To run the forums, host the website, and travel, I charge a universal service fee for my reviews. This review was sponsored by VoltBike. My goal is to be transparent and unbiased, this video and written review are not meant to be an endorsement of VoltBike products.
VoltBike recently invited me up to check out their new and updated bikes for 2019. Among those is a bike I have reviewed before, the VoltBike Urban, but it looks like quite a few changes were made. For those new to the Urban, it is a folding electric bike with a rear hub drive and a frame integrated battery. It is at an entry level price point for $1,199 for the US and $1,349 for Canada. It comes in 2 colors (white and black) and just 1 frame size. However, there is fair amount of adjustability going on here to fit your ride height. Going back to the improvements from the previous version, there are a lot of stand out features here. The included fenders have been upgraded to alloy along with mud flaps. This means that they are sturdier, quieter, and won’t rust like steel fenders. Also having those mud flaps means additional cleanliness and alleviating potential toe strikes when you pedal. The Urban previously came with a battery integrated headlight, and I love that this year they have added a battery integrated rear light as well. It may only be 1 LED which isn’t much, but it is operated on the display panel which I think is cool, since you don’t have to go around to the back to turn it on or off. Speaking of which, the new LCD is much nicer, it pairs both the buttons and the display in a convent package with a bunch of menu options I will get into later. The seat post is long for adjustability and has been made thicker to support more weight, while the handles are also telescoping giving you even more configuration options. However, I would caution to be mindful that you don’t rise it too far or turn too tight while it is up high because that could strain these wire connectors in the front to come undone. This isn’t a VoltBike Urban fault per say, but rather a common problem I see in pretty much all electric folding bikes. There is quite a bit of comfort here though, I love this Zoom suspension fork on the front, not something you see often in folding bikes. With 25mm stanchions and no adjustability, it may seem somewhat basic in nature, but I am still very grateful it is here since it really helps eat up the bumps since the smaller wheel diameter has a higher attack angle. Helping along with that comfort are these Kenda tires with this nice thick tread pattern. These are 20” x 2.125” so they seem to be getting bigger and bigger from the older versions. They are rated at 50-85psi, which is quite a decent range, although I should also mention there is no puncture protection or reflective sidewall striping. They also have some nice thick spokes with 14g in the front and 12g in the rear for extra sturdiness. Another great upgrade I really love here is the Wellgo aluminum alloy platform pedals. These are fairly large, sturdy, and offer better traction than pedals I see on most folding bikes. The Urban also comes with an aluminum alloy bolt on rack. The rear light is positioned at the end of the rack here and the rack itself has some nice standard gage tubing and even a couple hooks for some bungie cords. VoltBike sells waterproof panniers that fit on here as well…they have reflective lettering on the side, but unfortunately, not anywhere else on the bag. Looking around I am also seeing a tool-free adjustable kickstand (although it is near the crank arm, so be careful of pedal lock when reversing), a rust resistant chain, plastic chain guide, and a derailleur guard to protect the derailleur in shipping or even if the bike takes a spill. In the cockpit, there is an integrated bell and some Velo ergonomic grips. These are a nice upgrade from before, but they are non-locking, so likely a value choice to keep cost down. Overall the bike weighs about 52lbs and seems like a great choice for commuting with the fenders, rack, fork, and folding capabilities.
Driving the bike is a planetary geared hub motor from Bafang. This particular setup is nominally rated at 350 watts and 45nm of torque. It is using a 12 magnet cadence sensor, which is pretty much the top of the line nowadays without getting into more sophisticated torque setups. It is using really proven technology here so that is something nice to see as the drive system itself likely won’t give you any major problems. It has 5 modes of pedal assist and a nice trigger throttle. Usually a trigger throttle means that you get shifting levers for changing gears, which I personally love, but it looks like the Urban gets a thumb shifter instead. The shifting is done through a 6 speed Shimano Tourney derailleur and a 14-28 tooth cassette. For stopping power, the Urban uses 160mm Tektro mechanical disc brakes. Mechanical brakes are easier to adjust and maintain, however, they lack the immediate stopping power that hydraulic brakes have. In this case however, given the smaller wheel diameter, there is a mechanical advantage. I found the brakes were a good fit and I enjoyed the rubberized edge on the brake levers as well as the motor inhibitors.
