Blix Vika+ Folding E-bike —Fancy Folder.
When it comes to bicycles, there is nothing quite like mixing an electric-assist system with a folding bike. That is just what Blix has done with the Vika+. It sports a powerful 350 watt brushless rear hub motor with a classic folding chassis, to make for a fun ride that will lift your spirits and make each hill flat as a pancake. When you’re not in the saddle you can marvel at its looks and revel in its convenience.
Many times my test bikes are pre-production prototypes or freshly minted production models. This time the out going years’ model was what I got to report on. So that meant I was informed of what to expect, but didn’t fully experience it. Easy to imagine are the fenders, rear rack and the rear light that is powered by the motor battery the newer bikes will come with (out by the time you read this?). A little harder is the reprogrammed control system. Plus as always (well, almost always), the factory rep listened hard (and made notes) of my suggestions on some small details to really sweeten this ride.
When I mentioned above the powerful feel the Vika+ has, you may wonder how a motor at this rating can make that happen. Although for many 500 watts is the norm they expect, I have found many times that a few less watts can do most all you need. The acceleration and top speed (the legal 20 mph) are right on the money compared to those bikes. The efficient power system and the low weight of the bike both contribute to this. I saw on the Blix site a spec of less, yet my low-end scale showed 40 lbs for the bike, 7 for the battery for a total of 47, still quite light for an E-bike.
The seat tube mounted lithium battery rates out with 36 volts and 10 Ah, plenty for some long and fruitful rides. It locks in place on the bike, but a quick turn of the key and a tug at the pivoting seat latch allows it to come clear for remote charging or security stowage. It helps the bike have a fairly low and centered weight balance that gives it an handling edge during your ride. Even with some noticeable flex in the all aluminum frame, forks and handlebar arrangement, the Vika+ is a joy to ride.
The overall gearing in its chain run 7 speed gear train is close to perfect, yet at the higher speeds you might want for an extra top gear when riding hard and fast. Most would never notice, and they will find two-levered thumb shifter works the gears so well that there is no reason for splitting hairs as they pound the roads and bike trails. One nice thing about hub motored E-bikes is that gearing and shifting needs are lessened anyway, so why sweat it?
I rode the Blix Vika+ all over in many road conditions and grade extremes. Like most all 20 inch wheeled folding bikes, it has steering that can be a tad quick, but always controllable even at the higher end of the speed range. I don’t recommend bombing the hills at 35 and above, yet did it anyway a couple times. Bombing the hills back up is where the thrills really came from, as this bike is a solid climber that didn’t disappoint when the power was turned to full.
You might have noticed the term active-drive while surfing the Blix website. All their bikes have this and it makes for a unique experience. I have tested a few E-bikes with something similar, yet not quite the same. You can choose to use it or not, and basically what it does is allows the bike to auto-select from its 3 levels of assist as you ride. It does this by sensing the speed (cadence) of the pedals. Most just tell the controller that the pedals are turning, the Blix also tells it how fast.
In a nutshell, in the active drive mode, if you are turning the pedals at a moderate pace, the bike’s pedelec feature acts like you are the lowest assist level (1). Spin them a bit faster for the next power level, and faster still for the max (3). You can also choose your assist levels manually between the 3 with a push of the right button. The website mentions a throttle only mode, yet I couldn’t find it—and having that is important. Plus, even when you use the throttle with the auto-pedelec mode activated, it isn’t a true over-ride, more on this next.
The thumb throttle is on the left handlebar which is good on E-bikes like this with your gear shifter on the right. I did find that it is a right side thumb throttle though, meaning it pushes up and forward to make the motor go, as opposed to down and forward. This I liked too as it did feel natural enough, even if backwards compared to other left side thumb throttle E-bikes. By not being a true over-ride, that means the throttle works normally when you are not pedaling and will increase your power when used in the low assist level during pedaling. But in the higher levels it won’t over-ride the pedelec and award you with a lower assist when used.
This might be way too much info and when I test the reprogrammed new model soon (actually the Komfort+ upright Blix E-bike that shares this power system), I can report on if it all works that much better and a little more to my liking. The other thing promised with the new years’ model is a revamp of the power curve as you start out. I found the Vika+ to be just a bit jumpy with more power and acceleration than you need for most riding conditions.
Being able to fold your E-bike adds a great dimension. Transport, storage and security at your destination becomes so much easier and desirable. A quick fold on the frame and handlebar stem matches the fold over pedals to make for a small package. If you find the lift weight to be too much you can remove the battery first to help. The battery does have a carry handle built-in making for a plus. If you are used to a modern non-powered folding bike, you will find it bulkier and heavier, yet some concessions in this are to be expected in an electric-assist bike.
On the whole, I found it quite ridable, fun to maneuver, pleasant to look at, and exhibiting a quality level I could appreciate. If that striking racing green finish doesn’t grab you, then knowing it also comes in black will be a relief. When you see one on your dealer’s showroom floor, expect it to be fully fendered and sporting a rear rack. When you push the light button on the control panel, that will not only fire up the nice working headlamp up front, but a nice bright rear light too.
Fancy folder? That’s exactly what I felt with each fun ride, Turbo Bob.
“Those who wish to control their own lives and move beyond existence as mere clients and consumers – those people ride a bike.”—Wolfgang Sachs.
Blix on the web and Facebook
Here is a video showing the Blix Vika+ I posted.