Velotric’s Affordable New Summit 1 Powers Up E-Mountain Biking (2024)

The e-bike market is getting very competitive, and some of the more established e-bike makers are beginning to produce higher-end, higher-performance models with more of a specialty focus to both target appeal to certain cycling niches, and differentiate themselves from competitors.

Recent examples of this include the carbon-fiber framed CF Racer gravel bike from Ride1Up and the Ramblas electric mountain bike from Aventon. Both brands have offered a slate of mostly commuter, cargo, kids and urban e-bikes. Until now.

Velotric, which also produces a broad lineup of affordable and approachable e-bikes like those other brands, has gone and done something similar with its new electric mountain bike, the $1,999 Summit 1. They recently sent a sample along for review just as the weather turned warm here in Portland, Oregon.

Velotric Summit 1 Tech

The Velotric Summit 1 is a focused hardtail mountain bike and it arrived as a Class 2 e-bike with pedal assist and throttle set to 20 mph. However, after a simple assembly routine, a quick tour through the Velotric’s menu on the bike’s color LCD display revealed a setting to change it to Class 3 and a 28 mph top speed on assist - and throttle. It can also be adjusted down as low as 12 mph for beginning e-bike riders.

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Velotric has also remixed the “pedal assist” mode by giving riders five levels of assist in three different modes, including Eco, Trail and Boost for a total of 15 different assist profiles.

Velotric uses a rear hub motor rated for 1,300 Watts peak output (750 Watts nominal) and a strong 90Nm of torque. A Shimano 8-speed Altus derailleur switches gears and dual 180mm Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are mounted to 27.5-inch alloy wheels wearing proper Kenda 2.6-inch lightly knobbed MTB tires toughened to resist punctures. A small chain guide over the front counter-sprocket keeps the chain on during rough riding.

The front fork has a generous 120mm of travel as well as some tuning ability and lockout for a full hardtail experience if so desired. Again, there is no rear suspension. A bright LED headlight and a small LED tail/brake light came installed. The 48-Volt, 706 Watt-hour removable battery lives in the lower front aluminum frame spar, and the Summit 1 weighs in at 62 pounds ready to ride.

Velotric says the Summit 1 can go 60 miles on throttle and 70 with pedal assist, assuming ideal conditions. The frame comes in two sizes, Standard and Large, for the same price. My review bike was a Large.

Ride Time

Assembled, charged up and properly fettled in terms of seat height and control positions, I immediately pointed the Summit 1 towards my local mountain biking test route on a volcanic butte about two miles from my home. Initial impression: I love the size of the Summit 1, and it feels and rides like a proper mountain bike, not a “regular” bike that’s been repurposed as some eMTBs can be. The bars are flat and wide, the controls feel like proper mountain bike kit, and the 27.5-inch tires roll over obstacles with no problem.

On the street with the Summit 1 set to Class 3 speed, it whistles down the pavement with excellent stability and controllability. The front fork is very well behaved with spot-on damping and lots of travel. I locked it out for a short while on the street and it makes the front end ride a bit tall but its a minor complaint. The Shimano Altus shifter is nothing special and Shimano has produced a bazillion of them for ebike makers of every stripe, so the bugs are thoroughly banished, and it shifts cleanly and predictably with a good spread of ratios, although a bit more of a granny gear would be welcome. Arriving at the trailhead, I put the fork back in action and set the assist to Trail mode.

The first off-road test was a climb up a steep switchback, and I chose assist level 2 in the Trail group. This seemed like a perfect fit, and the Summit 1 added just the right amount of power up the hill while pedaling with effort. I dialed it back to 1 for the technical turns and used a little throttle as well, which has a decent linearity to response instead of being like a light switch.

Once through the technical section, I bumped up the assist level to four (of five) and the Summit 1 powered up the gravel incline while I clicked up through the gears. All the while, the front fork struck a good balance between bump absorption and control. I added a bit of preload in for my weight although it never bottomed as set by Velotric, and that improved the ride a bit on some technical downhill sections.

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Curling back down a technical section I had ridden up earlier, I was able to slide the back tire around some tighter corners to correct my riding line, just as I would on a regular analog mountain bike. However, with the motor residing in the rear hub, the back end has a bit more momentum to it, but I got used to it quickly and to some degree, it’s useful in terms of sliding and even braking power.

At a tick over 60 pounds, the Summit 1 is heavier than most any analog mountain bike, but it hides the weight well when underway and is easy to ride, even with aggression. On-trail maneuvers that put the bike in the air for a moment reveal the rear-wheel weight upon landing, but again, it’s a minor effect that can be compensated for and the Summit 1 feels confident clearing whoops and trail hops that require a bit of hang time.

Leaving the trail for pavement, I put the Summit 1 in Eco mode and chose assist Level 5 (maximum), and it was a good choice for flat-path riding, coupled with a little boost from the thumb throttle as needed. On my paved hill test, I put the Summit 1 into Boost mode and as I upped the assist, pedaling became lighter and lighter until the Summit 1 was essentially carrying me up the hill. Only a slight hum emanated from the enclosed hear hub motor at maximum output. On the downhill section, the speedo recorded a top speed of 42mph.

Conclusions

It’s difficult to avoid comparing the Summit 1 to another recent and more focused eMTB entry from a broad market e-bike maker, Aventon’s new Ramblas eMTB. The hardtail frame layouts are pretty much identical, as is the weight and several other specs. However, the Aventon uses a mid-mount motor instead of a hub motor that makes less power in Watts but is about even on torque.

Between the two, the more expensive Ramblas has more up-spec components, including SRAM drivetrain gear, brakes and a RockShox adjustable fork. They also include a dropper seat as standard. Both bikes include a bright LED headlight and rear marker/brake lights. It’s a nice bike to be sure, but I felt the Velotric Summit 1 was just as capable off-road while erring a bit more on the side of expanded utility. Indeed, Velotric sent along fenders and a rack for the Summit 1, which go on quickly to make the Summit 1 commuter and errand-running ready.

Aventon also offers those bits for the Ramblas, but the ability to send more power to the rear hub motor plus the thumb throttle, something the Aventon does not include, give the Summit 1 a bit of an edge when in Work Mode. I also appreciated the three “ride modes” with 5 levels of assist each for really fine-tuning the pedal assist on the Summit 1, plus the cheater... er, handy thumb throttle.

And it’s a small thing, but when charging the Summit 1, the charge percentage level shows on the main LCD screen (right) while it is charging instead of just a red light on the charger or making users open an app to connect to the bike. I like that kind of common-sense simplicity for users and wish it was more… common.

But the best thing about the Velotric Summit 1 was that it feels, rides, responds and works like an actual mountain bike while actually mountain biking, instead of being an e-bike pretending to be a mountain bike. That chain retention bit over the main sprocket is just one nice touch that shows Velotric designers did their homework, hopefully by riding popular analog mountain bikes.

It certainly seems like they did.

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Velotric’s Affordable New Summit 1 Powers Up E-Mountain Biking (2024)
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