The conversation around e-bikes tends to lean toward practicality. They’re great as an alternative form of transportation, or as an assistive device for those who might need a hand getting up a hill. And to be clear, e-bikes are fantastic for both, and they’re only getting better with time. There’s a secret third thing e-bikes have going for them that isn’t talked about as much: E-bikes are a ton of fun to ride. If you find yourself looking for an e-bike that’s fun first and practical second, Velotric would like to introduce you to the Nomad 1 bikes.
I’ve been riding a Nomad 1 nearly everywhere for the last three weeks, and I can safely say I’ve never ridden anything quite like it. That’s not always a good thing. Still, this is a bike that’s just plain fun to ride. Here are my thoughts.
Velotric Nomad 1
I introduced the Nomad 1 to various people over the last few weeks, and the first thing they all commented on was its size. The phrase “heckin’ chonker” was uttered more than once, and for good reason. Weighing in at 73 pounds, with 4-inch fat tires on either side of a very large frame, the Nomad 1 can’t help but stand out. Even its included kickstand is huge, because it has to be. This is an e-bike designed to ride on sand, gravel and even snow without issue. Add an electric motor and a big battery inside an already large frame, and it isn’t difficult to see how something this large came to be.
Velotric did much more than make a pedal assist e-bike. The Nomad 1 is more than capable of acting as a full commuter bike during the weekdays. The 48V, 750W motor is capable of peaking at 1,200W with 75nm torque, which in English means it’s capable of moving quickly despite the heavier than average frame. The included 691Wh battery also tells you it isn’t just for short trips. In fact, Velotric promises up to 52 miles of powered riding when you simply press down the acceleration thumb switch, which makes this a more than capable commuter bike for most. Put simply, this is a bike built for play first but that really can be used as a practical mode of transportation.
Velotric Nomad 1: The chonky commuter
The specs page for this bike makes a lot of promises. Velotric says the Nomad 1 can reach 25mph and travel 55 miles on a single charge if you pedal. Stats like that depend on a lot of variables, including the hills in your area and how active a cyclist you are. I typically ride at least 10 miles on a road bike every day, and found myself enjoying 15 on this bike with ease. My area includes multiple steep hills and a lot of dirt and sand paths, exactly the sort of area this kind of bike is built for.
For my first couple of rides, it was difficult not to feel the weight of this bike. You technically can ride without using pedal assist mode — there’s an eight-speed Shimano RD-M310 derailleur ready to help you get where you need to go — but just about any hill will immediately have most people activating that pedal assist. Velotric offers five performance levels to choose from, either to offer an assistant as you pedal or to take over for you entirely. The lower on the scale you go, the less help you get from the motor. At level 5, up a 100% grade hill, this motor is capable of maintaining 20 mph even if you aren’t pedaling.
I saw that 20 mph number on this Nomad 1 quite a bit, instead of the 25 mph promised by Velotric. On a flat surface, with pedal assist on, I could consistently feel the motor stop helping once I crossed 20 mph. To be clear, 20 mph is more than enough speed on a bike like this. It’s a fantastic cruising speed when traveling through a city, and being able to climb a big hill at 20 mph is probably more fun than it should be. That said, Velotric’s 25 mph claim seems to be possible only when on a downward slope. Every bike can go 25 mph on a downward slope if you work hard and believe in yourself.
Figuring out the best way to use the pedal assist has something of a learning curve, which isn’t ideal on a bike designed to be enjoyed casually. Velotric’s included display doesn’t offer any suggestions for optimal performance, it tells you only the current speed, your overall distance traveled and your current power level. If your power level is too high when you start trying to cross a street, for example, the torque alone can easily catch you off guard. If your power level is too low and you’ve engaged the highest gear, trying to cross the street quickly could also be somewhat awkward.
Once you get familiar with this bike, however, you’re going to start looking for excuses to use it. I found myself using it to get groceries on a semi-daily basis, just because I could. Just because it was fun.
Velotric Nomad 1: The endurance cruiser
There are several places in my area offering 40-plus miles of trail to tear up on a nice weekend, and over the last couple of years, e-bikes have been a big part of those rides. If your e-bike helps you get out and go further than you’d be able to go on your own, you’re going to use it to see more. And with this bike’s promise of up to 55 miles of range, I was excited to see just how far I could push the Nomad 1.
Velotric’s included battery meter is just about as simple as it gets. The screen offers you an image of a battery with five sections, and those sections disappear as the battery is consumed. Unfortunately, the five sections of the battery readout aren’t measured 100% evenly. On average I found the first fifth would disappear around the 20 mile mark in my area, and the second one would disappear around the 30 mile mark. There are no attempts to estimate the remaining range, which means you need to have a good idea of how much battery you’re consuming based on the climbs and flats in your area. As I mentioned earlier, you really don’t want to have to climb a hill on this bike without pedal assist. It’s not fun.
Despite not really knowing how much power I had left, I completed a 58-mile ride as the battery died less than a mile from my car. Your mileage may vary, of course, but considering the fairly diverse landscape I ride on, that range is fantastic. And it’s important to highlight the quality of the battery and that it’s connected to the bike itself. Velotric includes a locking mechanism, so you need a key to remove it from the bike, and the included cable offers a simple color LED to let you know it’s finished charging. Though I left the battery overnight to recharge from dead, I found that the battery recharged from around 50% to full in about two hours.
I don’t usually make a big deal about the included seat on a bike; I have a really nice saddle I prefer to use for my body, but the cruiser seat included with the Nomad 1 is a treat. I remained seated for most of that longer ride, and was comfortable the entire time. I didn’t experience any soreness where the edges of the seat connected with my body, but you are going to feel every bump you ride over on a road or on gravel. The front fork includes some great shock-absorbing tech, but a dropper seat would make some of the more adventurous rides this bike encourages a little smoother.
Velotric Nomad 1: Something for everyone
It’s common for bikes to be aimed at a specific purpose or person, but e-bikes are frequently becoming a sort of counter to that culture. Velotric’s Nomad 1 is a solid outdoor exploring vehicle, a worthy commuter bike, and, if you’re a glutton for punishment like me, a great strength training tool when you turn the power off and climb some hills. And at $1,500 this bike is part of a larger push to offer more budget-friendly opportunities to get outside and ride.
That lower price tag comes with a few drawbacks for sure, especially when it comes to the functionality on the included screen, but if you’ve been looking for a starter e-bike, you can have a lot of fun with this solid option.