You might not yet be aware of Velotric but this is an ebike manufacturer that needs to be on everyone’s radar. Velotric has spent the last two years developing high quality, versatile ebikes at an affordable price. Its founder, Adam Zhang, is also a cofounder of Lime, the escooter company. The Velotric Thunder 1 is their newest and lightest model and unlike the Nomad and Discover, this is an urban commuter style ebike.
If you’re into ebikes that ride and feel more like road bikes, then the Thunder 1 might be what you’re looking for. Its lighter and quicker than most commuter ebikes and is as aesthetically pleasing as it is fun to ride. Its sleek, wireless frame is beautifully designed and has one of the coolest paint jobs I’ve ever seen on any bike.
Not only does this bike look cool as hell, it also sports some great components. Namely, hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Altus drivetrain and shifters, and Velotric’s in-house E35 Velopower motor outfitted with a torque sensor. All for under $1800.
- E35 Velopower motor – 350W/600W peak power
- 36V 9.8Ah Battery, 350W Motor, 2-side Torque Sensor
- Top speed 20 MPH, Class 1. 25 MPH (Unlock)
- Tektro Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- Up to 70 miles of range
- 8-Speed Drivetrain – Shimano Altus groupset
- 5-level pedal assist, Walk mode
- 36 lbs, 6061 Aluminum alloy Frame and Fork
- Velotric Smartphone App, Velotric Smart+ Sensor.
- Anti-Theft Alert
- Keyless Unlock (fingerprint, proximity)
- GPS/Health Tracking
- Auto Headlight
Velotric Thunder 1 First Impressions
Look and Feel and Design
The Velotric Thunder 1 immediately catches your eye with its sleek and stylish, minimalist design. Looks only tell part of the story, however, because, at only 36 lbs, it’s also a very lightweight ebike that’s very easy to maneuver and control. The bike we reviewed is a medium, suitable for riders between 5’6 and 6’0, but you can also get the Thunder 1 in large. The large frame is good for riders between 5’10 and 6’5.
We’re used to seeing more of an emphasis on design for urban commuter-style ebikes. You might want to call these “city bikes” because they seem to be designed for people that live in urban settings. The Velotric Thunder 1 is no exception; elegantly designed, with an integrated battery and zero exposed wires. We love its clean and uncluttered appearance.
This minimalist frame not only looks great, but also adds to the bike’s overall durability and stability. Less of the components and wires are exposed to the elements, which should help with the longevity of the battery.
As far as color options, The Velotric Thunder comes in four stylish colors – Frozen Blue, Crystal Black, Lava, and Sand – ensuring that riders can find a color that matches their personal style. The Frozen Blue on our model has a beautiful color gradient that starts off at a cool light blue, almost glacial and darkens into a darker bluish gray. It’s one of the prettiest colors I’ve ever seen on a bike.
Core Components of the Velotric Thunder 1
The motor on the Thunder 1 is Velotric’s proprietary Velopower E35 motor, configured with a torque sensor. It is one of the smallest, lightest, and quietest motors in its class, yet it packs a solid punch with 350W and 600W of (peak) power. The motor also pushes out 45 NM of torque. This is more powerful and generates more torque than other similar ebikes like the Ride1Up Roadster and the Propella, which we’ve previously reviewed.
The torque sensor gradually engages the power of the motor, whereas motors with cadence sensors provide more of a jolt off the line. The amount of power you receive is dependent on how much force you’re exerting to push on the crank. This takes some getting used to if you’ve only ridden ebikes with cadence sensors.
On bigger ebikes with 750W motors, a cadence sensor can make it feel like the motor is dominating the pedaling experience. Sometimes you don’t really feel like you are exerting much energy, especially at full pedal assist. This is not the case with the Thunder 1. What you get with this mid-size motor is a very natural pedaling feel that is very similar to a traditional bicycle.
As far as city commuter ebikes go, the Thunder rides more like an analog road bike than any ebike I’ve ever ridden. You definitely feel the power and the acceleration once you have momentum but getting there is more of a physical experience on account of the motor’s torque sensor. The Thunder 1 is the kind of ebike that weaves cutting-edge technology and performance with the joys of traditional biking.
The battery on the Thunder 1 is a 36V 352.8Wh battery that provides a maximum range of up to 70 miles, which is impressive for an ebike of this size. It is classified as a Class 1 ebike, which means it does not have a throttle and is capable of speeds of up to 20 mph. Its five levels of pedal assist can be adjusted using the Velotric Integrated App.
The brakes on the Thunder 1 are TEKTRO HD-R280 hydraulic disc brakes, which provide solid and reliable stopping power. These brakes are great for an ebike that only weighs 36 pounds and should provide ample stopping power for most riders.
Comfort – Seats and Handlebars
While the Velotric Thunder is an ultra-lightweight and stylish ebike, the comfort department is one area that could use improvement. Riders who plan to use this bike for longer rides may want to consider upgrading to a more comfortable seat and handlebar grips or wearing padded gloves.
Because the front stem is quite low this city bike encourages you to lean forward as you’re riding. This is ok for short commutes but pretty hard on your palms and wrists during longer rides of 5+ miles. Seeing as the battery has a range of up to 70 miles it would be smart to include an adjustable stem as an option or just make it standard with future iterations of this ebike.
