Volton Mid-Drive 500w 48v owner review

#1
So I recently bought a Volton mid-drive in the 500w option (I live in Colorado so the higher power was necessary for hills and such) and would like to put in my two cents on both the good and bad of this bike.

So when I first got the bike in shipping and assembled it my introduction to its build quality was that by barely even touching the bell lever, it immediately snapped off. So I finally got the battery charged and tried putting in the battery for my first ride. I clicked the power button, saw the display flash on, and then immediately off. I looked around the battery cage (expecting all components to be in place) and finally got the battery mounted in a way that the display and motor would finally work.

So I go down the very first hill from my house, and after crossing the street, the display stops again. After a few minutes of looking around the battery cage and looking at the battery I realize that the plug which the battery plugs into was bent back substantially. So I bend it back into the proper position and turn it on. The display stayed active for a little while until I hit some minor bumps (going over curbs and other basic commuter level bumps) and it cuts out again. I contact Joe (who is super responsive) and he tells me that adding a dense sponge to the underside of the battery cover will help. I do this and have no issues for about a day. Though I begin to discover that the battery mounting is so loose that despite the battery cover having a sponge underneath to hold the battery in place, the battery still routinely hops up out of its mounting and bends the plug out of place.

On the third day of owning the bike I notice the chain continuously is slipping in the higher gears. So, being worried about ruining the chain in my first few days of owning the bike I take to to a repair shop and find out that the chain already has a link on the verge of falling out. I get this fixed, and get the dérailleur realligned and continue riding. Almost immediately upon leaving the shop I notice that the chain is still slipping in its highest gear, so I bring it back and discover that the highest gear chain ring had already begun loosening and slipping. The bike shop fixes this for no extra charge and I am happily on my way... for a while. About two days later I am going over the same curb which had popped out the battery on my first ride, this time I look down to see that the battery cover had popped off. Thinking it was my own error for not properly pushing the battery cover into place, I look at the lock to discover that the metal which holds the cover in place had completely broken off. I now hold my battery cover in place with a tightened dog collar. I have owned this bike for a week now.

Now, because of my general frustration with having spent so much only to have so much fall apart so quickly, I haven't pointed out the wonderful things about this bike (I haven't put in 130 miles in seven days because I hate the bike)

This bike has some serious get up and go, I commute to work and back five days a week as well as doing some serious hills in garden of the gods and red rocks open space. It has made these rides not only super simple, but I don't show up to work sweaty and gross, and don't feel like stopping after a couple of serious hills. Every friend I have let ride it is amazed at the power and simplicity of it all.

Unfortunately I would have to say though that this bike is a disappointment. I understand they had to go with lesser quality components as a trade off for the available power, but the things that are breaking seem like things that are incredibly essential to the function of such a bike.

I would have went with the izip dash were it not for the unavailability of a freewheeling system. The bike I have is an absolute joy to ride, but the continuous issues I have had with essential components breaking has made me wish I had made the sacrifice for a more purpose built and sturdier bike.

I am still waiting to see the exact nature of the warranty as I have sent joe an email asking for a sturdier lock (will only send stock which is understandable under warranty but if it broke on a simple curb then I guess I can look forward to building up enough scrap locks I can seek em for scrap metal and get a solid one) and to reimburse the parts and service needed to fix the shoddy chain. He said he would reimburse for parts but did not mention service. If he won't reimburse the service necessary to fix a shoddy product then the his bike has essentially become an expensive unreturnable (yet fun) problem.
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
#2
Sorry to hear that. I too had a very similar experience with them, did you read my issues with Volton? I owned my Alation 500 for about a week also. I thought they had a good product, but I've read many reviews here about lack of quality builds on their bikes. I like things to work straight out-of the box, with out a ton of issues and fixes. I had my bike for 2 days before I contacted Joe and nicely demanded a full refund with paid shipping. Almost a year later I'm still bike-less. Mainly because I can't afford one at this time. However I'm going local this time so when problems do arise I'll have some back up and support.

Check out Smallplaneebikes.com they have 2 locations, the main store is in Longmont, CO and they just opened another one off University downtown Denver.