Powering the bike is a 36v 13ah lithium ion battery pack rated for almost 500 watt hours. The pack weighs 6.5lbs and is conveniently located inside the main folding tube. This is nice since it hides the battery as well as keeps it protected form the elements. The battery is secured via lock and key and can be charged off the bike or even on the bike though a small port on the folding frame. The charger here weighs about 1.5lbs and is a 2amp charger. 2amp chargers are a little on the slower side, but charging at a slower pace can actually help the battery life cycle. To really care for this and other lithium-ion packs, I have heard that storing in a cool dry location vs. extreme heat or cold will extend the life and try to keep it about 50% full when not using for long periods so you won’t stress the cells. Try not to let it run down to zero, because that’s really hard on the cell chemistry.
Operating the bike is done through it’s compact display unit. You will notice the buttons and the display are housed in the same device, so it is easy to reach and read. Hold the C button to turn it on. Once on, you will notice a battery percentage readout (my personal favorite because it leaves the guess work out of how much battery is left on your ride), or you can look at the battery level infographic shown in 6 separate intervals. Also on screen is the current speed and pedal assist level. When first turned on, it defaults at level 1 and you can then cycle through the modes of pedal assist. Be careful however, the throttle is live at all times and you don’t want to bump it on accident. Anyway, you can use the + and – button to cycle through the 5 ranges of pedal assist. With the display on, press C to cycle through trip, voltage, current, remaining mileage estimator, another trip meter, and watts. You can hold + to activate both integrated lights and a little icon will appear on the display to show you that they are running. I could not find a walk mode on this bike, but I did notice a deep dive menu if you hold down + and – together. VoltBike says there is an in-depth manual on their website, so this could be a great option for tinkerers or those that want to really configure the electrical setup even more.
To sum it up, the VoltBike Urban has a lot of nice upgrades and is not only a great economical choice, but also great for commuting. There are some tradeoffs here however, so let’s go over those. I did notice the pannier bags here can be a little long on the rack, so much so that you could hit your heel on the bag when pedaling if you’re not careful. I also would caution to be mindful that the throttle is live at all times when the system is turned on. Another item to note, as mentioned earlier, is make sure you don’t rise the telescoping stem too high, or make a really tight turn, as it could loose slack in the wiring up front and the tightness could case a cable to come undone. I do have to add that this is a common problem with a lot of folding bikes, and not just unique to the Urban. So you still get a lot of value here, for $1,199, you get a commuter ready setup, front suspension, 1 year warranty, and even comes with a tool kit and a DOT approved helmet! Not bad all things considered, and I would like to sincerely thank VoltBike for letting me check out this great electric folding bike.
As always, I welcome questions and feedback in the comment section below. Whether you own the bike, have taken a test ride, or are brand new to the space, my goal is to provide an objective and honest resource. You can also join the VoltBike Ebike forums and share your own photos, videos, and review updates to help others! Have fun out there, and ride safe :)
- Given the smaller 20″ wheels, the bike feels pretty comfortable thanks to its basic suspension fork, wider diameter 2.125″ tires and ergonomic grips
- All of the bases are covered for commuting with great alloy fenders, a carry rack with spring latch and LED Lights (I love that both the headlight and rear light run off the main battery and the display is backlit)
- Name brand Bafang 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 1 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
- When adjusting the telescoping stem I would caution to be mindful that you don’t rise it too much or turn too tight while it is up high because that could strain these wire connectors in the front to come undone, this isn’t a VoltBike Urban specific problem per say, but rather a common problem I see in most electric folding bikes
- The throttle is live at all times the bike is on, so do be aware when you are off the bike not to bump the trigger or accidentally nudge it
- Lower-end Shimano Tourney drivetrain, lots of basic 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 tires here are nice and cushy, however they do lack both puncture protection as well as a reflective sidewall stripe, this bike is so commuter ready, if it just had those, it would be perfect
- I noticed when I had the optional pannier bag attached, it was a little longer for the short rack, so it is possible to have it strike your heel when pedaling
Tom4 years ago
Just for me – hahaha! Thanks Court! Nice to see and read this review. It’s a very tempting bike. I am beginning to get “analysis paralysis” in researching folding ebikes for my RV travels, but since I probably won’t be traveling until the fall, I still have time (I already have a Surface 604 Rook for home use). My RV entrance opening is 22.5″ wide, and I like that this bike folds down to 19″ wide and is less than 50 lbs. with the battery removed. You don’t mention this, but your readers should note that this is one of the few (if only) companies that still charges for shipping, so add $US49 to the $1199 cost. They do throw in a helmet (valued at $40), but if you already have a favorite riding helmet, it’s not much of a bargain. I’d rather have the free shipping :-). Thanks again for your work.Reply
John Badtke4 years ago
I am 6 foot 3 inches and 225 pounds. I am torn between the Rad Wagon and the Volt Mariner. I travel by RV. The Volt could be stored inside out of the weather. Can both of these bikes handle my weight and height? I do like to ride more upright for comfort. Lastly, hard to find test rides. What is return policy?
