Virtue Cycles Gondoliere+ Review

Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Electric Bike Review
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 250 Watt Internally Geared Hub Motor
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Reinforced Battery Rack With Pannier Blockers
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Ergonomic Grips Swept Back Bar Bell And Shifter
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Fixed Lcd Display Panel
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Wooden Box Seat And Two Belts For Kids
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Wellgo B087 Platform Pedals
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Seven Speed Shimano Acera Drivetrain
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Lithium Ion Battery Pack Removable
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 12 Magnet Pedelec Sensor
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 25 4 Mm Seat Post
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Heavy Duty Custom Kickstand
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 26 Inch Rear Wheel
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 20 Inch Front Wheel
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Electric Bike Review
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 250 Watt Internally Geared Hub Motor
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Reinforced Battery Rack With Pannier Blockers
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Ergonomic Grips Swept Back Bar Bell And Shifter
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Fixed Lcd Display Panel
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Wooden Box Seat And Two Belts For Kids
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Wellgo B087 Platform Pedals
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Seven Speed Shimano Acera Drivetrain
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Lithium Ion Battery Pack Removable
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 12 Magnet Pedelec Sensor
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 25 4 Mm Seat Post
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus Heavy Duty Custom Kickstand
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 26 Inch Rear Wheel
Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus 20 Inch Front Wheel

Summary

  • A bucket style cargo bike with electric assist to help move supplies or children, includes two seatbelts and a little bench, more sporty handling than their three-wheel School Bus model but less stable
  • Extra wide custom kickstand provides great stability for loading, upright seating position and short reach to bars makes it easy to see down into the bucket while riding
  • Simple battery design is easy to get to and the pack is removable to charge separately or store inside, the rack it mounts to uses standard tubing and works with panniers or a trunk bag
  • Beautiful paint-matched fenders and chain guard, only available in one color and size, uses a basic roller brake in the rear wheel that isn't as powerful as I'd like considering the weight of the bike

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Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Virtue Cycles

Model:

Gondoliere+

Price:

$1,800

Body Position:

Upright Relaxed

Suggested Use:

Cargo, Neighborhood

Electric Bike Class:

Pedal Assist (Class 1)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

1 Year Comprehensive

Availability:

United States

Model Year:

20152016

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

88 lbs (39.91 kg)

Battery Weight:

5.3 lbs (2.4 kg)

Frame Material:

Chromoly Steel

Frame Sizes:

20 in (50.8 cm)

Geometry Measurements:

Bike Dimensions: 20" Seat Tube, 20" Reach, 13" Stand Over Height, 93" Length, 25" Width, 45" Height, Box Dimensions: 27" Length, 25" Width, 20" Height

Frame Types:

Cargo, Step-Thru

Frame Colors:

Atlantis Green

Frame Fork Details:

Rigid Steel

Attachment Points:

Rear Rack Bosses

Gearing Details:

7 Speed 1x7 Shimano Acera RD-M360

Shifter Details:

Shimano SL-TX-7R Thumb Shifter

Cranks:

Prowheel with KMC Chain

Pedals:

Wellgo B087 Alloy Platform

Handlebar:

Swept Back

Brake Details:

Promax Linear Pull on Front, Shimano BR-IM31-R Roller Brake on Rear, Promax BL-46 Levers

Grips:

Ergonomic, Stitched Faux Leather

Saddle:

Comfort, Faux Leather

Seat Post:

Promax, Steel

Seat Post Length:

300 mm

Seat Post Diameter:

25.4 mm

Rims:

Double Wall, Aluminum Alloy

Spokes:

13 Gauge Stainless Steel

Tire Brand:

Kenda K-Rad K905, 20" x 1.95" Front, 26" x 1.95 Rear

Wheel Sizes:

20 in (50.8cm)26 in (66.04cm)

Tube Details:

Schrader Valve

Accessories:

