Choosing between the Voltbike Urban and Voltbike Mariner

dalekinthewwing

New Member
Hi all. Just wanting to check in with experienced riders to see which bike would be a better purchase. I am open to other bike companies but as I am located in Vancouver, I'm inclined to go with a local company.

I'm currently considering between the Urban and Mariner models from Voltbike. Urban's specs can be found here, and Mariner's specs are here.

I'd be riding the bike for mostly work commute (around 25km one way) in hilly Vancouver. I'm a fairly cautious rider so speed really isn't a big factor, but I'd like to get up and down hills without breaking too much of a sweat. I like the folding bike design because if I were to take the bike for a camping trip or something it'd be easy to transport, although Mariner seems a bit heavy. Both bikes come with disc brakes, which I think are important in our rainy weather.

I do like Mariner's fatbike look, but also find Urban's hidden battery design appealing. But am I correct in assuming that it'd be more difficult to replace Urban's battery should it fail in the future? It seems like the in-frame batteries are mostly proprietary, and it'd be harder to find an after-market one that fits? Would I have an easier time replacing parts for the Mariner? Also question to Mariner owners, if there's one around here, is it difficult to pedal the bike when the power's off? With the Urban it seems like it'd be an okay ride even if the power runs out, but Mariner's weight and fat tyres might make it difficult?

I'd welcome any advice or experience with either bikes if you have one. Both bikes are within my budget so ideally I'd like to purchase one that's worth the investment.

Thanks!
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
Hey

Both look like cool bikes, i have been considering the mariner vs a radmini

Anyway you could go test both of them or is it too far?

This probably wont help much but I have a radrover 26 inch fat bike and have been amazed at how easy it is to pedal unpowered , but i also think they put in a certain kind of motor- i get them mixed up- that is good for unpowered use

Maybe the mariner has that?

You probably already saw this There was a good long write up in the voltbike forum under brands about a guys experiences with the mariner, maybe you could pm him and get some more info too


I will be interested to hear some of these experts chime in on the battery replacement thing

One thing on the urban, if you have to pull the battery to charge it that will be kind of pia, i have a bigger bike with the battery like that and hate having to take it out, rarely do but it will charge on the bike on mine

Surely on the urban it can be charged on the bike, but make sure on that

Please keep us up to date on which bike you get and your experiences
 

dalekinthewwing

New Member
Hey Vincent, thanks for your response. I am planning on trying the Mariner when it's available; so far I'm leaning towards the Mariner instead of the Urban, simply due to its bigger motor and battery capacity. I'm just not sure if fatbikes are efficient as commuters?

From googling it seems like some people are able to fit LunaCycle's Mighty Mini into a Silverfish type battery casing, which is what the Mariner has. If this is viable then all's good.

I'm fairly certain that the Urban can be charged directly from the frame but I like Mariner's design better; I like that I can just lift the handle and pull the battery out, instead of folding the bike to pull out the battery.

I will definitely report back after the test-ride though!
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
cannot wait to hear your impressions on the mariner

it is not available yet? thought that guy wrote up that review a while back?
 

Voltman

New Member
I WENT FOR THE VOLTBIKE MARINER
over the excellent RadMini. And I'm very glad I did. See my initial impressions here...
-Voltman
 

dalekinthewwing

New Member
So I completely forgot about this thread.

I did in fact go try the Mariner as I said I would. I took it home the same day! I've ridden it to work a few times (40km round trip) on fairly hilly terrains and it's worked out beautifully. The battery lasts me through both legs of the commute on level 5 (out of 9) PAS and occasional throttle. The ride is comfortable and very zippy! Bike is HUGE though; it's quite heavy (~60lbs) and difficult to lift/move around, but there is a walk mode which can be useful. Overall I'm very happy with the purchase and the owner of Voltbike is fantastically patient and kind. I did consider driving down to Seattle for the Radmini at one point but I'm very glad that I chose Voltbike (which is local to me) instead.

Here's a pic of my brand spankin' new bike! http://imgur.com/a/9fHEG
 

Voltman

New Member
I CHOSE THE VOLTBIKE MARINER

PLEASE FORGIVE this loooong post. I'm so stoked! I've just taken delivery of my Voltbike Mariner. This matt-black model is EXTREMELY COOL. Even "parked" this bike makes grown-ups gasp. Kids go nuts. (“Cool bike, man!”)

I live at the bottom of a monster hill that has been the nemesis of my first converted LiFePO4 ebike, as well as its replacement 60-volt LiFePO4 scooter. (Cheaper low C-rate LiFePOs wear out quickly from repeated sustained climbs. Not the Mariner's latest, high C-rate Panasonic/Samsung cells.) The big question: Could the Mariner, with its lightweight geared-hub motor, claw its way up and out of Ford Cove’s deep “gravity well” – and its even steeper backside? On the sizzlingly hottest day of the year, I selected PAS 9 and 3rd gear and… peddling very easy… suddenly found myself at the top. What hill was that? Was there a hill there? Aboard the Mariner there are NO HILLS.

