It’s not very often that a notable new electric bike brand emerges from Amsterdam, the bicycling capital of the world. The last time was when VanMoof launched the Electrified S back in 2016. So it’s with particular interest that I’ve been following the launch of the Veloretti Ivy and Ace e-bikes that begin mass production today. And I’m not alone in my anticipation as their first electrics begin shipping to customers.
“We’re quite overwhelmed with interest in the e-bikes. It’s crazy,” says Veloretti founder Ferry Zonder, who brought me a prototype Ace to test last week.
While it may not sound it, Veloretti is wholly Dutch, only with an Italian flare for retro chic. I mean, just look at that Ivy step-through model above with whitewall tires and leather-look grips and saddle. Yet despite their vintage appearance, Veloretti’s e-bikes are as cutting edge as can be. Both are fitted with a maintenance-free Carbon belt drive, stepless Enviolo automatic shifter, silent mid-drive Bafang motor (250W), hydraulic brakes, integrated front and rear lighting, a small display for turn-by-turn navigation, and a removable 510Wh battery that simplifies charging after depleting its 60 to 120KM range.
They also come slathered in sensors for torque, speed, and cadence, as well as Bluetooth, GPS, and 3G and 4G radios. All this tech enables a slew of advanced features like over-the-air updates, remote issue diagnosis, crash detection, and live tracking in case of theft. Hell, it’s also certified for Apple Find My tracking just like Amsterdam rivals VanMoof.
Zonder, a fan of old Italian Velocifero mopeds (thus the company name), produced his first city bike in 2013. Since then he’s attracted an enthusiastic fanbase of young urbanites drawn to Veloretti’s mix of style, quality, and service for bikes that cost less than €400 (which is quite cheap for a brand new Dutch city bike). Veloretti’s direct-to-consumer sales model has enabled the company to grow quickly. The company jumped from 15 to 38 employees after deciding to enter e-bikes, and now ships its city bikes to 27 countries.
My full review of the Veloretti e-bikes will have to wait until I recover from a recent mountain bike injury. Which is fine, actually, because that way I can test a true production bike. Veloretti also took in-house control of its e-bike app recently which will let the company take better advantage of all that technology packed inside the Ivy and Ace.
What I can tell you upon initial inspection and second-hand knowledge (my wife rode the prototype, and she shadow-tests all my e-bikes) is that the prototype Ace looks great with solid build quality, although I’d prefer fewer exposed cables and more precise welds from the Portuguese factory where it’s built. And while the Bafang motor is truly silent, the Enviolo automatic shifter on the prototype can be a little noisy. It also takes some practice to prevent freewheeling at startup as my wife wasn’t producing enough torque to force it into a higher gear at first. Zonder tells me that the Enviolo firmware is being tweaked and the app updated to give riders more control over torque thresholds and other minutia. Something I’ll test later in the review.
The electric Ivy and Ace will only be available in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany this year in order to maintain strict quality control. “We don’t want to create risks in our supply chain and these markets we know really well so we can give them good service,” says Zonder. “We don’t want to ruin our reputation and customer satisfaction.” Zonder claims a failure rate of about 0.8 percent on its city bikes currently, well below the 10 percent rate that VanMoof saw with the launch of the X3 and S3 last year. Veloretti will expand e-bike sales to the Nordics and the UK next.
No room for mistakes
In a rapidly maturing e-bike market Veloretti doesn’t have room to make mistakes, not with its e-bikes currently listing for €2,399, already €100 more than the preorder price of €2,299, and €400 more than a comparably specced VanMoof. But even this new higher price is likely to go up, Zonder tells me. That’s due to the limited availability of parts, especially the microchips that both e-bike and EV makers are desperately bidding on to secure. The current tax-inclusive price translates to about $2,850 if Veloretti’s e-bikes were sold in the US, but that’s not likely to happen until 2023 at the earliest, says Zonder.
Zonder says the company is targeting sales of about 8,000 e-bikes this year, before ramping up to 25,000 in 2022. That’s a big jump for a company that’s never taken on outside funding and is fueling its expansion into electric bikes solely through company profits (sales grew 300 percent last year). Although Zonder tells me he enjoys the autonomy that comes with being self-funded, without external investment it’ll be hard to compete with Dutch bicycle powerhouses like Stella, Gazelle, and Accell Group, and startups like Cowboy, VanMoof, and RadPower who have been taking on heaps of capital to ride the surge in e-bike interest.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll be back with a full review of a production Veloretti as soon as I’m able. But if you just can’t wait, know that respected Dutch e-bike reviewer David Lemereis says the prototype Ace is one of the top three electric city bikes he’s ever ridden, which is high praise indeed.