- One of the most compact folding electric bikes around, only weighs ~40 lbs, uses smaller 16-inch tires and shorter 140 mm crank arms, long seat post and telescoping stem conform to a wide range of riders
- Efficient 250 watt planetary geared hub motor gets a mechanical advantage from the smaller wheel size, it runs quietly, starts very smoothly, and doesn't spin out, both brakes have motor inhibitors to override
- Nicer hardware all around, adjustable length kickstand that stays clear of the left crank arm, comfortable saddle with flip-up design for easy battery removal, internally geared 3-speed hub is durable and clean, chain guide keeps pants and skirts clear
- Only available in one frame size and one color (gloss black), but the integrated headlight, independent backlight, and reflective tires help to keep you visible and safe, throttle is always active when the bike is on so be careful, two-step on/off sequence, no rear rack or fender bosses
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The Blix Vika Travel is one of the lightest, most compact, and yet feature rich, folding electric bicycles that I have reviewed. It offers a surprisingly natural ride experience, despite the smaller 16-inch wheels and shorter 140 mm crank arms. There’s only one chainring and one rear sprocket, so the chain stays tight and shouldn’t drop easily. Blix has gone above and beyond to include a double-sided plastic chain guide to further limit chain drops when riding or transporting in the folded position, and the guide doubles as a pant and skirt protector, keeping you clean as you pedal. So, you get the simplicity and durability of a single-speed drivetrain but actually benefit from three gears! A Shimano Nexus Inter3 internally geared hub allows you to comfortably climb or reach and maintain the 20 mph top assisted speed. Shifting is done with an intuitive half-grip twist mechanism on the right. Stitched ergonomic grips match the padded faux leather saddle. Silver brake levers with an integrated bell and rubberized edges match the silver handlebar, stem, seat post, spokes and hub motor. This e-bike only comes in one frame size, but the seat post is extra long and the stem telescopes up and down to fit riders as tall as the founder, Pontus Malmberg, who is 6’2″ (~188 cm). The Blix travel can support up to 250 lbs of rider+cargo weight, and while it doesn’t come with rear rack mounting options or a bottle cage mounting point, you can pay $50 for some plastic SKS fenders directly from Blix and get an aftermarket saddle bottle cage adapter like this to bring fluids. You may notice that the seat clamp is larger than normal, and this is because it swivels forward, providing easy access to the battery pack. Weighing in at roughly 40 lbs (18.1 kg), the Vika Travel becomes even easier to transport if you remove the 4.7 lb battery pack or fold and then trolly it around on the wheels as shown in the video review above at timestamp 14:10.
Driving this e-bike is an efficient 250-watt nominally rated planetary geared hub motor, spoked into the front wheel. Blix has refined all drive system hardware here, branding it as SpinTech. The motor felt smooth and quiet compared to similar offerings, and accelerated more gently because of its custom motor controller programming. I could hear a bit of whirring when operating at the highest level of assist, but it wasn’t too bad, and the front wheel didn’t spin out as frequently as it has on other front-wheel-drive products that seem to go from zero to 100% more instantly. Because this hub motor is compact and lightweight, it doesn’t interfere with steering as much, and it balances out the internally geared hub at the rear. With the centrally mounted battery pack, the bike is very steady and even front to rear… Geared hub motors usually offer the advantages of instant power, efficient freewheeling (so they won’t slow you down when coasting), they don’t interfere with the pedaling drivetrain, and they can be used more easily with throttles. The Vika Travel utilizes a high resolution 12-magnet cadence sensor that is responsive in pedal assist along with a variable speed trigger throttle near the left grip. It gives you many ways to ride and eliminates the need for pedaling at all if you get tired or need to focus on balancing. The throttle is live as soon as the display panel is turned on and overrides zero, 1, 2, 3, and 4 assist, so be careful mounting, dismounting, and folding the bike if you don’t turn it off first. If you utilize the throttle and the highest levels of assist frequently, it will cut down on your maximum potential range, and the battery capacity is a bit lower than average in order to cut down on weight and size. I enjoyed the bike most in assist levels 2 and 3.
