News Treehugger Voices VELLO Introduces the First Folding Gravel Bike So what's a gravel bike? It's a bit of everything. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Updated July 29, 2021 01:47PM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process VELLO Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive When I was at a big bike show a few years ago, I spent some time in a booth marketing gravel bikes. I had never heard of them before, and they looked like regular bikes to me. But the reps—kids who looked like older sk8trs, sitting on even older ratty sofas—extolled the virtues of hardier bikes that could go anywhere, off-road, commuting, or road biking. Adam Kavanaugh of The Bike Exchange describes them: "Gravel bikes, sometimes also referred to as adventure bikes, are essentially road bikes designed to tackle a variety of surfaces, carry additional gear and are suitable for all-day riding on roads less traveled. They are made to be more durable and robust than a standard road bike, along with having an increased gear range and space for far wider tires." Vello Now, Austrian bike company VELLO introduced what it calls the first foldable gravel bike, which it says combines the flexibility of a folding bike with riding performance for off-road use. "So far, the VELLO had mainly been intended for the urban commuter. The VELLO Gravel opens up a whole new range of applications: foldable to pack in the car or train to access gravel routes, then unfolded for endurance sport. As a gravel bike for everyday use, it has the intakes on the frame for a front and rear rack, matching bags, and other accessories." Vello Vello folding bikes have been around for a few years, with its interesting patented design by Valentin Vodev, who lists all our favorite reasons for liking folding bikes: the urban challenges of switching between bike riding and public transportation, and not worrying about theft because you can carry it with you. (I used to check my Strida folding bike like a stroller.) The company has an admirable mission statement that captures the zeitgeist: "VELLO positions itself as a driving force behind the megatrend between connectivity and micromobility, with the goal of revolutionizing the bicycle industry and offering people an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil-based means of transportation." Vello The original titanium VELLO bike is 21.8 pounds (9.9 kg) which is incredibly light, and easy to carry up to apartments or offices. The folding mechanism is fast; the frame stays square and the wheels fold down in seconds. The gravel version is a little heavier at 26.2 pounds (11.9 kg) which is probably going into the molybdenum-steel frame. Vello It's actually hard to tell what the difference is between the gravel version of the bike and the regular one, but the company tells Treehugger: "The VELLO Gravel bike is a sturdy bike made to tackle a variety of surfaces, carry additional luggage etc. with the following characteristics: Bigger, sturdier tires: 20’’ 2.0 Schwalbe Billy Bonkers Performance (vs. City Marathon Slicks)Handlebar: Dropdown handlebar (vs. the normal straight version)Gear System: Shimano 105 seriesShifters: STI integrated shifters and brake leversFront chainring: 54T with double chain guard This setup enables a gear ratio to: 30.1'' - 98.4'' (meters of development 2,40m - 7,85m) and allows this bike to be more robust with increased stability on unpaved roads." We're writing about it because it is such an interesting design. Reviewers say the folding takes a bit of practice, but that's not unusual. They also noted that "despite its small size, the bike is extremely safe and stable. At times you even forget that you are sitting on a folding bike." Zehus drive on Vello e-bike. Vello The VELLO is also available with a zeHus electric drive, which is similar to the Copenhagen Wheel, integrating a 250-watt motor and batteries into the rear hub. This even has regenerative braking; when you pedal backward, the motor brake is activated and the batteries are charged. VELLO tells Treehugger: "The GEN.2 motor comes with an array of new features: remote locking via smartphone, a motion detector, theft tracking, and the ability to control the VELLO Bike+ via remote control with an additional boost function. The Bike+ motor has a slope sensor with similar properties to a gear shift in that it adjusts the motor assistance to always ensure the perfect cadence. The motor, battery and sensor technology in the rear wheel provides up to 25 km/h of propulsion with the added benefit of energy recuperation. It's pure Pedelec with no throttle or visible controls; you just pedal and it picks it up from there. As far as recuperation goes, the Bike+ delivers an almost infinite range thanks to four energy-efficient sensors and one-of-a-kind K.E.R.S-technology developed in Formula 1. From one full charge, the battery lasts for about 50 km (31 miles) at maximum power. Thanks to ultra-light components and sophisticated details, the lightest Bike+ model weighs just 12.9 kilograms (28.4 lbs). Furthermore, the pedelec with a virtually noiseless motor conveys a natural riding experience." There's more information on the VELLO website. Don't choke on the $2,719 price for the Gravel—it is hand-crafted in Vienna.