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VeloMini III Folding Electric Bike Review [VIDEO]
Jan 25, 2014
Do you want a small, foldable, and lightweight electric bike that can go with you almost anywhere? If so, then you should definitely checkout the VeloMini line of electric bikes!
VeloMini electric bikes are all about delivering a traditional electric bike ride with the convenience of ultra portability.
Maybe you need a small, foldable, and lightweight e-bike for your first/last mile commute with mass transit or an e-bike that can go with you into your house, apartment, workplace, car, boat, RV, etc.
The VeloMini can also be a good e-bike for maneuvering in crowded areas like school or businesses campuses or events.
This is a full review of the VeloMini III (3 speed) that is priced at $1,295 (some dealers have is priced at $1,195) and there is also a single speed VeloMini (with a smaller battery) that is priced at $1,095 (some dealer have is priced at $995).
In this second part of the full review of the VeloMini III, you will get an idea of the ride characteristics, range test, pros, cons, and overall thoughts on this ultra portable electric bike.
What you can expect from the VeloMini III E-Bike:
VeloMini e-bikes are engineering marvels in the way that they can provide a relatively normal feeling ride while offering the ability to collapse down to a very compact size for portability. At 36 pounds the VeloMini is pretty light for an electric bike and that makes transport of it that much easier.
VeloMini bikes feature an anodized aluminum frame that has been engineered to collapse quickly. It is a mixture of tubular and box section aluminum with reinforcement gussets. Folding the bike is accomplished with quick release levers on the frame and handlebars.
A lot of thought went into providing a frame that is relatively stout, yet extremely foldable. The hinges and folding mechanisms have a solid look and feel. The VeloMini frame is rated for a maximum rider weight of 210 pounds.
Another cool feature of the frame is that the 24 volt 9 ah lithium battery is housed in the long, square main frame tube. This keeps the weight of the battery low and centered for good overall bike handling.
The battery is not easily removable when compared to some other electric bikes, but since the VeloMini is so portable that isn’t as big of a deal.
The charging port is located on the frame just in front of the cranks. Charging a completely empty battery takes less than 3 hours.
Since the frame has a step thru design and the seat and stem are very adjustable, the VeloMini will fit a wide range of riders. I am 5’-11” and I was able to comfortably pedal it, although people much taller than 6’ may not fit as well.
A 180 watt geared front hub motor powers the VeloMini up to around 12 mph. You can pedal faster if you want but the assist stops at 12 mph. The VeloMini was designed for 12 mph max to increase the range and to provide a max speed appropriate for its smaller size.
Turning the VeloMini on or off is accomplished with the red button near the twist grip throttle on the right side of the handlebar. There is also a battery level indicator there too.
The VeloMini comes with pedal assist and a twist grip throttle option. The cadence sensor pedal assist is activated automatically when you have reached around 2 mph. At that point you can continue to get assist while pedaling or you can engage the throttle with the twist grip on the right side of the handlebar (pedaling or not).
The drivetrain on the VeloMini III is a Shimano Nexus 3 speed internally geared rear hub. This keeps the drivetrain relatively simple and clean. The Nexus shifter on the left side of the handlebars has 2 levers; one for shifting up and one for shifting down.
Braking is accomplished with a Shimano roller brake on the rear hub and Promax v-brakes on the front.
The VeloMini III comes with a number of accessories: front and rear fenders, front and rear lights, a bell, a kickstand, a tool kit, and a travel bag that doubles as a backpack.
There are also optional accessories that you can buy for the VeloMini. For instance, there is the T-1 trailer that converts to rolling luggage! The T-1 is $329.
Speaking of luggage, the VeloMini passes the TSA’s max lithium battery size of 300 watt hours (the VeloMini III is 216 watt hours), but some airlines have stricter limits. Before considering a trip on a plane with the VeloMini, check with the specific airline to make sure.
Riding the VeloMini III Folding Electric Bike:
Yes, I was surprised when I first hopped on the VeloMini for a ride! It doesn’t look like it would offer much of a “normal” ride feel but it really is much better than what I had initially envisioned.
It still feels like a small bike because the small wheels don’t absorb bumps and cracks in the road as well as a bike with larger wheels. The VeloMini also flexes side to side more than a full size bike; especially in the seat tube area. Please note that at 190 pounds, I am near the upper limit (210 pounds) of what the VeloMini is designed for.
Standing out of the saddle to crank up hills takes some practice, but it can be done! With all of that considered, the VeloMini is impressive in the way it gets relatively close to the ride feel of a larger bike.
The electric assist on the VeloMini doesn’t kick in until you are pedaling up to around 2+ mph. At that point you can continue with the pedal assist or twist the throttle for a free ride (no pedaling required).