Paint Matched Steel Fenders, Paint Matched Steel Chain Guard, Custom Spring Loaded Double Leg Kickstand, Bolt-On Rear Rack with Pannier Blockers, Large Bell

Other:

Front Box Load Capacity 66 lbs (30kg), 1.35 Amp Charger

Electronic Details

Motor Type:

Front-Mounted Geared Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

250 watts

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 Monochrome LCD

Readouts:

Charge Level (4 Bars), Speed, Assist Level (6 Levels), Odometer

Drive Mode:

Cadence Sensing Pedal Assist (12 Magnet Pedelec)

Top Speed:

18 mph (29 kph)

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Written Review

The Gondoliere+ is one of the sportier electric-assist cargo bikes from Virtue Cycles, a company that offers unique family friendly products at surprisingly low price points. The excitement around the more affordable price faded for me a bit when I got close up and realize that the battery, motor, shifter, brakes and other accessories were more generic or low-end. The ride quality is still good and the aesthetic is very impressive with the solid wood box, brown faux-leather grips and saddle and silver accents throughout. The Atlantis Green frame color was a great choice, I’d feel proud riding it around as a guy vs. a pastel peach or yellow that I’ve seen on some of the small cruisers geared more towards women from brands like Pedego and Electra.

The value of this bike is that it lets you keep an eye on your precious cargo, be it groceries, pets or kids. You can look down from the relatively upright seating position and even communicate all without having to twist back as you do with most trailers and child seats. The wooden bin has a little bench seat and two seat belts designed to keep kids seated and comfortable. It would be a blast taking your kid along with their friend to the beach or park :D

The downsides of this design, other than a few basic components, are the size and weight… The tires and tubes aren’t especially tough and getting a flat tire would be no fun as there’s no quick release and you’ll have to deal with the motor cable on the front wheel. I love the oversized super-stable kickstand and was impressed with how easily it was to activate. You can step down on one of the little pegs and roll the bike backwards to have it pop up into position. The metal fenders and chain guard add utility keeping you and the cargo bin dry and with seven gears (and a super large climbing gear) the bike was easier to move than I was expecting.

I mentioned “sporty” handling earlier in the review and was referring to the two-wheel design of the Gondolier vs. the three wheel School Bus also made by Virtue Cycles. While it takes a bit more balance getting up to speed, turning is a lot easier on the Gondoliere as you can lean side to side. Note that the clearance of this bike isn’t great, the small 20” front wheel brings the tubing close to the ground and two steering rods extend even lower. I realize this isn’t a bike you’d probably take off road but even going over curbs or tall speed bumps could be a little precarious.

Activating the bike is a two step process with an on/off switch on the battery and another on/off button on the display. I like that the battery is easily removable and protected well inside the rear rack (which also doubles as a cargo spot, keeping sensitive gear out of the way of animals or kids feet and curious fingers). The display panel is very basic and I wasn’t able to switch from KPH to MPH, you get six levels of assist and at the highest level the bike felt very zippy. This was a surprise because a 250 watt motor is at the low-end of power in the US where legally you can get up to 750. What made it work so well is the smaller wheel it’s mounted in, and I love that the weight of the hub motor is up front and sort of pulling you along vs. in the back. I feel that it improves stability and of course the weight balances out the battery in the rear. All things considered it performed very well and even activated quickly, at first I was bummed that there was no throttle because having to pedal with a full load or up a hill with this thing could be daunting. you still do have to get it started on your own and hopefully you’ve switched down to a low gear before you stopped! But it doesn’t take long for the motor to activate and when it does you’re golden.

The Virtue Cycles Gondoliere Plus isn’t a perfect electric bike but fur under $2k it’s very affordable compared with the competition like the Urban Arrow Family for ~$4,500. It’s a bike I’d feel less worried about scratching or getting wet and messy because I could literally buy a second one if there were issues. The trade off is possibly more repairs, a less responsive motor system and disappointing brakes. Given the weight and size of this thing the band brake in the rear is massively underwhelming. Thank goodness the front linear pull brake works well. This is the one area I’d really like to see updated.

