Veloretti’s first electric bikes are automatic and beautiful
It’s not very often that a notable new brand of e-bikes emerges from Amsterdam, the cycling capital of the world. The last time was when VanMoof launched the Electrified S in 2016. So it was with particular interest that I followed the launch of the Veloretti Ivy and Ace e-bikes which are in series production today. And I’m not the only one who expects their first electrical devices to start shipping to customers.
“We are quite overwhelmed by the interest in electric bikes. It’s crazy, ”says Ferry Zonder, founder of Veloretti, who brought me an Ace prototype to test last week.
While it might not sound, Veloretti is entirely Dutch, with an Italian twist for retro chic. I mean, just look at this Ivy step model above with whitewall tires and leatherette grips and saddle. Yet despite their vintage appearance, Veloretti’s e-bikes are as avant-garde as they get. Both feature a maintenance-free carbon belt drive, Enviolo stepless automatic shifter, quiet Bafang mid-drive motor (250W), hydraulic brakes, front lighting, and integrated rear, a small screen for step-by-step navigation and a 510Wh battery which simplifies charging after having exhausted its autonomy of 60 to 120KM.
They are also covered with torque, speed and cadence sensors, as well as Bluetooth, GPS and 3G and 4G radios. All of these technologies enable a host of advanced features such as live updates, remote problem diagnosis, accident detection and live tracking in the event of theft. Hell, it’s also certified for Apple Find My tracking just like Amsterdam rival VanMoof.
Zonder, a fan of old Italian Velocifero mopeds (hence the company name), produced his first city bike in 2013. Since then, it has attracted an enthusiastic base of young city dwellers drawn to the mix of style, quality and service from Veloretti for cheaper bikes. € 400 (which is quite cheap for a brand new Dutch city bike). Veloretti’s direct-to-consumer model has allowed the company to grow rapidly. The company grew from 15 to 38 employees after deciding to get into e-bikes and now ships its city bikes to 27 countries.
My full review of Veloretti e-bikes will have to wait until I recover from a recent mountain biking injury. Which is good, actually, because that way I can test a real production bike. Veloretti also recently took internal control of its e-bike app, which will allow the company to better leverage all of this technology contained in the Ivy and Ace.
What can I tell you during the initial inspection and second hand knowledge (my wife piloted the prototype, and she is testing the shadow all my e-bikes) is that the Ace prototype looks great with solid build quality, although I would prefer fewer exposed cables and more precise welds from the Portuguese factory where it’s built. And while the Bafang engine is really quiet, the Enviolo automatic shifter on the prototype can get a bit noisy. It also takes a bit of practice to prevent freewheeling on start up as my wife was not producing enough torque to force it to upshift at first. Zonder tells me that the Enviolo firmware is being changed and the app updated to give runners more control over torque thresholds and other details. Something I’ll test later in the review.
Electric Ivy and Ace will only be available in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany this year in order to maintain strict quality control. “We don’t want to create risks in our supply chain and these markets that we know very well so that we can serve them well,” says Zonder. “We don’t want to ruin our reputation and the satisfaction of our customers. Zonder currently claims a failure rate of around 0.8% on its city bikes, well below the 10% rate VanMoof saw with the launch of the X3 and S3 last year. Veloretti will then expand sales of e-bikes to the Nordic countries and the UK.
In a maturing e-bike market, Veloretti has no room for error, not with its electric bikes currently listed at € 2,399, already € 100 more than the pre-order price of € 2,299 and 400 € more than a comparable price. VanMoof. But even that new, higher price is likely to rise, Zonder tells me. This is due to the limited availability of parts, especially microchips that e-bike and electric vehicle manufacturers are desperate to secure. The current price inclusive of tax translates to around $ 2,850 if Veloretti’s e-bikes were sold in the United States, but that probably won’t happen until 2023 at the earliest, Zonder says.
Zonder says the company is targeting sales of around 8,000 e-bikes this year, before increasing to 25,000 in 2022. That’s a big leap for a company that has never taken outside funding and is fueling its expansion into e-bikes only because of the company’s profits (sales increased 300% last year). Although Zonder tells me he appreciates the autonomy that comes with self-financing, without external investment, it will be difficult to compete with the great Dutch cycling powers like Stella, Gazelle and Accell Group, and startups like Cowboy, VanMoof and RadPower who took heaps of capital to profit from the surge in interest in e-bikes.
But let’s not anticipate on ourselves. I’ll be back with a full review of a Veloretti production as soon as I can. But if you can’t wait, know that respected Dutch e-bike critic David Lemereis claims the Ace prototype is one of the three best e-city bikes he’s ever ridden, which is truly praise.