The Vela Electric city cruiser, side

I remember when hybrid cars first started appearing as prototypes, and while the idea was promising it seemed like every manufacturer was trying to make the cars look like ugly space shuttles on wheels. The development of electric bikes has been similar in that initially everyone focused their efforts on getting one to market, but now the next logical steps are to make them perform and look much better.

Frankly electric bikes aren’t too hideous, but it’s hard to do much with the massive battery packs most of them carry. By going with a simpler, lower powered unit California’s Vela Bikes has managed to create a bicycle that hardly looks any different from a standard cruiser, yet has electric pedal assist power, an alarm system, GPS tracking and a charge port for your mobile devices, all at an introductory price well under $1000 for Kickstarter supporters…

This classy cruiser is simply called the Vela, and it’s built on a chromoly frame with a fat seat tube and a leather front triangle compartment to house its electronic components. All of the bike’s connectors, wires, circuits and the battery are protected from the elements, as everything is contained within the frame or the waterproof compartment.

The Vela Electric city cruiser, frame compartment

A control panel on the backside of the frame compartment features a USB port for your devices, an LED battery life indicator, and another port for charging the bike’s battery without needing to remove it.

The Vela operates only as a pedal assist bike, so there are no switches or throttle to control. It has a single speed drivetrain connected to a hub motor that puts out 350w, but is also available with a 250w version for countries with such regulations. The Pure Pedal Assist System does not offer the ability to select different levels of assist.

The Vela Electric city cruiser, battery

The Vela’s range is at least 15-20 miles, and its battery takes three hours to fully charge. The removable lithium ion battery produces 370wh of power… this might sound a bit lacking compared to other electric bikes that output 600 or more, but the Vela weighs 42lbs versus some models that get close to 60lbs. The battery is held in place by a strong magnet to ensure it doesn’t clunk around in the frame while you ride, and its estimated life span is 1000-1500 cycles.

The integrated alarm is a 100db motion sensitive unit that is armed or disarmed with a remote control and sounds when your bike is moved. If the thief makes it out of your reach, users can easily GPS track their bike by using the Google Maps app (iOS or Android compatible). The bike’s GPS tracking device has an independent battery that will run for two months, and it charges itself from the main battery.

The Vela Electric city cruiser, top half

Swoopy aluminum handlebar puts riders in a comfortable upright position with your body weight in the wide, well sprung seat, and it rolls on city-appropriate 700x35mm tires mounted to aluminum rims. It also has brakes with motor shut-off sensors, LED head and tail lights that run from the main battery, and unlike many cruiser bikes they actually put a threadless headset on it! Production models will also come with color-matched metal fenders and chain guards.

The Vela Electric city cruiser, frame geo chart

The frame comes in either a straight double-diamond shape or a low-step model with a downsloped top tube, and will be available in red wine, vanilla, blue and Brazilian green colors. All models come with brown leather grips, seats and frame compartments. Vela offers a 12 month warranty on all components and a 5 year warranty on the frame.

The Vela’s Kickstarter campaign began May 26th (check it out here) and will run until June 30th. Pre-order buyers can take home a Vela for $799, but the price will eventually settle at $1349.00 USD. The first deliveries are expected for November.


  1. Yea- it’s the BB height on a townie that’s the deal breaker. Yea. That’s right.
    Not the V brake vs road caplier. Not the rest of it all. Nope- the BB height. Cuz I’ll need proper fit and balance.

    Well crap- now that I’ve written that, it is odd. You’d think if anything they’d go w/ the “easier to put your foot down” while carrying a venti latte etc (sleeve tattoo showing) and talking on the phone image oriented cyclist that the might be shooting for.

  2. Actually, its the “electric” part that is a deal breaker for me. I was just wondering about the lack of BB drop.

  3. On their campaign page they keep saying repeatedly that it is a prototype, I was told that some adjustments on the BB hight and caliper brakes will happen for sure. The show model is a 51 frame with the 700c wheels.

    As a backer, I hope my production model comes with the same shape!

  4. Soooooo. Does no one recall the Kickstarter electric fatbike that was offered for a ridiculously low price? Care to guess how many of those have shipped?

  5. I did a test-ride on this bike in Brazil, and this thing was like a spaceship on velvet. They already had a successful crowdfunding campaign there and i think the first bikes are just getting shipped too. i ride a track bike so it felt kinda easy to pedal but i guess ebikes are meant for that

  6. For all that I care the BB could be even higher, and while modifying the bike they could also add a phone holder on an extended stick to make the bike selfie-friendly; and add an integrated ghetto-blaster and a heated coffee mug holder. Also, what’s the deal with a saddle on an electric bike, why not just a plush velour seat with arm rests, and perhaps add a wheel or two for added stability? 🙂

  7. Great campaign, I backed myself from London and got really exited to receive it.

    In My opinion, 4130 is the best material for bikes, will last decades with no problemas at all 🙂

  8. Most clean bike design I’ve ever seen. Really beautiful to look. The only feature I would add is at least a rear rack, we cannot live without it on big cities.

  9. “Yea- it’s the BB height on a townie that’s the deal breaker. Yea. That’s right.”

    Well, it is when people who ride bikes like this don’t want to be teetering on tip-toes at the traffic lights. Also looks like a great candidate for toe overlap. Bad geometry is unforgivable in a bike, get the basics right or at least use some well-proven numbers before moving on to added ‘design’ features.

  10. Really great looking bike, they have 4 grame sizes and said only showing prototype. Production should be really awesome.

    To me this is really a finished product. Also think it has all features a daily bike user may need. Congrats guys! : )

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