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The new Vvolt Sirius ebike is a versatile pedal-assisted electric bike with an air sprung suspension fork for smooth riding on rough roads and moderate trails. It ships direct to consumers.
To get us a closer look, Vvolt shipped Man Makes Fire a Sirius review unit. After setting up the ebike and taking it out on the road and on some bike trails around town during the testing process, this is what we learned:
Sirius eBike Review: Vvolt
The first thing you need to know about the Sirius ebike is that, while Vvolt is relatively new to the ebike space, Vvolt is run by the same people behind Showers Pass. Showers Pass is a Portland, Oregon-based company that makes high-quality cycling clothing. I’ve tested and reviewed the company’s waterproof jackets, merino shirts, and cycling shorts . . . and it has all been of excellent quality and thoughtful design.
I like to choose gear from trustworthy companies that truly care about their products, and I believe Vvolt cares about its products and the consumer experience.
In addition, you can usually tell a company’s attention to detail when you look at the details of the overall design of its products. Most cheaply made gear has poor overall designs that appear cobbled together through luck or accident. In contrast, Vvolt’s first round of ebikes have sweeping classic cycling lines that somehow manage to look fresh and agile: Vvolt’s ebikes look like bikes you want to ride. I appreciate that a lot.
When you look a little closer, you might notice how much Vvolt cares about the entire bike beyond the sweeping curves of the sleek frame: Vvolt’s component choices deliver a surprising level of refinement in a competitively priced package.
Meanwhile, to help with new ebike consumer peace-of-mind, Vvolt offers a 3-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects with no mileage limitations. Many competitive ebike manufacturers have just 1-year warranties.
Why Choose the Vvolt Sirius?
Vvolt currently offers four ebike models, and the Sirius is the do-it-all version designed for comfortable travel on rough roads and moderate trails. Its defining characteristic is its air-sprung front fork with a generous 100mm of travel. While it’s not designed for truly gnarly trails, big hits or sailing off monster drops, the Sirius has versatile tread and a front fork that can soak up cracked pavement, gravel roads, and the occasional drops and hops around sidewalks and curbs.
During my testing period in December in Idaho, we were hit with a more-than-usual snowfall, which blanketed the moderate trails I had planned to ride on at lower elevations. However, I was able to work some steep hills, sidewalks, and in-town trails to get a feel for the Sirius. It has a relatively upright riding posture similar to classic mountain bikes and some of today’s flat-bar gravel bikes. Its 27.5″ tires roll well in urban environments . . . and the torque-sensing, power-assisted pedaling makes it feel nimble and fast.
The Sirius is a great choice for anyone looking for an ebike to take them over gravel roads, moderate trails, and plenty of pavement without trouble.
The Sirius Power System
The Vvolt Sirius uses a 250w MPF mid-drive motor with 80nm of torque and up to 500w of peak power. The removable 375wh battery, which is sleekly nested into the frame, charges in 5.5 hours. Real-world usage should get you 20-40 miles of range on a single charge. Your range will depend on your own weight, wind, hills and the level of power assist you choose.
The Sirius is a Class 1 pedal-assisted ebike, which means it delivers power when you pedal it, up to 20 mph. (You can ride faster than 20 mph, of course, but the motor won’t help you gain speed beyond 20 mph.) In case you’re wondering, most ebikes come in three ebike classes that states and cities use as they make ebike cycling regulations:
Class 1 ebikes offer pedal assistance with a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
Class 2 ebikes are throttle-assisted but have a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Class 3 ebikes are pedal-assisted and do not have a throttle but do have a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
Usually Class 1 ebikes can be ridden in most cities and on most trails — just like regular bikes. Class 2 and Class 3 ebikes are more likely to have more regulations around their use, usually around traffic or congested trails.
Note: Some manufacturers will build variations that don’t fit into these classes — consumers are supposed to learn their own ebike regulations in their areas and figure out what’s technically legal. For instance, some ebikes designed with throttles and higher top speeds could require registration in your city just like mopeds.
Incidentally, Vvolt offers an optional upgrade to the Sirius that will turn it into a Class 3 ebike. The upgrade will let the pedal-assist deliver power as you pedal up to 28 mph.
So how fast does 20 mph feel, which, compared to cars, doesn’t seem all that fast? If, for example, you’re riding 20 mph on a flat paved biking trail, you’re going to easily pass most other riders on traditional bikes — and you won’t even be pedaling hard. Let’s put it this way: You will feel much faster on the Sirius than you will on a traditional bike. In addition, while my traditional lightweight gravel bike is fast and nimble, the much heavier Sirius will leave it behind — especially when it’s time to climb a hill.
4 Levels of Power
Operating the Sirius is super simple. First, you can choose between 4 levels of power and a walk mode. The higher the number, the more boost delivered.
No matter which level you use, a built-in torque sensor automatically adjusts assistance based on how hard you pedal. This means that when you first start out, the system reacts in a smooth, balanced way. Likewise, if you’re leisurely pedaling along, all you have to do is pedal a bit harder to create a bit more assist. The Vvolt Sirius is super smooth, intuitive, and just delightful to ride.
