- An ultra-affordable folding electric bike sold online from Canada, offers a full range of accessories including lights, fenders and a rear carry rack
- Available in black or white but only one size, you get six gears with a basic Shimano Tourney TX derailleur and over sized thumb shifter
- Larger 1.95" tires and a very basic suspension fork soften the ride, standard saddle and cheap ergonomic grips further improve comfort
- The rear light is not wired in like the headlight which makes it easier to forget and run out, the stem lock felt cheap and came loose easier than other products I've tested, no built in clasp to keep the bike folded
The VoltBike Urban is one of the most affordable folding electric bikes I’ve tested, even with the ~$70 shipping fee from Canada to the US it’s priced well below some of the similar models I’ve covered including the e-Joe Epik, Enzo Ebike and EZ Pedaler X350 which all rely on a very similar frame. You don’t get fancy Magnesium wheels or rust proof hardware here, the folding stem felt a bit less robust and the suspension fork is extremely basic but again… the price!
The electric systems on this bike are very standard with a 350 watt 8Fun planetary geared hub motor in the back wheel powered by a 36 volt 10 amp hour battery. It felt zippy to me during the ride tests, almost more zippy than I wanted at the lowest level, but it did regulate the top speed going from 10 mph at level 1 up to ~20 mph at level 5. This is one area that confused me a bit because the feedback I received from VoltBike was that the top speed is closer to 15 mph but I was able to hit 20 mph (32 km/h) in both pedal assist level 5 and with the trigger throttle. The throttle is one of my favorite features here because it lets you override assist with full power at any level including level zero. As a trigger throttle it stays out of the way, not compromising the right grip like a twist throttle but it’s still being easy to reach and intuitive for me (mounted near the right grip, push down to go). I also like the display panel which has all of the general readouts (speed, odometer, battery level) and a few extras like walk mode and headlight operation. The rear LED light is more basic, relying on two AA batteries and having to be turned on physically with a slider switch on the right side as demonstrated in the video review.
I don’t have many complaints with this folding model and Volt Bike has been around for several years now which instills confidence. You’ll have to receive and setup the bike yourself because it’s not available in shops but it’s mostly assembled and mine came tuned pretty well. I wish there was some kind of clasp to keep the bike folded (some higher end folders have magnetic discs or rubber bands). Given the cheap price point this is offered at I love that it has lights at all and that the tires feature reflective tape to boost the visual footprint of the frame… the white color would be the safest and most visibile. Many times a product like this will be stored on a boat, transported in a private plane or left in an RV and I like that the battery pack is removable to reduce weight for lifting on those occasions. You can charge the pack on or off the bike and it locks securely inside the downtube. Overall the bike is stealth with the small motor blending right in with the cassette on one side and the 160 mm disc brake rotor on the other. The brakes stop well and despite using generic levers, offer motor inhibitor feedback so you can cut power almost instantly. Despite using a 12 magnet cadence sensor (the highest number I’ve seen) there’s a bit of delay starting and stopping with the Urban but it’s not too bad.
Twenty inch wheels are sturdy and provide a mechanical advantage to hub motors compared to larger wheelsets and it looked like the spokes on the VoltBike Urban were 13 gauge (one step stronger than standard 14G). The kickstand worked well and the rear rack uses standard gauge tubing so it will be compatible with the widest range of panniers and trunk bags including this one with an integrated bottle holster. One thing the VoltBike Urban does not have is bottle cage bosses on the frame… like most ultra-portable electric bikes. Given the one year comprehensive warranty and mostly great setup here I was impressed with the Urban but might bring a flat head screwdriver to keep the stem tight, it just felt weaker and looser than some of the other models I’ve tested but I did like how it telescoped up to match the extra long seat post for a “full sized” ride experience. I also liked the half-aluminum folding pedals which felt stiffer when I stood up and really put some power into the bike pedaling. The front wheel can be quickly and easily removed for further weight reduction using the quick release skewer and the chain guard looked nice and would protect pants but did make it more difficult getting the chain back on when it dropped during my ride test. I think a chain guide would limit drops and I’ve seen it used on other similar folders including the e-Joe but then your pant leg gets exposed to more grease when pedaling. It’s a trade off :)
Quick tips: You can activate the headlight by pressing the Cur button and hold Cur to enter walk mode where the bike will push itself forward at a lower speed. Pressing power will cycle through some of the other menus and holding it down will power the bike off. I like that everything is controlled by the display and you don’t need to power the battery pack on/off before and after riding as with many other affordable electric bikes.
- Given the smaller 20″ wheels, the bike feels pretty comfortable thanks to its basic suspension fork, wider diameter 1.95″ tires and ergonomic grips
- All of the bases are covered for commuting with basic fenders, a carry rack with spring latch and LED Lights (I love that the headlight runs off the main battery and the display is backlit)
- Name brand 8Fun geared hub motor was zippy and performed as expected, the Tektro disc brakes offered great stopping power for a smaller bike and the six speed drivetrain worked well at a range of speeds
- I love that the stem is telescoping to raise the handlebars for larger riders, the seat post is also extremely long at over 530 mm which enables leg extension
- You get trigger throttle on demand which overrides pedal assist at any time (or operates in level zero for throttle-only operation) as well as five levels of assist with decent responsiveness thanks to a 12 magnet cadence sensor
- The smaller wheels make the bike compact when folded, lower the center of gravity when the rack is loaded up with supplies and make it easier for the motor when climbing
- I like how well concealed and protected the battery pack is, it’s completely hidden in the downtube and locks there for security (with a keyhole at the bottom), you can charge the pack on or off the bike for convenience when commuting
- The price is very reasonable at just over $1k USD, it’s available in two colors (black or white) and ships to Canada or US for reasonable rates, you also get a decent one year comprehensive warranty
- I like that the front wheel has quick release along with the seat post and stem… I noticed that the electronic cables from the display, trigger throttle and brake levers (motor inhibitors) were all color coded and run through an organized hub piece for easier re-connecting and troubleshooting
- The rear light is not wired in to the main battery and has to be activated with a slider switch (on the right side) independently, be sure to turn it off after each ride as it will not auto-shutoff
- The folding stem seemed a bit less solid than some of the other models I’ve reviewed, you can ajust tightness but the set screw comes loose naturally over time and may require re-adjustment (thankfully there is an extra plastic lock to keep it in place while riding
- Lower-end Shimano Tourney TX drivetrain, lots of generic parts including the grips, brake levers, suspension fork and kickstand… they get the job done and keep the bike affordable
- There’s no magnetic clasp or rubber band to keep the bike folded, the display panel is not removable (for protection when transporting or parking outside) and there’s no bottle cage mounting options on the bike… but the rear rack kind of makes up for it
- The seat tube collar wasn’t tight enough on the demo model I got and I had trouble twisting the bolt by hand on the opposite side (you might need pliers to tighten it down but this could scratch the paint)
- The chain dropped during my ride test, perhaps the bike needed a tuneup? When you buy online and set things up yourself there’s a greater tendency for things to be slightly out of alignment and that’s exacerbated by the folding nature of this bike, perhaps a chain guide would be more useful than the chain cover