At 180 watts the assist is pretty mellow but it definitely does help! Getting up to 12 mph doesn’t take long on flat ground and the little motor helps quite a bit on the hills.
In fact it is surprising how much it helps, even on the steep hills. This could be attributed to the fact that it is a geared hub motor in a small wheel = good torque. You will still have to do your fair share of pedaling on the steep climbs but it is much easier than riding a conventional (non electric) bike.
The VeloMini is no speed racer at 12 mph max assist, but it feels appropriate for the overall size of the bike. I was able to pedal it faster and I also went down some steep hills with significant speed. The VeloMini handled pretty well at those higher speeds but I can see why the assist is limited to 12 mph. The 12 mph max helps with extending the overall range of the VeloMini too (more on that in a bit).
Like all geared hub motors there is some noise that comes from the front hub motor. It is not very loud, but it is there.
The VeloMini is geared a bit low so that you can add your pedal power on the steep climbs. If you want to pedal above the 12 mph threshold you will be spinning the cranks a bit more.
Folding the VeloMini is pretty easy and once you get the routine down it takes around 30 seconds. There are 4 main quick release mechanisms that make it happen. The process is: raise the seat, fold the handlebars back, fold the pedals, and then fold the main frame back. The whole folded package is approximately: 48” long, 18” tall, and 10” wide.
The Ride Test Results:
Here is the real world information on how the VeloMini III folding electric bike performed on a riding circuit that includes hills, flats, traffic, wind (when available) etc.
While testing these bikes I like to put them through the toughest conditions to see where their bottom line is in regards to range and speed.
Range: As you can see from the GPS info that I recorded, the VeloMini III traveled 13.9 miles and did a total elevation gain/loss of around 1,150 ft. Considering that I weigh 190 lbs and I pedaled very lightly this is pretty good range for a 24 Volt 9 ah battery pack (216 Watt Hours) with a 180 watt motor.
Watt hours are the total energy in a battery pack and it is based on the volts x amp hours of a pack. This is a way to compare the size of the “gas tank” of electric bikes.
Please keep in mind that if you pedal more, weight less than me, ride slower and/or you use the bike in terrain that is not as hilly you will get more range. These results are from tough testing.
Speed: The VeloMini III can get up to around 12 mph on flat ground. It is a little slower than that on the climbs.
Weight: This bike tips the scales at 36 lbs.
The weight distribution of the VeloMini III is pretty balanced because of the front hub motor and the battery pack being located in the center of the frame.
Ultra Portable: It is nice to be able to fold the VeloMini down to such a relatively small size in 30 seconds. It makes it handy for taking on mass transit, into your house, apartment, workplace, car, boat, RV, etc.
Ride Quality: I was a little skeptical when I first saw the VeloMini, but I have to say that I am impressed with how the ride quality is not too far off of a full sized electric bike.
Range: I was impressed to get 14 miles of range from the VeloMini. The 12 mph max assist speed and 180 watt motor helps to makes the most of the range from a relatively small 24V 9ah battery.
Flexy: The frame does have some flex to it in the seat tube area and it would be nice to have a little less flex. This is too be expected considering the small size of the frame and how the seat tube is extended up without a lot of bracing. Please note that at 190 pounds, I am near the upper limit (210 pounds) of what the VeloMini is designed for.
Kickstand: The kickstand is made from a very mild metal and it is easily bendable. It would be nice to see a higher quality kickstand.
Overall the VeloMini does a good job of providing a relatively normal ride feel with ultra portability. The feature set from this small electric bike is very impressive!
It would be nice to have a little less flex in the frame and a sturdier kickstand.
Please keep in mind that this is a relatively short term test. This testing can’t really give you the long term review of durability and reliability. My thoughts on the quality of this bike are from previous experiences with similar bikes. If you own this bike and have some input on the long term durability, please share your comments with the Electric Bike Report community below.
There is also the single speed VeloMini with a smaller battery (24V 6ah) with an MSRP of $1,095 (some dealers have is priced at $995). There is also a non-electric 3 speed version called the VeloMini Lite (25 pounds) with an MSRP at $545.
Do you have any questions about the VeloMini? Do you own the VeloMini? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Review Note: Each company pays a fee for a review on Electric Bike Report because of the considerable amount of time that it takes to provide an in-depth review of each eBike. A lot of time is spent on the full range test with distance & elevation profile, the wide variety of detailed pictures, in-depth video, and the write up with the specifications, ride characteristics, pros, cons, and overall thoughts. The reviews on Electric Bike Report are focused on providing you with a detailed “virtual” look at each eBike to help you determine if it is the eBike for you or not.