11 January 2018

REVIEW: Volt Alpine Ebike

Off-road commuting

About a year ago we were introduced to the Volt Ebikes when we reviewed the Pulse. As you can see in the linked video, we loved it, enjoying a solid machine that offered powerful cycling assistance when riding both on the smooth and the (kinda) rough. Well, recently we've been tearing up the streets on the Pulse's bigger, ruder brother. We check out the Volt Alpine Ebike.

Whereas the Pulse was a hybrid bike that sat perfectly in the category of commuting and weekend adventures, the Alpine (as its name suggests) has been designed to go anywhere and leave bloody big tyre prints in its wake. This is very firmly an electric mountain bike; one that loses a few of the gentle comforts of the Pulse, such as mudguards, cargo rack, and slender frame, but replaces them with not really giving a shit. Grr!

For a start, the Volt Alpine is far larger than the Pulse, and certainly larger than your average bike. In fact, once it first arrived at Test Pit Towers, we had to tinker with the handlebars and seat to make sure we could all actually fit on it. Fortunately you can easily adjust these things, but if you're five feet nothing with the legs of an Oompa Loompa, this might not be the bike for you.

The wheels and also huge at 29 inches, and the Kenda tyres are thicker than your average mountain bike, and about ten times beefier than the road bike tyres we're all normally used to. The Alpine looks large and aggressive and as if it could do some serious damage. Although we love that about it, it also makes it the heaviest bike we've ever tested, weighing in at 22.7KG. Bear in mind that when you buy it, you might also want to add mudflaps and lights, adding to that weight. We found it was never an issues when actually riding (in fact the extra heaviness made us feel safer and more secure on the road - especially in icy conditions) but having to carry it up steps was a pain in the bum. Take note.

But, the weight and lack of bells and whistles are soon forgotten when you sit on this thing and hit the streets. The Volt Alpine is without a doubt the best ebike we've yet to review, combining the comfort from the front fork and seat suspension, with the 'grip-the-handlebars-tighter' power from the 250 W SpinTech motor. As with the Pulse, you can't just sit back and hit the thumb-throttle with this - you actually have to keep peddling. But, for each pedal you push, the motor kicks in with the equal force, giving you a sudden surge forwards and saving you the sweat.

This means that you can cycle for four miles, yet it will feel like just two. As we enthused about the Pulse, this makes it a perfect commuter machine: getting you to work without having to break a sweat from effort. The Alpine is just the same, but you'll be able to cut across a farmer's field to get to the office, and not just cruise along the roads. Also, if there is a hill near you that you've always avoided, forget about it. The Volt Alpine makes mincemeat out of them, and we found that our local area was completely flattened by this bike - everywhere felt like flat, smooth road, even when scrambling up a grassy knoll.

Volt make great bikes, and with the Alpine they've included high-end parts, such as the removable 36v Panasonic lithium battery. A charge of about six hours should give you enough juice to comfortably travel 60+ miles - a number effected by the level of power assistance you give yourself via the control panel on the handlebars. Also, the Alpine is complimented by Shimano gears, power-cut disk brakes (meaning if you break when the power is on, it'll automatically cut out), and a top speed of 15.5mph (although, in tests, we found we were hitting 19mph without too much effort).

So why would you want this mountain bike over a commuter bike? Surely ebikes are only useful for casual users who don't want to fork our too much physical effort to get places. Well, despite the aggressive looks, the Alpine still functions perfectly well on the roads and in more civilised conditions, and we found the extra weight and grip from those chunky tyres was very reassuring when dicing with busy traffic. Plus, you can add the likes of tyre guards and cargo racks should you need them, and then be able to take them off for the weekend... which is when you'll really enjoy the Alpine.

Tested over rough, muddy, and snowy ground, the Volt Alpine acted just like any normal high-end mountain bike, but with the added pleasure of the power-assistance to keep your adventure going for longer. Sure, it is a lot heavier than a standard off-road bike, and the price may put many off, but the Alpine truly is a go-anywhere bike, while also being a do-anything vehicle. We heartily recommend this mad, beautiful thing.


Available from www.amazon.co.uk

Check out this awesome film Volt made about one of their Alpine customers who uses his to deliver his catch of fish each day in the Highlands of Scotland...

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