2016 Voltbike Mariner - My Honest Review

Discussion in 'Voltbike Forum' started by zap016VOLTAGE, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    HIGHS:
    • Very Quick Acceleration
    • Throttle over-ride (read note below)
    • Tyres absorb road irregularities while providing a lot of traction/Grippy
    • Near instant motor activating when pedaling
    • Stiff Frame
    • Very good bicycle components
    • LCD backlit display (non removable)

    LOWS:
    • Without PAS pedaling is more strenuous than a conventional bicycle
    • Motor surges off and on when max 33 kph speed is reached
    • Motor may overheat on long hill climbs
    • Iffy plastic hardware
    • No motor disconnect (directly wired to motor controller)
    • No Power Level - Eco, Normal, Power/Off Road/“Ludicrous” - Modes

    With this Voltbike Mariner/eMoto being my very first electric bicycle/ebike, I therefore have nothing comparable. There seems to be a dearth of practical - real world - user experiences concerning electric bicycles. My intent is to use this as a daily commuter, not for recreation. The route taken was known as I had been ridden it before on conversional bicycles. The passage includes hills, descends, bridge crossing widely ranging road surfaces, congested and lightly populated areas making the trip somewhat arduous. Understanding the issues concerning bicycle commuting and by alternately watching video reviews, reading test articles and user comments helped shape my decision.

    I would like to thank George at Voltbike for being patient with me, answering my many questions, as well as providing “after purchase” assistance.

    NOTE:
    My review has been amended to reflect operational enhancements that werebrought about with the installation of a replacement POWER/FUNCTION MODE PAD LCD DISPLAY assembly.

    Define Portable:
    Ordinarily folding bikes are small and light weight to maximize their portability. Their narrow width tyres and small diameter wheels steer quickly but the bikes themselves can become unstable when ridden fast. The industry terminology for them is “LAST MILE BIKES.” The Mariner is a folding electric bicycle but it is not small. Having a wheel base of 116.84 cm (46 inches) makes the eMoto is longer my fixie which has a frame size of 61cm. Folded, the eMoto’s overall length is 91.44 cm (36 inches) with its width being 43.18 cm (17 inches). While its rims are 20 inches by 4 inches wide. Their overall tyre diameter is 24 inches. They inflate to 20 psi. Weighting in at 25.4 kilos (56 lbs.) the Mariner out weighs conventional bicycles.

    Specs:
    Its components are standardize by virtue of being a bicycle. There’s no quick release hubs. The motor is wired directly to the motor controller.
    • 500w rated motor 8Fun motor
    • 48v 10.4ah Sanyo (by Panasonic) battery (Silverfish style)
    • 8fun C965A Intelligent backlit LCD Display
    • Shimano Acera RD-410 Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur
    • Shimano MF-TZ20 Tourney, 6 speed Freewheel cassette, 14-28t
    • Cassette Cogs: 14, 16, 18, 21, 24, 28 teeth
    • Chain: 3/32 inch
    • 52 teeth Chainring
    • Samson Champion 20 x 4 in Alloy Rims
    • 13 gauge Spokes
    • Chaoyang Starmon H-5170 20 x 4 inches Fat Tyres
    • 100mm Bottom Bracket
    • Promax 27.2 suspension seat post
    • Wellgo folding pedals
    • Tektro Novela Mechanical Disc Brakes (180 mm Front, 160 mm Rear)
    • ARTEK VIGOROUS brake levers with Motor inhibitor
    Boot-Up:
    Powering the Mariner ON requires first turning the battery’s key to the ON POSITION, afterwards by pressing and holding down the handlebar mounted POWER/FUNCTION MODE PAD on/off button activates its LCD DISPLAY. The Mariner will be in assist level-1. The brakes features motor inhibitors/cut-off. Squeezing the levers, whether the eMoto is moving or no, the LCD SCREEN Displays the EXCLAMATION “!” ICON. Speeds at or above 33 kph (20 mph), activates the eMoto’s speed limiter (“hitting the rev limiter”). In which case the MOTOR INDICATOR ICON flashes as the motor’s power is momentary extinguished. Press and hold the PLUS “+” button on the power/function mode pad will turn on the backlit LCD display and headlight. Press and hold MINUS “-“ with enter WALK MODE.