It was never fun removing/remounting the fairings on my e-scooter to access its thousand-dollar battery. I chose the Mariner because it's much lighter than an e-scooter, and I can see and reach all components right on the frame. Lifting out the battery and taking it inside will be another big plus in winter temperatures. And of course you can fold up this bike and put it in your pocket... Well, not quite. But any size car trunk will do – another huge advantage if I have a breakdown on the road and need to be "rescued". Or just want to take this “folder” travelling by bus or car.

Those surprisingly light Kenda knobbies are noisy on pavement – a BIG safety factor when overtaking pedestrians and bike riders who hear you coming. The motor also sings merrily. It's not loud or annoying, and I LIKE hearing those metal gears performing useful work. (Not nylon gears like Bafangs). Also per safety, the free helmet is excellent, and both the headlight and tail light are wired to the battery so you can run lights day and night without worrying about dead AA/AAAs. Very Yes!

The bike rolls easy and can be peddled (with some exertion) on the flats. Range with high and low assist (PAS 2-9) on a mix of pavement and trails is 34km with three steep hills thrown in and 1 bar on the battery indicator remaining. With a 20-amp Samsung battery, you could probably pedal this bike to the moon.

The Mariner is my sole transportation. It will haul just about anything. (Think, “jeep”.) After my excellent heart attack, I wanted easy, healthy, no-strain peddling over any terrain. This bike delivers! And it quickly becomes a game adjusting the PAS level and 6 gears to peddle more, use less power, and extend the range.

The Voltbike’s price is crazy low. I could not convert any folding bike with similar components for under CDN$2,200. Plus, the Mariner comes with fenders, which are otherwise impossible to source for a 20" fat bike. And the big shocker – it comes with disc brakes and derailleur tuned-up, ready to ride right out of the box. After battery charging, of course. The supplied charger is light, compact, well made and very slow - 2 amps/4-5 hrs. (Satiator anyone?)


BEFORE YOU RIDE...
The high-torque, hill-gobbling Mariner is a very unique rainforest animal. If deflected by rock or root, that big front tire wants to kick out and steer itself. It's not "brutish" but it’s quick, that jerk on the handlebars. As on ALL bikes, you must keep both hands firmly on the bars when trail riding. This means no reaching for controls or bell, which are happily close to hand.

Please buy and mount a mirror before street riding. (Amazon, eBay.)

Also BEWARE: Inching the bike forward by a single pedal downstroke in PAS 2 or 3 will kick in the motor after a slight delay (when you think you've stopped) – propelling you into a ditch, tree or intersection if you are not prepared!

Happily, such embarrassment is easily avoided. As with any escooter or ebike – ALWAYS SQUEEZE A BRAKE LEVER BEFORE SWITCHING ON.

Make this your personal default habit. On the Voltbike, partial deflection of either brake lever will instantly cut out the motor circuit. With the hub motor inactivated, you can peddle the bike forward – perhaps to see past an obstruction – without suddenly shooting forward.

Once you’re settled in the saddle, release the brake lever and continue (or begin) peddling in PAS 1 or 2. Select 3 if you’re starting off on a slight incline. If steeper, use the thumb throttle to start moving and then “arrow up” the PAS with the left-hand thumb pad as appropriate.

If you are vertically challenged like me, put on your cowboy hat and use a stirrup: Put your left foot on the down left pedal, shove off with your right foot and swing your right leg over the saddle. As you “take your seat” the bike will be slowing down to a near stop. To avoid the “wobblies”, push down on the right-hand thumb throttle. Unlike the trigger-happy PAS, moderate thumb-throttle application at low speeds is quite gradual and easy to modulate. With the bike moving under control and your seating and grip secure, dial in as much PAS as you like – and enjoy the ride!

(When “landing” it’s helpful to select 3rd gear for your next take-off, since gears must NOT be shifted when the bike is stopped. Don’t worry if you forget or you’re too busy. The Mariner has plenty of power to start off in 6th gear. )

Once underway, selecting PAS 9 will pin your ears back – gobs of clean, smooth acceleration is Very Fun. Until the motor cuts out at 30kph...

The Mariner cannot be "hot-rodded" as delivered. But this is a bicycle, not a scooter. Think “25-27kph” cruise, which is plenty. Besides, those big knobbies do NOT like to roll fast. (Do not exceed 45kph downhill.) Also, at 5'5" I have to dismount to stop since I can't quite reach the ground while seated. Just use the "down" pedal for a step and it's no biggie. Straddling the top tube, there’s enough clearance to keep me a baritone. Not a soprano.


