Taiwanese folding bicycle company Tern makes some of the more interesting compact folders on the market, including a model with an integrated pump. Now it's working with Bosch to present the Vektron, a compact folding bike with 250 watts of electric assist. It's the latest way of getting around the city with a bit less perspiration.
Tern's new e-bike got some attention over the summer as the "Elektron," but has since changed names to the punchier Vektron. It made a debut at Eurobike 2016 before launching on Kickstarter this week.
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"Electric bikes are fundamentally transforming the way people get around in cities," says Josh Hon, Tern founder. "They flatten hills, make headwinds disappear, and shorten commute times — that's why people love them. But, they're really hard to put in a car or take on public transport. And most electric bikes are difficult to store in downtown apartments, leaving them vulnerable to theft. The Vektron solves these issues."
Truth be told, Tern isn't exactly braving new ground, as there are plenty of electric folders of all sizes and styles out there already, including those in the "extra light and small" category, like the Vello Bike+ we looked at last month.
The Vektron doesn't fold quite as small as the Vello, but Tern does say it has the smallest folded size among its lineup of compact, small-wheeled folders, making it small enough to pack two in a car trunk. To get technical, the 48.9-lb (22 kg) bike measures 16.1 x 33.9 x 25.6 in (40.9 x 86.1 x 65 cm) when folded.
While small, the Vektron does manage to find space to host the Bosch electric mid-drive with 250 W motor and 400 Wh battery. That drive provides between 40 and 80 miles (64 to 128 km) of range per charge, relying on three sensors to measure input power, cadence and speed to help keep motor output in the sweet spot, as governed by four power modes that add between 50 and 250 percent of your pedaling power. Top speed is 20 mph (32 km/h), and Tern promises extra-quick acceleration.
"There's a reason a Vespa is designed with small wheels," says Joakim Uimonen, Tern's design director. "With small wheels you get punchy acceleration, a more maneuverable ride in traffic, and plenty of space between the wheels and rider for cargo-carrying."
In addition to folding the bike down completely in a mere 10 seconds, Tern's hardware also makes for versatile adjustment. Tern says the Vektron can fit riders from under 5 feet (1.5 m) to nearly 6.5 feet (2 m) thanks to its adjustable seat and handlebars and low step-over height.
The Vektron has an onboard computer for switching modes, displaying speed, battery level and distance, and updating the remaining range figure. Other features include built-in front and rear lights, a rear cargo rack, 10 speeds and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes.
Tern says that it's using Kickstarter because of the success it had launching the Cargo Node last year, crediting that campaign with helping it increase the bike's popularity and broaden distribution. Since it already has an established 125-dealer network in the US, Tern says that backers with a nearby dealer can have the Vektron delivered to that dealer so the bike is assembled by a professional and ready to ride upon pickup. Those without a nearby dealer can nominate a local bike shop or opt to let Tern do the set-up and send it directly to their homes.
The US$2,975 early bird models have already been gobbled up, but the Vektron is available to US-based Kickstarters at a pledge level of $3,100 (plus $99 shipping), still a drop from the estimated $3,400 retail price. Tern hopes to begin deliveries in April. For international backers and those who might want to support the campaign without pledging for an entire bike, Tern also has some low-priced pledge rewards, including a bottle opener, water bottle and bike bag. It plans to get the bike into other markets by July 2017.
While we were investigating the Vektron, we came across another interesting new Tern product worth a mention. The Vizy Light launched last month, bringing an innovative bit of safety to cyclists, particularly those in high-traffic environments. The $40 taillight secures to the seat post and not only provides a rear-facing light but also casts a red halo of 60 lumens of light directly down on the ground around the bike, making the cyclist much more visible to those around. It's a similar idea to the Blaze Laserlight, albeit with different execution.
Watch the Vektron in action below.
Source: Tern Bicycles