- One of the lightest, most compact, folding electric bikes I have tested, it folds down quickly and doesn't rattle around or come undone very easily because the seat post secures it
- An integrated headlight, independent rear light, and bright glossy white frame help you to see and be seen in varied conditions, included canvas bag offers protection and concealment
- A slightly lower 14 mph top assisted speed improves efficiency and stability given the smaller wheelset, efficient tires coast smoothly and the rear bumper and padded seat offer decent comfort
- Single-speed drivetrain is reliable, plastic guides keep the chain on track even when folded, battery is not removable but can be replaced, pedal assist isn't super responsive but motor inhibitor brake levers help
Folding bikes have many uses… not all of which are immediately obvious. Petite riders regularly seek them out because of the low easy-to-approach standover height, shorter reach, and lighter overall weight. Boaters, RVers, and even private plane operators appreciate the compact size which allows for a pre-fit, familiar bicycle and gear to be brought along on new adventures. But unfortunately, many electric folding bikes just aren’t that light or compact. There’s a direct inverse relationship with size, power, frame strength, and cost. I regularly see cheap folding e-bikes that are just as heavy as full sized models, difficult to break down, less stable, and less comfortable. Now, the VeloMini doesn’t solve all of these problems, there are still trade-offs being made. But it is one of my favorite folding ebikes because of how easy it is to fold and how lightweight it is. This is a product that gets compared more with electric kick scooters than ebikes. It delivers a similar form factor (a bit longer than wider when folded) and doesn’t stand out as much as the products with removable battery packs and larger rear mounted motors. You don’t get the same top speed or range, but it charges so quickly (in around two hours) that bringing the compact one-pound charger along is no big deal. The original VeloMini products weren’t as handsome and “normal” looking as the latest Plus model. This is a product that has been refined over the years, since 2010 when they launched in America, it can now seat taller riders thanks to an elongated seat post and telescoping stem and despite the single-size option, can accommodate up to 260 lbs of rider weight and gear plus 50 additional pounds if you get the folding T-1 Trailer. Priced at $1,295 MSRP, the VeloMini+ isn’t as widespread in shops as some of the cheaper full-sized folders, but they do ship in the US and Canada and assembly consists of a three-step unfolding routine. The same three steps you’ll take to re-fold and unfold every time you use it. With narrow 16″ wheels, this isn’t a trail bike and you don’t get fenders for damp days, but the rear rack (when covered by the optional $29 lb trunk bag) keeps your back dry.
Driving the bike is a compact 250 watt nominal, planetary geared hub motor. They mounted it in the front wheel which keeps the single-speed drivetrain simple and clean. Changing flats on this bike isn’t an ordeal but without quick release wheels, you will need to bring along an adjustable wrench or pre-sized toolset. Consider purchasing additional inner tubes for the unique size and possibly Sliming the tubes and carrying a mini-pump in case you get a flat. The tires are narrow but rated to a higher PSI range of 40 to 65, stay towards the upper end if you weigh more or are carrying cargo. If you go off a curb or hit a deep pothole at speed, the tire can squish up and push the tube into the rim walls causing a pinch flat. But enough maintenance talk, I’m emphasizing it here because of the nonstandard use that many folding bikes get, being taken to unfamiliar territory. Back to the motor, you get a top assisted speed up to 14 mph but I was able to pedal beyond this on smooth, flat terrain. I’m not sure I would regularly strive for higher speeds given the short handlebar and nimble but less-stable wheelset. It feels good at 10 to 14 and the single-speed drivetrain didn’t both me because twist throttle was always available to help with starts. Note the plastic chain guide and cover which protects pants and dresses while keeping the chain on track during folds and carrying. The two complaints I do have about the motor are that it produces a distinct high-pitch whine when operating at full power and that it can spin the front tire briefly when starting (at least for me). The world of electric bicycles is full of interesting, sometimes distracting, statistics and motor wattage is one of them. What may sound small and weak to one person, is actually the perfect solution here because the smaller wheels offer a mechanical advantage for starting and climbing and the reduction in power flow acts as a battery-sipper, extending range from eight or so miles using the throttle-only to eighteen or more if you ride at the lowest level of pedal assist.
