Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best and French company Virvolt seem to have hit upon one. A mid-drive motor, the Virvolt 900, that is easily and quickly repairable. According to Virvolt, this means lower cost repairs for buyers and a more sustainable and longlasting product that creates less waste.
We haven't tried a Virvolt-equipped bike but the stats look impressive at first sight. Virvolt state the motor-only weight is less than 3kg, whilst the 'starter' version of the conversion kit comes in at 4.8kg and 6kg for the expert. That's pretty respectable in the mid-motor stakes given that the weight of Bosch's mid-drives hover around the 3kg mark (motor only weight). The Virvolt also claims a similar amount of torque to high end Bosch mid-drives at 80 Newton metres (Nm). It comes with a 42 tooth chainring and torque sensing (no throttle option).
Unfortunately the Virvolt is currently only available in France and Belgium and is not available for self-fitting by the customer - it must be fitted at an approved centre, though there are an impressive number of these listed on the Virvolt website.
It seems Virvolt are rightly taking quality standards seriously along with sustainability as the Virvolt 900 is EN15194 certified - that means it accords with the European e-bike standard that is still in use in the UK.
> Best e-bike conversion kits - motorise the bike you already have
The starting price of €1,200 is certainly at the upper end of the conversion kit price range, but, as Virvolt point out, it still represents a relatively cheap pathway to a powerful mid-drive machine, as most ‘off-the-peg’ mid-drive e-bikes retail at several thousand euros.
With the vast majority of budget kits being made in the Far East, it's also interesting that Virvolt make the proud claim that their product is made in France. What that means in practice is that it is fully assembled in France by the Renault Group in Flins-sur-Seine in the Yvelines region. Inevitably it uses components sourced from around the world but Virvolt - along with the French government - want to move in the direction of using more and ideally exclusively French parts.
Yet another interesting facet of the new Virvolt mid-drive is its use by the Bordeaux brand Jean Fourche alongside the repairable Gouach battery which we have already covered.
The conversion kit is claimed to fit 98% of bikes. This certainly sounds plausible as the majority of bike frames use the threaded bottom bracket system which has a few standard measurements (high end road bikes using a pressfit threadless system).