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Vela combines modern-day electric bike technology with a more traditional, or classic frame design.
With origins in Brazil, but now residing (and manufacturing) in the USA, what do you need to know about Vela?
Who Are Vela?
No overt branding, no space-age-looking frames – just simple, well-designed electric bikes that are comfortable to ride. Vela electric bikes are an attractive proposition.
Vela is a relatively young company having started out in 2012. The brand rose to prominence for Americans in 2020, when it established a presence in New York.
A cursory glance and you could say that Vela bikes look like regular bikes. The removable battery is housed in the bike’s frame and the motor that provides the support is secreted away in the rear wheel.
The name Vela comes from a Portuguese word that means ‘sail’ or ‘candle’. The founder of Vela chose that name to ensure Vela represents “natural movement and power” – attributes that all types of electric bikes should have.
A key fact about Vela bikes is that all of their electric bikes are put together in Detroit. The brand went one step further with its Venta model. It’s made in the US in its entirety. That includes frame welding and powder coating.
What Does Vela Specialize In?
Vela specializes in quality, good-value electric bikes that are primarily designed for use in American towns and cities. Like all good electric city bikes, Vela e-bikes are fitted with mudguards, lights, a plush saddle and grips and a chainguard.
Vela’s top-of-the-range electric bike, the Venta even includes a motor with regenerative braking. Technology onboard the bike senses when the brakes have been applied, and throttles back the motor, extending the bike’s riding range by between 10-20%.
Are Vela Bikes Good?
Although they aren’t sold in multiple frame sizes, a closer look at their specifications shows that Vela pays close attention to the format of their bikes.
Vela high-step, or traditionally shaped frames, have 29″ wheels and the Vela low-step or step-through model uses 26″ wheels. Choosing the right-sized wheels for the bike ensures it steers, turns and handles well.
Vela sells accessories too, that way you can spec their electric bikes to your exact requirements. Vela electric bikes can be fitted with a rear pannier rack, a front rack and an extremely neat magnetic phone holder (it comes pre-fitted on the Vela Venta) – great for navigating when riding somewhere unfamiliar.
Is Vela a Good Brand?
Whilst it’s not the biggest electric bike brand, it’d be safe to say that Vela is a decent brand. They make electric bikes that don’t cost the earth, and thanks to some nifty payment solutions on their (fresh and intuitive) website, future Vela customers can choose to buy their electric bikes via smaller monthly repayments.
Vela caters to both cycling and technology fans with the implementation of their accompanying app. The Vela app enables riders to lock and unlock their bike, monitor its location, change riding modes, monitor battery levels and see key riding stats.
As far as we can see there are three major drawbacks to Vela electric bikes. The first is that all Vela bikes have single-speed gearing. That means there are no traditional gears to help build extra speed or spin over a lumpy hill.
That being said single-speed electric bikes are more than capable in flat environments or when riding short to medium distances.
The second notable disadvantage of Vela bikes, albeit only applicable to the Vela 2 electric bike, is the use of rim brakes. These days disc brakes are more common on electric bikes, even on those priced under $2,000 or £2,000.
Disc brakes deliver better stopping power than rim brakes, stronger performance in wet weather and better modulation and adjustability.
The third drawback of Vela bikes is that their accompanying app is required when changing riding mode or monitoring the battery level. Leave your smartphone at home and you might be trapped in the wrong assistance mode, or unable to know how much charge you have left.
That said, Vela has cleverly added an ‘auto’ assist mode – it automatically switches from high assist to low assist when the battery level reaches 20%.
Where Are Vela Bikes Made?
As we have alluded to, one of Vela’s key differentiators is that their e-bikes are manufactured in Detroit. A tremendous commitment from the brand which supports local industries and local people in the locality of their factory.
Addressing their supply train transparency, Vela is specific about the origin of the frames used to make their electric bikes. The Vela 2, for example, is “frame welded and painted” in China before being assembled and quality checked in Detroit.
Does Vela Make E-Bikes?
Fans of regular bikes are out of luck with Vela, the brand only manufactures electric bikes at this time. No surprise really, as electric bikes continue to grow in popularity in the US, as well as over the pond in the UK and mainland Europe.
Vela Bikes Review
Reviews of Vela bikes are fairly thin on the ground, but of those bikes out in the wild, most seem to be delighting their owners.
Most reviews of Vela bikes focus on their affordability, their discrete electric design and their ability to help riders ditch their car, save money, have fun and get fit doing so!
Although Vela bikes aren’t sold via local bike shops – they follow the on-trend, direct-to-consumer model – it’s great to see a well-maintained support page on the Vela website.
Within this section of the Vela website is the nugget that 85% of Vela bikes are made from off-the-shelf parts, a heartening fact, that should negate any worries about the longevity of Vela e-bikes.
On this subject, the warranty for electric bikes is as follows: 1 year for all electrical components, 2 years for the battery and 3 years for the frame (the Venta has a lifetime frame warranty).
Other frequently asked questions on the support section of the Vela website range from general pointers on the specification of each bike to more obscure things like the exact detail of the onboard front light.
Unfortunately for customers shopping for an electric bike in the UK or in Europe, Vela does not ship outside America borders.
Ready to really start shopping for electric bikes? Here’s a closer look at Vela’s electric bikes.
Connected Bike for All Bike Rides
A beautiful bike that doesn’t look like an electric bike. A removeable battery makes charging easy and the colours and details of the bike exude quality
Made in the USA
Along with the fact that it’s made in the USA, this bike gets uprated disc brakes and a motor that can regenerate power.