Court Rye of Electric Bike Review rode the Felt Verzae and scored it a 10. Here's his discussion of the bike and his impressions; to read the full review click here.
The Felt VERZAe delivers comfort and utility at a reasonable price (considering it uses the high-end Bosch drive system). Compared with its sister bike, the SPORTe Step-Thru, it’s heavier and less stiff but also easier to approach and much more feature rich; delivering lights, fenders and a sturdy rear rack. Though, to be fair you can get a “city kit” for the SPORTe. The VERZAe is one of the only electric bikes I’ve seen in the US that offers a rear-mounted Bosch Powerpack battery (most opt for a downtube style pack) and this design decision completely opens up the middle of the frame. The drawbacks are increased battery weight (though only .2 lbs) and a heavier downtube as well as some flex when you really pedal hard and maneuver the steering… it’s almost like crack the whip. Of course, the big upside is a much lower standover height. I honestly don’t have many complaints with this bike, it’s using high end battery technology, a beautiful and intuitive display, a super-responsive motor, a nice suspension fork with lockout and quality hydraulic brakes with quick release on both wheels for easier tuneups and transport. I would have liked a bottle cage mounting point on the seat tube or downtube but this might have compromised frame integrity and thanks to the beautiful (and standard-sized) rear rack, there should be plenty of cargo options to choose from. I absolutely love the integrated LED lights (that run off of the main battery) and the fenders are great (though mine squeaked a bit during the video). With four frame sizes and a gender-neutral color scheme, this bike would be a great choice for a wide range of less-aggressive riders who want a product from a mainstream company with a solid warranty and quality components.
The motor powering the VERZA-e electric bike is a 350 watt nominal Bosch Centerdrive that senses bicycle speed, rider pedal cadence and rider pedal torque. Each of these signals is computed up to 1,000 times per second to activate or de-activate the motor. This kind of precision sounds great on paper and it also truly delivers in practice. I’ve tested this motor on dozens of bikes and I never cease to be impressed. Not only does the mid-drive mounting point keep weight low and center (for improved balance) it also enables the quick release wheels I mentioned earlier and it allows the motor to pull the same chain that you do as a pedaling rider. The real win here is that as you shift gears from low to high, the motor benefits from a mechanical advantage and can run more efficiently. When operating the VERZAe on the lowest of four assist levels, you can seriously get 60+ miles per charge on flat smooth terrain. The motor runs fairly quiet but there is a high pitched whir as seen in the video. The plastic shell you see in the photos is just there to protect the metal interior and the whole thing is sealed tight against water (water resistant).
Running the motor and LED lights here is a rear-rack mounted Bosch PowerPack 400. It offers 36 volts of power and 11 amp hours of capacity for a true size of 396 watt hours. I’ve weighed this pack as well as the more common mid-frame pack (seen on the SPORTe and most other Felt ebikes) and this one seems slightly heavier at ~5.7 lbs. That’s still relatively light in my opinion however. Inside are Samsung Lithium-ion 18650 sized cells that look like oversized AA batteries. There’s a smart battery management system and a charging port at the end of the pack and on the side of the controller (where the battery connects to the bike frame near the saddle). It’s convenient that you can charge this pack on or off the bike and store it separately to reduce weight during times when the bike has to be lifted and moved. I feel like the battery is very well protected against tips and crashes by the aluminum bars that make up the rear rack and I love how well designed the rack is for use with bags and panniers. It can hold up to 55 pounds which is more than the VERZAe itself! This rack also attaches to the rear fender adding strength and reducing bouncing and squeaking sounds. The whole thing is welded to the main frame and it’s also painted to match, it’s very secure feeling and professional looking and there are two extra reflectors at the rear as well as reflective sidewall stripes on the tires so cars shouldn’t have a problem seeing you at night.
Starting this ebike in electric mode is fairly straight forward. Once the battery has been charged and is connected to the frame (self locking to the dock) you can press the power button on the Bosch Intuvia display. This display is awesome, it’s large, backlit, removable, swivelable (to reduce glare) and even has a remote button pad that’s mounted near the left grip. The most important parts are your speed, battery charge level and assist level. Using the remote button pad you can arrow up or down through no assist or Eco 50%, Tour 120%, Sport 190% and Turbo 275%. Of course, the higher you go the more power you use ;) The display panel also shows you an odometer, trip distance, time and range estimation which is really cool. As you choose an assist level, the range readout estimates how far you can get with the current charge level of the battery. To get to range (or any of these extra readouts) just press the “i” icon on the button pad or the main display. One little extra feature on the display panel is a Micro USB charging port at the top right corner which can be used to update firmware for the display or charge your electronic devices (like GPS, iPods and other portable electronics).
In conclusion, the VERZAe is an impressive bike that shows a softer side of Felt. This is a company that is known for racing type products that focus on performance. I found the VERZA to be comfortable but still high-performing given the design it offers. You get a 10 speed Shimano cassette with Deore (high end) derailleur, a nice set of hydraulic brakes that are easy to activate and fairly responsive, puncture resistant (kevlar-lined) hybrid tires and light-weight ergonomic grips. The lowest price I’m aware of for Bosch powered electric bikes in the United States is $3,999 and that’s how much the VERZAe goes for. Considering all of the extra bells and whistles on this bike (literally, you get a bell), it’s a fabulous deal. The great warranty, wide availability at independent bicycle dealers and size options to choose from make it easy recommend for a wide range of riders. I suppose that’s why it’s called the VERZA… because it’s just so versatile. For me, the bigger question is “do I want stiff performance from a SPORTe model or off-road performance from the NINEe" because both are close in price and weigh more than 10 lbs less. That’s always the trade off for electric bicycles with extra accessories and comfort oriented frames like the VERZAe, but it delivers exactly what it sets out to do and I appreciate that.