We faced a problem!
Having produced a quality product meeting client’s specifications, we had to rely on a local courier or Royal Mail as the last link representing us making local deliveries in the Bristol area. We were continually being let down.
So how to ensure cost effective, reliable delivery consistent with our companies’ environmental responsibilities? After careful consideration the solution presented itself in the form of an electric bicycle. With limited and mostly anecdotal knowledge, which was not very encouraging; e.g. limited distance / battery life, extremely heavy / bulky design accompanied with poor performance, we commenced our market research.
Volt Bikes manufacture a range of electric bikes in various styles to suit the riders’ needs; from the mountain bike style of the ‘Alpine’ to the retro looking unisex ‘Burlington’. With its practical folding mechanism and lightweight (and unisex) design we opted for the ‘Metro’.
Delivery / handover
The delivery date brought a feeling reminiscent of Christmas Day awaiting my new BMX. With a comprehensive handover lesson from Volt Bikes outlining the cycle’s various features and basic care (although the motor and electronics are maintenance free). We all took it for a quick spin in the nearby car park to get the feel.
Designer Leticia Vega said ‘It’s a similar thrill to riding your first bike‘.
The Volt Metro’s build quality is apparent when you take your first ride. Initially it is difficult to notice a difference in the overall look and feel form a conventional folding bike, it is only when you engage the throttle that you understand just how ‘nippy‘ it can be. When starting off you need only pedal for a couple of turns, the motor kicks-in and you’re away.
‘Feels like someone’s giving you a push‘ Lucie Wise.
Handling and control
Controlling the acceleration couldn’t be much easier. There is a small thumb shifter on the left handle bar integrated with the brake and bell. The lightweight construction allows you to use the bike with or without assistance using the conventional Shimano gearing system. Although it is heavier than a folding bike of the same size you appreciate this weight increase as the Metro gives a feeling of stability. The Velo Comfort suspension saddle, height adjustable handlebars and front suspension make no problem of the odd pothole.
Handling the bike takes a bit of getting used to as it isn’t completely the same as riding a conventional bicycle. There are a few clever little tricks we have collectively come-up with like banking slightly into the turns and using a rolling start at traffic lights (when possible).
The Electric bicycle has benefitted from some significant technological advances recently not least the introduction of:
Volt’s advanced V – Wave Technology: A simple to use LCD display that ensures you can set the bike to the exact level of pedal assistance you require, whilst communicating all the relevant information you may need like speed, trip mileage, odometer, etc.
The Volt Metro data
|Distance||40 / 60+ miles|
|Battery||Lithium-Polymer 36V10Ah – 36V16Ah|
|Metro folded dimensions||H 21″ x L 35″ x W 16″|
|Frame||17″ high grade aluminium|
|Gears||Shimano Alivio 8 speed|
|Brakes||Tektro (safety power cut)|
|LCD display||Speed / distance / battery power|
|Lights||Dutch Spanninga LED|
Out and About
The benefits of this mode of transport really become apparent with regular weekly deliveries of printed materials to central Bristol locations such as the Harbourside, Park Street and Broadmead. It is now a genuine pleasure and not an expensive chore (petrol, parking charges, and time). The beauty is being able to use routes that would be impossible in a car not to mention parking. The advanced suspension forks and seat make the Harbourside’s cobbles a smooth ride. I can use Bristol’s extensive bus lanes, cycle lanes and subways. A prime example would be delivering to UWE Bower Ashton where I can use Greville Smyth Park, the National Cycle Way and its surrounding subways to great effect, cutting-out traffic completely; alternatively in a car ‘Forget about it‘ (in the words of Tony Soprano). A slight smug feeling is felt as you overtake the Lycra clad professional cyclist as he labours up Park Street; whilst you don’t even break into a sweat.
Journey time is slashed not in the least by not having to search endlessly for a suitable parking space, with the majority of drops I can either ride directly inside or at least secure it just outside with the guaranteed Kryptonite D-Lock which was supplied as part of our package.
On a beautiful sunny day deliveries can be a joy, unfortunately we have been forced to invest in a set of waterproofs as the weather becomes less clement. With Mayor George Ferguson planning to improve cycle paths in Bristol – including the first stretches of a Dutch-style segregated cycleway and the long established Bristol to Bath cycle track as popular as it’s ever been; surely – the electric bike is quite literally the way forward.
Have we had a puncture yet? 1000km on and having been advised at handover to check tyre pressure on a weekly basis – the answer is a delighted ‘no‘.