A Smart Velotric Thunder 1 ST E-Bike Review

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Initial Thoughts On The Velotric Thunder 1 ST

Finally an e-bike that looks like a bicycle. Firstly, it’s simple in design, as well as the operations behind it making the Thunder go smoothly and efficiently to your desired destination. Of course, there is highly sophisticated engineering behind what makes the Velotric Thunder 1 ST go, but I am looking forward to taking her out for a spin. Additionally, Bike thefts are out of control, and the Velotric is equipped with the Apple® Find My™ network. A super unique feature that allows me to know where the Thunder is at all time. And furthermore, when I see it moving on my Apple Fine Me App., I know my loved ones are going where they are supposed to be. Home!

Velotric Thunder 1 ST Out Of The Box

Aside from actually riding the Velotric Thunder 1 ST, opening and assembling the bike is a lot of fun. I carefully unpack, and layout all the parts and pieces to get a good visual. It arrived bundled up quite nicely and everything seemed protected from potential damage. To sum it up, this bike is really a super simple build, but directions are provided to walk you through it step by step. I put it together in less than half an hour, and I was taking photos along the way. Easy peasy!

The Build

Most bikes are carbon or some version of steel. Aluminum has a long track record, and proven to be a solid lighter weight performer in addition to being a best value for the buck. Subsequently, many e-bikes are constructed out of aluminum including the Thunder 1 ST. The frame and fork are made out of a 6061 aluminum with a flat mount disc. The wheels are attached using a 12x100mm thru-axle which is a very secure way to attach. It’s also a safety feature versus the quick release option, but do remember to bring the appropriate tools along should you have a flat. A multi-tool Allen Wrench set comes in quite handy.

The Powerful Motor Of The Velotric Thunder 1 ST

I’m sure describing an e-bike and its motor as zippy is not a very technical deep dive. That said, the return of power with every push of the pedal is absolutely wonderful. Almost like an invisible hand guiding you along as you get up to speed. It’s definitely refreshing, and brings a smile to my face. By the same token, there are many more positive features, but we can touch upon the safety, environmental, and time saving aspects further on into the review.

This E-series drive system is powered by the rear hub equipped with an inner rotor 12,6:1 high reduction motor. That means a max torque of 45Nm with a top speed of 20 mph (Although, I may have slightly surpassed that a few times). A cool fact which plays into this Velotric Thunder 1 ST looking and now acting like one is that the noise of the power unit is lower than 63db when fully pushing the limits. At other times, it is much quieter if not nearly silent in many riding situations.

The Battery

The battery falls in line with the sleekness of this bike, and is very high in energy density. Meaning, that with a compact structural design there is efficient space utilization. The look of the bike is very simple, because the Thunder does not require any wires, ports, or accessories. As such, it’s equipped with a CAN-BUS charging port that has a simple interface for charging, diagnosing the system, or attaching the range extender.

Battery: 36v 9.8Ah with 21700 Samsung Cells

The system comes with SoC (State of Charge) Algorithm. This records the length and times of charge and discharge, and can push reminders for malfunctions or for when the bike has not been charged for a long period of time.

The charging cord and plug fits easily into the battery portal.

Display

Many electric bikes do have their own built-in version of a display monitor that tracks numerous aspects of a ride. The Velotric does not, but it does have the ability to securely mount your phone if so desired. Two ways to look this. One would be that it’s a good thing, because I can use my preferred Strava app to record my rides. On the other hand, I would need to connect the attachment piece to my phone which I really don’t want to do. Hence, for now I haven’t committed to putting my phone on there. In addition, for my e-bike rides, I am personally not too concerned about having to track everything, but I know that could be important to you. That’s why it’s good to have the option.

Velotric Thunder Gearing 

Gearing for the Thunder drivetrain is a Shimano 8-speed. The truth is, I hardly went out of the top #8 gear. A bit of a leg push to get you going, and that gear feels perfect when up to speed. We have mainly flatter roads with a few gentler inclines, so no need to spin easier. If hills are a thing for you, the smaller rings will certainly be a plus.

Tires

The tires are 700x40c E-Bike Puncture-resistant tires. I have yet to have the misfortune of a flat, and it’s good to know that I have the extra protection there in case. I like the 40c width of the tires. It’s wide enough to provide a solid foundation, and gives you that extra confidence to dive into a sharp corner if needed.

Brakes

The TEKTRO HD-R280 Hydraulic Disc Brakes are doing their job nicely. Front and back disc brakes for a solid, smooth, and stop quick should you need it. I teach my family to be aware out on the roads. Cars are large and they aren’t looking (or seeing) bikers many times. Plus the phone thing….  In many cases, I can prevent even a close call by hanging back, or coming into a situation where I try to anticipate what the cars may do. Turn signals on cars are pretty, but not always used. Hence, I have avoided a t-bone collision on multiple occasions by simply anticipating them to turn.

Lights On The Velotric Thunder

These lights are bright and on all the time. Might as was well, right? Any additional visibility item on a bike is something I will always gladly take. Plus, they are super bright at night as they lit up a local path for me.

Smart Hub Velopower E-Series Drive System

Working together with the Velotric App, Thunder 1 can be easily located. Anti-theft alarm is sent to the owner’s smartphone if there’s any suspicious activity. Smart+ Hub supports automatic system upgrades, remote lock/unlock, location tracking, and it transmits real-time riding data to any smartphone via Bluetooth. The new E-series drive system is Velotric’s most advanced system yet, and enables smart functions.

