2012 Volton Alation 500 Review

Volton Alation 500 Electric Bike Review 1
Volton Alation 500 Electric Mountain Bike
500 Watt Brushless Hub Motor By Suzhou
Removable Battery Cover
Volton Alation Computer And Control Switch
Volton Electric Bike Assembly
Volton Alation 500 Rear Fender And Chain Ring
Seven Speed Shimano Thumb Shifter
Led Light Front Fender Suntour Fork
Assembling Volton Electric Bicycle
48 Volt Electric Mountain Bike
Volton Alation 500 Electric Bike Review 1
Volton Alation 500 Electric Mountain Bike
500 Watt Brushless Hub Motor By Suzhou
Removable Battery Cover
Volton Alation Computer And Control Switch
Volton Electric Bike Assembly
Volton Alation 500 Rear Fender And Chain Ring
Seven Speed Shimano Thumb Shifter
Led Light Front Fender Suntour Fork
Assembling Volton Electric Bicycle
48 Volt Electric Mountain Bike

Summary

  • Thoughtful combination of high performance electronics and purpose built frame
  • Relatively low price point for a 48v, 11ah 500w drive system at just above $2K
  • Mountain or Trail bike frame styling with 26" wheels and fenders, works great offroad
  • Suspension fork adds comfort and handles bumps well, integrated cables stay out of the way

Video Review

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Introduction

Make:

Volton

Model:

2013 Alation 500

Price:

$2,199 USD

Body Position:

Forward

Suggested Use:

Trail, Mountain, Urban

Electric Bike Class:

Throttle on Demand (Class 2)
Learn more about Ebike classes

Warranty:

1 Year Frame, Motor, Battery and Electronics

Availability:

United States

Model Year:

2013

Bicycle Details

Total Weight:

56 lbs (25.4 kg)

Frame Material:

6061 Aluminum Alloy

Frame Sizes:

20 in (50.8 cm)

Frame Types:

High-Step

Frame Colors:

Black with Red Accents, Gray with Blue Accents

Frame Fork Details:

Suspension with Lockout

Attachment Points:

Fender Bosses, Rear Rack Bosses

Gearing Details:

7 Speed 1x7 Shimano Tourney TX

Pedals:

Wellgo Aluminum Alloy Platform

Brake Details:

Tektro Novella Mechanical Disc

Wheel Sizes:

26 in (66.04cm)

Accessories:

Front LED Light Powered by Main Battery Pack, Rear LED Light Powered by AA Cells, Flick Style Bell, Kickstand

Other:

Features one Extra Low Gear for Climbing, Plastic Bash Guard on Front Rings, Removable Battery Pack

Electronic Details

Motor Brand:

Suzhou

Motor Type:

Rear-Mounted Geared Hub
Learn more about Ebike motors

Motor Nominal Output:

500 watts

Battery Brand:

Samsung

Battery Voltage:

48 volts

Battery Amp Hours:

11 ah

Battery Watt Hours:

528 wh

Battery Chemistry:

Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)

Charge Time:

4 hours

Estimated Min Range:

25 miles (40 km)

Estimated Max Range:

40 miles (64 km)

Display Type:

LCD

Readouts:

Speed, Odometer, Battery Capacity, Assist (5 Levels)

Drive Mode:

Cadence Sensing Pedal Assist, Twist Throttle

Top Speed:

20 mph (32 kph)

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Written Review

This review is for the older 2012 / 2013 Volton Alation 500. I recently spent time with the updated model and have shot video and written another full review. The bit improvements are with the headlight, rear fender and battery pack cover (which I had to tape on for this older model to keep from rattling). If you see this older version at a garage sale or on clearance, it’s still a wonderful bike. Read on for my full thoughts.

The Volton Alation 500 far exceeded my expectations and offered the kind of fun and quality I haven’t found at this price point with any other electric bike. Nearly every decision that was made for the hardware and technology was a good one. The computer display and control unit are easy to use and offer plenty of features without being confusing. The midframe battery balances out the weight of the bike and makes it easy to lift and the 500w motor is so powerful I could literally ride uphill on off road trails without pedaling.

