Velec R48M Review

Velec R48m Electric Bike Review
Velec R48m
Velec R48m Dapu Md350 Mid Motor Ebike
Velec R48m Downtube Integrated Lithium Ion Battery Pack
Velec R48m Fixed Monochrome Lcd Display
Velec R48m Sr Suntour Nex Spring Suspension Fork With Integrated Headlight
Velec R48m Wuxing Mechanical Disc Brakes 180 Mm
Velec R48m Oversized Comfort Saddle Adjustable Kickstand
Velec R48m Nuvinci N380 Continuously Variable Transmission Hub
Velec R48m Independent Backlight On Alloy Rack
Velec R48m Electric Bike At Mile High Stadium In Denver
Velec R48m Mid Drive Electric Bike Vs Hub Motor
Velec R48m Rear Rack And Battery Option
Velec R48m Rack With Optional Second Battery
Velec R48m Metal 3 Amp Ebike Charger
Velec R48m Electric Bike Review
Velec R48m
Velec R48m Dapu Md350 Mid Motor Ebike
Velec R48m Downtube Integrated Lithium Ion Battery Pack
Velec R48m Fixed Monochrome Lcd Display
Velec R48m Sr Suntour Nex Spring Suspension Fork With Integrated Headlight
Velec R48m Wuxing Mechanical Disc Brakes 180 Mm
Velec R48m Oversized Comfort Saddle Adjustable Kickstand
Velec R48m Nuvinci N380 Continuously Variable Transmission Hub
Velec R48m Independent Backlight On Alloy Rack
Velec R48m Electric Bike At Mile High Stadium In Denver
Velec R48m Mid Drive Electric Bike Vs Hub Motor
Velec R48m Rear Rack And Battery Option
Velec R48m Rack With Optional Second Battery
Velec R48m Metal 3 Amp Ebike Charger

Summary

  • An efficient, very approachable, city cruiser electric bicycle with upgradeable battery pack and optional secondary rear battery for extended range, delivers advanced pedal assist and twist throttle
  • Dapu mid-motor is powerful, extremely quiet, and pairs perfectly with the Gates Carbon belt drive and NuVinci continuously variable transmission hub that can be shifted at standstill
  • Available in two frame sizes and three colors, front and rear lights help you to see and reflective tires help you be seen, plastic fenders are durable and well connected here, rubber mud flap ends and alloy chainring guard are tough
  • The rear light runs off of two AA batteries vs. being wired in, both lights have to be turned on physically, the spring suspension fork is a bit heavier and doesn't offer lockout, I loved the suspension post, sprung saddle, mid-rise handlebar with ergonomic grips and adjustable angle stem

Video Review

Trusted Advertisers

Introduction

Make:

Velec

Model:

R48M

Price:

$3,399

Body Position:

Upright, Upright Relaxed

Suggested Use:

Neighborhood, Urban, Commuting

Electric Bike Class:

Throttle on Demand (Class 2)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

1 Year Comprehensive, 2 Year Motor and Battery, 3 Year Frame

Availability:

United States, Canada

Model Year:

2018

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

68 lbs (30.84 kg)

Battery Weight:

7.4 lbs (3.35 kg)

Motor Weight:

11 lbs (4.98 kg)

Frame Material:

Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

17 in (43.18 cm)20 in (50.8 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Small/Medium Measurements: 17.25" Seat Tube, 24" Reach, 17.5" Stand Over Height, 34" Minimum Saddle Height with Suspension Post, 26.5" Width, 72" Length, Large Measurements: 20.25" Seat Tube, 24" Reach, 17.5" Stand Over Height, 37" Minimum Saddle Height with Suspension Post, 26.5" Width, 72" Length

Frame Types:

Step-Thru

Frame Colors:

Satin Black, Metallic Titanium, Gloss Red

Frame Fork Details:

SR Suntour NEX Spring Suspension, 63 mm Travel, Preload Adjust (Under Plastic Caps), 100 mm Hub Spacing, 9 mm Axle with Quick Release Skewer

Frame Rear Details:

135 mm Hub Spacing, Adjustable Horizontal Dropout, 10 mm Axle with Nuts

Attachment Points:

Fender Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses

Gearing Details:

1 Speed 1x∞ NuVinci N380 Continuously Variable Transmission Hub, 380% Gear Ratio Range, 24T Cog

Shifter Details:

Nfinity C3 Grip Shifter on Left

Cranks:

Prowheel, Forged Alloy, 170 mm Arms, 55 Tooth Beltring with Alloy Guard

Pedals:

Wellgo K20410 Plastic Platform with Rubber Tread

Headset:

Threaded, Straight 1-1/8"

Stem:

Zoom, Quill Style, 110 mm Effective Length, 90 mm Adjustable Length, 10° to 50° Adjustable Angle, 25.4 mm Clamp Diameter

Handlebar:

Alloy, Mid-Rise, 670 mm Length

Brake Details:

Wuxing Mechanical Disc with 180 mm Front Rotor and 160 mm Rear Rotor, Three-Finger Levers with Motor Inhibitors

Grips:

Rubber, Ergonomic

Saddle:

Velec Branded, Oversized Comfort, Dual-Spring

Seat Post:

EXA Form 525 Suspension Post (40 mm Travel, Preload Adjust), Alloy

Seat Post Length:

350 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

30.4 mm

Rims:

Alloy, Double Wall, Deep V, 36 Hole, 33 mm Outer Width

Spokes:

Stainless Steel, 13 Gauge, Black with Nipples

Tire Brand:

Schwalbe Marathon Plus, 26" x 2.0" (50-559)

Wheel Sizes:

26 in (66.04cm)

Tire Details:

E-Bike Ready 25 km, Performance Line SmartGuard, Reflective Sidewall Stripes, 35 to 70 PSI, 2.5 to 5.0 BAR

Tube Details:

Schrader Valve

Accessories:

Plastic Fenders with Rubber Mud Flaps (60 mm Width), Oversized Alloy Rack with Pannier Guards and Bungee Loops, Integrated Headlight, Independent Rear Light (Two AA Batteries), Throttle On/Off Switch, Optional Rear Rack 4.4 Amp Hour Battery Upgrade (Charges Separately, Separate Key, Manual Switch Near Left Grip), Optional Battery Upgrade (11 ah to 14 ah for $300), Optional Rear Rack Battery ($375)

Other:

Locking Removable Downtube-Integrated Battery Pack with USB Port, 1.6 lb 3 Amp Charger with Replaceable Fuse, Gates Carbon Belt

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Dapu MD350

Motor Type:

Mid-Mounted Geared Motor
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

350 watts

Motor Peak Output:

500 watts

Motor Torque:

80 Newton meters

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

11 ah (Optional 14 ah)

Battery Watt Hours:

528 wh (Optional 672 wh)

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion

Charge Time:

4.5 hours

Estimated Min Range:

25 miles (40 km)

Estimated Max Range:

65 miles (105 km)

Display Type:

Fixed, Monochrome, Backlit LCD, Buttons: +, Power, Set, -, (Hold + and - to Change Units, Tap Power for Backlight, Hold Set and - to Create a Password, Pull Brake Levers 20 Times to Reset Password, Hold - and Set to Lock Bike, Hold Set to Clear Trip Distance)

Readouts:

Current Speed, Assist Level (0-5), Mode (Power), Battery Charge Level (5 Bars), Trip Distance, Odometer

Display Accessories:

Full Size USB Type A Port on Top of Battery (5 Volt, 500 Milliamp)

Drive Mode:

Advanced Pedal Assist, Twist Throttle (Torque and Cadence Sensing)

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

Trusted Advertisers



Written Review

EBR charges a service fee to manufacturers to produce ebike reviews and videos, this began in 2018. It’s the same flat fee for each bike, and it helps us to keep the site going while limiting ad clutter. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you with our opinions and data but respect your right to know that we receive compensation :)