Thunder 1 ST is powered by the E35 system which mirrors the torque input through the pedals. This allows for way more power than you’d expect as well as a savings of energy. Working together with the power control algorithm, it can quickly capture riding intentions for a smoother overall ride. Velotric has also customized 3 power output Riding Modes for urban commuting, long-distance, and uphill climbing scenarios.

Changing seat height does require that Allen Wrench, but it’s a fairly straightforward and easy adjustment.

The seat is super. I am not a fan of the thicker and plushier saddles you find out there. The theory that more padding is better is one I do not subscribe to. Hence, form fitting and sleek is the way to go. Selle Royal is a formidable player in the bike saddle world. Accordingly, it is form fitting, and there is minimal movement to create friction or discomfort.

attaching the kick stand

All ready for its first ride.

Taking The Velotric Thunder 1 ST Out On The City Streets

The header above sounds like a date or some magical romantic experience, but maybe there’s something to it. Cruising along with a little bit of effort to attain freedom with the wind in your hair, and nothing but a wisp of sound certainly speaks to that statement. This Velotric Thunder 1 ST will be quite utilitarian for me (and more than likely, my family). My wife and two teenage daughters are eyeing the e-bike with eager anticipation. I think I’m ok with that, since the Apple My Find option will allow me to keep a closer eye on the bike and them.

The name “Thunder” might be a bit grand, but I suppose there’s some hidden dynamic power that will fool or surprise many as this little orange whip zips by. Although it will be quiet, so maybe the lightning name might be more appropriate. Neither here nor there, you get a surprisingly powerful little package that gets you where you want to go.

First of all, let’s take a look at the design. The geometric design of the frame is simple and has a very similar look to two other hybrid commuters that reside in my garage. The angles portray a relaxed geometry, and with a proper fit, can fit many a cyclist. The component groupset is middle of the road, but is perfectly fine. The really nice part is that there are minimal wires. Velotric has placed all the wires internally through the headset to eliminate all that clutter. Henceforth, another reason why this bike can get away with not looking like a big clunky e-bike.

The torque sensor plus is truly a thing of beauty. You pedal, and it rewards you with a similar push to propel you forward. If you are a biker, it truly feels a little bit like cheating. That said, it is one of those delicious guilty pleasures like when you finally indulge in that piece of cake. No regrets, and it’s a wonderful way to cruise through town to get to your destination faster and fresher. If this is a new avenue to get more bikers on the road, then you will truly appreciate the opportunity to figure this out. Over time, you will become a stronger biker, and can ride on a lower power assist level to save battery while promoting leg and lung health. One less car on the road is alright by me.

Secondly, the use of the Velotric Thunder 1 ST quickly became one where the lady of the house took possession. And that is certainly alright. She does tend to bike commute to work 1-2 times per week, but the drawback is always the sweating factor. Her roundtrip commute is around 10 miles, and now she is up to 3-4 times per week. She has a rather stressful job, and is on her feet most days. Hence, the pedal assist of the Thunder has reinvigorated her to bike way more, because she knows the ride home isn’t going to be super challenging. Plus, she does always feel better having ridden her bike. The way I look at it, we do save several dollars each day purely on gas, but the additional benefits are priceless.

The range is a reported 52 miles. Power level and how much pedaling ones aims to do will play a role in determining how many miles that are achievable on a singular charge. One time my wife did run out of juice, and had to use some leg power to make it all the way home. She wasn’t pleased, but we are making it a point to charge the battery on Sunday nights, so she is good to go. Keep an eye on the top tube for the lights which will tell you how much power is left (1-5). On the flipside, the bike weighs a minimal 36 pounds, so if you have to pedal a few miles, I think you will be just fine.

Also, check out the accessories. I think we will be adding the rear rack in short order. The need is there to carry along a few extras or stash the purse by attaching panniers or a basket.

Technical Specifications

  • Sizes: Small 5’-0” to 5’-6” (medium 5’-3” to 6’-1”)
  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Top Speed: 20 mph (Class I e-bike)
  • Battery: 36v 9.8Ah with 21700 Samsung Cells
  • Sensor: Torque Sensor
  • Max Range: 52 miles
  • Motor: 350w (Peak 600w), Max Torque 45nm
  • Security: Apple® Find My™
  • Pedal Assist: Level 1-5 (Eco, Tour, Normal, Sport, And Turbo)
  • Brakes: TEKTRO HD-R280 Hydraulic Disc Brake
  • Frame: 6061 Aluminum, Flat mount disc
  • Drivetrain: Shimano 8-speed
  • Fork: 6061 Aluminum, 12x100mm thru-axle
  • Tires: 700x40c E-Bike Puncture-resistant tires
  • Saddle: Customized Selle Royal

That smile sums it up!!

Final Take On The Velotric Thunder 1 ST

Velotric is on a mission to help more people rekindle their joy of riding, and I’ve seen proof of that firsthand. The Velotric Thunder 1 ST is a thrill to ride, has a real zip factor to it, is lightweight, and looks like a normal bike. I have honestly been super impressed with its form and function. Concurrently, I think this e-bike is a wonderful Urban commuter, because the ability to easily carry the bike into apartments or office buildings is simple due to it’s size and weight. In conclusion, I have pretty much spread quite a bit of love towards this e-bike. Especially from it’s simplistic look, power pedal assist, and nimbleness, as it is an absolute joy to ride thus far. Surely, it is a bike you should consider. I believe they have a 2 week trial period, so what have you got to lose.

For more details and purchase, please visit www.velotricbike.com.

Niels Oomkes: I am a multi-sport endurance athlete, and love to get out into the great outdoors to push the body to its limit. Most of my weekend expeditions, adventures, trips, or vacations are planned around running, biking, snowshoeing, camping, or anything else that will allow me to enjoy nature's exquisite beauty.
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