The Volton Alation ST 500 offers good power, value and balance with a frame that’s easier to mount because it’s a step-through design (that’s what the ST stands for). The most recent version has an extended rear fender, improved headlight and rubberized battery cover that reduces rattling and keeps dust and water out. It’s a bit less expensive than the larger high-step Alation but the batter is also a bit weaker at just 36 volts vs. 48v. This is noticeable when climbing hills or starting from standstill but the 500 watt geared rear hub motor still offers a lot of get-up-and-go. All in all it’s a great bike that looks nice, comes in three color options (red, white and black), is well supported and fairly affordable.
The first Volton Alation I got to ride and review arrived at my house in a large box in 2012. I was impressed with the purpose-built frame that keeps battery weight low and centered on the bike and the overall power of the 500 watt motor and 48 volt battery. It was a high-step model vs. the step-through here but aside from battery size and a slightly upgraded suspension fork, the bikes are very similar. I’m a fan of off-road style ebikes that offer suspension, even for commuting purposes, because the higher average speeds and distances ridden tend to wear out my back and neck. In that sense, the Alation series is very comfortable and fun.
The motor driving the Alation Stepthrough 500 offers, you guessed it, 500 watts of power. It’s a geared design which provides more torque but doesn’t weigh as much as a gearless equivalent. There’s no regenerative braking or other fancy features but that’s part of what keeps the price low. The primary downside to geared motors is that they have more moving parts (gears) inside that can wear out over time. From what I’ve seen however, they work very well and hold up over time. This motor on the Alation ST really shines in off road and hill climbing applications because it’s just so powerful. Most ebikes use 350 watt motors and in fact, around 2012 / 2013 Volton offered the Alation ST 350 with that sized motor. If you do push this bike to the limit however, the motor will automatically shut down to avoid overheating. If this happens, just give the bike a rest and let it cool down for a bit. It should work just fine after that. Note that for smaller riders, those looking to save some money or those who don’t plan on climbing as much Volton does offer an Alation ST 250 with a 250 watt motor as well.
The battery driving both the Alation 500 and 250 offers an average 36 volts of power and 11 amp hours of capacity. That’s a decent combination but a step down from the high-step Alation 500 which has a 48 volt pack and is noticeably stronger as mentioned before. Since the frame size is smaller, this is the largest battery pack that would fit in the downtube. Still, the combination of pedal assist and twist throttle work well and for small and medium sized riders who prefer the low step design, this is the best option. A big benefit of this battery design is how it’s mounted on the frame. It’s hard to find an ebike with a downtube-mounted pack for ~$2,000 and while this design isn’t quite as fancy as one of the step-through Neo bikes or Stromer bikes, it accomplishes the same thing.
All things considered, this bike is one of my favorites because it offers great value. I like the color choices (black red and white). The updated battery pack cover works a lot better and the controls are as easy as ever to use. The LCD computer is large making it easy to read but also has a set of rubberized buttons that extend from the main unit over to the left grip making them convenient to reach when riding. You don’t have to compromise your grip too much to change pedal assist levels. There are five levels of assist that run off of a pedelec sensor. It’s not quite as fluid as if it used a torque sensor, and for some off road riding that’s a drawback, but it works as expected. While the pedal assist settings give you exercise when riding and extend battery range, the bike also offers a twist throttle on the right grip that’s responsive and fun to use.
In terms of gearing, the Alation ST 500 offers seven speeds which is enough to climb (and there is an extra large ring for ascending) or go fast down hills but not so many that alignment issues crop up. There’s only one ring on the front and it’s protected by a plastic bash guard that keeps your pants from snagging the teeth and getting dirty. A couple of missed opportunities I see are that there’s nowhere to mount a water bottle cage and the rear light requires its own batteries, making it easier to forget to turn on or off. Still, it’s a solid option and the company is friendly and responsive.
Strong 500 watt motor 36 volt battery combination for climbing hills and going off road (the Alation ST 250 uses a 250 watt motor with the same 36 volt pack)
Front shock is smooth with good travel and offers lockout to reduce bob when riding on-road
Fenders reduce exposure to water and mud, the rear fender helps more than the front which is pretty short (to avoid getting kicked during off road riding)
LCD computer is intuitive, shows speed battery capacity and range and has a breakout set of buttons that are easy to reach when riding
Available in three nice color schemes, red, white and black
26″ wheels improve leverage for the motor and rider when climbing
Uses an oversized headset for enduring trail riding bumps and jumps
Solid kickstand that stays up when riding and actually supports the bike well (so many off road bikes skip the kickstand but I love it for commuting)
Removable battery can be charged off the bike which is very convenient for commuting or if you don’t have room inside for the entire bike
Great customer service and support, the bike also comes with a nice multi-tool for assembly
Uses pedelec sensor to activate pedal assist vs. torque sensing which would be more responsive
Rear light runs off of its own batteries vs. using main pack, easier to forget
Primarily available online which makes demoing the bike and getting maintenance help trickier
No braze ons for mounting a water bottle cage on the seat post tube or downtube… get a CamelBak?
Assembly required if you buy this online, may want to take it to a shop to true wheels but that adds to the cost
Have to leave the key in when riding which is a bit annoying and easier to forget but it’s small and positioned out of the way high up on the right side of the downtube
Uses mechanical disc brakes vs. hydraulic, they work well enough but add to hand fatigue when riding off road and down steep hills for extended periods
Only available in one frame size which is about small / medium in size
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9 years ago
Do u like the prodeco phantom x3 or voltron alation st 500?Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
I prefer the Alation ST because it has the battery mounted lower to the ground inside the downtube. The Prodeco bikes are a bit less expensive but they put the battery high up on the frame and use mounting struts that aren’t quite as elegant as the Volton solution. I’ve heard that they can even break when going over big bumps or off road but I think ProdecoTech is working on improving them and has already added two struts to some of their larger battery pack setups.Reply
Anon9 years ago
I have learned so much from this website and appreciate all your hard work! Court, I am wondering if you’ve had the opportunity to ride/review the Volton Alation mid-drive?? Thanks!!Reply
Adora9 years ago
Thank you Court. I have not ridden a bicycle in many, many years. I have lived 25 years in the rural foothills of the Northern Sierra Mtns … up and down up and down –and I have not the strength to tackle the terrain on a regular bike. I am exited to think the electric bicycle can liberate me from the automobile!
BTW, There does not seem to be, at present, the perfect affordable combonation … My local dealer wants me to look at the Peak, but $3000 seems too pricey for a newbie.Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Great question! That review is on the way soon… Thanks for reaching out. The Volton Alation mid-drive uses this motor so you can at least get a feel for how it works and what it looks like.Reply
Adora9 years ago
Thanks again! I have been reading your fair and unbiased reviews for weeks, and am learning! I will stick around until I have made an “informed” decision. Keep up the good work –and play!
P.S. I don’t think I am ready for the mid-drive systems. I think I will need to spend some $$ and get it right the first time ;-)Reply
Court Rye9 years ago
Yeah, that does seem like a lot compared with some of the $1,500 bikes but the Peak will go further, climb much better and have a solid warranty with replacement battery packs available in the future. In your case, having a dealer nearby to help you with service and repairs is worth a lot as well. Being new to electric bikes doesn’t mean you benefit from buying a cheap $1,000 bike and then realize you like it and pay $3,000 a year or two later. That said, if your budget is very tight and you are not sure how much you will ride and don’t think you need the dealer’s help then there are lots of more affordable bikes reviewed here.Reply