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Velotric Nomad 1 electric bike review: Tackle any terrain in comfort

Velotric followed up its compelling Discover 1 e-bike with an equally compelling fat-tire model with lots of power, comfort, and style for trail and road riding.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
Pros
  • Fat tires built for the trail
  • Powerful 750W motor with throttle
  • Ergonomic handlebars for comfort
  • Big, easily visible display
  • Attractive color options
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Battery-powered rear light

As I was preparing to head down to the Denver area to visit my oldest daughter for a couple of weeks, Velotric reached out about evaluating its new Nomad 1 fat-tire e-bike. The trails and bike paths all over this area of Colorado are perfect for testing a fat-tire e-bike, so I've been enjoying the fall bliss of Colorado on the Nomad 1.

The Nomad 1 is available now for $1,399 (down from $1,599) in the Step-Thru and High Step models.

In order to test a bike that could work for everyone, I spent time with the Step-Thru model, which is designed for people with heights between 5 feet, 1 inches, and 6 feet, 4 inches.

The High Step option, for taller riders, has a crossbar positioned between the seat post and front forks.

Velotric offers the Step-Thru model in four color options: Mango, Cyan, Sky Blue, and Spring. I tested out the Cyan model since I already tested out the Veloctric Discover 1 in the Mango color in early summer and wanted to check out another color. This is the first fat-tire bike I have tested for ZDNET, and it exceeded my expectations.

Review: Velotric Discover 1 e-bike review: Accessible build, attractive price

Specifications

Frame Aluminum alloy and 80mm hydraulic suspension front fork
Motor size 750-watt (peak 1,200W) with 75N-m, rear hub
Pedal assist 5 levels
Range Pedal assist: 55 miles. Throttle: 52 miles
Top speed 20 mph
Battery capacity 48V 692Wh
Display 3.5-inch backlit LCD
Lights Integrated front LED, battery-operated rear light
Payload capacity 440 pounds
Seat Urban comfort ergonomic, 220mm wide
Brakes Hydraulic disc
Fenders Front and rear provided
Drivetrain 8-speed Shimano
Tires 26x4-inch puncture-resistant
Bike weight 73 pounds

Unboxing and design

The bike arrived in a very large cardboard box with the words Ride Today stamped on the side. Attach the front wheel, secure the handlebars, attach the pedals, and you truly can be off and riding within 30 minutes. 

By the way, shipping in the US is free for the bike, which is a rather incredible value.

The package includes an owner's manual, quick-start guide, pedals, rear light, front and rear reflectors, a bell, and all of the tools you need to assemble and maintain your bike. 

The tail light is battery-powered and independent from the bike system, so don't forget to turn it off when you are done riding.

Closeup of the front of Velotric Nomad 1 on road.

Fat tire, fender, battery, and frame.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

For some reason, the front fork was installed backward, so I had to loosen three screws and rotate it before installing the handlebars. It was an easy adjustment to make, and if you are not comfortable working on a bike, you can order assembly service through Velo Tooler on the Velotric website.

The aluminum frame and battery have the same color with a good-quality matte finish. The welding looks perfect and substantial on the intersection pieces, and the bike has a sturdy feel with no movement or flex.

Closeup of back of Velotric Nomad 1 on road.

Kickstand, seat, and rear hub motor.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The only visible wires come out from the handlebars and then feed into the tube of the frame halfway up the front above the forks. The wires then run into the frame and back to the hub motor, gears, and rear brakes. It helps give the bike a very clean look and also matches what we see in much more expensive bikes.

Performance

The Velotric Nomad 1 is powered by a 750W rear hub motor with 1,200W peak performance, and if you have the assist set to Level 5, then hang on and enjoy the ride. There are five levels and a walk mode, provided on the Nomad 1 with the assist level also matching the highest speed provided with throttle-only action. When riding on a gravel trail, I achieved 9.5 mph at Level 1, 11.5 mph at Level 2, 14.5 mph at Level 3, 16-17 mph at Level 4, and 20 mph at Level 5. The bike is a Class 2 bike with a 20-mph limit for throttle mode.

Handlebar close up of Velotric Nomad 1

Controls, throttle, shifter, brakes, and large display.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

It has been rare for me to stay on an electric bike and make it to the top of hills that match the one into my neighborhood, even with me cranking on the pedals. The Nomad 1 has the power to assist me on steep hills and beats the Discover 1 in that scenario. The walk mode is also helpful with this large and heavy bike, so I found myself using it more than with any other e-bike I have tested in the past.

Also: You need 2 locks for your e-bike. Here's why and which ones to buy

Wide fenders are provided and preinstalled to match the tires. If you ride the bike on trails or in other inclement weather conditions, then you will appreciate the fenders keeping sand, gravel, mud, and rain off you and your face. The bike is also designed to achieve IPX6 water resistance, so you can use it when the weather sours.

To test out the bike for more types of rider, I asked my daughter to ride it on the trails in Colorado. While the bike is large and heavy, she loved the comfort, power, and ease of operation of the bike. The Step-Thru design made it easy to get on the seat, while the throttle was very useful for getting off the line from a stopped position. The battery also has a handy, accessible USB-A port, so you can charge up your phone if it dies, which is a nice touch for safety concerns if you happen to break down or need assistance.  

Bottom line

After thoroughly enjoying everything about the Velotric Discover 1, I was very excited to hear the company was releasing its next model. I was not sure what to expect, though, after hearing it was a fat-tire bike, because I didn't consider this type of bike for commuting. However, the Velotric Nomad 1 is perfect for getting around town and also enjoying the hundreds of miles of gravel, dirt, and concrete trails and roads in the Denver area.

The ride is very smooth and comfortable, and the large tires have ample traction. It snowed lightly one day while I was testing the bike, so I was able to power through some light frozen snow, over crunchy dry grass fields, and through fallen dry leaves. The front shocks helped soften the pounding of traversing fields with bumps and ditches, while the powerful 750W motor provided confidence that I could get through any terrain.

Review: The Charge Comfort 2 is a smooth ride that fits in tight spaces

Velotric has released another high-quality e-bike at an affordable price, with a few improvements over the Discover 1 as well. It's a joy to ride and could inspire you to get out and ride off the beaten path, with the confidence and power you need to make it over all terrains and in unfavorable weather conditions.

Alternatives to consider:

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