/>
X
Why you can trust ZDNet ZDNet independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNet Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNet's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.

Close

Velotric Discover 1 electric bike review: Accessibly built, attractively priced

Commuters and bike riders looking for an attractive, well-built bike that won't break the bank may enjoy all of the commuting amenities and performance provided by the Velotric Discover 1.
matt-miller-headshot.jpg
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributor on
Pros
  • Built for on and off-road routes
  • Powerful front and rear lights
  • Throttle for boost and cruise
  • Handles heavy loads
  • Attractive color options
  • Solid build quality
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Heavy at 64 lbs
  • Mechanical disk brakes

We just wrapped up a bike-to-work month in the office, and while the majority of people rode standard bikes, the number of people riding electric bikes increased once again. Seattle and the surrounding areas have a lot of hills to navigate, and people are not always riding bikes just for exercise purposes. Given the current high gas prices, e-bikes make even more sense for commuting and running errands without having to wear gym gear and then hit the showers.

My regular commute includes a mix of a seven-mile bike ride, a 1.6-mile walk, and a 1.5-hour train ride. The e-bike is an essential component of this commute, and it has certainly become more valued with the massive increase in the price of fuel. In addition to being economical, riding an electronic bike is also a kick in the pants.

For the past month, I've incorporated the Velotric Discover 1 into my commute, and it has quickly become one of my favorites thanks to its affordable price, excellent build quality, step-through design, solid performance, and many small things that make a big impact on overall value. This is definitely a bike to consider for those looking for something priced less than $2,000.

Table of Contents

Specifications

Frame 6061 aluminum alloy
Motor size 500W with 65N-m, rear hub
Pedal Assist Three levels
Range Pedal-assist: 60 miles. Throttle:45 miles
Top speed 20 mph
Battery capacity 48V 692Wh
Display 3.5" backlit LCD
Lights 12V front and 6V rear standard
Payload capacity 440 lbs
Seat Urban comfort ergonomic with lifting handle
Rear rack capacity 55 lbs
Brakes Mechanical disc
Fenders Front and rear provided
Drivetrain 7-speed Shimano
Tires 26"x2.5" puncture-resistant
Bike weight 64 lbs

Assembly

  • Mostly assembled
  • Pay attention to the Quick Start Guide
  • It can be done at home

The Velotric Discover 1 arrived in a very large cardboard box with the words Embrace Your City emblazoned on the side. Slide out a few plugs, lift off the top of the box, and you will find the bike carefully secured inside cardboard with straps holding parts together. By the way, shipping in the US is free for the bike, which is also an incredible value.

The package includes an owner's manual, quick start guide, pedals, front light, front and rear reflectors, a bell, and all of the tools you need to assemble and maintain your bike. The bike is mostly assembled with only the front wheel, front fender, pedals, front light, battery, and handlebars requiring some basic assembly.

The quick start guide is easy to read and provides excellent instructions for assembling the bike to its full operating condition. One step I didn't pay attention to was installing the handlebars, and I inadvertently let the front forks slide down out of the frame a bit, so when I went on my first test ride, the front forks were loose in the frame. I watched a video and saw my error, so I was able to easily loosen three bolts, set things right, and then tighten three bolts to be on my merry way.

velotric-discover-ebike-5

Mango looks good on the battery too

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Electric bikes at the lower end of the price spectrum, $1,500 or less, tend to have less aesthetic appeal with visible bulky wires, lower quality tires, and other cost-cutting features. Mid-range e-bikes can be found in the $2,000 to $4,000 range with a focus on additional features and better aesthetics. High-end models often don't even look like e-bikes with hidden batteries and advanced materials.  

Velotric offers five colors of the Discover 1, including Mango, Indigo Gray, Cyan, Jet Black, and Pearl. I had the opportunity to test out the Mango bike, and it looks awesome in the yellow shade with black highlights. The battery is colored to match the bike frame too.

Also: Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X electric bike review: The complete commuter experience

Hardware

  • Lots of gear on the handlebars
  • Two fenders and two lights
  • Large battery and powerful rear hub motor
  • Love that Mango color

When I was asked if I wanted to review the bike and was told the price, I was expecting something similar to my first Rad Power Bike with loose cables everywhere and a decent but basic bike. I was surprised to open up the box top and find that the Velotric Discover 1 is very well built of aluminum with high-quality welds and an attractive matte finish. The large battery snaps securely onto the frame and has a key to lock it in place and prevent theft. The battery charging port is well protected with a rubber cover that stays securely in place too.

velotric-discover-ebike-1

The Mango color option looks great and rides well

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The bike power and display controller is located just inboard of the left ergonomic handlebar grip with the front brake handle in front of the grip. There are three display controller buttons for power/lights and increase and decrease pedal assist. I also mounted the bell and my Garmin bike computer to the left side of the handlebars.

The brake handle and gear shifter/indicator are on the handlebar's right side. There are seven speeds available that have proven useful for climbing hills. A Shimano indicator with an orange line indicates your current gear. Adjacent to the gear shifter is a throttle button that is easy to activate with your right thumb simply by pressing downward.

velotric-discover-ebike-7

Gear shifter, throttle, and brakes

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Wires for the brakes and motor lead forward and then down into the frame of the bike so minimal wires are visible. These wires are also bundled together and secured to make for a cleaner aesthetic. This is one area where you see a huge difference between expensive and less expensive bikes, as intelligent wire control gives you a cleaner look to the bike.

