- A very affordable city style electric bike with lots of useful accessories including integrated lights, fenders and rack
- Only available in one frame size ~19" but the adjustable stem and seat hight help to dial in fit, basic suspension fork, seat post shock, sprung saddle, swept-back bars and ergonomic grips offer good comfort
- Voltbike mostly sells online direct so it may be difficult to take a test ride, they have been in business since 2012 and offer a generous one year warranty, the motor and batteries are from large trusted companies (8Fun and Samsung)
The Voltbike Elegant is a low power, value-driven electric bike that’s designed to be affordable but feature-complete with everything you’d need to get around town or commute to work. It comes with lots of useful accessories, an impressive one year warranty and even some name brand systems (an 8Fun motor, Samsung battery and Shimano drivetrain). For someone looking to ride on mostly flat, paved terrain it could be an excellent choice! Though it only comes in one medium-ish sized frame, the seat can be dropped pretty low and the handle bar angle is highly adjustable. Wires and cables are mostly concealed within the frame and the gloss black and red paint is classy. I was impressed with the integrated LED lights and removable battery pack (with removable key!) because even some more expensive ebikes fall short in these areas. For an average sized rider, someone who wants to extend their cycling range, cut through wind more easily or get help up hills, this can be a fantastic product. It’s very comfortable thanks to the swept-back handlebars, ergonomic grips, suspension fork AND suspension seat post and this is great considering the more efficient, narrow 700c city tires. The aluminum frame is relatively light and the front mounted motor helps to balance the rear mounted battery but there is noticeable frame flex and the bike could become rattly and inefficient if you used it off-road.
Driving the bike is an efficient but minimal 250 watt internally geared front mounted hub motor. Usually hub motors are mounted in the back wheel because it tends to bear more weight than the front (especially as the bike accelerates) and this improves traction. For the Elegant, they put it in the front so they could use an internally geared three speed hub in the rear (for pedaling with). Geared hubs tend to be more durable than derailleurs and they keep your chain tighter because there is only one rear sprocket vs. an entire multi-speed cassette. Another benefit is that you can shift gears while standing still and this comes in handy when riding around urban environments where there are lots of stop signs and lights. Imagine pedaling at high speed using the third gear then coming to an abrupt stop… instead of struggling to get back up to speed (or at least move a bit to enable shifting) you can shift down to first gear before you even take off. It’s a cool setup and the Shimano Nexus Inter 3 hub is a decent piece of hardware. So, back to the motor… I like how small and light weight it is because this reduces the impact on steering and doesn’t interfere with the suspension fork as much. Still, this unsprung weight is going to slow rebound a bit due to increased inertia and it definitely puts more stress on the fork going over bumps. Even though 250 watts sounds small to US riders, it’s the standard in Europe and equates roughly to the power output of a pro distance cyclist. The motor operated smoothly and fairly quietly during my tests (but you can hear some whirring). It freewheels efficiently so if you decide to take an unpowered ride (by removing the battery) or perhaps you run out of juice, you’re not fighting the motor. Under full power it got me up a medium sized hill and through the grass without issue. I like that the power cable running to the motor has a disconnect point so you can completely separate the wheel from the bike when doing maintenance. One gripe about both wheels is the lack of quick release, it’s not a big deal, it just means you’ll need some tools to do work and change flats if/when they occur.
Powering the Voltbike Elegant is a nicely sized slide-in battery pack. It mounts directly into the rear carry rack and is protected by metal tubing most of the way around. The tubing is standard-gauge and should work with most clip-on panniers, it even has pannier blockers on the sides for added strength and reduced exposure to the tire and spokes for attached bags. The battery pack offers an average amount of electricity with 36 volts of power and 10.4 amp hours of capacity… but that’s compared to 350 watt ebikes. With a 250 watt motor here you get extended range and a bit more pep due to the higher voltage. The cells inside are made by Samsung and use a Lithium-ion chemistry known for being light weight and longer lasting. You can care for the pack by storing it inside or in another cool, dry location. If you aren’t going to be using it for a while I suggest storing at ~50% charged and make sure the power switch on the pack is off! This is one of my few gripes with the Voltbike Elegant, the battery has its own on/off switch in addition to the system on/off button up at the control panel (near the left grip). Not only does it take more time to start the bike, it’s much easier to accidentally leave it powered on. Anyway, I love that the pack can be charged on or off the bike and that it’s also covered by the one year warranty. It’s fairly light weight and easy to manage and it blends in well with the black colored rack.