Pros:

  • I love the beautiful color of the frame, matching saddle and grips and the silver accents on the pedals, chain guard and rear rack… it’s a beautiful bike
  • Surprisingly affordable at $1,800 MSRP compared to many of the other more custom electric bikes I’ve covered, you can get the Gondoliere without electric for just $1,200
  • Plenty of storage space inside the wooden cargo bin (which has seatbelts for two small children) and the traditional rear rack which could support a trunk bag or panniers like this grocery-bag style one – they shouldn’t rub on the wheel thanks to side blocker bars
  • The kickstand offers great stability for loading the bike and is surprisingly easy to use, you step down on it and back the bike up as shown in the video
  • Solid seven speed drivetrain with Shimano Acera component group (two steps up from their most basic hardware), the extra gears are great for climbing and there’s even an extra-large sprocket to make help with heavy loads
  • At 25″ wide this bike can pass through most standard sized doors making it easier to store inside out of the elements
  • Comfort saddle with rubber bumpers, ergonomic grips and a swept-back handlebar provide good comfort along with 1.95″ wide tires
  • Whether you’re transporting kids or pets in the cargo bin you can see them the whole time without having to turn around and worry about a seat or trailer, it offers peace of mind and lets you communicate more easily as well

Cons:

  • Currently only available in one color and frame size, the step-thru tubing makes it easy to mount and stabilize for smaller people and the swept-back bars also improve fit so it works out alright
  • Some of the hardware used on this bike is more generic including the rear roller brake which doesn’t offer a lot of stopping power, the basic tires and tubes which might not offer as much durability or flat protection and the battery pack, motor and display panel which are more basic
  • Changing a flat tire on this bike could be difficult… there are no quick release systems, the tubes are different sizes (which means more fix-it gear to carry around) and the bike itself is heavy
  • No throttle mode here, you have to pedal in order to activate the motor and because it’s activated through a cadence sensor you actually have to pedal about one full rotation before it starts and that can be heavy and difficult when the bike is loaded or on a hill
  • Considering there’s no throttle here I would like the option to have an internally geared hub or continuously variable transmission vs. a standard cassette and derailleur, this would enable shifting at standstill and easier starts
  • The steering rods hang down a bit and may collide with curbs or other obstacles in part due to the length of the bike and smaller front wheel
  • Activating the electric systems is a two step process (a switch on the battery and a button on the display) which takes a bit of extra effort and time and could create confusion if you hadn’t ridden for a while, I noticed that the display only shows Kilometers vs. Miles and wasn’t able to switch it

Resources:

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Thane
1 year ago

Looks cool! Did you get a chance to test ride their velomobile Pedalist? Really interested to hear how that rides, and how it may compare to the ELF velomobile.

Court Rye
1 year ago

Yes! I did and it was pretty sweet (especially for the price). Did miss the cool solar panels on the ELF thought… I should have that review processed and posted shortly :)

Thane
1 year ago

Awesome, thanks! :)

Jay
7 months ago

Would love to get a front loading bike like this one and then say good buy to my car. I’d like a throttle or a very responsive assist on a bike like this one though. Can’t find any information on whether they offer a rain cover. That for me is a must for a bike like this. With weather protection, I can easily drop off kids to school everyday and not have to rely on my car.

Court Rye
7 months ago

Hi Jay! I’m not sure on the cover but have seen other (more expensive) electric cargo bikes that do… will be posting more reviews soon, you could reach out to Virtue Cycles in the mean time and ask? I’d love to hear what they say :)

Jay
7 months ago

Thank you! I asked them about it. They have one but at the moment they are sold out. They expect to have it back in stock in the spring. Can’t find any pictures of it though.