Velec is a Canadian electric bicycle company based in Montreal (Quebec) Canada, that has been designing and selling products to the US and Canada since 2005. The R48M is a 48-volt mid-drive city cruiser that balances efficiency with comfort while introducing some unique drivetrain components. Namely, a Gates Carbon belt drive and NuVinci N380 continuously variable transmission (CVT). Belts tend to last longer than chains, produce less noise, and stay cleaner because they do not utilize lubrication in the same way. With just one 55-tooth chainring up front and a single 24-tooth cog in the rear, the belt remains tight and there’s no need for an external derailleur device that could get kicked or bumped at the bike rack. The NuVinci N380 offers 380-degrees of cadence options for effective climbing and faster-paced riding alike. You can shift ratios at standstill by twisting the half-grip shifter on the left or zip up to speed anytime by twisting the half-grip throttle on the right. It’s an intuitive product that offers excellent weight distribution, some fun extras like a USB port on the of the battery box, and some safety upgrades like lights, reflective tires, fenders, and bright frame color options. Weighing in at ~68 lbs for the large size frame, the R48M is about three pounds heavier than the standard R48, which uses a planetary geared hub motor and traditional chain with cassette. That model costs ~$1,100 less and offers a similar seating position and ride feel. I was really excited to check out the R48M in particular, because there just aren’t that many e-bikes out there with belts, CVT’s, mid-drives, and throttle operation. The high-end centerdrives from Bosch, Brose, Yamaha, and Shimano are all Class 1, meaning that they only offer pedal assist. I tested this model and the hub motor powered R48M at a shop called Best Electric Bikes in Denver Colorado, with the founder Terry Gehrke. For the video review above, we each took an R48M and climbed some moderate hills. He’s a 200+ lb man who is about 5’9″ tall and 66 years old… and the bike performed very well from what I could tell. My favorite parts were how quiet it operated and how the twist throttle could override any of the 1-5 levels of assist with full power. Some of the downsides included cheaper independently operated lights (with physical on/off switches that take extra time to deal with), the added weight and slight drag of the fluid-filled NuVinci hub, and the higher price point. The company sells through a growing network of dealers, most of which were located in Canada at the time of this review, and offers a solid 1+ year comprehensive warranty.

Driving this electric bike is a Dapu MD350 mid-motor. It offers roughly 350 to 500 watts of power and up to 80 Newton meters of torque, according to the company website. As you pedal along, the motor controller listens for movement as well as pedal force to ramp up smoothly. It’s a natural feeling, very quiet motor system that weighs a bit more than average at ~11 lbs. Mid-motors utilize the same drivetrain as the rider does when pedaling, so shifting gears lower or higher reduces work and makes it more effective and efficient. It’s still up to you to shift however, and this motor controller doesn’t come with shift detection… but that’s not an issue here, because the NuVinci CVT hub won’t mash and skip the way that a sprocket and derailleur might. I’ve already talked a bit about the belt drive system, but want to further call out how Gates has designed a center-track system to keep it from slipping off. Velec did not opt for a complete belt cover, but there was an alloy chainring guard on the demo bike I tested. Interestingly, this part is not shown on their stock photo (the first picture on white above). This guard should further secure the belt and keep your pant leg and dress ends clean and snag-free. Because the motor casing and battery box are black, they do stand out a bit visually on the red and titanium colorways, but those two will probably generate more attention from motorists and potentially keep you safer than the satin black. Aside from efficiency, mid-motors also keep weight low and centered on the frame and free up the rear wheel for different drivetrain options (like the NuVinci N380 here), they tend to make wheel maintenance easier, and reduce frame flex. Velec went above and beyond to strengthen this ebike by adding gusset plating near the top and bottom sections of downtube as well as secondary chain stay tubing at the rear. Can you see how there are three tubes in the back vs. just two on a standard bicycle? This should strengthen the frame and improve stability while riding while also fortifying the rear-rack mounting position… and that’s important considering the optional rack mount battery upgrade!

