Vilano ION Review

Vilano Ion Electric Bike Review
Vilano Ion
Vilano Ion 240 Watt Geared Hub Motor Generic
Vilano Ion 36 Volt 8 8 Amp Hour Rack Battery
Vilano Ion Ergonomic Grips Revoshift Grip Shifter
Vilano Ion Basic Led Control Panel
Vilano Ion Six Speed Shimano Tourney Drivetrain
Vilano Ion Cheap Folding Electric Bike Side View
Vilano Ion Folding Ebike Top View
Vilano Ion Cheap Folding Electric Bike
Vilano Ion 2 Amp Lithium Ion Battery Charger
Vilano Ion Electric Bike Review
Vilano Ion
Vilano Ion 240 Watt Geared Hub Motor Generic
Vilano Ion 36 Volt 8 8 Amp Hour Rack Battery
Vilano Ion Ergonomic Grips Revoshift Grip Shifter
Vilano Ion Basic Led Control Panel
Vilano Ion Six Speed Shimano Tourney Drivetrain
Vilano Ion Cheap Folding Electric Bike Side View
Vilano Ion Folding Ebike Top View
Vilano Ion Cheap Folding Electric Bike
Vilano Ion 2 Amp Lithium Ion Battery Charger

Summary

  • Very affordable folding electric bike sold on Amazon, unfortunately it looks like they no longer stock it? Even the manufacturer website seems to have it discontinued or sold out, also no mention of a warranty
  • Nice looking paint job, the silver motor casing matches the spokes and plastic fenders, the battery locks to the rack and seems well protected but you don't have to leave the key in and can charge it on or off the bike!
  • With six gears to choose from you'd think this bike would feel comfortable at speeds from zero to twenty mph but I found that it was difficult to keep up at higher speeds, the chainring is a bit small given the smaller 20" wheelset
  • Rear heavy design, the rack was bent when my unit arrived but otherwise all was good and it was easy to assemble, no clasps or cords to keep it in the folded position and no support arm to rest it and protect the chainring

Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Vilano

Model:

Pulse

Price:

$699

Body Position:

Upright

Suggested Use:

Neighborhood, Urban

Electric Bike Class:

Pedal Assist (Class 1)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Availability:

United States

Model Year:

2016

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

42.5 lbs (19.27 kg)

Battery Weight:

4.9 lbs (2.22 kg)

Frame Material:

Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

15 in (38.1 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Unfolded Dimensions: 15" Seat Tube, 21" Reach, 24" Stand Over Height, 61" Length, Folded Dimensions: 36" Long, 17" Wide, 28" Tall

Frame Types:

Step-Thru, Folding

Frame Colors:

Metallic Grey with Neon Green Accent

Frame Fork Details:

Rigid Steel

Frame Rear Details:

11 mm Skewer

Attachment Points:

Rear Rack Bosses, Fender Bosses

Gearing Details:

6 Speed 1x6 Shimano Tourney, 11-28T

Shifter Details:

RevoShift Grip Twist

Cranks:

Forged Aluminum, 36T Chainring

Pedals:

Generic FP-909, Plastic Platform

Stem:

Folding

Handlebar:

Low-Rise Aluminum, 22.5" Length

Brake Details:

Sparkle Brand Mechanical Linear Pull, Wuxing Levers with Motor Inhibitors

Grips:

Ergonomic Rubber

Saddle:

Vader Comfort

Seat Post:

Aluminum Alloy

Seat Post Length:

330 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

27.2 mm

Rims:

JHT 406x25 T6 Aluminum Alloy

Spokes:

Stainless Steel, 13G

Tire Brand:

Kenda Kontact, 20" x 1.75"

Wheel Sizes:

20 in (50.8cm)

Tire Details:

40-65 PSI

Tube Details:

Schrader Valve

Accessories:

Plastic Fenders with Mud Flaps, Plastic Chain Guard, Aluminum Carry Rack, Independent LED Lights, Aluminum Kickstand

Other:

Locking Removable Battery Pack, 1.3 lb 2 Amp Charger, 53 lbs Shipping Weight with Box, Quando Front Hub

Electronic Details

Motor Type:

Rear-Mounted Geared Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

240 watts

Battery Brand:

Broadline Energy Company

Battery Voltage:

36 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

8.8 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

316.8 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium-ion

Charge Time:

5 hours

Estimated Min Range:

15 miles (24 km)

Estimated Max Range:

25 miles (40 km)

Display Type:

Fixed LED Console

Readouts:

Battery Level (4 Dots), Assist Level (Eco, 1, 2, 3)

Drive Mode:

Cadence Sensing Pedal Assist (12 Magnet Sensor)