Court Rye
7 months ago

Awesome! It’s great to get a reply, nice to know that they do offer this accessory… If you decide to go for it, reach out again someday and I can help post pictures in the forums or you can do it here. So far their section is empty so it would be nice to see and hear from a real owner :)

Jay
7 months ago

Sure. I was actually able to test ride one today. It is definitely a low-end bike but the one I rode had 2,000 miles on it and was holding up. The owner had replaced the rear rim, tire, and the derailleur with higher quality parts including a Shimano Alfine internal hub. I was able to get used to the handling pretty quickly. Motor was zippy though it comes on a bit abruptly. I was able to take it up on small hills around the shop and it did fine. I might end up getting it if I can find a rain cover for it.

DC
3 months ago

To switch from KPH to MPH, hold down Up and Down for 5 seconds. More settings can be found at this page. Not the same bike, but the controller commands seem to be the same.

Court Rye
3 months ago

Awesome, thanks for the tip and link DC!

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Bicyclista
2 months ago

You're looking in the right category, i.e. cargo bikes, of which the Pedego Stretch is one. Cargo bikes are made to carry stuff, including kids (or at least one). Look at the cargo bike reviews on this site. In addition to the Pedego, there are the Radrover, the Wallerang M.01, the Benno Boost, the Virtue Cycles Gondoliere, the Felt Bruhaul, the Yuba Spicy Curry, the Juiced Bikes ODK U500 and several others, all within your budget. But none have fat tires. Most cargo bikes have tires in the 2.5-inch range, which is wider than most road bikes and par with most mountain bikes. I actually think many of these bikes would be fun to ride alone.

DavidC
3 months ago

...that is to say if you need to buy an e-bike quickly, you'll do it at some non-zero ignorance premium. With Court's latest video talking about price and the flurry of comments that followed, I thought I'd add my recent purchasing experience.

Thanks to Court's videos, which I've watched regularly for a few years now, I was close to purchasing an electric short bakfiets for family cycling purposes. The main parts are all from China. Having some literacy, I went and found the Alibaba pages of the factories where these bikes basically all come from. Their designs seem to be widely rebranded, under Cangoo/Popal, Virtue, and some others. (I also found lots of Juiced ODK ripoffs, wonder what happened there). The motors are generally Bafangs, either generic or rebranded. I was very close to buying a Virtue Gondoliere, and even test rode one, but I eventually went with a BOS Electric Assist Cargo Bike. From the research I was able to do thanks to Court's exhaustive videos, and a little legwork on my own, I determined that this had pretty much the same bones, but with some more things included, like a rain cover and integrated lock. On the first full day of owning it, we did 12 miles of around town cycling with the kids, and it performed very well. The shop that helped assemble it has given me advice on what components to upgrade and welds to watch.

So this post is my way of saying, "Thanks, Court!" for helping inform me over the years, a vote for the view that pricing should become more elastic as the US market develops, and finally, a suggestion to do a review of this company's bike. If you're back in Colroado, feel free to try mine, or if in Salt Lake City, they are based there.

I might some day go for a land yacht like an Urban Arrow, but it's important in a maturing market to have an entry point like this for new consumers.

Their site: http://www.boscargobikes.com/shop/electric-assist-cargo-bike

And for others who are weighing options, China-made should definitely be taken with a grain of salt. I read plenty of warnings, and maybe diatribes, though still informative, at these sites:

http://cargocycling.org/2010/10/the-big-china-rip-off.html
http://thehaguehousewife.blogspot.com/2011/05/choosing-bakfiets-box-bike.html
http://blog.joe-bike.com/bikes/carrier-pigeon/

I went with this frame anyway, because it meets our specific needs at this time. If I was parking it outside that might change the calculus, for instance.

