- 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
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.
- 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
- 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