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

The Valano ION is built around a somewhat dated design where the battery pack fits into a rear rack vs. being integrated into the downtube like the e-Joe Epik, EG Vienna, VoltBike Urban or a whole slew of other models. This makes it rear heavy and more prone to tipping but provides easy access to the pack which makes taking the battery off quicker. I love that the battery locks to the rack and that the key does not have to be left in while operating it! You can charge it on or off the bike and weighing in at just ~5 lbs the pack offers average power and capacity with 36 volts and 8.8 amp hours…

I was impressed by how easy the bike was to assemble when it arrived. The packing was great but somehow the back end of the rack was bent (something I read from other owners in Amazon comments as well). I ended up breaking the back portion of the rack clean off when trying to bend it straight then filed it down to reduce sharp edges. Okay, so once the pack was charged and I got to ride it I found the display panel easy to understand and use but very limited in terms of readouts. There’s no speed or range menu and the battery indicator is just four LED’s so you’ve got 25% increments that don’t feel as useful as a 10 tick info-graphic. This is a pedal assist only electric bike, Class 1, and the 12 magnet sensor is very responsive. The motor kicks from off to on quickly with just half a pedal stroke in most cases but the motor is very zippy and almost startling at times. A smoother ramp up would be nice… I also found that the 6 speed drivetrain (which uses basic parts) paired with a smaller chainring left me spinning rapidly in the higher speeds (likely approaching 20 mph). Vilano might have opted for a larger chainring to offset the smaller wheelset to make for a more comfortable high-speed experience :)

All things considered, for just ~$700 this thing isn’t half bad… except that it’s not for sale anymore. There’s always a risk involved with buying online from a smaller company. I’m sure I would have received a discount if this were being sold at an actual bike shop just because of the bent rack. You’re guaranteed extra work assembling but it wasn’t too bad here (most folding electric bicycles are easy to setup). I just wonder if it will be possible to find a replacement battery for this someday when it starts to lose capacity? I also feel that the ride was rough as there’s no suspension seat post, suspension fork or other dampening features besides the average-sized tires and comfort seat (which did not feel comfortable to me). I’m not trying to hate here, just calling out the different considerations beyond price, power and weight. Speaking of weight, the Amazon listing was misleading here stating that the shipping weight was just 24 lbs when in actuality it was 53 lbs and the bike (once unpacked and setup) was 42.5 lbs… that’s not too bad, but it’s a far cry from 24 and one other Amazon buyer wrote the same thing. I feel that Vilano should check their website and post the instructions at the URL which is listed on the box (currently the page just says “coming soon” and that they should be more detail oriented in how they list products… The Amazon listing is from their official company, they posted it and it contains very few details and some misleading information. If you found one of these at a garage sale or if Vilano began selling them again in the future I’d say it could work well for someone on a budget but the design is outdated and the components and drive systems are very generic.

Pros:

  • Longer than average seat post offers 330 mm so you can position it higher for tall riders or drop all the way down for petite riders, standard 27.2″ diameter works with many seat post suspension units for improved comfort
  • The bike arrives almost completely assembled, I had to remove a bunch of foam and zip ties, adjust the rack and fenders, straighten the handle bar, pump up the tires then pedal through the gears a bit but otherwise it was ready to go… way easier than most full sized ebikes where the front wheel and handlebars are not attached
  • When it was folded up, I was able to pull the bike forward and have it wheel along easily… it’s not specifically designed for this with extra handles or anything fancy but it did work and was much easier than lifting
  • This is a purpose-built electric bike with power cables run through the frame for improved aesthetic and reduced snag potential, I like that there are torque arms on the front wheel and the rack is reinforced and sturdy
  • Nice little extras here like the plastic fenders and chain cover, these will keep you dry and clean but didn’t rattle around much during my ride tests, it’s a good looking bike and very functional at the price
  • The linear pull brakes work well and I love that the levers incorporate motor cutoff switches for safety, the display panel is simple and easy to operate without much of a learning curve
  • Pedal assist worked very well thanks to a 12 magnet cadence sensor! It started and stopped quickly and I found that three levels were good for varying speeds of operation… it was a bit jerky on starts and produced a louder zip sound than some other hubs I’ve tried, a smoother ramp up in power would be nice
  • Even though the motor is on the small side at ~240 watts, you get a nice mechanical advantage by using 20″ wheels so it actually feels pretty zippy and is super efficient given the pedal-assist only operation
  • The battery locks to the frame with a key but the key doesn’t have to be left in while using it, this is huge for me because keys can be forgotten and often jingle or snag when left on the bike during rides
  • The battery charger is light weight at ~1.3 lbs, compact and portable so you can take it with to top off at work or a friend’s house, plugs into any standard US wall outlet
  • The display panel is compact, easy to understand and reach while riding. You don’t get a lot of options (and can’t see your speed or precise battery level) but it gets the job done and seems well sealed against water… note that a warning on the battery pack says you should not ride in rain or any kind of water which might be erring on the ultra-safe side