The battery situation for some of the Velex models is unique, and good if you like choice. The stock pack offers 48 volts 11 amp hours for 528 watt hours, which I would consider above average for the 2018 season. I weighs about 7.4 lbs, which is more than the Bosch and Yamaha 500 watt hour packs that are built into plastic cases. I like how neatly the Velec pack seats into the downtube, nearly disappearing and keeping weight low for balance and stability. For ~$300 more, you can upgrade to a 48 volt 14 amp hour 672 watt hour battery that will take you further and weigh about 0.5 lbs more. It seats into the same downtube interface and has apparently become one of the most popular choices for consumers, based on feedback from Terry and his customers. In the scheme of things, for a $3.4k ebike, $300 isn’t much money to get that extra peace of mind. At first, I thought that these were the only two battery options on offer for the R48M, but Terry showed me a rear rack upgrade with 48 volt 4.4 amp hour battery for an additional $375. You’re paying at a similar rate for the rack battery, which replaces the stock rack, but bringing weight up on the frame. The Velec models I test rode for this review were all pre-wired for this rack battery, and that impressed but also surprised me. That’s a bit of extra weight and cost on every bike sold and I probably don’t fit the use case for really needing the extra juice, so it didn’t resonate with me as much as the $300 upgrade. All said and done, with both battery upgrades purchased, you could be riding with 48 volt 18.4 amp hours 883.2 watt hours… almost an entire kilowatt hour of battery capacity! For larger riders, commuters who can’t charge half way, and those who heavily rely on assist level 5 or the twist throttle, this is a cool option. But remember, the mid-drive motor is already more efficient than the hub, so you should get better range right off the bat. It’s great that all battery options are removable for storing and charging independent of the frame. Extreme heat and cold can damage Lithium-ion cells, especially if you charge a very cold battery. The stock charger offers 3 amp output, so it will fill faster than the standard 2 amp chargers included with more basic bikes.

Operating the Velec R48M is intuitive, but there are extra steps and more control over drive modes than most of the other electric bicycles I’ve reviewed in this category. To start, you charge and mount the battery pack… and yes, you can charge the pack while mounted to the bike by plugging in on the left side of the downtube. I love that Velec positioned the charging port high and clear of the left crank arm. And, on that note, it’s nice that they also positioned the rear kickstand clear of the left crank arm. So once the battery is in place, you hold the power button on the control pad, mounted near the left grip. The monochrome display blinks to life fairly quickly with speed, assist level, battery charge level, and trip stats. Since Canadada and the US use different units of measurement for speed, I want to point out that you can switch from MPH to KM/H and back by Holding the + and – keys on the control pad. Holding the – key alone will enter into a password menu where I’m guessing that you could adjust the speed and wheel size settings, or perform diagnostics. Holding the Set button will clear your trip meter. The control pad is fairly easy to reach and I appreciate the Set key, but wish that there was a way to operate the lights from here as well. It would be nice if you could remove the display unit to reduce damage when parking outside or at a public rack, especially since it’s a bit large. The extra toggle button on the left (not shown in my photos, and possibly not always included) allow you to switch from the main downtube battery to the optional rear rack battery. The extra red toggle button on the right allows you to turn the twist throttle on and off. This feature is wonderful to have but not always included because it can block trigger shifters. Imagine that you’re getting on or off the bike but you haven’t turned the throttle off, it could be twisted accidentally and send the bike forward. Again, nice to have this! and only really possible here because of the left grip NuVinci shifter choice. It’s neat to see how Velec paid close attention to these details. In closing, I mentioned that the battery pack has an integrated full-sized USB port near the top edge, where the flip-up handle is, and that’s nice to have if you’re navigating with a smartphone or adding extra lights etc. but it would be nice if the display panel also had a USB port built in, so the wire wouldn’t have to go as far. You could always purchase a right angle interface like this to keep the wire pointed forward.