After two long familiarization rides on pavement and mountain trails, I can't stay off this bike! (I'm also 67...) THE MARINER IS HUGE FUN. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Mariner over any scooter. And service from George at voltbike.ca is A1. Excuse me again, I must go for another ride immediately. -VOLTMAN (Hornby Island, BC)

PS Dalekinthewwing is right. This bike is much bigger than I'd imagined. But after my 120-pound scooter, it feels "light". Treat it like a Mongolian pony and you're good.
 

vincent

Well-Known Member
awesome write up voltman!!!

thanks for all the input

keep us up to date on how it is doing

i am very tempted by these bikes, would like one more small fat tire bike like

will probably wait to see if anything new comes out in the 2017's but good chance i will sell one of my other 6!!! electric bikes and get this

think it will be more usable for me
 

Cnugget

Active Member
Yay @dalekinthewwing & @Voltman ! Mariner's unit!! :p me too me too.. Been just over 3 weeks now.. I've been on the Volt Forum posting stuff, you guys should come join in on the fun. Yeehaw!! hehehehe Have you found Level 0 PAS yet?
 

Voltman

New Member
Yes, Nugget. PAS 0 = a slight squeeze on either brake lever to cut out the motor (at any PAS setting).

My next review will detail my first 110km on the Voltbike Mariner. Much of this riding was off-road. Stay tuned. -Voltman
 

Cnugget

Active Member
@Voltman.. Yes indeed throttle cut works on any level. You can also set the PAS level to zero inside the display settings instead of the default 1-9. I was delighted to find this out and thought I would pass the info along if other didn't not already know. Sounds like you might though. Looking forward to your off-road experiences.. Curious of what kind... Mountain biking trails? :) I have tried some trails with not a lot of success unless they were gravel roads/pathways. -volt bikes unit!! :D
 

Voltman

New Member
Wow, Cnugget,

Thanks for the PAS "0" heads-up. Please, please... how did you get inside the display settings? Can you change the speed limiter?

I've got visitors coming in so my next review will have to wait till next week. The good news is I will have more kilometers on the bike, more mods in hand, and more to report. Short preview: The Mariner is as sure-footed as a mountain goat on rough track steep inclines. (But watch for that big front tire to kick out!) On any trail, the trick is to leave PAS at "1" (gears as appropriate) - and blip the throttle as needed. The only time I've dropped the bike in the woods was on a steep incline when I misjudged the PAS setting and my "Goatbike" stopped half up the hill. Of course it immediately fell over! I stayed standing though - that sloping downtube is made for bailing out. A few scratches on the rear disc brake guard were easily repaired with a black magic marker. You can bet I'll be adding a derailleur guard when I take off the back tire to install Mr. Tuffy liners. (I just have to get up my nerve to mess with something complicated that ain't broke.) On my next attempt up that same steep mountain grade, I used 3rd gear AND THROTTLE. Over stones, roots and hard-packed dirt, the Mariner climbed that hill easily. It would probably climb a tree if I wanted. -Voltman.
 

Cnugget

Active Member
Haha "goatbike" love it! I agree with the downtube as a good bail out option.

Double "click" the power button (like a computer mouse) to get into the settings menu.
Here's the link for the display manual:
http://www.voltbike.ca/images/Voltbike_Mariner_LCD.pdf
Look for the PAs - levels of assist(set to 0-9 instead of default setting)
You can change the speed limiter but the gov'ner in the control box will have final say on your top speed. You can set a lower speed if you'd like.

My motto: If ain't broke..
The tubes on the Mariner seem pretty hardy.. I've got 900km so far (fingers crossed):)

If your board you can read my observations so far here:p
 

Voltman

New Member
Thank you, Cnugget. Is that speed governor a simple-to-disconnect shunt on the controller. Or...?
Here's that review I promised. Though I'm nowhere near your 900km, some of my off-road riding's been pretty rad, as the kids used to say. -Voltman
 

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Voltman

New Member
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BowtieDuck

New Member
Has anyone actually used the Urban for a long time? I'm considering getting one but am disappointed about the lack of long term (or any really) reviews.
 

Ann M.

Well-Known Member
Court did a good review of the VoltBike Urban in April that will give you some honest insight into the build and performance of the Urban. We all rely on feedback from owners to learn a bit about the longer term life and issues in real world riding conditions. With that caveat, after watching a lot of reviews on the VoltBike products and hearing pretty positive feedback from owners of other models, the company appears to produce nice solid good quality bikes with a decent warranty, especially for the price. Court even recommended them to an outdoor adventure company in Cabo San Lucas for riding along gritty steep areas along the ocean there. You do get a real person when you call them if you need help and that's a plus :). It's not the oldest electric bike company; however, they're not just a web deal so I think the human connection for service is going to be better. On top of all of that, Welcome to EBR!
 

BowtieDuck

New Member
Hey Ann! Thanks for your warm response. Court's review is pretty much the only thing that comes up online, and it didn't seem like he used it for more than a day or so. Other bikes by them do have longer term reviews; I want more data about how they handle for the distance (time and space). Hopefully an owner will chime in! I'm also trying to schedule a try out ride from one of Voltbike's Ambassadors.