I was curious about how well it would work in tight slow turns — say, turning around on a bike path, narrow gravel road or navigating a tight bend in a trail. The Sirius power system was never jumpy — just available no matter how fast or slow I was pedaling. You can credit the excellent torque sensor for this. (Torque-sensor equipped ebikes, by the way, are generally better than ebikes that have cadence sensors.)
Furthermore, I never felt off-balance or surprised using the pedal assist at any speed. No doubt the overall geometry of the Sirius frame and riding position also have something to do with this.
The Sirius uses a proven Enviolo TR rear hub. This closed-hub design does away with traditional sprockets and a rear derailleur — all the shifting is done inside the hub. It has a 380% stepless gear range that’s incredibly smooth and silent.
Question: If the Sirius delivers more pedal assist as you yourself pedal harder and faster, do you really need to shift?
When biking over level and mostly level ground, you won’t need to shift much at all. But when you want to climb long or steep hills, you can manually twist the Enviolo grip shifter to give you much more efficient mechanical advantages. This can help you achieve more speed as well as use your battery more efficiently.
The Enviolo grip shifter features a small clear window with a stick-like image of a cyclist on flat ground. As you shift down into lower gears, the image changes to reflect a rider riding up an increasingly steep hill. This is an ingenious mechanical indicator that lets you know which gear, so to speak, you’re in. If the rider is on a hill, you’re in a low gear ready to climb. If the rider is on flat ground, you’re in a high gear ready to go fast.
Unlike traditional bikes, you can also shift at a complete standstill or even while coasting. So, if you stop on a hill or just after climbing a hill, you can shift to a more optimal gear ratio without needing to pedal like you would need to to move a traditional chain to a new gear.
Belt vs Chain
Speaking of a traditional bike chain, remember the Enviolo TR rear hub? Vvolt uses it with an ultra-low maintenance Gates CDX Belt Drive, Cog and Sprocket with a Gates CDX Belt.
The belt is smooth and silent and attracts less dirt than chains. It also doesn’t require any chain lube.
What about longevity? It should far outlast a typical bicycle chain. In case you’re unsure, remember that cars and trucks use belts with their engines. Automobile belts operate for tens of thousands of miles under high heat conditions with many many more revolutions than you’ll ever put on a bicycle belt. Belts are tough.
Hydraulic Disk Brakes
The Vvolt Sirius comes with hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors. This is good and it reflects the consistently smart design and component choices found throughout the Sirius. In my testing, the brakes have good stopping power, which is critical for ebikes. Why? If you’re riding an ebike, you’ll likely be moving faster than you normally would on a regular bike. This means you’ll have less reaction time when you need to stop suddenly. If you need to stop quickly, you want smooth but powerful brakes, and hydraulic brakes are usually smoother and more powerful than other brakes.
In addition, ebikes are heavier than regular bikes so you’ll also want hydraulic disc brakes to help stop the extra weight — especially if you end up adding racks and hauling cargo.
Super Easy Shipping & Assembly
It’s now quite common for retailers and manufacturers to ship bikes directly to consumers. Better yet, bike manufacturers have figured out how to ship mostly assembled bikes that require very little assembly.
Arrives nearly fully assembled.
Only the front wheel and pedals need to be installed out of the box.
Vvolt has an impressive packaging and assembling system. The bikes ship 97% assembled upright in a narrow cardboard box — with the handlebars already attached. Basically, all you have to do is install the front wheel and the pedals. Check out the Assembly Video at Vvolt to get a sneak peek.
To steady the bike, Vvolt includes a triangular section of cardboard packaging that will hold the front tire upright for you while you attach it to the front fork. It works surprisingly well. I was able to assemble the bike easily on my own. However, you should remember that ebikes are quite a bit heavier than standard bikes. The size L/XL Sirius weighs 56 pounds. That’s not bad for an ebike, but you will be startled if the bike starts to tip during the assembly process because you’ll soon realize that it’s not an ordinary bike.
Weight and Walk Mode
Because ebikes have big batteries and motors, they’re heavy. Weight is definitely a drawback to ebikes. While you can pedal most every ebike if the battery runs completely down, it will feel like you’re pedaling a heavy bike. There’s no getting around that. And the same goes for pushing an ebike. However, the best ebikes also include “walk modes,” which let you walk your ebike with battery assistance. It’s easy to walk an ebike in walk mode — and you might even use this mode if you need to take your ebike up a flight of stairs.
If you find yourself in a walk-only zone in a city or on a college campus, the Sirius Walk Mode will also come in handy.
So now you know that the Vvolt Sirius is a smooth, well-designed ebike — and it’s offered at a very competitive price point. However, you might be wondering if an ebike is right for you? Would it be better to spend less money on a more traditional do-it-all mountain bike?