Given the cadence sensor and throttle setup here, this is a bike that can use more juice. The motor can feel sudden and even surprising at times if you jump to the highest level when starting out or completely open the throttle. As shown in the video, you want to be extra careful with this bike anytime it is turned on. Brand new VeloMini’s tend to have their pedals rotate when you walk the bike forward… which sets off the cadence sensor and can send the bike zipping forward. This happened to me as I got distracted filming and forgot to arrow down to zero, but even in that mode the throttle would still be hot and it would be easy to accidentally activate the bike during folding or loading. Given the extremely light 29.4 lb footprint, I never felt intimidated about the bike tipping over or taking off and hurting someone the way that I have with some other products. In fact, the bike did tip several times. The kickstand is small and effective but strong gusts of wind, angled surfaces, and the use of that T-1 Rack are enough to let it tip. Thankfully, much of the weight that is added to this bike through the motor and battery is positioned low and centrally. This is exactly what you want for balanced handling and predictable lifting and stowing. The battery itself only adds three pounds to the bike and is completely hidden inside the main tube. It looks better than the majority of other folding bikes and practically disappears… helping you blend in and avoid questions and unwanted attention. Note that the battery can be removed for service and replacement by taking the headlight off and sliding the stem out. It’s not something you should plan to do regularly but it’s nice that you can, to keep the bike going for years to come. You get 24 volts and 10 amp hours with this pack, quiet a bit less than the traditional 36 volt 10 amp hours on full sized products, but they had to save weight somewhere and the energy-dense Lithium-ion cells are long lasting. Store the bike in cool, dry locations at ~80% to maximize life. Check on it every month or two if you haven’t used it and fill it back up to 80% if it has dropped down.
Operating the bike requires two steps once the battery has been charged up. You stand over the frame and click the red toggle switch from the circle to the line on the right side, near the right grip. This switches on the battery pack, now you can hold the little power button on the control pad near the left grip. Once it is powered up, the five-bar battery infographic will light up and the headlight will come on if it’s dark out. At this point, the throttle is live and you can use it to zip along smoothly up to ~12 mph. For a more natural ride, and to give your wrist a break, press the plus button on the control pad to select one of three levels of pedal assist. The highest level of assist “High” gets you up to 14 mph and I recommend working your way there vs. starting the bike in high power mode from a standstill. This is the mode I used for the ride tests in order to demonstrate the towing and climbing power of the bike. And again, you could hear the electronic whir of the motor but don’t be too concerned, some of my frame shots amplified it. The reality is that road noises and even the tires and clicking of the pawls in the freewheel mask it pretty well. If you want to go slower, use the minus button to decrease power and once you’re done, hold that power button again and click the red toggle switch. I would prefer just one power switch on this bike but understand the separation of battery power flow from electronic controls. Many cheaper bikes have this sort of thing and at least both switches are easy to see and reach on the VeloMini Plus. Other products require you to reach down or back and sometimes even get off the bike to click a switch, which can be inconvenient.
The VeloMini+ isn’t a perfect bike for every occasion but I appreciate that it doesn’t try to be. It’s light, easy to fold, compact, and simple to use. The included canvas bag keeps it clean (or hides the fact that it’s dirty if you’re getting onto public transportation) but I felt the bag was annoying to zip. Maybe future bags will be a little looser or this one was just so new that it hadn’t filled out yet? Having an integrated headlight is wonderful and the very basic independent rear light was welcome but I’d probably wear a larger one on my backpack or helmet. The optional trunk bag and trailer have reflective tape on them and were both perfectly sized and matching for use with the VeloMini. With only one size and one color option, I didn’t feel like I was sacrificing much in the way of fit or style. This product is professional and timeless vs. cheap and tacky. I’m glad the rear rack is welded on vs. bolted because it felt solid and even had some rubber bumpers to protect it when folded under the frame. The yellow plastic bumper at the back offers a bit of shock absorption but the real superstar in terms of comfort is the saddle. It offers an inch or more of cushion support that is noticeable and welcome. Do I wish the optional trailer was cheaper? Yes, absolutely. But the product itself seems like a great value and I would definitely get the $29 trunk bag for the charger, my keys, a mini-pump with a pressure gauge like this and my wallet etc. Big thanks to Doug, the founder of VeloMini, for partnering with me on this post and
using me.. I mean inviting me to go along to the port to pick these things up! It was neat to see how products from Asia get shipped over and unloaded at the port (Berkeley California in this case). Having reviewed the older VeloMini products, I came away very impressed with the new Plus model and finding that I enjoyed riding it more than kick scooters and wearing a backpack for gear.