    Mixed Bag:
    Clicking through the 6-speed Shimano SIS index shifter and Acera RD-410 Mountain Bike Rear Derailleur is precise. Tektro Novela calipers, 180mm front and 160mm rear rotors are supplied. Artek provide’s their Vigorous brake levers. They incorporate motor inhibitors and appear well made. Thoughtfully provided is suspension seat post. Its spring tension compliancy is adjustable. Rounding things out are Samson Champion 20 x 4 in alloy rims having thick 13 gauge spokes, Quando front hub, Wellgo studded folding platform pedals that are made entirely of aluminum. Much of the Mariner’s bicycle components are robust. Oddly incorporated, for an off road centric bike, is a 52 tooth chainring generally found on road bikes. It’s a low spec component merely being adequate. Powering the Mariner is an 8Fun 500w rated motor with 48v 10.4ah Sanyo Silverfish style battery.


    Need for Speed:
    Nearly immediate, needing just a half pedal rotation, for the motor to engage before being whisked away due to its 12 magnet cadence sensor. Riding around town necessitates mindfulness as to the assist level you’re in because of its responsiveness. Acceleration can be abrupt. On the one hand its speed is restricted to just 33 kph on the other the eMoto gets there in a hurry. My flat and level Brooklyn block is bisected by two streets effectively dividing it into thirds. Launching the eMoto from a standing start using its thumb throttle, lofting the front wheel, catching a bit of air, the Mariner quickly reached 33 kph before “hitting” the speed limiter. Speed tests were limited to a a third of my block.

    All about the tyres:
    The eMoto’s large diameter tires which generates a lot of centrifugal force along with their rolling mass provides stability. Being soft, they soak up rough terrain but offer a lot of grip despite being knobby. They aid in making short controlled stops. With the rider is seated upright and centered between the eMoto’s long wheelbase makes for stability whether being ridden fast or slow. Despite it being a folder, its frame is ridge. Neither making creaking noises at its hinge or exhibiting flex. The Mariner is a joy to ride effortlessly breezing about. So long as you are using pedal assist for its tyres are both a blessing and a curse. They’re a big drag on performance. Their heavy nature compounded their low inflation pressure requires a bit more energy to move the eMoto than a conventional bicycle. While accelerating to 33 kph easily, it’s another matter maintaining and exceeding that speed. An example is on long downhill stretches went the speed reaches its high the motor switches off. No longer under power the Mariner’s rate plummets. Shortly thereafter, the motor will reignite again propelling the eMoto back up to its maximum speed. This surging forward followed by plunging backwards cycle is disconcerting.

    Regarding its hill climb ability, admittedly, I didn’t know what to expect. My hope was that it could scale the hills in my area with aplomb. Thus far it has. Max speed has been realized on some hills while a low being just 17 mph on the steepest. On one climb just up ahead was one of those bicycle-scooter food delivery things. Using only the throttle, we both climbed at the same rate until the hill steepen only then did I draw closer the other rider.

    Dream On:
    A couple of omissions could’ve made the Mariner perfect. Commuting sometime warrants speeds greater than its restricted limit. Inability to obtain higher speeds is a glaring absence for an off-road ebike. If only it could’ve been a speed pedalec or should’ve been able toggle between various Power Level Modes. Such as Economy, Normal and Power/Off-Road/“Ludicrous” power levels. Braking is very good, but I wonder if hydraulic brakes might have been a better option. The Mariner has basically good bicycle components but that didn’t carry thru with its chainring. A stouter chainring, more consistent with the other hardware, would’ve been nice. Cell phone integration in which a mobile device app would enable/unlock different power levels as well as provide other capabilities would bring the Mariner into the present day.