Thanks, John BadtkeReply
Court4 years ago
Hi John! Both VoltBike and Rad Power Bikes should be able to let you go for a test ride if you’re near one of their factory stores (in Vancouver BC Canada for Volt or Seattle Washington, Vancouver, and Amsterdam for RAD). They might also have ambassador programs where they can link you to existing customers in your area. I’d give them a ring if I were in your position. As for weight, most ebikes I cover have a rider limit of 250lbs and some go up to 300lbs. I think you’d be alright, especially with the smaller 20″ wheel size because they are sturdier and wheels/spokes seem to be one of the sensitive parts of ebikes when it comes to heavy loads. I think you’d be good :)Reply
4 years ago
What’s the max rider weight?Reply
Court4 years ago
Great question! I’m not sure that the company has an official max weight but most similar products are rated around 250lbs and sometimes 300lbs. Given the smaller 20″ wheel size, the spokes should hold up well (which is a common failure point for heavier loads on any bicycle). I hope this helps!Reply
Bob Johnson4 years ago
Hi Court, in your review you mentioned a “magnetic clasp or rubber band to keep the bike folded”. I recall another folding bike review where you pointed out it’s magnetic ‘keeper’, but I don’t remember the bike. Can you suggest any 20” folders having that elegantly simple feature?
Also, it seems most of the compact folding bikes don’t roll very well when folded. Due to design geometry, they don’t fold “in half” so both wheels are side-by-side as it were. Any notable examples of fold and roll ebikes come to mind?
Keep up the Great Job!Reply
Court4 years ago
Hi Bob! Great question, Tern is a leader in the folding bike space and has a few models with magnetic clasps. One of the most recent ones I’ve reviewed is the Vektron Q9 folding ebike. Some half-folders work better than others for porting around but a couple fold completely differently… the Gocycle GS is a great example of this, and it has quick-release wheels unlike anything I have ever see. Be sure to check it out :DReply
Robin Johnston3 years ago
I bought an URBAN in August which finally arrived in October and it doesn’t work. They are sending me a new part but the information I keep getting from them is never fully accurate. I’m starting to worry I’ve bought a $1600 paper weight. They told me initially if I wanted to return it I would have to pay $300 shipping. I am hoping that’s not the case if it doesn’t actually work!Reply
Court3 years ago
Oh man! That’s really a bummer… having to wait and then not having it work. I feel like this kind of thing can happen with ebikes and other large but somewhat sophisticated electronics. I’ve always felt like their products were durable and the support was great, but I’ve never purchased directly. Please chime in again here if you aren’t able to get help, and I’ll connect you directly with the company owner or make a call.Reply
Robin3 years ago
Thanks Court! They did get back to me and apologized so I’m feeling less concerned today. The part is expected in 10 days so hopefully it will fix the issue. I really appreciate your offer of help!
Bryce3 years ago
Hi Court, I am looking to use my bike mostly to commute home from work (6 miles) and maybe light trails. I will probably ride with my wife to work in the morning and throw the bike in our minivan. I have narrowed my search down to the RADRunner, Lectric XP, and VoltBike Urban. Do you have any recommendations?