- VeloMini products are manufactured in Suzhou to Doug’s specifications, he has been importing and refining this product line since 2010, he receives the products directly and visits the factory regularly
- At ~30 lbs, this is one of the lightest folding electric bikes I have tried, it feels more stable to ride than a kick scooter and offers more carrying capacity
- Despite only coming in one frame size, the extra-long seat post and telescoping stem allow for a wide range of riders to fit, stand-over height is very low for people with hip and knee issues
- You get variable speed throttle on demand and three levels of pedal assist for any type of riding, it’s nice to get power instantly without pedaling if you want
- The motor is small and blends in with the silver spokes and the battery is completely hidden in the main tube of the bike so you can hardly tell it’s electric, the bike is very well balanced front to rear
- An eight-magnet cadence sensor provides medium responsiveness in pedal assist mode so the brake lever motor inhibitors are very useful, any time you pull the brakes the motor stops
- Cadence sensing assist isn’t as responsive or fluid as torque sensing would be, but you don’t have to work as hard pushing which is nice considering that this product has shorter 152 mm crank arms and softer plastic pedals
- Thicker 13 Gauge spokes pair nicely with the smaller diameter rims to provide a lot of strength, the bike is rated for up to 260 lbs of combined rider and cargo weight, the optional trailer can support up to 50 lbs
- The included canvas bag keeps the bike clean, makes it easier to lift (or wear as a backpack), and conceals it if you’re boarding a passenger train car where some people might not want a bike next to them
- In addition to having a front and rear light that is included, the glossy white frame is visible from the sides in low lighting conditions and the optional trunk bag and trailer have reflective patches to keep you safe
- VeloMini has been around in the US since 2010 and offers a one-year comprehensive warranty, I got to meet with the founder and see the operation so it felt legit
- Because the bikes are so light, I found that the bikes would tip when a strong gust came through, the kickstand is tiny and usually out of the way unless you get the optional trailer, in that case the stand can be a little tricky to deploy and stow again due to the hitch arm
- I feel like the T-1 Trailer accessory is very expensive at $395 but I cannot deny that it’s made well and folds down easily, riding with the trailer partially full felt great,
I hardly noticed it
- Most electric bikes allow you to remove the battery for safe storage and independent charging but the VeloMini has it built in… you can replace it with a bit of work if the cells ever completely expire after years of use
- Smaller wheels and narrower tires tend to be uncomfortable to ride with because they fall into cracks, they offer increased strength and allow for a more compact fold but these are no exception, the lower top speed, bumper shock at the rear, and cushy saddle really help
- VeloMini can be difficult to find in person, only a handful of shops carried it at the time of this review, but they ship direct and assembly is very easy… basically just unfold it
- Some of the quick release collars really need to be tightened down, I noticed the seat twist a bit on me during the ride and the cargo trailer had one wheel start to fold in after we loaded some weight in it, just double check these and really tighten them down
- Be sure to power the bike off or arrow down assist when stopping and walking the bike, I noticed that the crank arms would naturally turn when walking it and this activates pedal assist which can zip the bike forward unexpectedly
- The motor produces a soft electronic whirring noise and the front wheel can spin out if you blast the throttle or start on the highest level of assist
- The included canvas bag is a little tight, it took more than five minutes to fold the bike, align the bag and carefully zip it up without… it had to be done just right
- The crank arms and pedals pass too close to the rear rack for a standard size pannier but the trunk bag works well, if you get the trailer option your left heel may get close to the hitch arm but I never made contact
- Since the display panel is so basic, you don’t get a precise indication for how full the battery is and there is no speedometer, odometer, trip meter, clock, range estimate etc. as some of the fancier ebikes now have