Side note that's officially 3 Coloradans here on the ERB, we should go riding some time when we all have working bikes/bikes at all. haha.
 
#3
Having read all the posts about the volton on this forum before purchasing the bike, I am sure I read yours but was too high on the "new experience" aspect of things and filtered out the bad far too much. Given that it seems the "warranty" doesn't truly cover all expenses associated with the failings of this bike I aim to spend the extra money to reinforce all of the component issues (which still seems like it will end up as a more powerful version of other similar bikes at the same cost) Though I do wish I could return at a full refund, this bike is now literally my only means of getting to work six miles away, I could take back the front wheel of my old non-electric commuter bike from my buddy who had his front wheel stolen, but that seems excessive when in the end I do plan on continuing my newfound obsession with ebikes. As it stands I aim on finding all the failings with this bike and reinforcing them in a way that will make them non-issues. I wish I didn't have to do this as I spent quite a bit on this bike and in turn had high expectations.

Again all in all I would say the general riding experience of this bike is absolutely beautiful. Though when I only had thirty minutes to get to work and showed up late because I had to look around Safeway for a viable means of securing the battery cover, I began deeply questioning why I will be spending the next two years paying off a transportation substitute that has already had so many substantial breaks.

To explain, I have a multitude of car related money issues (as well as other financial issues) which resulted in me deciding this would be a wonderful and fulfilling alternative. Once I spend the money to switch out all the inconveniently super weak components I can see this bike being a beast. I just don't like it that every day or two I have to unbuckle the dog collar securing the battery so I can bend the plug back into place and hope to god the next curb doesn't make me have to stop and bend the plug back into place. Not to mention feeling the chain constantly slip and wonder if I'm going to have to go to a bike shop once a week to keep this thing maintained.
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
#4
2k is a huge investment, for me, it was enough to send it back. I'd rather fork out an extra 2-3k for a Stromer ST1 or Haibike and have a local dealer that can solve and fix any issues that arise with the bike. What are you going to do when (and it will happen) the magnets in the rear hub come loose and your bike is essentially a 2k paper weight for the 2-3 weeks it will take to send it back, have it fixed and returned to you.

I wish you the best of luck and to be honest, I wish my Alation 500 came in perfectly because I love the look, price and power of the bike.
 

stevenast

Well-Known Member
#5
bike has essentially become an expensive unreturnable (yet fun) problem
I feel sad hearing the problems you are having. Are you certain it is unreturnable?

I had considered this very model, but the lack of local support was one of several factors that removed it from my list. In fact, I emailed Volton, asking if they had any kind of relationships with local bike shops, but I never got a reply.

I ended up going with a product marketed by Currie, a company that I think (hope) will have more staying power.

I wish small outfits like Volton all the best, but I think they are climbing a very steep hill (with no assist) to success.
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
#6
After receiving my Alation 500 in the shittiest condition ever, I too realized that LOCAL is going to be the best bet for a e-bike with such a great cost. @stevenast I totally agree, these smaller companies that are trying to sell outside of their state need to have some local bike shops that are capable of selling and handling merchandise, with out that eventually the ship will start to sink for lack of life boats.

I just can't risk that much money online, from a dealer that's not with-in driving distance. Also, @stevenast Yes currie is a good company that will be around for a long time.
 
#7
Yeah, @stevenast , Currie Tech has already been around at least 15 years! so I think you can feel ok that they'll be around a few more. @ JStro23 you mention taking the Volton to a bike shop, but do you not have anyone specializing in ebikes in your city? Sometimes my customers just gotta have something they ordered from the internet, but they make arrangements with our shop to do the build up which lets us catch some of the issues you unfortunately had to deal with on your own. Its not my ideal situation, but it helps. Maybe not slamming off curbs would help; the Alation is somewhat a mountain bike, but more like a hybrid and not quite built like a Haibike for off road style riding. We did encounter the same issue with the battery cover & lock, but that was several years ago--thought that issue would have been solved. The hydroformed frame makes for a good looking bike!
 

Ace

New Member
#8
I just purchased this Bike and should receive it in less than 2 weeks. I'm really hoping you were able to work through your challenges and that all is well.

Question, what motor is the 500w version using? Is it the BBS02?
 

