First, let me apologize: most readers of The Verge can not buy the latest electric bikes from Amsterdam-based Veloretti. But for everyone living in the Netherlands, Belgium, or Germany with €3,299 to spend… well, congratulations because you can buy one of the best e-bikes available at any price and far and away my favorite ride of the year so far.
I recently reviewed the top-of-the-line (€3,498) VanMoof S5, in which I longed for a removable battery, simple belt drive, and smoother automatic shifting. That’s exactly what you get with Veloretti’s new Ace Two and step-thru Ivy Two e-bikes — the “Two” signifying their second-gen status.
Each new Veloretti comes fitted with a 250W mid-drive motor and 540Wh battery from Bafang, a rugged carbon CDX belt drive from Gates, MT200 hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, a front light from Osram, and a comfortable saddle from Selle Royal. In other words, Veloretti — a company purchased by transportation behemoth Pon Holdings at the end of last year — is using off-the-shelf parts that most bike shops can replace or repair. That’s important because things are guaranteed to go wrong eventually on any high-tech commuter e-bike ridden daily in sun, rain, and snow.
So, if you’re a fan of premium e-bikes built with Dutch know-how but distrust VanMoof’s specialized parts and history of service issues, then you’re going to 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 really something that everyone should experience at least once. It’s a very civilized way to bicycle.
Enviolo — a company that’s also HQ’d in Amsterdam — builds its automatic shifter around an internally geared (0.55 – 1.7 / 310 percent ratio range) rear hub, which is why it can be used with a belt drive instead of an oily chain, cassette full of toothy sprockets, and derailleur that all require regular maintenance. With the Enviolo AutomatiQ, you simply choose the speed at which you’d like to pedal, and all the shifting is done automatically while your cadence remains the same. And because it’s “stepless,” you won’t ever feel it change gear ratios even under heavy load, but you will often hear an electromechanical purrrr above the nearly silent Bafang motor mounted between the pedals.
I tested a Veloretti Ace Two e-bike for almost a month and only have two extremely minor complaints with the overall ride. The powertrain can sometimes — though rarely — feel a bit uncertain at very low speeds, characterized by a slight unevenness in the pedal assist. And a few times after riding over some decent-sized bumps, I felt the motor cut out for about a quarter revolution of the pedals — but it’s not something I’m able to recreate no matter how hard I’ve tried. The vast majority of the time, the ride is effortless and absolutely intuitive.
In general, the Ace Two provided a nice torque-y (65Nm) pedal assist all the way up to 27km/h (17mph), just above the EU limit of 25km/h (16mph) but within allowed tolerances.
From a full battery, I managed to ride 51km (32mi) in max power mode, with the app saying I had 4km (2.5mi) remaining on a battery near empty, reading 7 percent. The thing is, Veloretti begins throttling power around 20 percent to both preserve the lifetime of the battery and warn you that it’s time to recharge. There’s also a toggle in the app to alert you automatically when the battery is low, which is something all e-bikes should do. At 7 percent, I was riding with so little assist that I decided to go ahead and plug in; 55km (34mi) total range is just shy of Veloretti’s low-end estimate of 60km (37mi).
The user experience is built around a 2.5-inch color display flanked by four buttons: two next to the left grip and two next to the right. From left to right, you have the horn next to the on / off / next button, then the minus and plus buttons for scrolling through pedal-assist levels and preferred bicycling cadence (more on that later).
Press and hold the plus key, and you’ll see a Safety Tracking countdown that will alert your emergency contract (defined in the app) to your current location. The alert arrives via text message with a link to a website that shows your geolocation sourced from your paired telephone. This can be useful in an accident or whenever you might feel unsafe. The tracking stops automatically after an hour to ensure your personal privacy.
Both the Ace and Ivy feature integrated front and rear always-on running lights. A press and hold on the minus button near the right grip toggles the brighter Osram front light to better illuminate the path ahead at night. The rear light also functions as an LED brake indicator.
I’m not a fan of the built-in display found on the new Velorettis, but that’s only because I don’t think most people who regularly commute by bicycle need an integrated display — it’s extra cost and another thing that can break. It’s much easier to just attach your phone to the bike using any number of cheap mounts and fire up your favorite mapping app whenever you need navigation. The display on the new Ace and Ivy packs in so much information that it needs four pages to display it all.
Page one is a dense overview menu for stat nerds; page two shows your five pedal-assist power levels (from zero to “superhero”), speed, and range remaining; page three shows turn-by-turn navigation, which you initiate in the app; and page four shows the current cadence setting. The battery’s current charge and pedal-assist power are displayed on all four pages.
To turn on the e-bike, you long-press the handlebar button second from the left — no app required. It boots in about three seconds showing the last page used on the display. Importantly, the bike also remembers all your previous settings for pedaling cadence and power assist, which can also be changed in the nicely designed app. So if you ride with the same settings every day, then you just need to hit start and hop on the bike to ride away. The same button that powers on the e-bike also lets you progressively pan through each page on the display.
The navigation built into the Veloretti app and bike display is based on Mapbox — a staple for e-bikes. In my testing in Amsterdam, it’s been terrible. Directions are inaccurate or so slow to update that I miss approaching 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, making me want to mount my phone right on top of that dedicated display. It’s a shame Veloretti hasn’t integrated Google Maps into its app like Cowboy recently did.
Pedaling cadence can only be changed with the plus or minus buttons on the handlebar when the built-in display is showing the cadence rpm menu. Otherwise, those same buttons will increase or decrease the pedal-assist power. Cadence can be set anywhere from 30 to 120 revolutions per minute. In flat Amsterdam, I had the pedals set for 50rpm, which I increase to 65rpm to unburden my quadriceps when hitting a series of semi-steep dunes along the seaside. In normal use I rarely had to adjust it, but that would be different if I lived around lots of steep hills where the 120rpm setting might be required.
Frankly, the four-button interface, like the four-page display, all seem a bit much, but I eventually mastered the UX. I do wish the horn button was raised a bit higher so that I could quickly find it by feeling with my left thumb in the moments I need to suddenly warn a tourist that’s blindly stepping into my bike path. In time we’ll see just how waterproof those custom-made (and easily replaceable) buttons prove to be — a common issue on other e-bikes. And while I’m not a fan of e-bike displays in general, just existing isn’t necessarily a bad thing so long as its electronics and cabling are sufficiently robust to avoid creating costly support issues down the road.
For all my minor criticisms, the Ace Two from Veloretti is one of the best e-bikes I’ve ever ridden at any price. Impressively, this is only the company’s second generation of electrics — while it’s been selling stylish city bikes since 2013, it didn’t start selling electric bikes until 2021. And now that there’s Pon money backing the company, things can only get better. Even so, founder Ferry Zonder tells me that he wants to keep tight control over geographic distribution to ensure a high degree of support.
“We’re not looking to take over the world,” said Zonder. But if Veloretti keeps building e-bikes like the Ace Two and Ivy Two that prove to be as serviceable over time as they are desirable at launch, the world might not give him a choice.
All photography by Thomas Ricker / The Verge