I’ve ordered other electric bikes online before and it can be a trying experience. Not only is this an expensive purchase from a company you’ve likely never heard of, the bike itself can be complicated to assemble and rely on parts that can get broken during shipping. They are also heavy and large; the giant box that shows up at your door can be exciting and daunting all at once. What if you aren’t there when it gets delivered? What if you can’t carry it up your stairs by yourself? All things considered, this bike was not difficult to assemble and arrived in great shape, it even came with a high quality tool that had everything needed. It only took ~20 minutes to mount the seat, handlebars and front wheel before pumping up the tires and plugging it in to charge for my first ride.

In terms of comfort and rider positioning, this bike is a lot like a mountain bike. It’s got 26″ wheels with a burly Suntour XCR shock and flat handlebar requiring you to lean further forward when riding. For city conditions this might not be the best fit because your head is angled downward vs. up and alert. If you ride with a backpack, this type of positioning could cause your pack to shift around and increase tension in your shoulder muscles. That said, the shock really smoothes out the ride and the overall solid feel is great. I also love the minimalist fenders that keep water off but don’t rattle or get in the way of your feet on the front tire when turning. They won’t keep your pants as dry as a full fender set but they’re better than nothing and you could always add your own full size set later because the fork has eyelets. The frame itself is about medium sized, I’m ~5’9″ and it felt perfect.

The heart of this bike is really the 48 volt Lithium based Samsung battery mounted in the downtube. The cover isn’t quite as fancy as some I’ve seen that open from the side or fit more snugly (the cover on the Alation mounts on top of the frame and slides down into place), but it gets the job done. I added a clear piece of masking tape to hold the cover more securely when I took mine off road because it reduced rattling when going over the rocks and roots. Since you don’t have to take the cover off when charging I plan to just leave mine on permanently. As far as performance, 48v is a lot of power and this battery offers 11ah of juice which means you can go 10% further than standard 10ah bikes. It’s enough to ride 25 miles throttle only or ~40 if you pedal along. Being removable, it can also be charged off the bike which is very convenient for commuting or if you don’t have room inside for the entire bike.

Batteries are great but they need a proper motor to get you going and the 500w brushless geared hub motor on the Alation 500 does the trick. This is honestly one of the most powerful feeling bikes I’ve ever ridden, it feels like a gas powered dirt bike in throttle mode. A lot of enthusiasts build their own bikes that resemble this kind of powerful combination but that can end up costing more, taking a lot of work and time and it’s extremely hard to make a purpose built frame look this good. For the money, I’m very satisfied with the performance.

I really enjoy this bike, especially offroad. It’s responsive, very powerful, fluid feeling because of the weight distribution and surprisingly quiet. The motor itself makes a high pitched whir sound at top speeds as seen in the video but the frame itself doesn’t rattle much. The wires aren’t integrated into the frame but there is a solid metal duct just below the downtube that protects them and keeps them out of the way. I love the Wellgo pedals they chose and the computer unit is great, offering a set of three buttons right next to the grip and an LCD unit that shows battery, pedal assist and throttle settings.

Pros:

  • One year warranty on the frame, motor, controller and battery
  • Solid frame is easy to handle, lift and mount on bike racks using the top tube
  • Only available in one size, medium, fits me well at 5’9″
  • Front shock smoothes out the ride on trails and offers varying levels of lock-out for city use
  • Fenders keep the stripe off your back without getting in the way on the front wheel when pedaling, easily replaceable or removable
  • Computer unit and control switch are very easy to use offering five levels of power assist or throttle mode
  • Control unit is backlit and manages the front headlight
  • Wellgo pedals are solid, grippy and come with built in reflectors
  • Quick release seat and front wheel make the bike easy to transport
  • Built in eyelets for after market rear rack
  • Wires are run through a matching solid metal channel below the downtube, kept out of the way and looks great
  • Charger is high quality, efficient and quiet
  • Overall price of bike is great considering the performance and style
  • Oversized neck accommodates bumps and rough riding
  • Lithium iron phosphate LiFePO4 battery cells withstand more charge cycles
  • Rugged mid-v alloy 26″ double walled rims with heavy gauge stainless steel Spokes
  • Battery pack is removable and can be charged off the bike