Mike Smith

Active Member
#9
I feel sad hearing the problems you are having. Are you certain it is unreturnable?

I had considered this very model, but the lack of local support was one of several factors that removed it from my list. In fact, I emailed Volton, asking if they had any kind of relationships with local bike shops, but I never got a reply.

I ended up going with a product marketed by Currie, a company that I think (hope) will have more staying power.

I wish small outfits like Volton all the best, but I think they are climbing a very steep hill (with no assist) to success.
I have a Diamond Back Trace exc which is a Currie Tech product and I love it so far. Local support from my Performance Bike shop where it was purchased, assembled, and picked up, and so far I love it. Added a Body Float seat post and Brooks B17 pre-aged saddle and the ride could not be nicer. Have fun and keep us up to date.
 

Ace

New Member
#10
IMG_8096.JPG IMG_8097.JPG IMG_8098.JPG IMG_8099.JPG

Hi all, it's been about a month since I ordered my Volton Mid-Drive 500w (48volt/11ah using bbs02) and it finally came in yesterday. I figured I'd provide my first impressions in this thread for those looking or interested. My wife owns a Pedego Interceptor Step Thru 24inch (48volt/10ah soon to be exchanged for 15ah) 500w geared rear hub which I have ridden myself a lot so I'll use that as a base for comparison.

The retail shop built it and had it ready for me today. At first glance, the bike looks amazing! Some of what I say may echo the official review on this site but it seems much has changed since that review was done. I'll try to upload some pictures but the site is complaining that they are too large (taken with iPhone 6 Plus) so I may need to down-sample them first. The pictures show that things have changed. The controls and LCD display delivered is different then what was tested on this website.

So on to the test ride. First thing I noticed is that this thing rides like an everyday bike. I felt like I was on a regular mountain bike with the ability to use pedal assist and throttle for added boost. This is different then the Pedego because to me the Pedego feels much closer to an electric scooter than a regular bike. The Volton makes me WANT to pedal more (and requires it but I'll get to that soon); to me this is good because I could use the exercise!

The second thing I noticed was that the gear you are in really matters. I'm used to having the Pedego on gear 7 (maximum) near full time and that works great on that bike. On the Volton, I really need to pay attention what gear I'm in because in the higher gears, it barely moves (from a stop) and makes the bike seem weak as compared to the Pedego. However, on the lowest gear, I can actually cause myself to wheelie if I'm not careful so the bike has some serious torque which is exactly why I chose it. We have some VERY steep and long hills where I live and the pedego struggles in some areas, even with my full assistance. I even have some hills near me that require a 20mph rolling start with me using everything I got to make it up.

The third thing that caught my attention is that the motor kept cutting out and the LCD monitor would display "check engine" (same icon like a car) and would also show another icon that seemingly said that the battery was low? I'm really not sure and didn't capture a picture so I thought maybe the battery just needed to be charged even though it was showing about 60%-80% before starting. I came back to the bike shop and had it charge for another hour while I was having some work done to the Pedego. The owner of the shop mentioned that he wanted me to take it for another spin and to pay attention to the responsiveness. I wasn't sure what he meant but one of his techs showed me that when you apply the brake, there is a delay of 2-4 seconds for the motor to reengage. Now things started to make sense. This whole time I thought the battery was low but there may be something else going on.

I took it for another ride after charging up and really paid attention to how it responds. I was shocked at it's poor performance after applying any braking. In comparison, the pedego moves instantly without hesitation so long as your not applying brake. I had two minor incidents in the few minutes of test riding. I was going up a fairly steep hill with many pedestrians, obviously you need to apply brake and wiggle around to be safe. At one point I had to stop and then start up again, due to the motor delay, I started to roll backwards! I also noticed at this point that if you throttle right after you brake and hold the throttle, the motor will NEVER re-engage until you let go completely, wait for it to reset by not applying any braking, and then you can go. The second incident was at a traffic crossing. I was stopped and needed to quickly cross the road before the light changes; the motor would not engage and now I truly knew this was a safety hazard in comparison to the Pedego. For me this was a deal breaker and I refused to take the bike home. The owner of the shop was very understanding and will try working with Volton to re-mediate and I really hope things work out because I LOVE the look and feel of the bike. I'm very thankful I bought from a local bike shop instead of directly through Volton.

