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Voltitude fold-up pedal-assist electric bike rolls into production

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December 18, 2012

The Voltitude V1 has been dubbed the 'Swiss Army Bike' (Photo: Arnaud Lambert)

The Voltitude V1 has been dubbed the 'Swiss Army Bike' (Photo: Arnaud Lambert)

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The Voltitude fold-up pedal-assist electric bicycle (or pedelec) from Swiss company Volitude SA that first got our attention in concept form early last year has now entered production. The body of the bike, which is now known as the Voltitude V1, has received a slight redesign in shape but the bike still features the unique EasyFold mechanism that allows it to be folded or unfolded in just a second and has seen it dubbed the “Swiss Army Bike.”

To keep things simple, the Voltitude V1 doesn’t have any user-defined assistance modes, with the creators assuming riders will be after the maximum motor assistance at all times. This makes the bike a switch on and ride affair with an integrated 7-speed rear-wheel transmission that allows gear changes at any time – even when stationary.

The bike is powered by a 250 W electric motor with an integrated torque sensor that provides motor assistance up to an electronically-limited 25 km/h (16 mph) in keeping with EU regulations. The 11.6 Ah, 36 V lithium-ion battery should be good for a range of around 40 km (25 miles), depending on the terrain and amount of effort the rider is willing to exert.

The included 110/240 V external charger, which the Swiss company says is similar to a laptop charger, will recharge the battery to 80 percent capacity in four hours, with a full recharge taking six hours – these figures are based on the use of a 240 V power supply. The company will also supply the correct power cord for your particular region.

The Voltitude V1 can be wheeled when folded up (Photo: Arnaud Lambert)

With a 1,087 mm wheelbase and adjustable height seat and handlebar, the Voltitude V1 is designed to provide a ride similar to a traditional bicycle, while its 300 mm diameter high-grip scooter-type tires and positioning of the electric motor and battery give it a lower center of gravity. Stopping power is provided by Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, with integrated LED lights front and rear and reflectors increasing visibility. The bodywork can be finished in a choice of blue, white or Swiss flag red.

Unfolded, the bike measures 1,400 x 1,100 x 500 mm (55 x 43 x 20 in) and can carry a rider ranging in height from 148 to 192 cm (4.8 to 6.3 ft) with a weight of up to 100 kg (220 lb). With the standard handlebar and pedals the unit will fold down to a wheelable package measuring 700 x 950 x 500 mm (27.5 x 37.4 x 20 in), while opting for the folding handlebar and pedals halves the width to 250 mm (10 in). The bike’s weight is 25 kg (55 lb) without the battery pack and 27.5 kg (60.6 lb) with.

Voltitude has constructed the V1 from materials with an eye on recyclability. Rather than difficult-to-recycle composite materials, it has gone with aluminum for the frame, forks and wheels, with recyclable ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) for the bodywork. Critical components, including the bike’s Li-ion battery, can also be returned to Voltitude at the end of their life for recycling.

The Voltitude V1 Carbonesium (Photo: Arnaud Lambert)
The Voltitude V1 Carbonesium (Photo: Arnaud Lambert)

The company is also planning an exclusive V1 Carbonesium model that weighs in at 23 kg (50.7 lb) sans battery pack and 25.5 kg (56.2 lb) including the battery pack. The weight reductions come courtesy of a magnesium and aluminum main frame, carbon fiber front and rear levers, and magnesium forks. This model will also get front suspension with 40 mm of travel and a black paint job.

Voltitude is selling the V1 for CHF4,990 (approx. US$5,465), with shipping expected to kick off at the end of March, 2013. International orders can be made online via the source link below, with those in Switzerland also able to pick it up at selected dealers. The Voltitude V1 Carbonesium will retail for CHF7,990 (approx. US$8,760).

Source: Voltitude

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
10 Comments

I wasn't impressed when this was first announced and I'm even less so now that the details are out. Every specification is below average for a $5500 vehicle. Only 16 mph assist. Up to 25 miles. Six hours to recharge. My old ebike at almost 20 years old betters all of these and was only around $1000 back when electric bikes were new and rare. I've seen ebike companies with better products come and go, and I would be very surprised if Volitude is still in business in five years, especially in the face of competition from inexpensive, faster ebikes from China. What's the advantage of rolling a $5500 folding bike onto trains and buses when you can just keep a couple of $500 Chinese ebikes locked up at each end of your commuting route, and have $4500 left over?

