Volta e-bike doesn't look like it's electric
Pedal-assist electric bikes come in all shapes and sizes, in basic or feature-packed flavors and with price tags to suit trendy rich kids and penny-pinchers alike. But many look more like bare bones electric motorcycles than classic bicycles. The latter aesthetic is what California's Pure Cycles aimed for when designing the Volta.
In development since 2014, the Volta – which recently launched on Kickstarter – offers up to 40 miles (65 km) of electric assist for every 2 hour charge of the Li-ion battery hidden away in the top tube of the aluminum frame. That battery feeds a 36 V/250 W rear wheel hub motor, with riders able to choose from four power modes to help pedal their way up to 20 mph (32 km/h) without breaking into a sweat.
Regen braking could help get a few more miles of assist between recharging stops, but if the bike does run out of juice during a trip, the rider can use good old-fashioned leg power to get home.
Speed and battery information is displayed on a touch-enabled LED screen up front, and built-in lights to the front and rear automatically illuminate when daylight starts to fade. Also, when the rider hits the Tektro disc brakes, the taillight activates and the motor assist is disabled.
For piece of mind, Pure Cycles has cooked GPS tracking tech inside the bike, with location and tamper alerts pushed to a mobile device running the companion Volta iOS app. The app also includes ride and health tracking capabilities and power level controls.
The Volta comes in belt- or chain-drive options (the chain version sports an SRAM 8-speed derailleur and trigger shifter), features 20-inch wheels with 22/1.5 tires, a proprietary saddle atop an adjustable seat post and has a handy basket to the front in case you have more gear than your backpack can cope with. And it tips the scales at just 35 lb (15.8 kg), which means that taking the stairs to the office or apartment shouldn't prove too much of a trial.
The black or white Volta is expected to retail for US$2,499, but before that happens the company has launched on Kickstarter to fund production. At the time of writing, pledges start at a fairly wallet-friendly $1,499. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in August, though early adopters are being offered the chance of delivery in May. The entertaining pitch video below outlines the campaign and shows off the e-bike.
Sources: Pure Cycles, Kickstarter
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What you are paying a premium for on this bike is it's weight and the tracking. At 35 lbs it's about 1/2 the weight of most e-bikes, that typically range from 50 to 70 lbs. At the "official" retail price of $2,500 it is very over priced, but the kickstarter price of $1,500 is only a little high for it's specs compared to other e-bikes in that range.