Some more things I noticed:

-The fenders seem kind of cheap and I have a feeling I'll need to remove the front fender to use the bike in bumpy areas, but that's not a big deal. I considered an aftermarket fender set but if I do that, the included front light has no where to mount.
-There are two sets of keys. One set for the battery latch and one for on/off. A single key set would have been ideal.
-The keys provided are very thin, seems like they could "snap" if you mishandle.
-The LCD display is different then what was reviewed. I'm not sure if it has a back light.
-There was less handle bar room then I expected (compared to the Pedego)
-The front LCD light doesn't seem to let you adjust it's position or aim, which could be an issue.
-The front suspension seems to be good and as expected although I really think this needs a seat post suspension as well so I will buy one after this issue is sorted out
-The shop tech told me the top speed of the bike is really good (you'll need to PM me if you want more specific info) although I didn't put that to the test myself.
-Configuration of LCD options is impossible to figure out. It makes no sense, but I didn't check the manual to see if it explained the configuration. Most settings are not logical and not self explanatory like on the Pedego.
-I was able to loosen the fork suspension while riding without issue
-The bike looks amazing!


I'll post updates as I get them. Any questions in the mean time please do let me know and I'll try to find out.

EDIT 1 (06/21/2015): Down-sampled pictures attached. Clarified some points and structured better.
 
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George S.

Well-Known Member
#11
Seem like pretty minor problems. They need to redesign the physical connector for the battery. Any time a guy tells me to cram a sponge in to create a connection, I stop listening (or tell him where to cram a sponge). There are a lot of those Bafang displays around. Ask for advice in the 8Fun forum. Seems like too long a delay on the brake cut-out.

I think this is why I like kits so much. Get a decent bike. Add a few parts. Know how everything works. Know how to tweak anything that proves troublesome. I have made a lot of tweaks with my kit bike, but I never feel 'lost'. It's a process. With the warranty you kind of have a 'kit' bike, but no real knowledge of how it works.
 

JoePah

Well-Known Member
#12
I've been saying this for 2 years: BUY LOCAL,!!

Maybe others will start telling newcomers the same

Colton is a cheap bike but even quality bike s have problems.

I bought an A2B Metro in 2009 when it was one of the most expensive ebikes on the market. Had more failures than all you Volton owners combined.

However I also bought it from an lbs an hour away, with a two year warranty. I figure the cost of the replacement parts was more than double my $2600 purchase price. No kidding.

Smoked the motor after a week. They couldn't diagnose. Gave me another new bike
Overheated 3 motors thermals tripped. Gave me a new motor/controller/rim/tire each time
Battery relay failed. Sent me a new relay.
Second battery failed at least twice. Sent me new batteries.
Rear swing arm weld failed. Installed new swing arm. Since they had to do the work they hit me for $50 labor. That was the only expense I incurred
I had so many flats they sent me new design tires in the mail. They sucked too!

Once the warranty ran out so did the failures. Except the frame that had a 5 year warranty.

At 4.5 years I unloaded it for $1000 on CL



Bought a leftover Stromer Elite for $1600 from a new LBS that I think was owned by the Russian mob. No problems worth mentioning.
 
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Ace

New Member
#13
Seem like pretty minor problems. They need to redesign the physical connector for the battery. Any time a guy tells me to cram a sponge in to create a connection, I stop listening (or tell him where to cram a sponge). There are a lot of those Bafang displays around. Ask for advice in the 8Fun forum. Seems like too long a delay on the brake cut-out.

I think this is why I like kits so much. Get a decent bike. Add a few parts. Know how everything works. Know how to tweak anything that proves troublesome. I have made a lot of tweaks with my kit bike, but I never feel 'lost'. It's a process. With the warranty you kind of have a 'kit' bike, but no real knowledge of how it works.
They may have adjusted because there was a soft foam block under the battery area. The battery seemed to be well placed and tight so I don't think it disconnecting will be much of an issue anymore... At least I hope that's the case :)

The delay is really a problem for me based on the way I ride though, I hope that is an easy fix.
 