Gadgeteer
18th December, 2012 @ 11:41 pm PST

Pot-holes, cobblestones, gravel, lines of ants, and other obstacles might be a real challenge for this little hombre!

Alan Belardinelli
19th December, 2012 @ 02:39 am PST

I agree with Gageteer on nearly all points. The only thing I'm not so sure about is the idea of having 2 sub-standard or unreliable low-quality bikes locked on each end of a commuter run. I would think an unattended electric bike would draw some attention.

If this were the solution, then there would be no need for folding bikes. But, as we witness, Brompton's never sold better and the innovation and market share of folders is growing constantly. Even some of my hard-core upright roadbike rider friends are starting to buy folders !

Finally, with a good folder, you can ride a comfortable, pleasant, quality machine and not worry about the theft and vandalism issues of leaving bikes locked up in various public locations.

Having said all this, I must admit that an electric folder -- at any cost -- is probably an unhappy marriage in most cases. These machines are way too heavy to carry so if they don't roll along, you don't want one.

I roll my Birdy (13 kilos) on ts front wheel without making the fork fold. I have carried my Dahon Helios SL (10 kilos) but still, not for long distances and not running. My Brompton rolls smoothly. Very nice to just push it along.

duh3000
19th December, 2012 @ 02:48 am PST

Gadgeteer, I must say I disagree with your comment.

Granted, $5500 is a bit sharp in our current US context but if all people thought like you, Rolex wouldn't sell nearly a million watches every year, starting from $6000, when a perfectly functioning Timex or Swatch can be bought for $50.

The reality is that "how much" is no longer the only question. People are more and more concerned by who makes things, why, how durable and where it's produced. And in that respect I must say I tend to trust the Swiss a lot more that the Chinese. I am really fed up of throwing away obsolete Chinese gadgets that are bad copies of American or European inventions.

From what I see, Voltitude came up with the smartest folding system and packed this into a bike that looks as cool as a Ducati. That's definitely worth a lot to me.

Rick Muller
19th December, 2012 @ 03:24 am PST

Not impressed. A suitcase style one would be better and have space for things.

jerryd
19th December, 2012 @ 08:56 am PST

Muller (re:Gadgeteer),

You shouldn't compare Rolex to the Voltitude bike. Rolex has spent a century proving it's reliability and excellence above all other watches from the get go and the wealthy are willing to spend more for the best. Rolex since the beginning outperformed all its contemporaries and has been recognized by industry experts as the best. Voltitude is doing nothing of the sort. Pros: it can fold Cons: too big to maneuver, to heavy to pick up, handles poorly, has limited assist distance and weak electrical system. Cons out weight pros to heavily too be considered innovative or demand this price. If I and many other people can build (from off the shelf parts) a better bike that folds, weighs less, handles better and goes farther for less money you can bet this bike will not be an industry leader as is. A Rolex or Ducati I can see why people pay more for but as is currently I wonder why anyone would pay this kind of money for a V1.

Matt Fletcher
19th December, 2012 @ 01:00 pm PST

I tend to agree with 'gadgeteeer', as for the same sort of money I could buy a very good electric scooter. I'd expect an electric bike to be much lighter than this - for many people 25.5 kg or 27.5 kg would be totally unwieldy to lift in and out of a car, or up steps, or whatever. Plus it's wasting energy for the motor having to haul this extra mass around.

viffer
19th December, 2012 @ 02:33 pm PST

$8,760!!!

For about $2k you can get a scooter that goes faster and weighs 10 lbs less, or a great folding regular bike that weighs about 22lbs and wheels that will safely traverse a pothole.

Michaelc
20th December, 2012 @ 08:07 am PST

good luck trying to sell that for that much, and besides wrong design, Freelance Eng.

Dave Hargraves
20th December, 2012 @ 08:54 am PST

What a joke! Worst design ever, ridiculously small wheels, hardly 'folds up' very small, weighs a ton, range is pathetic, no carrying space, WHO is going to buy this epic failure?

As for duh3000, you don't have to have "2 sub-standard or unreliable low-quality bikes" at each end of a commuter run, you can have two perfectly good, very reliable bikes for about £30 - £50 each, if you just look for second hand bikes in your area.

Or buy ANY other folding bike, which will be better than this pile of garbage.

How does rubbish like this ever get past the concept stage?

packoftwenty
26th December, 2012 @ 01:25 am PST
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