Operating the Elegant electric bike takes a bit of extra energy to start… just charge the pack, lock it to the rack then press the on switch there and at the front. From here, the display gives you lots of useful feedback about battery level (there are five bars), your current speed and the pedal assist level you’re in. Note that this ebike does not have a “throttle only” mode meaning that whenever it’s on, if you pedal the motor is going to activate. It’s not such a big deal if you’re in a lower level of assist (there are 9 to choose from) but if you accidentally pedal forward in a higher level and forget about the motor it could surprise you. Again, given the weaker 250 watt motor this isn’t a huge deal but it would be nice to have a zero level so you could pedal without thinking about the motor and just use the display panel to manage the lights and get feedback about your speed, distance etc. like a cycle computer. I do love that this e-bike has a throttle and that it can be activated at any time to override assist. It comes in very handy for boosting up hills or whooshing past fellow cyclists out on the road. Given the efficient tires on this bike you should be able to get a decent range, especially when using the lower levels of pedal assist with occasional throttle use. I’d estimate 20+ miles per charge on average this way.
In closing, the Voltbike Elegant aims for affordable utility. It’s not the most exciting electric bike I’ve tried but it is feature rich… You’ll stay dry and clean, be visible at night, have a way to transport some gear around town or to the office or school and you’ll be comfortable. As long as you’re not a super tall or heavy person, the frame should work fine. Given the online-only distribution of Voltbike you may not be able to take a test ride before purchase. I’ve provided some frame measurements in the details section of this review and hopefully that helps. In the future, it would be neat to see a 26″ wheel version of this model to bring the frame even lower and closer to the ground for improved balance and lower saddle height. The red and black are nice but I think white, silver or light blue would be popular colors. In many ways, the technology on this bike is the same as what ebikes were using two or three years ago in 2013 but it’s been refined and is offered here at a great price point that could appeal to users looking for a deal. If you take care of it, keep the stem tight and adjust the rack if it starts to rattle or come loose, if you don’t go off-road, this thing will do just fine and become an enjoyable way to cruise around town.
- The internally geared three speed hub requires less maintenance than a derailleur, keeps the chain tight (and quieter, it wont’ slap the chain stay as much) and can be shifted at standstill
- It’s easy to dial in the fit and ride position here thanks to a quick release seat tube and the adjustable angle stem, I also like the gull-wing bars, ergonomic grips, suspension fork and suspension seat post for added comfort
- Step-thru frame is very approachable, easier to mount vs. swinging your leg over the back wheel (which could accidentally kick the rack)
- Integrated LED lights both run off the main battery pack so you don’t have to worry about turning them off after each ride or replacing individual cells
- Extremely affordable considering you get fenders, lights, a rack and name brand battery (Samsung) with a one year warranty
- Voltbike has been in business since 2012 and has a decent reputation for replacing parts and offering good customer service, they are expanding the number of models and types of ebikes being carried
- It’s neat that they offer a free helmet with the purchase of any ebike and that the helmets are Department of Transportation (DOT) approved, for me the helmet was a bit heavy but the straps were easy to adjust and felt secure
- Clean aesthetic with integrated wires and cables, this should reduce the potential for snags, there is also a disconnect point for the front motor which makes wheel maintenance easier
- Being a step-thru design with rear mounted battery pack this frame flexes more as you ride, it probably isn’t well suited to off-road use and loses some power and performance as you pedal
- The rear band brake doesn’t work nearly as well as the front v-brake, I recommend using both brakes to stop efficiently
- The bike only comes in one frame style (step-thru) and one frame size ~19″ which fits small to medium sized riders (which is probably fine given the weaker motor system), no quick release on either wheel
- The adjustable angle stem can get loose over time if you ride off-road or go off curbs, check in on it and tighten to avoid loosening, consider carrying the appropriately sized allen key hex wrench in your toolkit
- Only available online, you’ll have to do some assembly and adjustments yourself and you cannot try it before purchase, keep in mind it only comes in one size
- No bottle cage mounts on the downtube or seat tube, you might want to add a saddle rail adapter or seat tube cage
- The battery pack has its own on/off switch along with the display panel, basically you have to press “on” two times to ride and it’s easier to forget to turn the pack off after a ride (which could slowly drain it over time)