Unlike most ebikes, this Velotric model doesn’t come with a traditional LCD screen display. Instead, the Thunder 1 relies on an integrated mobile app that offers a range of functionalities. The app allows riders to monitor their speed, battery charge, and pedal assist levels. But that’s not all, the app also comes equipped with anti-theft capabilities, enabling users to track and lock their bike if it ever gets stolen.
In addition, the app includes keyless unlock options such as proximity sensors, GPS tracking to record distances and track rides, and health tracking to monitor calories burned. Biking reduces carbon emissions and this app will even track the amount of CO2 that would have been released into the atmosphere had you driven your car instead.
The app also allows riders to customize their riding experience via riding modes and comes with an auto headlight feature. With such extensive features available on the app, the absence of a traditional display doesn’t seem like a major drawback. In fact, the integrated app seems to be a superior alternative to the traditional LCD screens, adding a touch of modernity and convenience to the overall riding experience.
Test Rides on the Velotric Thunder 1
The Thunder 1 urban commuter ebike delivers an exceptional ride experience, boasting impressive acceleration and handling. The slim tires give the rider an unparalleled sense of connection to the road. The ride feels much more like that of a road bike than a typical ebike. I must admit that riding the Thunder 1 has been so much fun that it’s almost addictive.
This bike is best suited for riders that are not just ebike lovers but for those who really enjoy the cycling experience. Sometimes a big, powerful motor can overshadow the riding experience. When a motor is too thrusty it can sometimes take the fun out of riding but with the Thunder 1, you are getting a city bike that’s quick, agile, and easy to maneuver over and around whatever crosses your path on pavement.
Riders that are more attracted to fitness-oriented ebikes will appreciate the Thunder’s capabilities. I even feel myself getting in better riding shape as I log more miles on this ebike. Never a bad outcome.
Contributing to the smooth ride you receive with the Thunder 1, is the Shimano Altus group set, which includes trigger shifters and an 8-speed drivetrain. By no means are these top-of-the-line components but they are higher-end than a lot of other city commuter ebikes in this general price range. The shifting, which you will need to use a lot to scale hills on this ebike, feels instantaneous and buttery slick.
Things we don’t love about the Velotric Thunder 1
There’s a lot to love about this urban commuter ebike but I see a few areas where the Velotric Thunder 1 could be improved. We already mentioned that the stem is kind of low, even on this medium-sized version. This bike profiles more as a performance bike and the style of riding is less upright and more leaning forward. This applies a good amount of pressure on your wrists and palms.
A good solution to that would be adding an adjustable stem to raise the handlebars a few inches. One potential stem that would work for this bike would be the FOMTOR 31.8 Adjustable Stem which you can purchase at Amazon for $19.98. You could also invest in padded bike gloves to help ease the pressure on your palms.
In addition to issues related to the handlebar and grips, the saddle that’s included with the Thunder 1 is not the most comfortable. We would also recommend upgrading to a cushier seat if you plan on testing the limits of this 9.8Ah battery, which Velotric is claiming has a 70-mile range.
Another area of potential concern with Thunder 1 is the torque sensor. This is more of a caveat than a con but riders who are not used to riding ebikes with torque sensors should be aware that they are not always great for hill climbing.
The Velotric is an 8-speed ebike. It’s lightweight, nimble, and has a capable motor that does very well on flat terrain. However, on steeper hills, I find that ebikes with cadence sensors provide more of a sustained boost with hill climbing and you’re not really going to get that with this torque sensor.
The power assist is there, but it’s more subtle and still requires a fair amount of force from your legs as you turn the crank. This is more of a city commuter ebike so if you’re planning on tackling a lot of big hills on this ebike, be prepared to get in good shape.
Last but not least, the rear detachable light that is included with the Thunder 1 leaves much to be desired. It’s not an integrated light and is really no different than an aftermarket portable light that you could easily buy on your own. Those lights are serviceable but they require you to replace the batteries every so often, which can definitely be a hassle.
Considering the price of this ebike, I was expecting an integrated rear light, an accessory that’s normally included with bikes in this price range.
Overall, while the Velotric Thunder is a solid electric bike, there are some areas where it could be improved. Riders who plan to use the bike for hill climbing or are looking for a supercharged motor might be underwhelmed. Aside from that, the only deficiencies this bike has are easily correctable with a small investment in peripheral accessories. For around $100 or $150 you could easily outfit this beauty with an adjustable stem, foam bike grips, and a cushier saddle.
If you’re in the market for a more premium ebike but can’t afford to spend over $2,000, you should definitely consider the Thunder 1 from Velotric. With an ultra-lightweight and stealthy minimalist design, this Class 1 ebike is perfect for those who want a more pure cycling experience.
With a max range of 70 miles and its dynamic Velopower E35 motor, torque sensor, and Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, the Thunder 1 offers strong value at this price range. Plus, the integrated app allows for ride customization, health tracking, and even anti-theft alerts.
The Velotric team comes with a ton of experience and is led by key figures from highly successful brands like Lime, Giant and Specialized. They are on a mission to deliver high quality ebikes at affordable prices to help take your cycling game to the next level. If you’re looking for a city bike that combines impeccable style, performance and cutting edge technology then the Thunder 1 is the perfect ebike for you!