    Curiouser and curiouser:
    After some few weeks, some its items that were made of plastic, POWER/FUNCTION MODE PAD, which is hard wired to the LCD DISPLAY, its accompanying LCD DISPLAY MOUNTING BRACKET and the COMPASS/BELL unit, inexplicably exhibited cracks. Eventually fracturing the power/function mode pad needed replacement. While the LCD display’s mounting bracket and compass/bell unit were salvaged by Crazy Glue. This occurrence has me concern for the lasting durability of the Mariner’s plastic components.

    Unexpected consequences with the installation of the new power/function mode pad LCD display assembly were operational improvements. Throttle over-ride had been enabled. It wasn’t originally. Before, there was no discernible change in actual pedaling effort in which each PAS level felt like level-9. Before, the Mariner’s maximum speed was restricted to the PAS level where by each level resulting in an approximate incremental 2 mph increase/decrease. Before, so little pedaling effort was required that there wasn’t a need to shift gears. I rode around in 6th gear (14 tooth sprocket) gear all day. After the installation, PAS speeds became unrestricted (max still being 33 kph). Afterwards, PAS levels dictates the amount of actual motor assistance with level-1 providing the least amount of motor assist, and level-9 providing the greatest. As a result warranted a greater utilization of the Mariner’s 6-speeds. Normalcy has been restored.

    At the time of purchase, I hoped that the Mariner’s appearance would be stealthy. It has been anything but. Certainly it has been quite an attention getter. Generally eliciting favorable comments. Even a motorcyclist riding a BIG HOG said that the Mariner was COOL! People often ask questions such as “How fast does it go” but what amuses me is their expressions when I explain that ebike folds!

    Happily bicycling, enjoying new experiences due to the ease in which it can be ridden and its range. Living with the Mariner for some months I find it crude but in a good way. Being my first ebike, not knowing what to expect, it has both matched and in some areas exceeded my expectations. My biggest complaint is that I wish that there was a way to make it go faster on those stretches of roads that allowed for higher speeds. Pedaling is advantageous as it will increase the eMoto’s rate. Once I’d achieved, going downhill while vigorous pedaling, 27 mph indicated. If only there was a KERS (kinetic recovery system) “push-to-pass,” “turbo-boost” button. Sharing roads with gassers sometimes demands being able to keep up with them. Traffic lights starts, here the Mariner’s quickness is an asset. I can stay abreast with the gassers. To date I’ve replaced its saddle, with one that is anatomically designed, its bell/compass, with a bell that is audible. Deserving mention is the Mariner headlamp who’s luminosity is somewhat low but its projected light beam does alert others as to your approach. I’ve sourced a bicycle transport bag that can swallow the eMoto.

    Perhaps my utilization of the Mariner, that being an urban commuter, maybe out of context for its intended purpose. Indeed its large spongy tyres, long stiff frame makes for stability while the rider’s body positioning and suspension seat post makes for a comfortable to ride. Surprisingly inclusion of road bike chainring on a presumedly off road bike, nonetheless is ideal for my needs. In ways I didn’t imagine at the time of purchased the bike does make for a great commuter vehicle. Certainly those very assets also makes it cumbersome and unwieldy when folded and transported. However its ability to be compacted is useful. I find the Mariner strangely alluring, oddly satisfying.

    Electric Summer: Observations/Limitations
    My original objective was to utilize the Mariner as a daily commuter. With the warm weather however, I now endeavor to bike the path not taken.

