Volata first ride review

The Volata could be the smartest commuter bike you've ever seen

San Francisco based Volata Cycles has designed a new urban bike that aims to integrate everything you need for your commute into one seamless system, which is all controlled by a central brain: the “ultimate, all-in-one bike”.

Volata spec overview

  • Fork: Volata carbon fork, Postmount disc, 1,5" headset
  • Front hub: Shimano Alfine dynamo hub DH-S501
  • Rear hub: Shimano Alfine 11 speed S705 Di2
  • Tyres: Vittoria Zaffiro Pro black 700x32c
  • Rims: Stan’s Notubes ZTR Grail 32 holes, aluminum rims ready to tubeless
  • Front disk: Shimano SM-RT81, diameter 160mm
  • Rear disk: Shimano SM-RT81, diameter 140mm
  • Brake lever: Shimano Di2 Dual Control Shifter ST-R785
  • Crankset: Shimano FC-S501 170mm
  • Handlebar: Fizik Cyrano R5 Bull D= 31,8 mm, Alloy 6061
  • Seatpost: Fizik Cyrano R5 D=31,6 mm, Alloy 7075
  • Pedals: Crank Brothers Double Shot
  • Bottom bracket: Shimano Tiagra BB-RS500.
  • Frame sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Colour: Ice White, Moon Gray
  • Weight: 23.37 lb / 10.6 kg (size )

The slick aluminium stem houses a full colour screen
The slick aluminium stem houses a full colour screen

Volata frame

We met with Volata’s co-founder and CEO Marco Salvioli at this year’s Eurobike and he gave us an exclusive run down on the bike and let us take it our for a spin. Salvioli said of the new bike, “We not only wanted to put technology into the bike with lights, turn-by-turn navigation, security features, and plenty of information immediately to hand, we also wanted the bike to be exciting to ride too.”

The Volata’s impressive styling starts with the custom specification aluminium tubing from Dedacciai. Up front the cutaway top tube integrates into a slick CNC’d stem, which houses the bike’s brain. The full colour screen is operated by a combination of joystick built into the top of the right-hand Shimano Di2 shifter (which operates the 11-speed Di2 Alfine hub driven by a gates carbon belt) and a button on the left-hand lever.

The stem itself is available in two lengths and two angles so you can tune your ride position to be aggressive or more endurance biased.

Geometry wise Salvioli tells us, “We wanted the bike to blend the best of a great endurance bike with the flexibility of a gravel machine. So we’ve concentrated on making the Volata stable yet quick to steer and given plenty of clearance for bigger tyres to aid comfort, so you can get off of the road should you want to explore a little more.”

The screen displays multiple pages that include ride data, turn-by-turn navigation, calls, texts, email, and even music from your phone
The screen displays multiple pages that include ride data, turn-by-turn navigation, calls, texts, email, and even music from your phone

Volata technology

The head unit is linked directly to an app on your phone, so turn-by-turn navigation comes from your phone’s GPS. It also has access to email, caller IDs, text messages, as well as your music. The bike will also sync with any wearables such as Fitbit, Garmin and the Apple watch to track fitness, and has a built-in temperature sensor to boot.

Lighting is taken care of by twin 150-lumen Cree LEDs, which are mounted into the custom carbon fork

Salvioli tells us that he was keen to have a social element as part of the system to enable the Volata to track your usage and monitor distance ridden, which can be posted to the Volata owner’s site complete with a leaderboard.

Battery power is also constantly displayed either numerically or graph and is charged either as you ride via the Alfine dynamo front hub or by the micro USB port built into the head tube (just above the barometric temperature sensor). The Volata has a built-in GPS tracker too, so if the worst should happen and your bike is taken the Volata immediately engages a ‘lost mode’ and sends a signal straight to your phone, displaying a map with the bike’s location.

The Volata also comes with an accelerometer controlled alarm, which sounds and flashes both front and rear lights.

Lighting is taken care of by twin 150-lumen Cree LEDs, which are mounted into the custom carbon fork, and a bank of six LEDs built into the end of the top tube. Light operations (power, flash modes, on/off) are all controlled by the joystick or remotely from the app.  

Salvioli says of the lighting, “The remote light operation we thought may be a bit of a gimmick, but I’ve actually found it so useful. If you’re leaving a cafe or bar at night you can activate the lights to find your bike or to help you find the keys for your lock as you walk up to it.”

An Alfine Di2 hub gear is driven by a Gates carbon belt
An Alfine Di2 hub gear is driven by a Gates carbon belt

Volata components

The Volata uses Shimano’s Alfine Di2 group with the rear hub and dynamo front built onto Stans tubeless ready rims. Stopping is handled by Shimano’s RS785 hydraulic discs, and the bars, seat post and saddle are all from Fizik (with options on Fizik’s three road perches).

It comes fitted with Crank Brothers double shot pedals and full guards will be offered as an option, with more accessories and extras such as bags and racks to come.

The Di2 shifters feature these custom hoods with a joystick on top of the right-hand shifter
The Di2 shifters feature these custom hoods with a joystick on top of the right-hand shifter

Volata ride impression

We managed to get out and ride the Volata around Friedrichshafen and our first impressions are good. The ride is smooth, thanks to big 28mm rubber from Continental, and it’s nice and quick to steer.

Alfine Di2 shifts are smooth and seamless too and the very neatly designed hood top joystick makes switching between screens simple and safe. The button on the left shifter defaults to a horn mode when riding and the way in which you can access different operations, like the lights, is intuitive to pick up.

On the downside the bright sunshine occasionally made the screen difficult to see, but Salvioli told us that the full production model will get a brighter, higher resolution back-lit upgrade.

We will be getting a full production model in the near future so will report back with a full test review soon.

Volata price and availability

The Volata is currently priced at US$3,500, with a reservation of US$299 for delivery early next year. Salvioli and his team are currently working on a more affordable version as well as an e-bike version with a fully integrated design that shares the same tech.

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