In my mind, if you routinely avoid riding a regular bike because of hills or longer bike commutes than you have time for, an ebike is a very good choice. You’ll be able to zoom up hills that would have been a struggle on a traditional bike, and you’ll be able to cruise on the straightaways with ridiculously little effort. What’s even better is that it will still feel like you’re riding a bike — it’s just as fun to ride an ebike as it is to ride a regular bike. In fact, it might be more fun.
Likewise, if you’re physically unable to ride a traditional bike for very long or very far, an ebike could change your life: As long as you can still pedal and navigate on a bike, an ebike could bring you a renewed sense of freedom.
But when is an ebike not right for you? If you don’t think you’ll ride an ebike very often, and you don’t have any need to commute by bike, an ebike is probably more expensive than it’s worth. Or, at the very least, you’ll be better off starting with a high-quality entry level ebike like the Vvolt Alpha or the step-through Alpha S.
Basically, it comes down to this: If you truly want to ride your bike more . . . but don’t currently because of time and distance issues . . . an ebike is a great option that will open up new riding options.
Class 1 Controller: Xplova by Acer — LED display, Bluetooth compatible w/USB charging port
Torque sensor for pedal assist — delivers smooth, instant power
Enviolo TR rear hub with stepless shifting — enclosed, clean, super smooth to use
Gates CDX Belt Drive, Cog and Sprocket — quiet, low-maintenance
100mm travel front suspension fork — more travel than most of the in-class competition
27.5″ wheels & tires — size rolls over bumps well on trails & streets
12g rear wheel spokes — for extra durability
Hydraulic Disc brakes with 160mm rotors — smooth and solid stopping power
Controller is Bluetooth compatible with phone app
4 levels of assistance plus walk mode — customizable assist levels via app
USB-chargeable front and rear light set included — most cities require lights for night riding
Competition & Alternative Options
The ebike space has exploded with competition and widely different ebike designs. You can now find and choose ebikes for commuting, cruising, and hauling groceries, as well as full-suspension ebikes that are capable of handling the most rugged terrain. If you’re interested in the do-it-all Vvolt Sirius, here are several competitive alternatives also worth considering:
Rad Power Bikes RadRover 6 Plus – The Rad Power Bikes RadRover 6 Plus offers a gravel and trail-ready option similar to the Vvolt Sirius. The RadRover 6 Plus includes a front suspension fork, but at 60mm it only has 60% of the travel compared to the 100mm Sirius fork. The 750w geared hub motor has more wattage than the mid-drive Sirius motor, but the RadRover 6 Plus needs it: The fat-tires aren’t as nimble as the Sirius tires, and the RadRover 6 Plus is quite a bit heavier — it weighs a whopping 73.4 lbs, which is its biggest drawback. In addition, shifting isn’t as smooth via the traditional chain and rear derailleur. One benefit of the RadRover 6 Plus is the many rack and bag options you can add on to the ebike for easy cargo management.
Vvolt Alpha — Sometimes the most competitive model comes from the same manufacturer. The Vvolt Alpha weighs 10 lbs less than the Sirius yet still gives you similar looks and a similar ride. It’s powered by a rear hub motor, which still gives you smooth power assist through 5 levels. Better yet, the Vvolt Alpha S costs quite a bit less than the Sirius. Choose the Alpha if you don’t need a dirt-ready trail ebike.
VanMoof S3 — If you want an ebike that looks like a futuristic drop from an alien planet, the VanMoof S3 is for you.
Juiced Bikes Scrambler — The Juiced Bikes Scrambler delivers a gravel and trail-ready scrambler-style design with both pedal-assist and a throttle up to 28 mph. Range is up to 45 miles . . . but the similar HyperScrambler 2 with dual batteries pushes toward 100 miles.
Trek Allant Plus 9.9S — Trek has dozens of high-performance ebikes available these days, including full-suspension mountain ebikes, but the lightweight carbon-framed Allant+ 9.9S is ready for long-distance commutes. It’s quite a bit more costly than the Vvolt Sirius, but you can cruise up to 28 mph and Trek’s Range Boost battery pack can nearly double your range.
Aventon Level — The Aventon Level is an ebike aimed at commuters. One key benefit is that it comes standard with fenders and a preinstalled rear cargo rack, so you won’t have to add those accessories later. The Level isn’t as sleek and smooth as the Sirius, but if you want a pedal assist ebike with a throttle option (which may or may not be technically legal were you want to ride) the Level is worth a look.
Vvolt Sirius Review: ‘So Fun’
All-in-all, the Vvolt Sirius is a high-quality pedal-assist Class 1 ebike that can be upgraded to a Class 3 ebike if you need extra speed. The riding geometry is reminiscent of classic do-it-all mountain bikes but the sleek frame design looks fresh and lively. In fact, the Vvolt Sirius is downright handsome. The 100mm front fork softens the ride over rough ground while the torque-sensing pedal assist is smooth and powerful at all speeds. The belt drive and fully enclosed Enviolo rear hub will minimize maintenance, which is a nice benefit, particularly if you end up riding more and more often. If you choose the Sirius, you probably will. Very highly recommended.