The Volt Pulse LS is a solid choice for getting you onboard two wheels, or even as legitimate alternative for a commute usually undertaken by car. The drive train and motor does lack the polish of the more expensive electric bike brands, but its on board integrated features mean it really is a just charge and ride bike, no matter what the weather or location. All in all its a solid electric hybrid bike.
50mm of front fork travel
Integrated lights, lock and fenders
Hydraulic disc brakes
One size and one colour only
Ride assist slow to kick in and feels unnatural
Rear rack luggage only
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When it comes to electric bike shopping it can sometimes feel a little overwhelming, with all brands professing unique selling points.
So, when the Volt Pulse LS landed with its simple manifesto of just being a great all-round hybrid, there was a lot of appeal to the stripped back message.
That's not to say that when it comes to performance and features, the Volt Pulse LS can't compete with the best electric bikes. Peel back the Volt Pulse LS headline and you'll find a great hybrid e-bike with some impressive details that punch well above it's price tag weight.
Volt Pulse LS construction
Volt has selected common-or-garden Aluminium 6061 for the frame of the the Pulse LS. Known for its lightweight properties, there's nothing specifically fancy about this construction material, but it's worth noting that it's also specced for electric hybrid bikes much higher up the price tag hierarchy, notably the Specialized Turbo Vado and the Canyon Precede:ON.
The geometry is, as can be suspected for a hybrid, it's a 'unisex' step-through - if we're needed to gender - and, according to the brand, a 15 inch one. It's not uncommon for electric bikes to come in just one size, however it is something to consider if you are at either end of the height spectrum, as the only adjustable feature is the EXA seatpost.
Upfront, the Volt Pulse LS is equipped with a SR Suntour NCT fork, which comes with air sprung forks, delivering around 50mm of travel. They can also be locked out, via a switch on the top of the right stanchion for times when you're sticking to riding on paved road, and compliance is less of a requirement.
Volt has opted for the in-between wheel size of 27.5", or more commonly known as 650b. We looked in-depth in to the differences between 650b or 700c, which is better for your gravel bike. The same benefits will reign true for running smaller wheels on a hybrid too, most obviously quicker acceleration and allowing for wider and bigger volume tyres, to that end, the Pulse LS comes with Schwalbe Big Ben rubber in a 2 inch width. This wide tyre equates pretty much to a 50c tyre, which is at least a third wider than most urban/ city bikes, and nearly twice the width of some road specific bike tyres.
What this means in practice is that you should have a good level of comfort on less than smooth surfaces, thanks to the large volume. You also get a feeling of being planted on the road or trail, due to the size of the rubber content patch - as well as potentially less of a chance of a puncturing, as the tyre will absorb more compression. On the flip side, it will create more friction, and so be a slower rolling tyre.
On-the-bike confidence also comes from the stopping power and the ability to modulate speed, which in the case of the Pulse LS is down to Tektro hydraulic discs. While they may not be a big name brand, such as the Shimano alternatives found on the Giant FastRoad E+, it's a similar level spec as the more expensive Canyon Precede:ON 5, which uses Promax DC925.
Volt Pulse LS battery and motor
On board the Volt Pulse LS is a Panasonic battery, fully integrated in to the downtube, and a 250w hub based Bafang motor.
It's not unusual to see this pairing of different brands of motor and battery in to a brand bespoke drive system, especially at this price point. It's certainly on of the big things to look out for when finding out how to buy an e-bike list.
There are two battery choices, either a 36V standard 400Wh or a 504Wh large, which should give you a range of up to around 70miles per charge, total bike mass and weather conditions depending.
250w is the legal limit on power output for a motor on an e-bike in most countries outside of America, and it's generally considered that a motor is only as good as it's drive train. On the Pulse LS, the motor and battery are bought together by SpinTech™ drive system.
This is a drive system that is part owned by Volt, in partnership with Swedish ECO-Ride and US brand Blix. The collaboration has allowed these relatively small e-bike brands to bring all their expertise together to manufacture the entire set up of motor, controller, display, battery management system and sensors.
It's a nifty little set up, that has some really nice touches, such as the Intelligence Controller, which the Spintech says monitors and learns your riding style across the four pedal assist levels, releasing power when you need it most. There's even a little thumb throttle, which while not powering the bike on it's own (that would be illegal in most countries) it gives a little extra 'va va voom' for overtaking, or getting out of a tight spot.