Cons:

  • Geared too easy, it’s difficult to reach the top speed without feeling like you’re pedaling super fast, the front chainring should have been larger to compensate for the smaller wheelset
  • Stiff headset, you can feel the bearings rolling around when you turn to steer the bike, I’m not sure if it was just overtightened at the factory or very cheap
  • Despite what I would consider good packaging (sturdy box with plastic shields on the axles, lots of styrofoam and zip ties) the rear rack was bent when the bike arrived and subsequently broke off, at least the battery was not harmed :)
  • The bike rests in the folded position pretty well if you put one pedal down but otherwise there is no protective bar as I see on a lot of other folding ebikes… there’s also no magnetic clasp or bungee system to keep it from coming unfolded, consider using your own adjustable bungee cords
  • This is a rear-heavy electric bike with both the hub motor and battery towards the back, the rack is useful and can accommodate ~50 lbs with the battery in it but does keep weight higher than if it were a mid-frame design like a lot of other folding electric bikes
  • The plastic pedals aren’t super stiff, when I stood up and pedaled I felt them bending a bit, would be worth considering a swap for aluminum folding pedals if you’re a heavier rider
  • Generic parts including Sparkle brand mechanical brakes, Wuxing brake levers and a 6 speed Shimano Tourney drivetrain (the lowest level of groupset from Shimano)
  • Originally the bike was being sold on Amazon (that’s where I bought it) but within a month it was no longer listed there and the official site isn’t clear about whether it’s for sale anymore, the bike may be discontinued and I wasn’t clear on warranty whether it had one or not
  • No bottle cage bosses on the top tube which means you’ll need a hydration pack or maybe a trunk bag with a bottle holster like this one

Resources:

More Vilano Reviews

Vilano Pulse Review

  • MSRP: $789
  • MODEL YEAR: 2016

A more affordable pedal-assist electric bike available in high step and a step-thru, predominantly sold online (requires assembly) and may be discontinued?. Solid commuter package including steel fenders, a chain guard, a sturdy rack with pannier blockers…...

Comments (8) YouTube Comments

Jim R
2 years ago

I really like this review. It reflects my experience in unpacking a 2017 model – except Vilano made some major improvements. As others have said the rack was bent, but mine was bent on both side braces below the welds. The 42″ wheelbase provides a stable ride – very different from the 36″ WB on my daughter’s old 20″ bike

For the 2017 Vilano model the Amazon price has dropped to $600, the battery and controller have moved into the frame’s top tube, and the seat is more of a classic cruiser comfort saddle. Gearing is still really low – even though the chainring seems to have increased to around 48 teeth. The small sprocket on the rear cluster appears to be 16 teeth which still makes for an awful long ride home if the 8.8 AH battery runs out of power. Reach (steering tube to seat tube) is still 24″, but the gooseneck has disappeared.

The internal battery and controller may clean up cable routing even more than the 2016 model, and the plastic chain guard has been replaced with guards on both sides of the chainring, while the kickstand has moved behind the pedals.

In spite of low gearing, I’m concerned this bike may not be that good for serious hill climbing but it seems really good on flat ground and gentle slopes – as long as you can get used to managing the inherent lag in “PAS” (pedal assist) systems.

Overall it seems like a great bike for getting the family outside, and design seems to offer a foundation for building a pretty competent general purpose bike – especially if I can find a way to center and drop the mass of e-bike components.

  Reply
Court
2 years ago

Great feedback and updates Jim! Thanks for your thorough walkthrough of what has changed and your overall impression of the bike. I hope it holds up well for you and invite any further thoughts you have to share. I hope you and your family have a great time out there :)

  Reply
jon
2 years ago

Maybe they were redesigning this bike when you did your test. The new one has a completely redesigned frame, with a hidden battery inside the folding frame, and disk brakes front and rear. Walmart and Amazon are selling these, which you can see here, and the Vilano Atom.

  Reply
Court
2 years ago

Thanks Jon, it looks like they have made a bunch of nice upgrades to the bike. I’ll keep an eye out and maybe review the updated version at some point. Did you buy one of these? The price is very good.

  Reply
wls
7 days ago

Anyone know if the rims on this bike are single or double wall?

  Reply
Court
7 days ago

Great question, I wish I could answer this for you… but I generally just assume most rims are double wall. Recently, one of the bikes I was covering was only single wall, and I was told that by the manufacturer. It surprised me, and now I’m unsure about how I’ve recorded other wheels. Anyway, I’m working on more details for the newer reviews :)

  Reply
wls
7 days ago

Thanks. I weigh ~230 lbs. and would require sturdy rims, plus the roads where I live are atrocious. These sub $700 eBikes are tempting because of the price, however one wants to be sure of the quality of the product they’re buying.

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