that people seem to enjoy it, and aren’t experiencing many issues.
The specs are decent for the price, but as the company grows, I’d expect more customer service demands, and that may be an issue as they scale up their workforce. That’s my only word of caution. Otherwise, the Veloctric Discover 1 is a solid choice for those wanting an affordable commuter style ebike that looks nice in the many colors that are available.
I’m also enjoying my T1 ST, so I do have experience with the company and brand. It, too, is a budget friendly ebike that is lightweight, and I’ve been having a blast tossing it in the back of my car and visiting new trails. So, if you’re looking for something that’s lightweight and offers a satisfying workout, you might want to consider it. The bike shipped fast and was easy to assemble.
Velotric is also set to release a couple new models, a smaller utility style ebike, reminiscent of the RadRunner, and a full-size cargo bike. Look for those details soon!
Check out the Discover 1 or the Thunder 1 ST (now T1 ST) at Velotric’s website, or visit a dealer nearby. Happy riding!
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