Britain’s Volt Bikes has grown from a small family-run electric bike start-up to having its own assembly facility in Milton Keynes, a wide network of stores in the UK and offering direct sales.
The new Volt London is a step away from the brand’s more traditional range of folding electric bikes and step-through electric hybrids. The London is a chunky, stylish singlespeed with big gravel-ready tyres and a beautifully finished brushed aluminium frame.
The resulting bike impressed the international jury at the Red Dot design awards, winning the 2022 award for bike design.
Volt London specifications and details
The swoopy Zoom bar is capped with well-cushioned Fabric Silicone grips that are a great comfort match to the Fabric saddle that sits atop an EXA suspension seatpost.
The post does a decent job of keeping things smooth, but you may well want to experiment with the spring tension, which is adjustable via a 5mm Allen bolt, to avoid either the saddle sagging down through its 40mm of travel or being so stiff as to remain unmoved by bumps and ruts.
The Tektro hydraulic brakes offer great stopping power, and the long levers give plenty of feel throughout the brakes’ progression.
Without any gear options from the singlespeed drivetrain, Volt has done a decent job in supplying the bike with a good mid-level gear that’s enough to get you along at a brisk pace unassisted, yet not so tall as to make hills a chore when you aren’t using the electrical assistance.
That really isn’t the point of an ebike, of course, so it’s more about how the human element of the drive meshes with the electrical side. The London does this exceptionally well.
Volt London ride impressions
Bafang’s Spintech system has at its heart a very quick-to-react torque sensor, which means as soon as you pedal, the motor kicks in. On inferior motor systems, this can result in jerks and jolts as the power jumps in, but the London feeds the power in smoothly, matching your efforts.
On most singlespeed ebikes I’ve tested, I came away knowing they were urban runabouts for relatively flat rides. The London, in spite of its name, is capable of more than rolling around city centres in its single gear.
My local test rides and my lengthy commute to the office aren’t exactly what you’d call flat, but the Volt even coped well with the steeper inclines. I ended up using the motor power as surrogate gears.
In the ‘low’ setting, the bike is perfect for keeping you at a brisk pace on the flat, ‘normal’ adds a bit more of a push that is great for more rolling terrain and the ‘high’ mode gives you a good shove of rear-hub power that will help you get the better of most hills.
An out-of-the-saddle excursion up one of my steepest local climbs resulted in a spirited effort from me – but not one that left me gasping for air, while keeping the speed impressively high. For super-steep inclines, there is a ‘power’ mode, which offers everything the Spintech has to give.
The bar-mounted display/controller also has a trigger at its base. Flick this and it engages the Walk+ mode, which is great for pushing the bike up a steep ramp.
Because it effectively works like a mini-throttle, I also found it great at traffic lights when setting off from a standing start. Here, it’ll give you a little boost up to around 10mph, ensuring you get out ahead of traffic.
The display does suffer from the occasional oscillation in the battery level, rising a step on the battery graphic mid-ride for no apparent reason. That means it’s not the most accurate when it comes to gauging your remaining range.
The battery is quick to remove and is reasonably compact, and the chunky charger will get it from empty to full in just shy of four hours.
The battery’s 504Wh capacity is larger than most of its rivals. Volt claims a range of up to 60 miles and on my longest run I managed 59.25m/95.5km with 2,226ft/678.5metres of hill climbing. On a flatter route, I would easily have exceeded 60 miles.
The performance of the motor and the London’s light handling result in a bike that’s nippy. Ride in a comfortable but not overtly relaxed position and it’s a bike that will appeal equally to both seasoned and new riders.
The equipment included is all decent stuff, and takes in solid SKS mudguards, a quality kickstand and even a frame lock.
The lights are powerful and bright, though I do have an issue with the position of the front light. It’s mounted on a bracket built into the stem – so far, so good – but the London comes with a cool and practical porteur rack mounted on the front.
When I strapped my bag to the rack, it completely obscured the beam from the light. Even using the rack to pick up a pizza for a Friday-night treat meant the light was blocked from hitting the road just in front of me.
I know it wouldn’t look quite as neat mounted onto the front of the rack, but it would be far more practical.
There is one more significant drawback to the Volt London – it’s only available in one size, based around a mountain bike-derived 19in frame. That was fine for me at 6ft 2in, but I’m probably at the upper height limit, and riders under 5ft 10in or so might also find it a struggle. Sadly, that’ll be quite a limiting factor in the London’s broader appeal.
Volt London bottom line
The Volt is a great-looking bike with a polished aluminium frame. It’s well equipped for the price, with a range of equipment that’s well selected for the purpose, plus it’s a smooth-riding machine.
The singlespeed drivetrain makes it very much an urban rider’s tool. The Bafang hub motor is punchy enough to make up for any gearing shortfalls when it comes to short, steep inclines, but the battery-level fluctuations can be a little irritating, especially because the Volt has proved it has a decent long range that should be more than enough for most commuters.
The lack of a size range will limit the appeal of the Volt London, but if it fits you, it’s certainly worth considering this smoothly assisted operator.
|Weight||21.81kg (One size (19"))|
|Features||Lights: Front and rear Spanninga LED lights
Lock: Abus frame lock
Front rack: Porteur rack
|Available sizes||One size (19")|
|Grips/Tape||Fabric silicone grips|
|Handlebar||Zoom Fixed bar and alloy stem|
|Motor||250W Spintech Bafang rear hub motor, Panasonic lithium battery 504Wh, colour display/controller|
|Saddle||Fabric Scoop saddle|
|Stem||Zoom Fixed bar and alloy stem|
|Tyres||Schwalbe G-One puncture resistant 650b x 2.0in|
|Wheels||Alexrim DP21 double wall|