    Leaving pave roads behind I’ve taken to wandering about a nearby park’s wooded areas. The Mariner affords me virtually unrestricted access due to its offload prowess. As with commuting, the eMoto’s performance is sometimes “lively.” The eMoto has a lot of power, even the lowest PAS.
    • Three words: Throttle Over Ride
    • There for you: NOT ONCE has its chain popped off
    • Need-For-Speed: Over inflating its tyres a little GREATLY IMPROVES its performance
    • INTOLERABLE: Non-locking ergonomic hand grips had to go
    • King of Darkness: The headlight is too DIM and its beam width is too narrow
    • Trail Capable: YES
    • Full blown/Hard core mountain bike: NO

    IMG_3335.jpg BrooklynHeightsMariner.jpg IMG_3070.JPG IMG_3099.JPG IMG_3152.JPG IMG_3148.JPG IMG_3160.JPG IMG_3135.JPG IMG_3137.JPG IMG_3139.JPG IMG_3141.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
    Archaeonic, wjs, SuperGoop and 4 others like this.


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  3. George S.

    George S. Well-Known Member

  4. Voltbike

    Voltbike Member

    Thanks for the extremely detailed review. I am sure that potential Voltbike Mariner buyers would find it interesting. I have few notes to mention.

    It appears that it's available to do throttle overwrite with the existing Voltbike Mariner LCD display.
    I have uploaded the Intelligent LCD manual on our coporate website here:
    http://www.voltbike.ca/images/Voltbike_Mariner_LCD.pdf

    There is many advanced settings and one of them is throttle overwrite. Also you can see the option to switch from km/h to mp/h.

    The next edition of Voltbike Mariner which is coming in middle of April, 2016 will come standard with Kenda tires which are slightly lighter than the Chaoyang Starmon. This would reduce the weight a bit.
     
  5. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    As with most bikes, the weight is in the frame.
    For a folder, it does seem to be strong.
    Swapping out some of its hardware not reduce its weight significantly.
    IMG_3166.JPG
     
  6. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    Greater Range Option

    A couple of "CLONE MARINERS":eek: have appeared. The other retailers, in an effort to distinguish their bikes, are offering a larger 20ah battery as opposed to the Mariner's 10ah battery. These clone bike retailers are claiming that their bikes can travel 100 kilometers/62 miles on a single charge!:) At the recent 2016 INTERBIKE seems to be an industry trend towards larger batteries. In my opinion the trend make sense. I for one hope that VOLTBIKE also embrace larger batteries for their bikes. Perhaps by offering either, out right sale, "Trade-up" larger battery package or point to (URL) a 3rd party battery supplier?:cool: IMHO;)
     
  7. Cnugget

    Cnugget Active Member

    I have seen some of these bikes advertising 20 ah. I was dubious of the specs from the website offering it though. The Mariner is unique in many ways but I am not sure if it is the first of it's kind either. The 48 Volt battery appears to be on par with many bikes of a much higher value for 2016. I am sure once @Voltbike can, they will upgrade to higher capacity. To me, they seem to be a bit ahead of the curve.
     
  8. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    KNOG OI Bicycle Bell Review

    As I mentioned in my review of my eMoto/Voltbike Mariner, the original equipment, combo bell/compass, cracked and fractured.:eek: Searching Amazon I found Crane Riten Bell. Beautifully crafted bell. Made of brass, its sound was exquisite ringing clear and loud. However, the round shaped bell took up much of the space on the Mariner's handlebar.:confused: Around the same time, I happened upon a Kickstarter campaign for a bell designed just for bicycles.o_O The bicycle component manufacturer - KNOG - seemed to have put a thought in the design of their bell. I was soo compelled as to order a pair for both the Mariner and my single speed. Knog emailed updates as the bell's progress. After many months the nicely package bells has arrived! :)

    The Good:
    • Available in 4 finishes: Black, Cooper, Silver and Brass
    • Fits various diameter - ROUND - handlebars: LARGE 23.8 mm to 31.8 mm, SMALL 22.2 mm bars
    • Both their tones are very good
    • Large bell's volume being louder
    • Designed to capture cables
    • Seem well made

    The Bad:
    • None so far:D

    IMG_3529.jpg IMG_3531.jpg IMG_3533.jpg IMG_3543.jpg IMG_3545.jpg IMG_3547.jpg
     
    SuperGoop likes this.
  9. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    While I love my eMoto/Mariner. There's always room for improvement. Being an bicycle, there are many 3rd party components. The battery is a Silverfish style common with Chinese manufactured ebikes. How hard would it be to offer an 20ah battery option? I'm just saying.:D
     
  10. Voltbike

    Voltbike Member

    Hey guys. Very cool photos... as always Voltbike owners are very passionate.
    We also noticed that some companies are offering 20ah. However given the price they offer the 20ah I am in doubt it's in fact 20ah. Also we are not sure that 20ah battery would fit in the compartment of Voltbike Mariner. In fact 20ah battery is twice bigger in size compared to 10ah battery. It's would also be twice the price too. It's probably more wise to purchase 2x 10ah batteries and swap them as needed. Please note that Voltbike Mariner is coming with high performance Sanyo (by Panasonic) cells.

    It would be nice if somebody in the forum can give some feedback regarding those cheap 20ah batteries going around.

    P.S. We are definitely going to offer later on different size battery packs like 16ah or 11.6ah for example.
     
    SuperGoop and Cnugget like this.
  11. Cnugget

    Cnugget Active Member

    PS @zap016VOLTAGE I have bell envy. Of course a bigger battery is always exciting news but... I'm not sure I would want it at the cost of battery life span either. I had done some looking on Alibaba and read that a 20 amp silverfish battery would have a shorter life span(half the charges).. In the end, would it be worth it the extended range considering my current riding is 95% covered under the current battery range of a single charge?

    @Voltbike Thanks for the update :)
     
  12. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    I could be wrong, but aren't SILVERFISH style batteries SIZE STANDARDIZED?:confused: As I have stated, I could use the extra range that a 20ah battery would afford. I think that @VOLTBIKE should sample owner's opinion as to their willingness to pay for such a battery. Don't be dismissive. BTW, I have sourced 20ah silverfish batteries, some are claiming to use high quality Panasonic or Samsung cells.
    While I'm at ito_O HOW ABOUT A 52V Silverfish battery?:confused:
     
  13. Cnugget

    Cnugget Active Member

    Of course a bigger battery would be awesome. :D I just wouldn't want to change it out for a shorter lifespan on the battery.. That is just my personal opinion though. I am not a kit builder so my knowledge of what is possible and not possible is limited by that. @zap016VOLTAGE You must be doing some serious miles. Cool!
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2016
  14. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    Staying Alive

    I ridden bicycles most of my life and I've rode various motorcycles as well. I find riding, whether on a bicycle or motorbike an enjoyable pastime.:cool: The Mariner is such a cool bike, I wish I could spent the day riding - *hint* 20ah battery *hint*:D - it as with motorbikes. Just focusing on bicycles, unfortunately I've had a number of unpleasant encounters with cars.:( In the city where I live bicyclist often have to share the streets with cars. Riding motorbikes taught me to be alert, protect yourself and be visible. As a commuter, presented here are a couple items I never leave home without. The Mariner is such a visually unusual bike makes it standout with both drivers and pedestrians. An asset!:)

    Torch Apparel Bicycle Helmet
    I purchased a Torch T2 helmet for commuting. Nowadays, I only skateboard style helmets because of "full coverage" protection they afford. Ventilation is the least of my concerns. Understanding the need to make cyclist more visible their helmets incorporate both front and rear lights. The helmet fits snug do its front and rear straps
    • Front & Rear LED Light Panels
    • 4 Different Lighting Modes: Steady High, Steady Low, Flash Fast, Flash Slow
    • Both Chin Strap and Back of the head Dial Adjuster
    • USB Battery Charging
    IMG_3022.jpg IMG_3023.jpg IMG_3024.jpg IMG_3025.jpg IMG_3026.jpg
     
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  15. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    Staying Alive Part Two

    Orfos Light Flare

    In a effort to further increase my visibility I purchased Orfos "White Flare." Its intend purpose was to be a daytime running light. Producing an intensely bright light, the Orfos is an unfocused light source emitting 500 lumens. It adheres to powerful neodymium magnets making for quick removable. Their magnetism is soo great as to make the Mariner's supplied compass ineffective. The magnets are zipped tied to the bike.
    • 4 Modes: Hyper, Blink, Pulse, Steady
    • 3 Power Levels
    • Power Saving Mode
    • Magnetic Mounting
    • Water Proof
    • USB Charging
    IMG_3030.jpg IMG_3032.jpg IMG_3033.jpg IMG_3037.jpg IMG_3066.jpg
     
    Archaeonic and vincent like this.
  16. Over50

    Over50 Active Member

    I have Tern's Vizy light mounted on my regular bike. Even though my trunk bag blocks the flasher portion of the light (I have a flasher mounted on the trunk bag), the beam that is projected to the ground forms a nice radius around the bike. Very useful for establishing boundaries.

    http://www.ternbicycles.com/us/gear/471/vizy-light
     
    vincent likes this.
  17. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    Staying Alive Part Three

    Bontrager Flare R Tail Light
    The manufacture designed their tail light to seen even during daylight hours. They're claiming over 2km daytime visibility. Mounting to the bike with its Sync Bracket or with the supplied Seat Pack Clip/Spring Clip. I try to position it in the drivers line-of-vision. So it's clipped it to my backpack. In daytime flash mode, the very well made tail light creates random bursts. The light can be removed from its mounting brackets quickly.
    • Designed to visible during daylight.
    • 4 Modes: Day Time Flash, Day Time Steady, Night Time Flash, Night Time Steady
    • Day Time Flash Produces Random Flash Bursts
    • Low Battery Strobe
    • Battery Level Indicator
    • USB Charging
    IMG_3013.jpg IMG_3014.jpg IMG_3015.jpg IMG_3018.jpg IMG_3019.jpg IMG_3068.jpg
     
    vincent likes this.
  18. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    That's a very cool tail light. Because I'm a commuter, my concern is for day light visibility. I live in a crazy busy city! Some of the areas in my commute are heavily congested. Those areas are choked with commercial, private and public transportation. And crazy/mad pedestrians! Those areas require myself having to weave through, dodge around, brake lock-up, hop onto, narrow escape.
     
  19. Roflo

    Roflo Member



    Which is another reason that I wish there was some way to turn that damn governor speed limiter off. Sometimes squeaking a couple of MPH fast could get you out of a bad situation where having the engine just shut itself off can be quite dangerous in a lot of these heavily congested area of travel. I understand the legal reason of having the speed limiter built in to the design of the bike but there should be a way the owner of the bike could disable it somehow with a liability waver stating disengaging the governor speed limiter removes all liabilities to the bikes manufacture. Abide by state or countries law but have the consumer be the final say on how they want the bike to operate and function not the manufacturer or government. My wifes ebike has a 20 MPH max on flats but if going downhill and you exceed 20 MPH by 1-3 MPH it doesn't just shut down the engine. Come on Volt give us a choice on the governor limiter, ship it from the factory with the 20 MPH speed governor on, but let the consumer be able to disengaged if they wish, relinquishing any liability issues to the manufacturer.
     
    sexton Tom likes this.
  20. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    I totally agree with you Roflo. Some ebikes have an "OFF ROAD" mode in their settings which when enabled will allow for speeds greater than 20 mph. I've exceeded 30mph - going down hill - on the Mariner. The ebike was as stable as any road bike that I've ridden. User defined speeds should be an option.
     
  21. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    I WANTA RIDE!:D

    Just want to ride my Mariner all day!:)

    48V 20ah Silver Fish style batteries, having high quality cells, appear to be multiplying :cool:.
    48V 17ah Silver Fish style battery on Amazon.o_O

    Battery Dimensions:
    Height: 390mm
    Width: 76mm
    Depth: 110mm

    Come on @Voltbike o_O Make it So!:)