Ace

New Member
#14
Hi all,


It’s been nearly two months since my review of the Volton Mid-drive 500w. A lot has happened in that time frame but I’ll try to keep it short. Ultimately it seems that I got a lemon. I have to take a moment and specifically call out a thank you to the retail bike ship I purchased from which was http://www.greenpathelectricbikes.com in Brooklyn NY. Why do they deserve a special thank you? After months of having the bike, reporting issues, and them attempting to fix it, they agreed to take it back and give me a full 100% credit towards another bike of my choice. This wasn’t even a fight or negotiation, they wanted to take the bike back months ago but I was the one who pushed to try and get the issues resolved as I really wanted the bike to work out based on my extensive research.


I noticed that since my purchase the Volton 500w mid-drive has been “unavailable” for purchase through Volton’s website. Not sure if that’s at all related but it’s an interesting coincidence. Most of my issues were worked through but the deal breaker ended up being that even after replacing the battery, motor, and controller the bike continued to cut power and having to be “reset” to gain power back. Reset means you had to reseat the battery or plug in the bike to an outlet for a moment.


Anyway it’s bittersweet but I’ve moved on. I’ve since been riding my wife’s Pedego 24 inch Interceptor which has been a rockstar. I sometimes think to myself I should just get myself an Interceptor but I miss the trails dearly. Through my retailer greenpathelectricbikes, I ordered an HPC Trailblazer (http://www.hi-powercycles.com/hpc-trailblazer-full-suspension-mid-drive). I’ll be getting one of their first 2016 builds in October which will have a monster 1400w / 52v19ah battery. This means I’ll miss most of this year’s riding season but that’s OK as I still have my wife’s Pedego to use in the meantime. HPC actually came recommended to me by Court (who runs this website) via e-mail; interestingly I was eyeing them up anyway!


If you’re wondering why I made such a huge jump in power/battery with HPC it’s because I wanted a lot more battery and power to keep up with my wife’s Pedego while being able to have fun on trails. I also love the convenience of being able to use the bike as a scooter up steep hills when desired. With the Volton’s 48v11ah I would only get about 45-75min of ride time vs 2-3 hours with my wife’s 48v15ah Pedego.


If anyone has some first-hand experience with HPC’s I’d love to hear from you!
 

Kaldeem

Active Member
#15
I'm glad you were able to get your money back! I don't know if you read my experience with Volton but I had the same power outing issue you described, along with my bike being overly damaged in the shipping processes. So I had it returned within 7 days and got 100% money back. I've been w/o a ebike since then, and it's going on a year now.

I emailed court and asked him to take down the Volton Alation 500 rear and mid drives as best in class for budget minded buyers because of all the complaints and issues presented here in the Volton forum. He hasn't responded yet, or taken them down.

That's a serious bike you're getting there! 1400W and 52v 19ah is insane!
 
#16
Just for the record, if you ordered an inexpensive non-electric bike (such as one with the same level of bike parts as the Volton) through the Internet, I can almost guarantee you would have similar out-of-box issues.
Buy local is one solution, or, if the buyers were willing to pay a higher price, Joe could unpack, inspect, and fix issues before shipping the bikes, as a local dealer would do (for a higher price).
After an initial controller replacement and a wheel respoke, my Alation 500 has been flawless for about 500 miles so far.
You get what you pay for. If you want high quality, buy a Specialized.
 
#17
After a few months, here is my final verdict. do not buy this bike, I repeat, do not buy this bike. no ifs ands or buts, it's a waste of money.
 
#18
Hey, I haven't gotten on here in forever as I got out of the Internet e-bike community. Just wanted to say Joe (the owner of Volton) absolutely helped me out once we figured out what the problems were. While I will not go so far as to amend my statement about how sturdy the bike is, what I can say is that any way in which is the bike is lacking is more than made up for by excellent customer service and a willingness to help. Once we figured out the issue, Joe sent me some parts and some instruction via e-mail on how to make the swap. Got everything up and running and have been using the bike about daily ever since.
 
#19
I recently got an Alation 500. I noticed that the pedal assist cuts off at 16mph. You had mentioned that you experienced the same thing. Can you tell me how that was resolved?

Thanks.