William Stevens
1 year ago

I would like to see how stable it is with a child or 2 in front but I think it would be a great bike to take to the grocery store

Bruce Gano
1 year ago

cool

squestingyt
1 year ago

hi, thanks for all your sharing! can't load website currently, don't know how else to connect and ask--i'm seeking a folding electric bike, light(er)weight, cheaper but still durable, that can compact yet have somewhat elevated/riser handlebars, and at least 3 gears. would you suggest the e-joe epik lite, w/extra gears attached, or another model i don't know yet?

squestingyt
1 year ago

thanks, somehow managed to load the site today. will study recommendations; these videos are helpful too!

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Thanks for the heads up, this may be related to ad-blockers. The site uses a nice "fade in" which sometimes triggers them, I'm working on a fix to hopefully roll out soon. Let me know if the ad blocker thing helps?!

Zuchie
1 year ago

hey dude is there a folding bike with rear rack and with a foot rest at the back and affordable? if so can you link me the video

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

I'm not sure what you mean by foot rest? Like if you wanted to carry a passenger? The best bet for a folding ebike with power and enough size for a second rider might be the RadMini and you could probably use some pegs or something for foot rests: https://electricbikereview.com/rad-power-bikes/radmini/

C West
1 year ago

I agree with wjf213, I have a Radmini ordered based on your reviews. Thanks again!

Anthony Richardson
1 year ago

Thanks for the videos! Your website and youtube channel are really useful. I'm looking at a bike now for commuting and your work has really helped me become a bit more informed. Keep it up!

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Thanks Anthony, got some more exciting commuter style ebike reviews on the way soon!

Kristof Lossie
1 year ago

These types of cargo bikes have become very popular the last few years in belgium. I bought one from Dolly-bikes 2 years ago and next week it is going to get an upgrade to an ebike and it has more or less the same setup as this one, only the battery will be mounted under the bench. I bought it when i had my 2nd kid and both of them just love it. Good review, keep them coming:-)

Kristof Lossie
1 year ago

+ElectricBikeReview.com having the battery in the back makes sense to because it keeps the wooden case free and in the case you tend to just through stuff in so you need to make sure you don't damage the battery. The reason I don't do it is because it is an after market kit the color of the rack does not match and this way you don't notice it is an electric one as fast making it less attractive to steal. If you are ever in belgium, let me know, you can do a review of mine :-)

Kristof Lossie
1 year ago

+ElectricBikeReview.com a kit from v-fiets.com (fiets is dutch fore bicycle). Yep it uses a similar 250W front hub geared motor. The bike is heavy enough for the front wheel to have enough traction and this way you don't lose the 8speed nexus hub gear in the back, you basically get all-wheel-drive :-).

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

That makes a lot of sense, putting the battery under the bench would protect it a bit and free up the rear for carrying more weight on a rack maybe? Also, shorter cables... will yours use a front hub motor just like this? Which kit are you going to install if you don't mind me asking?

Jone Gomez
1 year ago

Wouldn't be better to acomodate the battery next/behind the cargo? Or perhaps 2 batteries? Just me the picky one, great review as usual :)

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Yeah, the battery on this one's a bit small and limited but since it's pedal assist only and uses an efficient 250 watt motor I'm not sure the extra size is as important. The rack setup works fine and cuts costs, also provides the storage spots so seems decent to me :)

wjf213
1 year ago

I have to say, I've been watching your videos for a while now, and I really enjoy them and love your reviews. You do a great job and I've come to value and trust your opinion. Keep up the great work.

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Thanks! That means a lot... I really try to scrutinize the hardware and offer some honest perspectives vs. just promoting the bikes but I still want it to be positive and enjoyable. Got two more coming from Virtue and I did them with the founder so there's some great extra details and perspectives in those :D

Beraber Sürelim
1 year ago

very helpful video, thanks.

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Glad you enjoyed it Beraber! I've got two more reviews from Virtue Cycles coming up (the School Bus and their velomobile) was fun to test out!

olarsen
1 year ago

nice man love the videos :)

ElectricBikeReview.com
1 year ago

Thanks! More fun ones on the way, been excited to get this one out ;)