Velec makes a wide range of ebike products and the R48M is near the top in terms of performance and quality. Not everything here is top notch however, the mechanical disc brakes are average compared to hydraulic but do have motor inhibitors built-in for safety. The bike weighs and costs a lot more than their A2 model, which also offers an approachable step-thru design, but that one only comes in one size. The included plastic fenders, with mud flaps, performed well and stayed pretty quiet. Plastic almost always produces some rattling noise, but the rear fender was attached to the rack for increased strength. You get a little flick bell, decent rubberized pedals that won’t cut your shins if you slip off, and premium Schwalbe tires with Performance Line SmartGuard puncture protection. I haven’t mentioned comfort up until this point because it’s pretty apparent. The Velec R48 series comes with a basic suspension fork, suspension seat post, huge sprung saddle, adjustable stem, and mid-rise bars with ergonomic grips. This electric bicycle is a turn-key solution for people who want power, balance, and comfort and Terry acknowledged that they have been very reliable for his customers. I personally love that there are so many choices here in terms of size, color, and even motor type. If you do opt for the secondary rack battery, note that it will have to be charged separately from the main pack, they don’t charge in a connected way even though they may both be charged while mounted to the frame. Note that the twist throttle is not active at level zero (even if you have the toggle switch set to on). Big thanks to Best Electric Bikes for hosting me during these reviews and to Velec for partnering with me on this review! I welcome your feedback and comments below or in the Velec electric bike forums.

Pros:

  • Extremely approachable and comfortable, with two frame sizes (both in step-thru), a vertically adjustable quill stem with adjustable angle, ergonomic grips, suspension fork, suspension seat post, and extra wide sprung saddle… this ebike rides like a dream
  • The mid-drive version of this electric bicycle costs more, but it’s a more capable climber and will get better range if you shift gears effectively
  • The Dapu mid motor listens for pedal cadence and torque, making it very responsive, it doesn’t offer shift detection in this case but that’s not an issue with the NuVinci internally geared hub
  • The NuVinci N380 can be shifted at standstill and tends to be more durable than a cassette and derailleur at bike racks because the gear ratio is internal, this is nice if your bike tips over or gets parked at a crowded rack
  • Belt drives tend to be extremely durable, clean, and quiet, it’s like the timing belt in an automobile that can last for tends of thousands of miles
  • Great utility with stock plastic fenders, a front and rear light, flick bell, adjustable kickstand positioned clear of the left crank arm, and sturdy rear rack with pannier hangers and bungee loops on the sides
  • Available in three beautiful colors, so you can mix and match if more than one member of the family buys a bike… I like the metallic titanium and red because they offer increased visibility, but the black really hides the wires, motor casing, and battery
  • In addition to the visible paint options, you do have the lights and reflective tires working to keep you seen in low-light conditions
  • Velec provides a faster than average three amp battery charger so you can spend more time riding and less time waiting, it’s cool that they offer two battery sizes and even have a rear-rack battery upgrade for people who need extra range
  • Only a few mid-drive motor systems are compatible with throttles and this is one of them! For those who need help getting started or might not want to pedal constantly, it’s a great feature to have
  • The added weight from the battery and motor is positioned low and center for optimal handling, I love how integrated the battery is because it basically disappears
  • I love that the twist throttle can be disabled, simply click the red toggle switch to the lower left area and you won’t have to worry about bumping it during mounting/dismounting or bumpy sections of terrain
  • Minor pro here, the brake levers both have motor inhibitor switches built in which offers a bit more control and peace of mind… I don’t consider them quite as necessary for a torque and cadence sensing motor design like this but aside from the extra wires, there isn’t really a downside to having them
  • It’s cool that they got a left side grip shifter for the NuVinci and put the twist throttle for the motor on the right, this just feels more natural to me, like riding a motorcycle or jet ski which also tend to put throttles on the right
  • If you look at the frame tubing here, it’s clear that Velec added a lot of material where the downtube meets the seat tube to reduce flex, they even added a second chain stay so there are three tubes working together on each side of the rear section of frame
  • Cables are internally routed for nicer aesthetics and reduced snags and I appreciate where they positioned the charging port on the left side of the frame (clear of the crank arms further down)
  • The battery pack has a flip-up handle to help you remove and transport it safely, that’s a big deal because Lithium-ion battery packs like this tend to be very expensive and can be damaged easily if dropped
  • Gates produces some of the highest quality belt drive systems on the market for bicycles and this particular belt offers CDX center-tracking so it won’t slip off to either side over time, I appreciate the chainring guard as well which should keep your pants or skirt ends clean

Cons:

  • In order to fit a belt drive onto most bicycle frames, there has to be a cutaway section in the frame which compromises strength and adds weight and cost, you can see the cutaway here on the right seat stay just above the rear dropout
  • Continuously variable transmissions tend to weigh more than internally geared hubs and traditional cassettes and the NuVinci N360 and N380 contain a fluid that produces a bit of drag as you pedal, some users notice this more than others, it’s not a big concern for me given that this is an electric bike with an efficient 350 watt mid-motor
  • The integrated headlight is mounted to the arch of the suspension and may bounce as you navigate through bumpy terrain vs. if it were mounted to the head tube, stem, or handlebar… the backlight runs on two AA batteries and takes more effort to switch on and remember to switch off after each ride, I was surprised that the headlight also still has a manual button press vs. using the main control pad/display to operate
  • The spring suspension fork is a little basic and does not include lockout so there can be some bobbing and dive when braking especially, mechanical disc brakes are okay but hydraulic tend to require less effort and offer more adjustability, the rubberized plastic pedals won’t cut your shins but aren’t as stiff or grippy as alloy, the display works fine but isn’t removable and doesn’t have a USB charging port built-in… thankfully, the battery pack does have a full sized USB so you could run a cable up from there
  • The R48M weighs about 68 lbs while the hub motor powered R48 weighs about 65 lbs, so the motor and continuously variable transmission do add a few pounds, I would consider both models a bit heavier than average and that may be due to the sturdier rear rack, additional suspension, larger saddle, and integrated battery design (with reinforced downtube and double chain stay to help reduce frame flex)
  • The rear rack is positioned pretty close to the seat tube and saddle, this brings weight closer to the frame for strength and reduced flex but it might also put a trunk bag very close to the saddle and limit the minimum seat height in that case… this is more of a wash than a con :)
  • This is more of a consideration than a con, sometimes the adjustable angle stems can rattle loose over time (especially on bumpy terrain or if you go off curbs), this one seemed to have one main bolt vs. two so just check it occasionally and tighten right away to keep it from stripping

Resources:

More Velec Reviews

Velec R48 Review

  • MSRP: $2,299
  • MODEL YEAR: 2018

A feature rich, step-thru cruiser, with adjustable handlebar, suspension fork, suspension seat post, and extra-large sprung saddle for comfort. Thicker spokes provide wheel strength, the tires have puncture protective lining to reduce flats, and…...

Velec A2 Review

  • MSRP: $1,699
  • MODEL YEAR: 2018

An approachable neighborhood electric bike with lots of utility extras, plastic fenders with rubber mud flaps, a long plastic chain cover, a rear carry rack, and LED lights. The step-thru frame is reinforced with a gusset at the front and shortened top tube…...

Comments (4) YouTube Comments

MisterJp
5 months ago

Court, Nice review. Very interesting battery options. I’m interested in this bike, but live on a steep hill. Do you think that 350w Dapu mid motor get me up our hill? I weigh about 200 lbs.

  Reply
Court
4 months ago

Good question… it may work with throttle only in the highest assist level with the lowest range of gearing. My own approach has been to pedal along on steep sections to reduce stress on the motor. Yes, for a 200 lb rider I do feel confident that this ebike would make it up, it’s just that you’ll probably have to help a bit and make sure to shift appropriately (which shouldn’t be an issue given the CVT which can be adjusted on the fly). I hope this helps and I welcome your feedback if you do purchase the Velec R48M and get to test it with the hill ;)

  Reply
Glen Doe
4 weeks ago

Hi Court, I am testing a Velec R48 and am surprised by the noise that the Suntour NEX fork makes on rebound. Did you think the fork was noisy on rebound on the R48M? I received another fork from Velec because of my concern, but the noise is identical :-(

Thanks, Glen

  Reply
Court
2 weeks ago

Hmm, that’s an interesting point Glen. I’ve reviewed this fork on many affordably priced electric bikes over the years and haven’t been too concerned about the sound… just sort of taking it as part of the spring design. It’s a less expensive product, the stanchions are narrower, it isn’t as adjustable, the sound might be part of the trade-off here, but I’m just guessing. Sorry to hear that it bothers you, I hope you feel safe and that it holds up for you.

  Reply

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.