While it isn't a gold plated Bosch e-bike system - it doesn't have an anti-lock breaking system for a start - this model does mirror some of the brand's top-end features, notably the digital theft protection system, with the Pulse LS requiring a key fob tap on the digital display to 'unlock' the bike.
The Volt Pulse LS Ride
Having tested back to back electric Cargo bikes recently, the Volt Pulse LS felt positively lightweight and exceptionally easy to manoeuvre.
At 5' 6"-ish, I personally found the rider position comfortable, as did my 5' 9" partner, although he was probably on the cusp of being a bit too tall. I'd suggest anyone taller or much shorter for that matter would struggle getting a comfortable position in which they feel totally in control of the bike.
I loved all the integrated features, from locks to lights. I can not explain how much easier this makes any riding experience. The digital fob might seem novel to some, but as someone who still carries round a weighty D-lock even when there's one already on the bike, I fully appreciate the belt and braces approach to security.
The display is easy to read on the move, showing all you need regarding your bike's stats during the ride, as well as a tip button to look back over total riding time and distance. However, like my request of the Tern Cargo bike, I'd really appreciate a display screen for the current time, it's a - perhaps sadly - necessity when out riding, and it feels frustrating to have to regularly get my phone out to check I'm not running late.
I find the biggest influence on my joy of riding an electric bike is how swiftly the motor kicks in and how in control of the ride assist if feel once it gets going. Unfortunately on the Pulse LS both features left me wanting.
Without a huge cargo load, the slow pickup wasn't as excruciating as when on a fully loaded long-tail bike, but living in a really hilly semi-rural location means getting away swiftly from T-junctions and lights is a must and I just felt stalled and at times requiring the need to dig deep in to the leg reserves to get going.
This isn't helped by the unnatural ride feel once you are up to speed. There's no defining percentage of assistance you gain from the 250w hub-based Bafang motor, although SpinTech™ suggests it's up to 550% on up hill assents. When riding this feels like you're barely turning the pedals before it ramps up to full 15.5mph.
While some might see this as a huge perk, there's little effort required in getting from A-B, but for anyone who comes from a non-motorised bike riding background, it's feels almost out of control, as the feedback from your input doesn't seem to exist. It seems to be either on or off, and I found myself using the brakes more than merely modulating my pedalling pace.
On the flip side, this does put plenty of work the Tektro hydraulic discs way, and they do a great job in stopping, which is in part thanks to their inbuilt power cut feature. This sensor based system overrides the motor, great for when you are needing to kill speed pretty rapidly. However, it can also be attributed to the binary 'stop/ go' feel of the ride.
All that aside, once you get your head around the ride feel, the bike is a stable feel, and even on the wacky hilly area of the Peak District foothills, where the bike mostly roamed, it showed zero protest at even the steepest of inclines - even the odd 25 percenters.
The rear rack is a great addition to any commuter bike, integrated straps mean that as long as you carry an appropriate zipped bag, impromptu shopping is possible. That said, having got into the habit of front loading my rucksack on the Tern Cargo bike, with contains things like my laptop, wallet etc, I found myself keeping it on my back for security of still being there when I reach my end destination.
Volt Pulse LS Value
The Volt Pulse LS has a lot going for it. In all honesty, with the bonkers prices of most electric bikes, if you are after a no-nonsenses workhorse that minimises faff in terms of getting riding without a long list of 'remember to...' in terms of locks, lights etc, then it's a great bike for a great price, at £2,074.00.
However, when riding back to back with a Bosch e-bike system, the SpinTech™ didn't have the same fineness.
That isn't comparing apples with apples though, and is a bit like comparing my Skoda Fabia with an Audi RS 3 - of course it's going to have all the bells and whistles and drive like a dream, but it'll cost me about three times the price.
Volt Pulse LS spec
- Frame: Aluminium 6061 T6
- Fork: SR Suntour NCX Tapered
- Battery and motor: Panasonic lithium, 250w SpinTech™ with Bafan Motor (Rear wheel)
- Drive train Shimano 8 speed Alivio
- Brakes: Tektro Hydraulic disc
- Wheels: 27.5 (650b) 2.00 Alexrim double wall
- Tyres: Schwalbe Big Ben 2"
- Seatpost: EXA
- Saddle: Velo Sport Comfort
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