Tern launched the Vektron in 2017, and this new version of the bike has seen a significant redesign over the model we tested back then. At the front the bike looks very similar, but to the rear things have been moved about, with the battery now sitting in the frame at an angle so that it sits below the level of the rear rack. The rack itself is much heavier-duty and extended in size, and Tern has borrowed from the excellent Tern GSD the rear foot design which means you can stow the bike end-up. The fold is still neat and compact, and the weight will still be an issue for slighter riders looking for a mixed-mode solution.
The emphasis with the new Vektron seems to be versatility: it’s a folding bike, sure, but that’s only one of its plus points. Tern’s promo video gives a good overview of the bike, including its melon-carrying capabilities...
There’s much more capacity at the rear, and with the rack updated it’s easy enough to fit a YEPP child seat to the rails, or a pair of Tern’s sizeable panniers (), or a rear basket. There’s a mounting point at the front too if you can’t make enough space at the back. As a day-to-day bike for ferrying stuff around, it’s a really good option. Most folding bikes feel a bit compromised in this regard but the Vektron certainly doesn’t; you can’t carry the ridiculous loads that are possible with the GSD but you can easily make enough space for a child and a medium-sized supermarket shop. That’s impressive given the bike’s footprint.
The motor on the Q9 model we tested is the Bosch Active Line. It’s Bosch’s least powerful motor but it’s still easily punchy enough to get the unladen Vektron to the top of Bath’s many hills without a struggle. Once you start to load the bike a bit things start to slow down, but even so the power on offer will be enough for most people’s daily use. What’s more, the motor is almost completely silent and the assistance feels natural and well-considered. The Purion display is simple and effective, giving easy access to the four assistance modes.
The Vektron Q9 ships with a 400Wh battery; realistically this is as much as you’re ever going to need for the shorter journeys the bike is designed for. I managed four rounds of my 9km commute on a single charge, which is par for a 400Wh bike; 36km doesn’t sound like much but that’s with a big rider, and over 600m of climbing. On the flat I can easily get 60-70km out of the Vektron, and it’s not a bike you want to be on for that long. The position is comfortable enough, and the bike is very adaptable in terms of size. Tern reckons riders from 1.47m right up to 1.98m will fit, and one of the ebiketips team, Matt, who’s right at the top end of that range has been riding it without any trouble. The double telescopic seatpost has lots of range, and it’s easy enough to adjust the handlebars using the clever Tern Andros stem.
It’s a nice bike to ride. There’s no suspension, which would just get in the way on a bike like this, but the bouncy Schwalbe Big Apple tyres take the sting out of most surfaces well enough. There’s enough length in the steerer and seatpost to get a bit of flex, which also adds to the comfort but doesn’t affect performance: I was happy enough tearing down the hill into town on the Vektron without thought for life or limb. The bike is reasonably short front to centre, which means you’re sat up like you would be on most city bikes, but it’s not an uncomfortable position by any means, and I completed journeys up to 25km with no issues at all.
Folding is neat and simple. You’ll have to take all your bags and child seats off of course (except Tern’s panniers, which fold flat) but the folded package is very compact and easy to stow, with the hinges getting a very positive and reassuring closing action. The four feet on the rear of the rack allow you to store the bike in a vertical position with the wheels off the floor, which is more stable. You can wheel the bike around if you’re porting it from one station platform to another, with the two hinged halves held together by magnets and a strap keeping the bars tidy.
One thing that’s worthy of note here is the bike’s weight. At nearly 22kg it’s a hefty thing, and even as a burly bloke it’s quite an effort to haul it up a flight of stairs or into the back of a car. If you’re looking for a bike to do a mixed mode commute of any kind, and that commute involves much lifting and carrying, then it’d be a good idea to check you can actually carry the Vektron as far as you need to. It won’t work for everyone.
The new-style, Bosch-powered Vektron comes in three builds, with the older-style, Bafang-powered bike still available too. Our bike is the Q9, which mates the Bosch Active Line motor with a Shimano 9-speed derailleur transmission. I had some issues with the gear hanger getting knocked and bent on the original Vektron but that’s not been the case here; I might have just been unlucky with the first one. The same motor is available with a 7-speed Shimano hub gear as the P7i, and the S10 gets the more powerful Active Line Plus motor and a 10-speed transmission. All bikes get excellent hydraulic disc brakes from Shimano, integrated lighting, a chainguard, mudguards and a kickstand. There’s nothing you need to add until you start buying bags and baskets.
Overall the Vektron feels like a more rounded bike than the previous version. It’s less about the fold: the new bike has moved towards the GSD in terms of its practicality and is a genuine contender as a replacement for a second car if you need to move a child around or do the shopping but still need a car for the bigger jobs. The fact that it folds is a bonus: you can store it in a very small space, and you can use it as a mixed-mode commuter, assuming the overall weight of the bike doesn’t present too much of a problem. Most of the time I was riding the Vektron I didn’t think of it as a folding bike, but just as a bike, in the same way that the GSD feels like just a bike, rather than a cargo bike. It’s really well considered, and the build and componentry quality is high. If you’re looking for a versatile bike, this is one for the list. Recommended.