The Volt Regent is a classic very comfortable looking ‘sit up and beg’ city style bike. It comes fully equipped and features one of Shimano’s latest and lightest drive system, the STEPS E6100 [link to review] and a 418Wh battery. It has everything you need for get on, turn on and go e-biking; integrated LEDs, mudguards, pannier rack and kickstand plus comfort features like front fork, seatpost suspension and adjustable handlebar stem.
Volt is a relatively small UK company but has been in the e-bike business a good few years. It has earned itself a good reputation in the process and built up an impressive dealer network.
It began producing hub motor models, many with impressively large batteries, but for the last few years has also been rolling out Shimano STEPS powered models. Current models Axis (folding), Swift, Connect and Infinity featured earlier incarnations of the Shimano STEPS motor system – extremely capable but not taking advantage of the latest motor technology. The brand new Regent takes things a step further and keeps Volt bang up to date by introducing Shimano’s most recent commuter-orientated mid-drive motor system, the E6100.
So Many Drive Systems...
If you are an e-bike drive system nerd you might want to skip this section but if not this bit of background might be helpful. There’s somewhat of an arms race going on between mid-drive manufacturers, with a proliferation of new city-style mid-drive motor systems emerging from all the main manufacturers. Shimano and Bosch in particular are going toe to toe by pushing the envelope in terms of lightness and silent running.
The Volt Regent uses Shimano’s E6100 motor system which is more powerful - on paper at least - than its younger sibling the E5000. You get 60Nm of torque compared to the E5000’s 50Nm, though the E6100 is a little heavier at 2.88kg vs 2.5kg for the E5000.
These two units are directly competing with Bosch’s Active Line and Active Line Plus mid-drives and ebiketips tests so far [link to 6100 review] indicate the Shimano family of city drives are at least as good as the Bosch competitors.
The E6100 has a removable centrally mounted display with control buttons easily accessible by your left thumb. It has a good range of data including range estimator, cadence, average and max speeds, odometer, trip distance. There’s a power meter showing how much power is coming from the motor in the form of a rising and falling bar, which is handy if you want to try and conserve battery capacity.
The frame design is notably more sit up and beg than many of Volt’s other city bikes, giving it a Dutch feel; it’s dead easy to step through and the swept-back moustache style bars, not seen that often on UK bikes, together with the adjustable stem mean you really can configure the bike to be sit up and beg. I found it ultra-comfortable; I particularly liked the way the adjustable stem not only allowed you to move the bars fore and aft but also allowed you to change the angle of tilt, for example so you could get less glare on the readout screen.
The Suntour NCX air sprung suspension fork gives 63mm of travel, plenty for typical urban use. It feels plush and has a lockout / rebound adjuster to allow for different road conditions.
The total weight of 24.7kg as measured on my Park Tool scales was the only slightly disappointing aspect given the new lighter motor. This is perhaps a bit unfair – this is a sturdy step-through city bike with eight hub gears, frame mounted ‘granny’ lock and an adjustable stem, all of which add weight. Sub 25kg is respectable for such a fully featured and solidly practical city ‘comfort’ bike.
The ride itself is silky smooth and the new E6100 is very quiet indeed, delivering the power smoothly and in a very natural manner. The city credentials and the quietness lull you into thinking it may not be the best hill climber, but that’s deceptive. I found myself romping up the hills on it, often changing up two gears at a time. The impressive gear range from the eight Shimano Nexus hub gears also mean plenty of hill climbing ability and efficient use of the motor. The Schwalbe Marathon Performance Line tyres with Greenguard were adequate rather than spectacularly fast, but that’s par for the course for a mid-ranking touring style tyre and they come with welcome Greenguard puncture protection which inevitably affects rolling resistance a little.
Cut out speed seemed slightly lower than some, being nearer to 15.5mph than the 16mph that you get with some other e-bikes. But unless you are on a really long tour or do regular lengthy commutes it isn’t likely to be of much concern.
Shimano makes a big marketing point about various of their mid-drive systems being Di2 compatible. They work with Di2 enabled five- and eight-speed Shimano hub gear units allowing the option of electronic and automatic shifting. Volt has chosen not to go with automatic shifting, and whilst Di2 is undeniably technically impressive and some riders may like it, I have found it just doesn’t mimic what I would feel are optimum gear change moments. Volt says it’s a cost saving measure not to include it and I think it’s good to see Volt going relatively low tech on what is meant to be a practical around town e-bike. The Infinity range is STEPS-powered and features Di2 shifting if you are really keen on it.
All the other components do their job without issues, from the bright Spanninga LEDs to the 25kg rated pannier rack (handily with older style small gauge tubing to allowing the fitting of a wider range of panniers) not to mention nice progressive hydraulic disk brakes.
It is great to see Shimano working with some of the UK’s smaller e-bike companies such as Volt (not to mention trike manufacturers ICE and bike designers extraordinaire Cyclecentric) adding diversity to the UK e-bike world. The Volt Regent is a good example of what such an approach can bring to the table; a really practical urban bike the kind of which could be seen pootling along city streets across countless northern Europe towns and cities before the advent of e-bikes; adding this quiet yet powerful and efficient drive system to a classic design transforms its capabilities and delivers a lot of e-bike for the £2399 price tag.