Like a Swiss Army Knife you can ride: The Voltitude folding electric bike
By Paul Ridden
March 10, 2011
Last January, we said that the Robrady-designed db0 was one of the best folding electric bikes we'd seen. The Swiss entry into the market has turned its back on this traditional bicycle-with-motor design in favor of a folding pedal-electric assist scooter. Users are said to be able to fold or unfold the Voltitude bike in about one second, and with one hand, thanks to its unique EasyFold system. Swiss and EU legislation limits the electric assist to 15.5 mph (25 kph), although some frantic footwork could see it achieve faster speeds if required, and the onboard battery is good for between 12 and 25 miles (20 to 40 km) between charges.
Looking at the Voltitude bike, you can't help thinking of a Swiss Army knife and as a last mile transport solution, it could prove just as useful. Unlike the YikeBike, it's not designed to be lifted and carried. Once folded using the unique mechanism, a special button on the handlebar activates the motor to trundle the bike along at walking pace – which is probably just as well as the bike can weigh up to 48 pounds (22 kg) before a battery even enters the equation.
Its 43-inch (1087 mm) wheelbase and seat height/handlebar position make it comparable to a standard bicycle, but you won't find many bikes with the wide scooter wheels and low center of gravity. Onboard sensors determine how much electric assist the rider gets from the rear wheel 250W electric motor – the more you give to the pedals, the more power will be added to the wheel. The onboard 9.5Ah/36v lithium-polymer battery, which is said to take just four hours to fully recharge, also provides juice for the integrated front and rear LED lighting.
The Voltitude bike benefits from strong-but-lightweight aluminum frame and wheels, hydraulic disk brakes, and can be equipped with front or rear luggage racks. Other options include sequential 3, 5 or 8 speed gearboxes.
Although this may vary from country to country, the Voltitude bike is considered a normal bicycle in the EU and Switzerland, so there's no need for a driving license or registration plate. A helmet is also not a legal requirement, but is recommended.
The creation of Eric and André-Marcel Collombin was shown off recently at the Geneva Motor Show, and is currently being manufactured in small numbers for a limited number of Swiss customers. International pre-orders for the Voltitude are now being accepted, but final specs and price are yet to be announced. The first non-Swiss shipments will likely be made towards the end of 2011.