VAKOLE VT4: unboxing and assembly
China is the packaging world champion and this is also reflected in the VAKOLE VT4. The e-bike comes in the usual large box and is meticulously embedded in foam. Removed from this, what remains is a good yellow bag full of packaging waste.
Before you can get on the bike, there are still a few assembly steps required. The front wheel needs to be mounted and the front mudguard and headlight still need to be screwed on. Ideally, you have a second person on hand for this or jack up the e-bike. You should especially keep an eye on the handlebar, as it was not adjusted correctly out of the box.
When constructed it looks like this.
You also have to screw on the pedals and insert the seat tube. Tools for assembly are included in the form of a multitool. However, if you have the “real” tools at home, you should use them instead. Especially when assembling the mudguard, it became apparent that an additional Allen key was required.
The battery is embedded in the tube.
Otherwise, the scope of delivery is rather minimalist. There are also assembly instructions and the charger. Gimmicks such as a smartphone holder or an air pump, which I have often seen as a free addition from other manufacturers, are missing here.
VAKOLE VT4: design and features
The VAKOLE VT4 is a folding bike that was designed as a low entry bike. This means it can be folded down to a compact 88,5 x 45 x 100 centimeters and fits in pretty much any trunk. The e-bike even collapsed in the trunk of my small car. It can be folded or folded once on the center tube and on the handlebars. You simply pull the saddle out.
The e-bike can be folded up in no time.
The folding points are held in place by quick release clamps, so that folding and unfolding can be done in just a few steps. Practically, there is also a carrying handle so that the e-bike can be lifted more easily when folded.
A base on the down tube ensures stability when folded. When unfolded, the size is 176,6 x 25 x 143 centimeters and the weight reaches 31,7 kilograms with the battery.
At this point the e-bike is folded.
The aluminum frame left a good impression. The weld seams may not be the prettiest, but the overall stability of the e-bike is great. It can be loaded with a maximum of 150 kilograms, of which the luggage rack can carry up to 25 kilograms.
The motor is locked using this lock on the battery.
To remove the battery, flip the switch.
The connection for the charger is located here.
What I like is that the battery doesn't disappear completely into the frame, but rather is a visible part of the down tube. So you don't have to fold the e-bike to get to the battery, you can simply remove it upwards. Of course, the battery can be locked with a lock so that no one unauthorized can remove it.
The VAKOLE VT4 is suspended on the one hand by its fat 20 x 4 inch tires and a suspension fork that can be opened and closed. Other features include a 250 watt rear wheel hub motor with 50 Nm torque, mechanical disc brakes, a Shimano 7-speed rear derailleur and an LCD on the handlebars.
The suspension fork can be closed or opened.
LED brake light
The display also has a USB-A socket so that you can charge a smartphone or navigation system. We would then have an LED headlight at the front and a brake light at the rear that lights up when braking.
By the way, there is a “CE” mark on the saddle. BUT: It is not an EU conformity mark, but a “China Export” mark. If you compare the signs with each other, you will quickly notice that the spacing does not correspond to the “Conformité Européenne”. It's a shame, so there is no valid product labeling for the European market.
The CE here stands for China Export and not the EU conformity mark!
VAKOLE VT4: practical test
For the practical test, I sent the VAKOLE VT4 over dirt roads and asphalt roads. With a height of 1,82 meters, I had no problems with the frame height. It should fit up to around 1,90 meters, but anything over that would be a bit too big for an ergonomic step.
The seat post can be extended far.
At first it took some getting used to the handlebars being far away, which meant you automatically slipped into an upper body-upper arm position beyond 80°. The angle of the handlebars can still be adjusted slightly, but this doesn't bring them much closer to the body. The handles on the handlebars also attracted critical attention. Not only do they feel cheap, but they also slide back and forth a bit when you grip them.
The LCD provides useful information about range, battery and speed.
The e-bike is switched on using a power button on the LCD. There are a total of five speed levels with which the top speed can be gradually increased to a maximum of 25 km/h.
When you pedal, it takes about one revolution for the motor to switch on - typical for e-bikes with a cadence sensor and annoying for everyone who is used to a torque sensor that usually reacts more quickly. If you stop pedaling, the engine also switches off with a slight delay. If you apply the brakes, the engine stops immediately.
VAKOLE has installed a typical Shimano Tourney 7 rear derailleur.
Although we are “only” dealing with a 250 watt motor here, the small motor has a decent pulling power. However, it is difficult to even accelerate to 25 km/h.
Even if you shift the 7-speed gearshift into the hardest gear, from around 20 km/h you have to pedal so fast that you can hardly keep up. Why VAKOLE chose a rather unsuitable translation remains a mystery. The problem can be solved by installing a larger chainring.
The hub motor is of good quality.
A feature of the VAKOLE VT4 that is not legal in most countries is the thumb throttle in the form of a small lever located right next to the gear lever.
The thumb throttle is located right next to the Shimano shifter.
In order to make the e-bike a little more legal, it can be easily dismantled. The plug connection is freely accessible. The thumb throttle always ensures driving fun and you benefit from the integrated cruise control, which switches on automatically when you press the throttle lever for a long time.
One of the connectors is for the thumb throttle. Just drag and it is disabled.
The VAKOLE VT4 absorbs speed bumps well thanks to its fat tires and with the suspension fork open. The saddle is comfortable, so nothing hurts even after long stretches. Rattling noises, for example from the mudguards, hardly occur when driving over gravel.
The mechanical disc brakes serve their purpose so far, even if the braking distance is rather short than average.
The mechanical disc brakes serve their purpose.
Finally, a few words about the battery and the range. It has an energy of 468 watt hours (36V 13Ah) and, according to VAKOLE, should achieve a range of 50-70 kilometers.
The battery level can be read using the four charge level LEDs.
As is often the case, the value determined in the test was significantly lower at around 40 kilometers. How much range you can get out of the battery depends very much on your driving behavior. Charging time is approximately 7 hours.