First of all I want to apologize: most readers of The edge cannot buy the latest electric bicycles from Veloretti in Amsterdam. But for anyone living in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany with €3,299 to spend… well congratulations because you can buy one of the best e-bikes out there at any price point and by far my favorite ride of the year so far toe .
I recently tested the top-of-the-line ($3,498) VanMoof S5, in which I yearned for a removable battery, simple belt drive, and smoother automatic shifting. That’s exactly what you get with it Veloretti’s new Ace Two and step-thru Ivy Two e-bikes – the “Two” denoting their second-generation status.
Each new Veloretti is equipped with a 250 W mid-drive motor and a 540 Wh battery from Bafang, a robust carbon CDX belt drive from Gates, MT200 hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, an Osram front light and a comfortable Selle Royal saddle. In other words, Veloretti – a company bought by transport giant Pon Holdings late last year – uses off-the-shelf parts that most bike shops can replace or repair. That’s important, because any high-tech commuter e-bike ridden daily in sun, rain and snow is bound to go wrong.
So if you’re a fan of premium e-bikes built with Dutch know-how, but suspicious of VanMoof’s specialized parts and history of service issues, you’ll love the new second-generation Ivy and Ace electric bikes from cross-town rival Veloretti .
the Enviolo AutomatiQ shifter and Enviolo City hub fitted to my Ace Two review bike is truly something everyone should experience at least once. It is a very civilized way of cycling.
Enviolo – a company also based in Amsterdam – builds its automatic shifter around an internally geared (0.55 – 1.7 / 310 percent ratio range) rear hub, therefore it can be used with a belt drive instead of an oiled chain, cassette full of gears with teeth and derailleur that all need regular maintenance. With the Enviolo AutomatiQ, you simply choose the speed at which you want to pedal, and all shifting is done automatically while keeping your cadence the same. And because it is “stepless”, you will never feel the gear ratios change, even under heavy load, but you will often hear an electro-mechanical sound. purrrr above the almost silent Bafang motor mounted between the pedals.
I’ve been testing a Veloretti Ace Two e-bike for almost a month and have only two extremely minor complaints about the overall ride. The drivetrain can sometimes – though rarely – feel a little precarious at very low speeds, characterized by a slight bump in the pedal assist. And a few times after riding over some pretty big bumps I felt the motor cut out about a quarter turn of the pedals – but it’s not something I can replicate no matter how hard I tried. The vast majority of the time, the ride is effortless and absolutely intuitive.
Overall, the Ace Two offered nice torque assist (65 Nm) up to 27 km/h (17 mph), just above the EU limit of 25 km/h (16 mph) but within the permitted tolerances.
With a full battery, I managed to drive 51 km (32 miles) in maximum power mode, with the app saying I had 4 km (2.5 miles) left on a low battery, with a value of 7 percent. The thing is, Veloretti starts to throttle the power by about 20 percent to both extend battery life and alert you that it’s time to charge. There’s also a switch in the app to automatically alert you when the battery is low, something all e-bikes should do. At 7 percent, I was riding with so little assistance that I decided to go ahead and plug in; The total range of 55km (34 miles) is just shy of Veloretti’s low-end estimate of 60km (37 miles).
The user experience is built around a 2.5-inch color display flanked by four buttons: two next to the left handle and two next to the right handle. From left to right you have the horn next to the on/off/next button, then the minus and plus buttons to cycle through pedal assist levels and desired cycling cadence (more on that later).
Press and hold the plus button and you will see a Safety Tracking countdown that will alert your emergency contract (defined in the app) to your current location. The alert comes in via a text message with a link to a website that shows your geolocation, coming from your paired phone. This can be useful in the event of an accident or if you feel unsafe. Tracking will stop automatically after one hour to ensure your personal privacy.
Both the Ace and Ivy feature integrated front and rear lights that are always on. Pressing and holding the minus button on the right handle turns on the brighter Osram front light to better illuminate the trail at night. The rear light also functions as an LED brake indicator.
I’m not a fan of the new Velorettis’ built-in display, but that’s only because I don’t think most people who commute regularly by bike need an integrated display – it’s an added expense and one more thing that can break. It’s much easier to just attach your phone to the bike using some cheap mounts and launch your favorite map app whenever you need navigation. The display on the new Ace and Ivy contains as much information as it needs four pages to display everything.
Page one is a comprehensive overview menu for stat geeks; page two shows your five pedal assist levels (from zero to “superhero”), speed, and range remaining; page three shows turn-by-turn navigation, which you launch in the app; and page four shows the current cadence setting. The current battery charge and pedal-assist power are displayed on all four pages.
To turn on the e-bike, long press the handlebar button second from the left – no app required. It starts in about three seconds and shows the last used page on the display. It is important that the bike also remembers all your previous settings for cadence and pedal assistance, which you can also change in the beautifully designed app. So if you ride with the same settings every day, all you have to do is press start and hop on the bike to ride away. The same button that turns on the e-bike also allows you to gradually scroll through each page on the screen.
The navigation built into the Veloretti app and bike display is based on Mapbox – a staple for e-bikes. During my tests in Amsterdam it was terrible. Directions are inaccurate or so slow to update that I miss upcoming turns. I can’t look up places in the area that have been around for years, and it thinks the bridge near my house isn’t bikeable (it is!). These are all issues I don’t have with Google Maps or even Apple Maps that make me want to mount my phone on top of that special screen. It’s a shame Veloretti hasn’t integrated Google Maps into its app, as Cowboy did recently.
Cadence can only be changed using the plus or minus buttons on the handlebars when the built-in display shows the cadence-speed menu. Otherwise, those same buttons increase or decrease the power of the pedal assistance. Cadence can be set anywhere from 30 to 120 revolutions per minute. In flat Amsterdam, I had the pedals set to 50 rpm, which I ramped up to 65 rpm to relieve my quadriceps when hitting a series of semi-steep dunes along the coast. In normal use I rarely had to adjust it, but that would be different if I lived near a lot of steep hills where the 120 rpm setting might be required.
Frankly, the four-button interface, as well as the four-page display, all seem a bit much, but I eventually got the hang of the UX. I wish the horn button was a bit higher so I could find it quickly by feeling with my left thumb when I suddenly had to warn a tourist blindly entering my bike path. In time we’ll see how watertight those custom (and easily replaceable) knobs turn out to be – a common problem with other e-bikes. And while I’m not a fan of e-bike displays in general, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if the electronics and cabling are robust enough to avoid costly support issues over time.
For all my petty critiques, Veloretti’s Ace Two is one of the best e-bikes I’ve ever ridden at any price. Impressively, this is only the company’s second generation of electric bikes – although it has been selling stylish city bikes since 2013, it didn’t start selling electric bikes until 2021. Pon money behind the company, it can only get better. Still, founder Ferry Zonder tells me he wants to keep the geographical spread tight to ensure high support.
“It is not our intention to take over the world,” said Zonder. But if Veloretti continues to build e-bikes like the Ace Two and Ivy Two that prove as useful over time as they are desirable at launch, the world may not give it a choice.
All photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge