Voltbike Enduro Review: First 100 miles from a bike newbie

Discussion in 'Voltbike Forum' started by ShumaBike, May 20, 2017.

  1. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    some pics at the end

    Hey. This is my first post and my first bike since I was in my teens, so if I misuse terms or I sound like a laymen it's because I am!

    As a bit of history I have been commuting by car in the city of Boston for the last five or so years. Boston is a terrible city for car commuting, there are few parking spots, minor collisions are inevitable (I was hit at least four times between 2014 and my cars unfortunate death two months ago), tickets are a fact of life if you are forced into street parking like I was, and it's the most expensive insurance market in the country (A year in car insurance on a used VW alone pretty much buys this bike).

    That's all before my car was totaled when a semi rear ended me. I was done driving in this warzone.

    The Bike


    I settled on the Enduro after doing a ton of research into alternative modes of transportation and then watching/reading plenty of reviews on this site. I tried to buy a clearance bike from a local bike shop that sold FELT electrics, but they just weren't able to bring the price to something I could accept. I think a four thousand dollar electric bike is probably worth the price, but so does every bike thief in the city and that's a liability I just wasn't into. That said, I also didn't want to go cheap, this site did a pretty good job convincing me that trying to go as cheap as I could was going to result in a bad experience.

    I had initially tried to buy the IZIP E3 Vibe+ but that was back ordered for months. I'm glad I didn't as the roads in Boston are often a step away from disintegrating and the shocks are great to have. I feel like the Voltbike Enduro is the perfect price for someone in my situation and I haven't felt let down at all by the product. So far it's been worth every penny. With the 70 dollar shipping, free helmet, a Kryptonite bike lock and other minor accessories I have spent about $2,000 so far. An eighth the cost of the car its replacing, and that thing was used. I am excited watching the overall cost of electrics go down. I feel like this bike is part of a new generation of higher quality bikes that still sit in a somewhat affordable price range.

    Initial experience:

    The box came pretty beat up, but it looked almost identical to the one in this sites review unit, so I guess that's just standard for bike shipping The review had no problem with it and the bike suffered no damage I could notice. The bike assembly was easy. I was able to figure it out with no instructions within a half hour of getting the box shipped to my office. This is coming from someone who has never assembled or even tuned a bike before, so that's a good thing.

    The gearing was notably misaligned and the brakes were very loose out of the box. The rear air shock was also so over-filled it felt like it did nothing at all. I didn't fix anything for my first week, but the chain was dropping and it felt a little unsafe. Once I had some time alone with the bike and some youtube tutorials I was able to tune the derailleur and tighten the brakes. The brakes were easy, but tuning up gearing on a bike is not an easy process if you've never done anything like it before. I also made the exact mistake Court made in his review where I released all the air from the rear shock at once. Having no shock felt the same as an over-full one, except the bike then ran a good deal shorter. Luckily a local bike shop was nice enough to refill it for me and now it feels great. I would strongly suggest getting the bike tuned up out of the box if you're able, most aspect that can be tinkered with in my experience needed to be.

    100 miles in:

    I've had the bike for a few weeks and I passed the 100 mile mark on the trip meter today. Tuned up the bike runs wonderfully. Once I found the password and upped the governor to 28mph my commute time dropped noticeably. The battery doesn't last very long at the max power AND speed settings, with a range that feels to be around 20 miles, but I was getting better performance when I was trying to ride conservatively at a middle power setting and had not yet ungoverned the motor. I believe the documented min/max distances and I had been expecting a loss in battery life when I pushed the motor to a 28 cap. I find it very strange that they limited the motor to 14 MPH, which seems well below a legal limit anywhere, and I would suggest immediately upping it to whatever setting you feel comfortable with (there's a hard cap at 28). The motor can not hit the 28 mph it theoretically limits at. Even downhill while pedaling pretty hard passing 26mph is difficult and the tires are not built for speed, but it's relatively easy to maintain 20-23mph speeds on flat ground while sitting down. That has felt perfectly fine for me, Boston has a lot of stop signs and few straights. I think this is just an aspect of gearing, the bike just doesn't have a high enough gear for the motor to provide useful torque at speeds above the low 20's.

    I have had one hiccup where at what looked to be 20% power the motor began to stutter, with the battery at one point seemingly dying. I popped the battery out and put it back in and it ran well enough to get me back home. I suspect this may have something to do with maxing out the engines cap, or it could be that the system inaccurately reads the batteries charge state at low levels. It ran fine the next day after a charge, so I am keeping watch.

    The bike survived riding in a thunderstorm just fine, but I did get pretty wet. Fenders would be nice, but probably aren't realistic given the style of bike this is. It's a tradeoff, the rear shocks make the bumpy streets much smoother. If I had the choice I would go with the shocks over staying dry, but that's a personal preference.

    I am a 6 foot 200 pound male and I mirror some of the complaints Court had in his review. Even raising the seat and setting it as far forward as possible it feels like there is too much distance between me and the handlebars. I've gotten used to it, but this is not a bike for small people and I would prefer the bike not be so long. It's also hell to get up to my second story apartment. I have been switching between upstairs and in the buildings basement. The weight makes the second floor climb annoying, but the bikes length makes navigating the tight basement stairs equally difficult. I am a gym goer, but this is a very awkward thing to carry with few good places to grasp. Again, this is not a bike for small people.

    The bikes appearance is great. I have received several compliments on it. The matte black paint scheme is very attractive and I am happy that it lacks some of the more extreme sports inspired flourishes bikes often have in their design and paint jobs. I have made converts out of several co workers with both the looks and by giving them a ride. Most people are surprised trying an electric for the first time. It's an easy sell. The motorcycle style helmet is kinda dorky, but maybe that's just how it sits on me. It's definitely a fashion statement. The helmet is comfortable and feels sturdy and safe, so that's a plus.


    I really like this bike. If the battery hiccup mentioned earlier turns out to be nothing then it'll be a purchase I have absolutely no regrets about and would suggest to anyone above a certain physical size. Looking at bikes that are twice the cost I can see their quality, but I think this thing holds its own. Looking at other bikes in the same price category or cheaper and this bike suddenly looks like an amazing value. The previously mentioned IZIP E3 Vibe+ has a rear rack serving as a fender and a step through frame but totally lacks the shocks that make this a great commuter at high speeds.

    I am not a hardcore bike guy, and while I do a lot of hiking I have never done mountain biking. I'd like to in the future, but this is strictly from the perspective of a commuter. As a commuter this bike has been a dream, and riding is much more pleasant than driving. The weight is high and the bike is just too big overall, but that comes with the territory of a one size fits all approach. I have gotten a little bit of bike elitism thrown at me for buying an Electric with one co-worker jokingly (or maybe not?) saying they would beat me up if they saw me on a trail with it. This bike does not feel like it has the torque to actually damage a trail, but it's heavy so if you're skidding around every corner you could probably do some damage. But then so could anyone on any bike. I guess that comes with the territory of joining a new subculture. That one instance doesn't outweigh the good things people have been saying about the bike and I feel great riding it.

    If you have any questions feel free to ask. I'll probably add to this if anything new pops up.

    Attached Files:

    zap016VOLTAGE and Jolly like this.

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  3. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    200 mile update (more like 225 now).

    Nothing much has changed. I have redone the gearing a second time after the wires stretched out a bit, but everyone tells me that's normal. I've done the same to the breaks. I bought a pump for the mid suspension and an extra reflector for the back of the bike.

    A couple of observations and updates:
    -I think the battery misreports itself to the computer at low remaining power. I have had the motor start cutting out when the battery itself shows 1 light but the computer shows 2 bars on 3 separate occasions. I still don't know if this is due to taking the computer to its max possible speed (28mph) or if it's just a fault of the system. Be careful when you're low on power, make sure to charge up when you can. Now that I know about this behavior it's been easy to keep the battery topped off, but it could come as a surprise to some and it's not a good look for voltbike in any event.
    -The mid suspension is very squeaky sometimes. I don't know if that's normal but it can get very loud. Should I be lubricating it?
    -The bike is very difficult to mount things too. Many of the tubes are at strange angles, are much too wide, or are triangular. Finding a place to stick rear reflectors was a chore. I would recommend reflective stickers.

    I am still very enthusiastic about this purchase. Groceries easily fit in my trail backpack and I have found that I am able to get anywhere in the city of Boston quickly. I have taken to storing it in my second floor apartment but my arms are starting to get bigger from having to lug it up multiple flights of stairs every day and I'm getting pretty used to it. Even with the electric assist I find that it's a workout keeping the bike at its max speeds, so it's a good exercise daily.

  4. George S.

    George S. Well-Known Member

    The motor has a controller. A 48v battery goes from 54 volts to about 40 volts. As it gets to 40 volts, it cuts out to protect the battery. But the more power you try to get from the motor, the lower the voltage drops, but then the voltage recovers. The monitors are independent. The controller is autonomous, and fairly precise.

    Tough place to live, or at least get around. Thanks for the slice of life. In a place like that you are almost forced to work for bike lanes. The cars don't work. Last time I was in Boston was '96, and it was already insane.

    You can swap bars, get a bar that sweeps back. Hard to say on suspensions for rough roads, how much is enough. All the comfort stuff needs a lot of work, especially for an affordable bike.
  5. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    Hey! Thanks for the response. I guess the controller and battery just aren't set for the power draw of the motor with the limiter set to it's maximum. Makes sense, it's not really voltbikes fault in that case since I took it above the advertised speeds.

    And yeah, Boston is a very hostile place to commute. Bike Lanes never feel particularly safe and the roads might as well be dirt in some places. But then I had a car and it is now a cube so I guess some danger just comes with the town.
  6. gcoop

    gcoop New Member

    Awesome to read how much fun you're having!
  7. George_E

    George_E New Member

    I Just ordered the Voltbike Enduro(back ordered till 8/3). I'm 5'6" and wonder, based on your feedback, if the bike's to big for someone my size? Currently have a Specialized Roubaix and street ride around 1200 miles/yr. At 65 I'm thinking I would enjoy and look forward more to biking if the hills were not an issue so E Bike sounds like the perfect choice. Not afraid to spend more for a bike that's a better fit/quality, but can't see spending $4k if I don't have to.. I'm looking for recommendations on an E Bike comparable to the Enduro that's maybe a better fit for someone my size, but if a new seat post and handle bar mount/bars will solve the problem than that's fine. Your thoughts?
  8. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    Hi George! To tell you the truth I'm not entirely sure. My primary issue with the bikes scale is storage. I live in a second story apartment, so lugging the long and heavy bike up and down daily can be difficult. If you need to traverse stairs I would strongly suggest looking for a shorter and lighter bike. The weight isn't really out of line with other non aluminum/carbon full suspension ebikes, though you may be able to shave some pounds with something that doesn't have rear suspension.

    The seat can get quite low, it's issue is actually that it can't go very high. I wouldn't really be too concerned about the step over and seat height. The difficulties with the bike are entirely in it's length and weight for me.

    At 1,200 miles you sound more than strong enough for the bike when you're actually riding it, and the pedal assist makes it quite easy most of the time. I can't speak to your situation with storage and travel, so it's going to come down to how often you need to lift the bike off it's wheels. If you like to pack the bike up and travel I'd definitely suggest finding a smaller model.
  9. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    As to suggestions for alternatives, I was looking at comparably priced iZip bikes when I decided on the Enduro because I wanted the rear suspension. At the same price point they seem to have respectable quality, but I'm no expert and this is the first electric I've ever owned so you may want to try asking one of the general threads for the best bikes in your size and price range.

