Volt Pulse (2021) full review
Volt has updated its popular Pulse bike for its 10th anniversary. This latest model has a removable battery that’s built into the frame, not behind the seat post but retains the upright riding position and all the other features that its owners love.
It’s a hybrid at heart: built for the road but also happy on gravel or muddy paths when the route takes you off-road.
With proper gears, you can ride it like a normal bike without any assistance from the motor, but unless you’re seriously disciplined or out on a particularly long ride, you’ll be in Power mode all the way.
Features & Design
What’s great about the Pulse is that what you see is what you get. The price includes the mudguards, rear rack, LED lights and kick stand. There’s also a built-in Dutch-style lock, though the high value of e-bikes means it’s by no means a guarantee your Pulse will remain where you left it if you use that alone.
There’s a chain lock which connects to the lock on the bike itself which allows you to secure the Pulse to a bike rack but it’s worth noting that there’s no GPS or built-in SIM for tracking as you’ll find on VanMoof’s S3 and X3, plus Cowboy’s 3 and C4.
In fact, unlike those bikes with their apps and Bluetooth, the Pulse is much more like a traditional bike. You can jump on and ride it like an unassisted bike, and when you do want to use the motor, you simply need to hold the ‘immobiliser’ fob over the LCD screen to activate it after turning the system on with the button near the battery.
The battery is easy to remove for charging and is much neater now it’s integrated into the down tube rather than sitting behind the seat tube. This also means better weight distribution: it’s no longer all at the back.
As mentioned, there are conventional gears with eight Shimano cogs at the rear. That’s a good enough range for slow hill climbing as well as maintaining a decent 20-25mph cruise on the flat.
Of course, in line with UK law, the motor can only assist you up to about 16mph, but the SpinTech system does a great job of delivering power in a natural way (at lower assistance settings) so you almost don’t notice it kicking in or fading out.
Only when in High or Power modes will you really feel a shove forward, and the + and – buttons next to the display make it easy to change modes while cycling.
There’s a front suspension fork and the 2in tyres (and big wheels) really help to soak up bumps. Along with the comfortable Velo Sport saddle, the Pulse is a very pleasant, reassuring ride.
The 25kg weight helps with stability when flying down hills at speed, and the motor (manufactured by renowned Bafang) has plenty of torque for accelerating quickly from traffic lights and for climbing hills. It only becomes noisy on steep hills in High or Power modes.
That weight is only a problem when you need to lift the Pulse, either to carry it up a flight of steps or into a car. You’ll need a big car, too, as the Pulse is bulky: the front wheel is quick-release but the rear isn’t, and neither is the saddle: you’ll need to grab an Allen key from the included toolkit to adjust its height or remove it entirely for easier transport.
Fortunately, the stopping power from the Tektro hydraulic brakes is immense, and being hydraulic rather than cable operated means they have a wonderful feel to them.
There’s another useful feature: a lever just under the display which can be used to help you start from a standstill, or reach top (assisted) speed while cycling along – useful for overtaking other cyclists in particular.
Price & Availability
The Pulse comes in one colour - grey - and two frame sizes: 18- and 20.2in. The smaller frame has 27.5in wheels and the larger, 28in.
They cost the same: £1949, and as it’s currently available only to pre-order, you can choose to pay a 10% deposit instead of the full amount up front.
There’s also a choice of battery capacity: standard (up to 60 miles) and X-Large (up to 80 miles). That adds a bit of extra weight, as you might expect, as well as £200 extra on the bill. Most people will be fine with the standard one.
The bikes are not available to buy in the US or Australia.
It's worth noting that the manual includes a car-style service section which you need to get stamped up for the two-year warranty to remain valid.
For alternatives, see our roundup of the best electric bikes.
With top build quality and good specifications, the Pulse is a great e-bike. It may be heavy, but that’s true of many e-bikes, and don’t forget this one has extra weight from all the included accessories.
It’s great to ride and has a competent motor, though you’d expect that at this price. What it’s missing compared to the similarly priced VanMoof S3 / X3 is theft tracking. There’s no app either, but many riders see this as a benefit rather than a negative.
Given how close it is in price to the VanMoof S3, you'd be forgiven for choosing that instead: it does offer a few more features for tech lovers. But if you prefer the Pulse's styling and the fact it doesn't require a phone app at all, it's a fine choice.
Volt Pulse (2021): Specs
- Frame: 18 or 20.2in Lightweight Aluminium, 6061 T6
- Fork: SR Suntour NCX Tapered
- Weight: 21.5 kg without batteries / 24.7 kg with battery
- Frame Size: 18 or 20.2 inches
- Tyres: 27.5in / 28in Schwalbe Puncture Resistant
- Seat: Velo Sport Comfort Saddle
- Gears: Shimano 8 Speed ALIVIO
- Brakes: Tektro Hydraulic Brakes
- Lights: Front and rear Spanninga LED (battery powered)
- Motor: 250 Watt SpinTech™ with Bafang MotorMax
- Speed: With electrical assistance: 15.5 mph or 25 kmh
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