Cons:

  • Rear light is not tied into the electrical system, battery operated but works well enough
  • Tektro Novella disc brakes are mechanical (to keep cost low) vs. hydraulic which require less finger strength and are better for off road
  • Bottom bracket chain ring uses a plastic bash guard vs. metal and doesn’t have a rear-wall which would make it a full guide. That said, I haven’t experienced the chain falling off with this bike
  • Battery cover can rattle, isn’t as solid or integrated as it could be but works well with a bit of clear tape holding it onto the frame
  • Key required to be in the on/off switch when riding, stays out of the way
  • Separate key required to remove the battery pack
  • Bell is relatively cheap and doesn’t work well
  • On the silver bike, the blue on the rims don’t match the blue battery cover, bummer
  • Assembly required if buying online, took me ~20 minutes and includes tool, lots of cardboard to deal with after… let your cat or kid play in it then recycle
  • No eyelets for water bottle cage on downtube or seat post tube, bring a Camelbak

Resources:

More Volton Reviews

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Sporty, light weight city bike with strong 500 watt motor and balanced battery design. Lots of extras including lights, fenders, headset shock, disc brakes and Wellgo pedals...

January 1, 2014

Volton Alation ST 500 Review

  • MSRP: $1,999
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January 1, 2014

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Comments (12) YouTube Comments

DaveyB
7 years ago

Thanks for this review and video….. Well done. Do you think this bike would suit a 6 foot 4 inch 230 pound guy? I don’t want to buy something that’s too small. I am looking at this and the stromer model. I will be using this bike in suburbia with no real mountain bike use, other than a national park trail….. Mostly asphalt.

  Reply
Takeshi
7 years ago

Hi,
Please be warned that the battery of the Volton 500 *IS NOT* iron phosphate! It is written in a very confusing way on their web-page. Voltonbycicles confirm this. These are standard LiPo cells (made by Samsung, but that doesn’t mean much as we don’t know the series.) Volton claims 1200 charge/discharge cycles, but do not specify the DOD. I assume that’s at ~20-30% DOD. At 80+% it is likely at or less than 500 cycles. Maybe Volton can comment on this here? Just something to keep in mind.

Best
Takeshi

  Reply
EldRick
6 years ago

I believe the controller has changed from that pictured – it is now an LCD, and offers five levels of assist, as well as a “walk the bike with help” mode.

  Reply
EldRick
6 years ago

I bought one of these bikes in August 2013, and I find it delightful. The range estimates are optimistic, of course, but all ebikes seem to overclaim in this department. It is very powerful – climbs hills like a dirt bike, at 12-15mph.

There are several obvious improvements over the bike reviewed above: the five-speed computer with walk-me function is new, and there is a silicone rubber gasket around the batter compartment door.

Strictly as a bicycle, the components are well-chosen and well integrated. it’s a heavy bike, of course, but it’s well made and well designed. It’s very stiff, and has quick steering – not relaxed like a road bike. There are a few small vestigial “braze-ons” welded on the frame in odd places, but no water bottle mounts – go figure.

I find that the combination of pedelec and throttle makes it very easy to ease on the throttle to get off from a stop, and then start pedaling once moving, so the pedelec eases in instead of suddenly pushing you after the first revolution of the crank.

That relates to the one thing I don’t like about it. (This is my first e-bike, so I’m assuming that non-torque-sensing systems work this way)

Each of the five levels of assist aren’t actually related to your pedaling, other than to sense that the pedals are going around – it doesn’t matter how hard you are working (or not) – the motor is going to try to turn at the predetermined speed for that setting. Your pedaling can make the bike go faster than that setting, but then you are doing 100% of the work with your legs.