The stock battery for the Blix Vika Travel is a 36 volt 8.8 amp hour 316.8 watt hour size. Average sized batteries in 2016/2017 were around 360 watt hours and they have grown to ~500 watt hours in 2018, but this is a lightweight folder. I was talking to the founder about battery size choices, and he explained that the seat tube packs are interchangeable, so you can actually upgrade to a 36 volt 11 amp hour pack and still have it work with the Vika Travel! This is great if you own several Blix electric bicycles and want to share between family members. Note however, the higher capacity battery is heavier and also taller… so it will raise the minimum saddle height. I’m not convinced that the upgraded pack would be necessary for most riders because the stock battery charger is lightweight at just 1.3 lbs and faster than average, putting out 3 amps. You could easily bring the charger along in a backpack and use it to top-off at work, school, a friend’s house, or a restaurant as you explore new destinations. Being able to quickly and easily remove the battery is fantastic, and I appreciated the molded handle feature at the top; it felt secure in my hand. To maximize the lifespan of the battery, always store it in a cool dry location (avoid extreme heat and cold) and try to maintain at least 20% capacity because going all the way to zero can strain the cells. If you do drain it completely, just charge it up again as soon as you can. The charging port for the battery is raised up on the right side, so you won’t be vulnerable to the crank arms and pedals snagging, which is something I see with many other products. The primary drawback to this battery in my opinion, is that you must power it on separately from the display panel. This two-step process takes a bit more time and can be frustrating if you forget and hop onto the bike without first reaching down to activate the battery.
Powering on the bike requires that first step of activating the battery and then a second power button press on top of the display panel. The LCD is beautiful, large enough to be seen and read clearly while riding, but not overly crowded with buttons and wires. The cockpit is actually very clean considering that both brakes have motor inhibitors, there’s a grip shifter, and the display and throttle! That’s a lot of wires, but they are all wrapped up with plastic spiral tubing. The connector points use metal threaded locks with rubber washers to keep water out and should be more durable as you fold and unfold the bike repeatedly. The display itself isn’t removable and could get scratched at the bike rack or while folding and transporting, but you could simply put a sock or glasses microbag over it as a solution. The display doesn’t swivel easily and could produce some glare if the sun is positioned behind and above you, but I found that it was fairly easy to read and use. The power button doubles as a mode button, allowing you to cycle through trip stats like current speed, average speed, max speed, and distance. The up and down buttons allow you to adjust assist levels, and the menu goes from 4 back to 0 so you can basically save clicks by going “around” instead of all the way back down or up. Hold the up arrow to activate the LCD backlighting and integrated headlight. Hold up and down to enter into the settings menu and change units. It’s all fairly standard and intuitive, but the buttons aren’t quite as reachable as they would be without the trigger throttle also mounted on the left side of the handlebar. You do have to reach over a bit, and I’d probably use more of a “set it and forget it” approach with assist level 2 for efficiency and occasional throttle override for help starting and climbing. There are always trade-offs when it comes to organization and simplicity vs. features but I love where Blix ended up. And again, the inclusion of a little flick bell in the left brake lever is a big win… it’s useful but doesn’t add clutter or push the throttle and display further out.
The Blix Vika Travel is one of my favorite ebikes for travel applications, boats and private planes or RVing, people who might have limited space in their homes or apartments, or simply petite riders. It looks timeless with the matching black, silver, and brown accents but emphasizes safety with reflective tires and integrated lights. Do note that the rear light runs on two AAA batteries and requires an additional step to turn on/off. There’s a good amount of adjustability with the seat post and handlebar, but don’t raise the handlebar too high or the wires could be stretched when making sharp turns. It’s never going to be as comfortable as a larger wheeled folding bike because of the limited air volume and lower attack angle, but it didn’t feel that abrasive to me because of the ergonomic grips and extra thick saddle. I’m not sure I’d really want to ride more than 10 miles at a time due to comfort and limited pedal stroke reach, so the modest battery isn’t so much of an issue. I love that they aimed to keep this thing lightweight and I love that they included an adjustable kickstand that stays clear of the left crank arm! Priced at just $1,499, I feel that this is also a great value buy. For $200 more you can get the full sized Vika Plus, which comes with fenders, a rear rack, more powerful motor, and a higher capacity battery. However, that one also weighs more and takes up more space. Blix has been around for several years now, I see that they sell through shops (where you can test ride and get fitted and service help over time). Frankly, the brand has earned my trust and I’m excited to see them releasing a more niche product like this. In closing, the word Vika means “fold” in the Swedish language, and the founder Pontus is of Swedish descent. Big thanks to Blix for partnering with me on this review and meeting me in Southern California for the ride tests. I’ll do my best to answer your questions and comments below and you can share more directly with pictures and videos in the Blix forums.
