Vvolt enters crowded e-bike market with focus on e-mobility
PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) – The potential of e-bikes didn’t initially resonate with Kyle Ranson.
“I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of those cyclists who said of e-bikes, ‘This is cheating,'” said Ranson, a lifelong cyclist.
In the years that followed, Ranson, owner of clothing company Showers Pass, changed his mind. So much so that he founded Vvolt, a direct-to-consumer e-bike company specializing in electric mobility. “It’s all about accessibility,” Ranson said. “It gives everyone a chance to enjoy what I have truly enjoyed my whole life.”
Vvolt takes orders in advance with delivery scheduled for August. It has four pedal assist models, featuring Gates Carbon Drive belts and hydraulic brakes. Two models – the Alpha and the Alpha S – have single speed transmissions with Acer hub motors. The other two – the Proxima and the Sirius – have MPF mid-drive motors, internal gearing, and Enviolo hubs. All will focus on “urban utility” with rack, fender and cargo racks and come with a three-year warranty. The electrical components will be specified by Acer, with the bikes being made in Taiwan.
Ranson believes e-bikes can be made better and, more importantly, cheaper, but still with quality components. He closely observed the electric bicycle industry in Europe and then in the United States.
“I was very frustrated, especially in the United States, with what was going on,” Ranson said. “You had either cheap and cheerful, which I don’t actually hit because cheap and cheerful will put it in the hands of people who otherwise might not be able to get it. specter, you have the traditional gamers are handing out $ 5,000 and $ 6,000 bikes that are completely inaccessible to the average person. ”
Prices for early Vvolt models will range from $ 1,399 to $ 2,699. Because he wanted to think outside the box with his line of e-bikes, Ranson’s first hire was a design engineer (Sawyer Alcazar-Hagen) who had no cycling experience.
“In the industry, the big players are always slapping the derailleurs on e-bikes,” Ranson said. “Guys, get out of your own way. They’re still stuck, that’s how it should be. And that’s one of the things I wanted to do. I wanted to change things up, so none of our bikes electric bikes will have derailleurs. None of our electric bikes will have chains. “
Ranson said a large deposit was placed in November to secure thousands of bikes this year.
“It was a roll of the dice,” he said. “Considering the environment, we were asking a lot of the factory. Most are at full capacity, and here we were asking a factory, “Can you work with us on this development? What we haven’t done is take a product and put our name on it. We designed the framework from scratch. We made it clear to our factory partner that we were serious with the size of the bond we gave them. And we worked closely with Gates and Enviolo last year. Both have been fantastic in securing supplies with us. We feel very lucky. “
Because it is a consumer-focused company, Vvolt has also thought about the packaging. Bikes will be shipped in an oversized box designed to slide the bike, which is 97% assembled with only the front wheel and pedals requiring assembly with the included multi-tool.
Vvolt also limits packaging foam and zip ties to reduce single-use plastics.
Ranson said the company is planning a model inspired by the cargo bike. The Beluga three-wheel compact electric utility vehicle concept is a versatile pedal tricycle designed for one driver and up to three passengers, or a ‘car trunk’ of party and / or groceries in the front cargo compartment.
“You don’t have to be a balance master to bring your groceries home or transport your kids,” Ranson said. “It’s kind of a cargo bike, but we’re trying to make it more accessible, not a giant thing that you need a garage for. That’s the vision.”