How different is the riding experience between the Volt and Lectric because of the fat tires? How much of a difference does the weight differential make in ease of transport? Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!Reply
Court3 years ago
Hi Bryce! Sounds like a good ride… I lean towards the efficiency and lightweight of the standard wheel and tire size that VoltBike is offering here vs. fat tires. The RadRunner, for example, doesn’t fold at all and might be difficult to fit into the trunk of your minivan. The folding fat tire models like Lectric XP, RadMini, and others are all going to weigh more and be physically larger. Now, it is possible to load them up into a rubbermaid tub like these guys have done, to keep the van clean and make lifting easier. Still, riding with fat tires for six miles is going to introduce extra drag and noise. The fat tires are great for trails, they are stable and comfortable… but there is a trade off in range. For me personally, I’d consider getting a bike rack that could hold two ebikes (like the ones from Thule or Küat) and then opting for a full sized ebike with 26″ 27.5″ or 28″ wheels because they can be narrow and efficient but offer a lower attack angle that will be more comfortable over bumps. Also, full sized ebikes like the RadCity or VoltBike Elegant can use suspension seat posts… or you could go for one of the full suspension VoltBikes like the Outback. The thing is, FS trail bikes don’t usually work well with racks. Consider a hardtail trail bike like the Surface 604 Shred or any of the other hardtail models with rack bosses. This is my personal bike style pick for a bit of trail but mostly commuting ;)Reply
Bryce3 years ago
Hey Court, thanks again for all the advice. I have had plenty of time to do research while on quarantine and have really enjoyed watching so many of your videos!
I have decided I want a smaller bike I can throw in the van and store in my smaller townhome. I have been thinking about the Volt Urban versus the Qualisport Dolphin. I see that the Urban has suspension and comes with more accessories. Do you have any other thoughts on the two?
I really want to be able to do some throttle only riding for awhile. Do you think both are capable? Is 20 mph fast enough in your general experience?
Do you have another similar bike to those two you think I should throw in the mix for around the same price point? Thanks again!Reply
Court3 years ago
Hi Bryce, yeah! I think that they both go plenty fast… especially for folding models. I think 20mph is satisfying, stable, and fairly comfortable (though I sometimes go slower with mid-level assist for comfort and to extend range). Throttle riding is definitely fun, and to be honest, I think the VoltBike Urban is going to be slightly more comfortable due to the suspension fork. The Qualisports Dolphin has nice big tires, great weight distribution, and it’s lighter… I also like how it looks, how slim it is. This is a tough choice, I’d love to hear what you decide and how it works out for you!Reply
Keith in Vancouver2 years ago
Hi Court, I’m on my second Voltbike Urban. (1st was “nicked” while I slept!) The 1st did have a workable walk mode, which came in handy on occasion. Your review mentioned an inability to get it working on this model. The guys at Voltbike didn’t have any luck either.
What’s weird is I’ve found the same “dashboard” online in China, and apparently it should have the walk mode, but the instructions are somewhat hard to decipher. Do you have any thoughts whether it’s an issue with wiring or something else?
I’ve been advised not to get into trying to make changes as this could cause further problems. Frustrating! :-) Would love to hear if someone has had any luck getting the walk mode working. Thanks in advance for your thoughts / insights.Reply
Court2 years ago
Hi Keith! My Trek hybrid bicycle was stolen from my girlfriend’s apartment on South Granvill a couple months back… definitely frustrating. Sorry to hear about your VoltBike Urban being taken too. Anyway, I tend to agree with the official advice not to mess with the display. I’ve heard about owners, shops, and manufacturers struggling to reset displays that have confusing interfaces before. This complexity is compounded when they change displays from one year to the next! If you do end up tinkering, I’d recommend taking photos of each display area before changing anything, so at least you can get back to defaults if something gets mixed up. It would be easy to change wheel size, voltage, or other settings, maybe even the number of assist settings, throttle activation etc. it can really get complicated. That said, I definitely understand how close it feels right now, like the setting should be there. If you want to explore, just leave a breadcrumb trail so you can find your way “home” if things don’t work out using trial and error ;)Reply
Keith in Vancouver2 years ago
Hey Court, I didn’t think anyone would respond to my issue! I’m so appreciative that you did! So, I’m sorry about your GF’s loss. I guess Vancouver is a hot spot for theft, so I’ve been told.
BTW: insofar as my 1st bike being stolen, to be honest, it was my fault. I was complacent, and not taking proper protocols… just like all of us young 67 year olds thinking “it won’t happen to me” :-) Great advice and caution regarding trying to dive deep into the settings. Frustrating in doing a lot of online research which indicate this bike / controller should have the “walk mode”!
I bought the bike from George recently “as is” and, I now have no idea whether there is a “tech” outside expert who might be able to: 1. tell me if this dashboard can be fixed related to the walk mode. 2. tell me if there is a way to get into the walk mode (i.e. might include/changing/ replacing wiring/replacing dashboard / changing the wiring)? and 3. maybe ordering something from China / or somewhere in Canada / USA which might work?
Again, Court, thanks for your input, and again, if you have any further thoughts, I’m all ears! Regards, Keith