A front fender is included to help keep down the flow of water and debris as you ride the bike on your commute or off-road adventure. It was very simple to secure the fender using the included screws and Allen Wrench. The headlight is positioned on the assembly with the front fender and also includes a front white reflector below the light. I have been extremely disappointed with some past headlights, so I was very pleased with Velotric's attention to detail here with its high-quality light that connects securely to the cable and shines brightly as I travel down the road at high speeds. Rather substantial tires, puncture-resistant, with good grip, are provided with spoked wheels and reflectors.

velotric-discover-ebike-6

A large 3.5-inch display shows the status

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The large display is centered on the handlebars and can be rotated up or down to match the height and comfort of the rider. Speaking of comfort, the rubber grip on the handlebars has additional material on the back side to make it very nice for long rides.

Also: VanMoof S3 review: An electric bike for Apple and Tesla fans

Moving back from the handlebar area, we find a large 48V battery attached to the lower frame piece. It can be removed after unlocking the battery with a key. There is also a push-button power level indicator so you can quickly see what the remaining battery power is on the pack. The specifications state that the battery provides up to 60 miles of pedal assist and 45 miles of throttle riding, but that is heavily dependent on your weight and the path you are traveling on. The battery is colored to match the bike color and is very well integrated into the frame, another small touch that you wouldn't expect on such an affordable e-bike.

I didn't expect to care much about the step-through design of the Velotric Discover 1, but being able to quickly and easily swing my legs between the seat and the battery has been a great experience. This kind of design also makes the bike more accessible for more people, so even my wife and daughters have enjoyed testing out this new bike. There is also a rear kickstand that holds the bike up well.

The Velotric Discover 1 is powered by a 500W rear hub motor that offers an enjoyable level of power and a very capable electric bike experience. I was able to make it up my very steep hill without having to walk the bike, which is my ultimate test since I weigh in at 250 lbs, and my hill is one of the steepest I have ever experienced. There is also a walk mode on the bike, so if you do find yourself walking beside it, then you can have some assistance moving the bike.

velotric-discover-ebike-3

The motor helps you easily get to 20 mph

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The seat is wide and comfortable, as well as adjustable for your preferred angle. The seat post also is easily adjustable and fits my height well. The bike is advertised as being designed to fit people who are 5 feet, 1 inch to 6 feet, 4 inches tall, and it fit my 6 feet, 1 inch, frame perfectly. The bike is also rated for a total capacity of 440 lbs, so my 250 lbs is acceptable. I do see some performance degradation from the specifications due to my size, but that is expected.

Behind the seat, we find a rear fender that is attached in the box. There are four securing bolts so that you can check them for tightness too. The rear rack is rated to carry up to 55 lbs, so it is perfect for securing groceries and other gear you may be hauling around the city with your bike.

velotric-discover-ebike-2

Taillight and rear fender

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The back tire matches the front tire with the rear hub motor positioned at the center of the wheel. A fender is also attached out of the box with a rear red taillight that is also connected to the battery. This light works well to make you visible on the road and also serves as a brake light.

Also: The best electric bikes: Top e-bikes for commuting

Price and availability

The Velotric Discover 1 has an MSRP of $1,899, but I have seen regular $500 sales that make the effective standard price $1,399. This is a fantastic price for a very capable bike, and it makes this an easy bike to recommend to family and friends who ask me which bikes to consider. It offers a lot, and with rising gas prices, I would seriously consider the Velotric Discover 1 if you have commuting needs that can be satisfied with a bike.

If you purchase additional bikes, then you can save more too. $200 off when you buy two bikes, $300 off when you buy three, and $600 off if you purchase four bikes. Velotric also provides free shipping in the 48 contiguous states within two business days of your purchase. The bike includes a one-year warranty too.

Experiences and conclusions

  • Easy assembly
  • Full-featured for a low price
  • Solid performance and perfect for all riders

Three years ago, I purchased a Juiced Bikes CrossCurrent X as my daily commuter primarily due to its ability to get up to 28 mph in pedal-assist mode and keep me moving with local traffic. It serves as my primary e-bike but also had a price of $2,500. It has a terrible rear taillight that requires its own batteries, but overall it is a solid heavy electric bike.

The bike was easy to assemble with clear directions. The manual even has maintenance directions to help you adjust the brakes and perform other functions to keep the bike up and running. I will be very interested in seeing how it holds up over time, but looking at the detailed construction and attention to detail, I believe it will do just fine.

velotric-discover-ebike-4

High-quality construction and good looks

Matthew Miller/ZDNet

The mechanical disc brakes, the older generation Shimano shifter, no connectivity to a smartphone, and the basic seat are the only aspects where I can see is a bit of a compromise from more expensive bikes. However, there is still a lot provided for the price, and none of these things substantially impact the bike's enjoyment.

The Velotric Discover 1 is now my second favorite bike that I've tested over the past five years, and it was honestly difficult to come up with any cons at this $1,399 price point. It is very well built, has fenders for safe commuting, provides excellent lights for safety, incorporates a step-through design so everyone can ride it, and provides a throttle option that is useful for starting from a stopped position. Most importantly, it's a lot of fun to ride.

Related

This 4th of July deal saves you nearly $500 off a refurbished iPad mini 4
replace-this-image.jpg

This 4th of July deal saves you nearly $500 off a refurbished iPad mini 4

Deals
Tech jobs: Men are still most likely to get interviews, says report
Serious attentive african hr listening to candidate at job interview

Tech jobs: Men are still most likely to get interviews, says report

Professional Development
Phishing gang that stole millions by luring victims to fake bank websites is broken up by police
getty-hacker-hands-on-a-keyboard.jpg

Phishing gang that stole millions by luring victims to fake bank websites is broken up by police

Security