- One of the smallest and most compact folding electric bikes I’ve seen, yet it still provides a full upright geometry and decent pedaling experience
- Fairly lightweight at ~40 lbs, most other folding electric bikes are at least 45 lbs and many are above 50 lbs, the Blix Vika Travel is easier to lift
- The battery pack can be easily removed from the frame to further reduce weight (by ~4.5 lbs) or charge and store separately, I love how the saddle mount pivots forward so you don’t have to remove the seat post each time you want to take the battery off
- Even though the battery capacity isn’t super large at 316.8 watt hours, you still get a fast charger that puts out 3 amps vs. the standard 2 amps on many other products, this means you can top off and keep riding more quickly, I love how compact and lightweight the charger is at just 1.3 lbs
- Blix has introduced their own proprietary battery and motor brand called SpinTech and it seems to be very quiet and cross-compatible between models, so you can actually utilize the same battery for multiple bikes… so you could actually use the higher capacity battery from the standard Blix Vika on the smaller Travel to extend range
- Even though the watt rating for the front hub motor sounds low at 250 watts, it actually feels pretty capable because of the smaller wheel diameter, it gets a mechanical advantage
- I absolutely love the integrated headlight, reflective tire stripes, and stand-alone rear light because they will keep you more visible and could save your life considering the lower position of the bike and possibility of riding in foreign locations where you might not be as aware of traffic patterns etc.
- Sometimes I notice that front wheel powered ebikes can spin out a bit, but the Blix motors and controller system accelerates more smoothly and hasn’t had that issue as much, the 12-magnet cadence sensor is very responsive and it’s nice to also have throttle on demand (which overrides assist) with variable speed depending on how far you push it
- Great color coordination with the black battery and wires blending into the black frame, excellent wire management with plastic spiral wrap, the wires didn’t seem to be at risk of bending or pinching at the main folding joint, even with brake cables, motor inhibitors, grip shifter, a trigger throttle, and LCD display the cockpit feels clean, Blix has used threaded electrical connectors that are sturdier and more water resistant than plastic press fit on many comparable products
- The three-speed internally geared hub is going to be cleaner and more durable than an external derailleur, it allows for a single rear sprocket and fixed-length chain that won’t drop while riding on bumpy terrain or folding the bike
- Blix has used a double-side plastic chain guide on the chainring which further reduces the possibility for drops and keeps your pants or skirt from getting dirty and snagged, I appreciate the metal guard that protects the bottom bracket area (and chain ring) when folding or going over high obstacles
- In my opinion, this product is priced very competitively considering the name brand hardware and little upgrades like the integrated bell on the left brake lever, rubberized levers, plus saddle and grips, you don’t get a rear rack or fenders like the full sized Vika, but the small form factor and lightweight are unique and well done
- Blix really scrutinizes the details with their products and you can see that with the included adjustable kickstand that keeps the bike stable and also stays clear of the left crank arm when deployed as well as the magnetic clasp system that keeps the Vika Travel folded when transporting it
- Battery weight is kept low and centered on the frame, it seems well protected by the frame tubing if the bike were to top or get banged around during transport, the front hub motor balances out well with the rear internally geared hub
- I like how the assist levels loop around from 4 to 0 so you don’t have to click down, down, down, down, it’s a simple and quick way to navigate and allows you to focus more on riding and hand position
- When the bike is mostly folded but the handlebar is left up, you can actually trolly it around on the whees vs. having to lift, Pontus shows this in the video around timestamp 10:56
- The smaller 16-inch wheels bring the frame closer to the ground and require shorter 140 mm crank arms to reduce pedal strikes (vs. 170 mm crank arms on most full sized bicycles), the shorter arms speed up the pedal cadence a bit and don’t provide as much energy per stroke
- The tires are a bit narrower here and because of the smaller 16-inch wheel size, they don’t provide as much air volume which means that they cannot absorb bumps as effectively, the lower attack angle means that you feel cracks and potholes more and you want to keep an eye on the tire pressure more closely so that you don’t get a pinch flat (and consider buying extra tubes from Blix at time of purchase since this is a unique and uncommon size)
- The bike only comes in one size and one color which is gloss black, it looks beautiful but isn’t as bright and reflective as white or silver would be, so thank goodness for the reflective tires and included lights
- Plastic folding pedals aren’t my favorite because they can flex under pressure and aren’t always as smooth or even when pedaling, but these Wellgo ones felt pretty good, you could always upgrade to alloy folding pedals like these and maybe ask Blix about upgrades because the full sized Vika Plus folder does have alloy folding pedals stock
- There are no bottle cage bosses or rear rack bosses so your transport and cargo options are a bit limited, but Blix did include fender bosses and they sell a pair of plastic SKS fenders for those who might want to ride in wet conditions
- Booting up the e-bike systems is a two-step process, you have to press a power button on the battery (under the handle) and then on the display as well (near the top edge) vs. just having a single step