    I hope that helps!
  10. DRR

    DRR New Member

    Thanks for your excellent blog of experiences to date. I currently own my first ebike, a Cyclamatic CX3 and it is outstanding! Chinese made, alloy frame; sold on line only by Shop247.com for $750 (available on Amazon); outstanding value. (I’d love to see review by Court/EBR!). It has 250w rear hub motor and 36v 10.4 amp battery. I have about 250 miles so far with no problems. I love the front suspension, and have lowered rear tire pressure to about 30+ psi to improve the ride - I’m also considering a suspension seat post. I also installed a wider more comfortable seat, and a 110mm adjustable stem to move the handlebars up and towards me; also cheap plastic fenders from Amazon. It has a great display and 9-speed controller; pedal assist only. Normally I ride at about 15-18 mph (I upped the max speed) and the range is about 20-25 miles. They say it weighs 42 lb; I travel a lot so I remove the battery and quick-release front wheel, and lay it atop all the stuff in my SUV when we travel - very manageable. For lighter weight, you may want to take a look at the Cyclamatic CX3 - I recommend it highly.
    I’m already thinking about my next ebike and have enjoyed reading Court’s reviews on EBR. I’m considering the Radrover (which I love!) and the Voltbike Enduro; but they both weigh 60+ lb. so not sure about those for my travels. BTW, I’m 78, 5’10”, weigh about 178 lb. and live in Michigan. I ride 12-15 miles a day and I’ve been a bike rider on and off since my youth. Hope my ramblings are of some interest. Keep biking!
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2017
  11. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    Here's a link to a video I took immedately after it happened, on the curb it happened on, in the rain it happened in.

    Just had the seat post part of the frame shear backwards when it took a small amount of impact from a sleight incline at moderate speed. I weigh 195 lbs, I have been using this bike to commute. I have never once treated it like the mountain bike it claims to be. I have treated this thing gently for its entire life with me. These frames are pieces of garbage. This thing hasn't even hit 1,000 miles yet. I was actually really looking forward to giving a review of the bike at 1,000, but I guess that isn't going to happen.

    If this had happened while I was in traffic I could have been killed.
    If this happened at speed I could have been killed.
    If this had happened to anyone while they were mountain biking they could have been killed.

    If you're as tall as I am 6'0" you need a way to extend your seat post or a different bike. This bike just isn't designed for tallish people. I'm now trying to deal with their customer support to see if they will do anything about this.

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017 at 10:28 AM
  12. NOBLNG

    NOBLNG New Member

    Wow, You are lucky you weren't injured! My friend's son had a pedal snap off his bike causing him to get hit by a car and he is now on permanent disability.
    I assume the seat post was inserted at least the minimum amount? If so, then it could be a bad weld that caused it, or maybe they need to spec a longer seat post. Glad you're OK.
  13. zap016VOLTAGE

    zap016VOLTAGE Member

    Sorry to hear.
    Did you contact @Voltbike?
    What was the outcome?
    Good that you wasn't injured.
    Good luck.
  14. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    As an update it looks like it sheared because my seat post was about an inch above the minimum insertion distance. I think the last bike shop I took it too did that so that it would be correct for my height (6' 0"). The post is definitely too short by default, that was something Court brought up in his review video. The seat just can't be set correctly for someone of my height while still being 'safe'. I didn't realize that it was set too shallow, and I don't think I was really aware the danger was having the entire thing snap off in the first place.

    Volt Bike did the unexpected and is shipping me a new frame on Warranty. I would have been very angry but kinda understood if they didn't since I was at fault on this, even if they are selling adult bikes that don't fit adult heights. I'm not sure if I'll have to take it all somewhere to get installed since a new frame means a total reassembly of the bike. I may have to ship the bike back to them, they don't have a store presence as far as I know. I'll find out in a few weeks I guess. They have to get a new frame in their next shipment from China.
  15. NOBLNG

    NOBLNG New Member

    Good on Voltbike to go the extra distance for a customer! I thought it looked like it wasn't in very far. It should likely be down past the bottom of the top tube. Is that the seat post that came with the bike? You can likely get an extra long one from a local bike shop.
  16. ShumaBike

    ShumaBike New Member

    Yeah, that was the tube that came with the bike. In the future I'll definitely get a longer one. I'm surprised it doesn't come with one out of the box, but I guess the rear suspension limits what they can do.
  17. LimboJim

    LimboJim Active Member

    It may well be that you're not the first person this has happened to, and replacing frames is in their self-interest. IMO, you were not at all at fault, because "stocking" the bike with a too-short seatpost would lead many folks around your height to set it beyond minimum insertion.

    I'd demand that they cover all expenses you incur in moving the motor, components etc. to the new frame, and it might be hard to find a qualified bike mechanic who's also familiar with (and willing to work on) bikes with Bafang mid-drives, even in a bustling metropolis like Boston. It's not used on many major bike brands' models.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2017 at 7:46 PM