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Like a Swiss Army Knife you can ride: The Voltitude folding electric bike

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March 10, 2011

A unique system allows users of the Swiss Voltitude pedelec bike to fold or unfold it in o...

A unique system allows users of the Swiss Voltitude pedelec bike to fold or unfold it in one second, and with only one hand

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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.

The new Voltitude pedelec bike

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 new Voltitude pedelec bike

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.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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13 Comments

.. a nearly useless review: cost? upgradeable battery? wgt capacity? built-in charge controller?? Charging voltage input??

I see,with the given info, not much advantage to this device: perhaps with the carry-racks it might suffice for very short trips .. so short one might just as well decide to be healthy and actually walk! Small dia. wheels are, in my opinion, dangerous not only cuz of minimal gyroscopic stability but many pot-holes are the same size as the wheels.

tkj
11th March, 2011 @ 07:56 am PST

http://www.motorcyclenews.com/MCN/News/newsresults/mcn/2008/march/1-9/mar0408electricscootban/

an early version - but it looks better :)

Károly Hőss
11th March, 2011 @ 10:04 am PST

I think items that don't have information for consumers to purchase or even inquire about shouldn't even be published. I was interested in this item until I saw it has no specs or even a price. You get the consumer all excited and waste their time reading the article and then they get to the bottom and it basically says...'sorry, no real information on this item for purchasing'.

I currently have an electric bike that has 3 batteries. I use it not because I'm "lazy" but because as a photographer, I sometimes need to get somewhere quickly to get a shot. Tomorrow I am covering the Tico Air Show in Titusville, Florida. I just attended another airshow and found that I could not get to the other end of the air strip quick enough to get shots of the pilots doing autographs and planes flying low over the airstrip.

The drawback on this particular bike is, it's heavy and difficult to lift into my car, even with the handlebar dismantled. The seat no longer comes off...I had a nice big cushy seat put on and I had it welded. I'm 57, a female, and it's a job just getting it into the back of my SUV by myself. Getting it out is easier than getting it in.

Bottom line is, I can cover more ground with this bike than I can on foot and I don't tire as easily. Once I get tired of walking, I can't do all that I want to do, so this bike is SO helpful and a joy to have.

mharo
11th March, 2011 @ 11:13 am PST

@tkj- Apparently, you would be the only dumb ass riding a power-assisted bicycle on the streets. Clearly, this device is not meant for use on the roadway. I have never seen a 6" pothole in a sidewalk. Even so, if you can't dodge a gaping hole traveling at 15.5 mph, perhaps we should leave things to natural selection.

@mharo-I think that people should have to score above 100 on an I.Q. test before they can comment. I read Gizmag because they publish material that is at the forefront of scientific and technological discovery. When something is new, there isn't much information about it. When something is really new, you can't buy it.

What really confuses me is the purpose of your comment. Tkj obviously felt the need to berate the author while displaying his overarching scientific knowledge about gyroscopic stability. You, on the other hand, start out the same as Tkj but then write a customer review about your own electric bicycle.

dizam
11th March, 2011 @ 02:33 pm PST

Failure to address both the power needs and the ability to carry packages of potential users other than children. Electric scooters like those sold in China use standard batteries and standard motors and a drive belt and provide a front weather shield to protect the driver and passenger from dirt and water and the rear has a platform for mounting a brief case or a box to hold shopping items. A bike like the one shown is designed for kids too fat to use a normal bicycle. Basic scooter platform works and has for many decades. All that is needed is to replace the combustion engine and fuel tank with an electric motor and a battery. Form needs to follow function and the function needs to provide utility to adults as well as children.

Calson
11th March, 2011 @ 03:58 pm PST

#mharo - lose the electric bike and get a Segway. Quick, Quiet, gives you a mobile and steady platform to take photo's from - while standing about 6" higher than you normally would.

The Segway also comes with tons of "storage" options, and you do not need to lift it up into the back of your SUV - there is a Trailer Hitch Attachment that allows you to simply park the Segway at the back of your vehicle, and with the flip of a couple levers, it's off the ground and secured for vehicular travel.

Segways, if stolen, cannot be used by thieves without your distinctive BlueTooth Key, and the only way to get a "new" key is to request it from Segway Corp, who knows how to handle these brazen "requests" for keys to stolen Segways.

Check them out - most States allow Segways on public roads/sidewalks/pathways. Oh, and they are a heck of a lot more maneuvourable than any "bike", and possibly has a better range than your electric bike has.

Unfortunately, no one has come up with a reasonable, sensible, LEGAL electric bicycle that tickles my fancy - probably why I lean on my Segway and keep looking at these articles in the hope that one day, perhaps just one day, someone will invent an electric bike that makes me do a double-take.

Edwin Wityshyn
11th March, 2011 @ 08:19 pm PST

dizam777, you need to learn a few things before calling people "dumb ass." For instance, in a great many jurisdictions like New York City, it is illegal to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk and doing so will net you a very hefty fine, maybe even get your bike impounded. As for your critique of mharo, I don't see anything wrong with describing personal experiences with similar or competing products since a first-hand review of the Voltitude itself is obviously impossible. Try to act more grown up and refrain from personal attacks like "dumb ass" and "people should have to score above 100 on an I.Q. test." Your writing is unconvincing that you satisfy the latter requirement.

Gadgeteer
11th March, 2011 @ 11:52 pm PST

...then we need an huge pocket... :)

Gaetano Marano
12th March, 2011 @ 06:57 am PST

Like too many e-bikes this little cutie has no carrying capacity. How do I get 50 pound of groceries home on these machines?

Bob Kiger
12th March, 2011 @ 01:19 pm PST

@dizam, nothing to say but dis others? great life ! People are invited to share thoughts on the reviews and the items reviewed. T%hat is called feedback and sometimes its even helpfull to the site. You? not helpful for anything but ego puffery!

waltinseattle
12th March, 2011 @ 04:39 pm PST

Caution: Lithium polymer batteries are dangerous because if the case is damaged or punctured, or if the circuit draws too much current or charges too much, they catch on fire or even explode. A safer lithium battery is the so-called "LFP" type, which uses a different chemistry that has lithium-iron-phosphate. These are more stable, although they don't hold quite as much power per pound of weight. The last longer, too, which actually makes them more economical in the long run compared with cheaper batteries. I've been investigating converting a bike to have electric assist, and I've decided that either the old rugged and heavvvvy sealed-lead-acid batteries or the light-weight and long-lasting LFP are the only 2 choices that make sense at this time. Do some Google searching and read about the pro and con of various battery technologies before buying any electric vehicle.

overbyte
14th March, 2011 @ 03:06 pm PDT

Regarding not being able to purchase this item yet....I think it's fair to say Gizmag features new and emerging technologies and as such I read it with this in mind: some products are available, some showcase up and coming 'attractions'.

Christopher Littlefair
23rd March, 2011 @ 04:13 am PDT

Paul,

While writing this story for Gizmag, I'm surprised your research didn't reveal the Mobiky Youri ebike. The Volitude is essentially a Youri except the Youri is already available, weighs less and costs less than half the price.

By the way, the Youri ebike has been on display at major bike shows like InterBike since at least 2010...

Larry

RideTHISbike.com

Lawrence Lagarde
30th January, 2012 @ 10:30 am PST
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