My issue with this is that the levels for 1 and 2 are not that well chosen: level 1 is 1-2 mph (almost too slow to notice), while level 2 is suddenly 8mph, and three takes you up to 12mph quite quickly. IMHO, level 1 should be a bit faster, perhaps 3-4mph, and level 2 should be a bit lower – maybe 6-7mph.

Outside of that (which could be corrected in software) it’s a good buy and a very nice bike. After this, I’d never buy an electric bike with only throttle or only pedelec – the combination is a perfect match. Having tried touring with rear panniers, I’d also never buy a bike with a high-and-aft center of gravity like those with a rear-rack battery mount.

  Reply
EldRick
6 years ago

Oh yeah, one more issue: the walk-me mode is about 4mph – faster than one can comfortably walk, thus useless.

  Reply
Bruce
6 years ago

I was wondering if anyone knew how to turn off the speed limiter on this bike? Is it possible?

  Reply
Court Rye
6 years ago

Hi Bruce, not that I know of but I’ll check with the founder and see if it has any adjustment options. You might also post in the Volto section of the forum and see if anyone answers there.

[Update]: I did some digging and found that the PAS and throttle top speeds are adjustable on models with the LCD 5 Speed PAS controller. If you dig around in the display’s settings you’ll discover a “speed” setting. Wherever this is set will limit the assistance or throttle once the set speed is attained.

So it sounds like you can go faster than 20mph with a bit of fiddling, especially on the more powerful 500 watt models. I’ve noticed a similar feature on the Pedego City Commuter I owned, with the 48 volt 500 watt setup I had I was able to reach the upper 20’s.

  Reply
will wadsworth
6 years ago

I took the Alation Mid Drive for a first run yesterday. The bike exceeded my expectations with regard to ride and power. My office is only three miles away but it is up hill all the way. I need to dress nicely and it is impossible to arrive at work un-rumpled on my mountain bike. At the same time I feel guilty driving a car such a short distance.

At 54 my weight (225 lb) had begun to cause issues at the doctor. Since March I have done a lot of walking and am getting back into shape. This bike will add to the benefits of not driving while getting me to work un-rumpled and on time.

The mid drive is so quiet that it honestly feels like something is pushing me up the hill. The bike is able to handle hills just fine in throttle mode but I prefer to pedal in power assist because it goes much faster without much effort.

I have been researching the best bike, or conversion kit, for nearly two years. I got this one right! I would recommend this purchase to anyone. I love this bike and am very glad to have made this purchase.

  Reply
Court Rye
6 years ago

Glad the review helped you out Will! I just got to test ride the Volton mid-drive as well and will be posting the review soon… Keep an eye out here and on YouTube for the video :)

  Reply
Adora
6 years ago

Stumbled upon this discussion and review of the Volton 500 –and where the mid-drive is mentioned … If Will is still posting, I would love to hear an update on his mid-drive purchase. I look forward to seeing Court’s review of the mid-drive Volton as well. I am 5’7″ and 145 lbs –do you think I would be comfortable in any of the Volton models? Thanks you!

  Reply
Court Rye
6 years ago

Hi Adora, it sounds like you’re right in between and that the Step Through or larger High Step model could work. Aside from fit and ease of getting on and off the bike with the ST would be that the High Step may be easier to secure on some car racks. The longer frame may require you to lean forward more and create an aggressive feel vs. the shorter ST that would position you more as upright. Hope these thoughts help you decide :)

  Reply
Adora
6 years ago

wel, having never sat on one yet, hard to say just how I’d fit ;-) In my mind, at the present I have narrowd my choices down to eliminating:

– Izip Peak vs Emazing Appollo
– Volton 500 vs Volton mid-drive

Look forward to your review of the Volton mid-drive, but now I am repeating myself ;-)

  Reply

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