There's a fair bit you can tell about a bike from 60 miles of riding, but nothing compares with long-term experience. As luck would have it I was joined for a couple of miles on my test ride home by a seasoned Volt Pulse user, a veteran of three years and 6,000 miles, he had spotted the newer model I was testing and caught up to say hello.
My companion told me he'd originally ‘gone electric' after suffering health problems. Since then he has commuted the 20 mile round trip to work and back most days. The original battery, he told me, was still just about up to snuff, although on cold days it was touch and go, so he'd be replacing the unit this winter. His only complaint was a bad experience with a grumpy bike shop owner who refused to fix a puncture on account that it would mean removing the rear wheel and disconnecting the motor (a simple matter of pulling apart a cable connector).
Would he buy another one? Absolutely he said. Volt is a good company and it looks after its customers, he went on, although he'd probably go for a model with a crank drive motor rather than the Pulse with its rear hub unit next time around.
"I can't believe I don't see more of them around," he said as he waved goodbye.
While the situation is changing, e-bikes have yet to reach critical mass here, unlike say Germany where they make up 40 per cent of all cycle sales. In this country they are still viewed with suspicion. A cycling colleague refused an offer of a spin on my test bike as if he feared it might steal his soul.
Anyway, onto the review. First things first, the Pulse is a very nice looking machine indeed. The hydroformed aluminium frame is beautifully finished with barely a weld in sight. In slick gunmetal grey with subtle red flashes it turns heads for all the right reasons. The battery is tucked behind the seat tube. Though sizable it is not intrusive and the Pulse avoids the bulbous look that doubtless dissuades many a cool conscious punter from trying an e-bike.
There's no getting around the fact that e-bikes are heavy, though. Not excessively so - the Pulse weighs in at 23kg with the battery, about the same as a Boris bike - but it's not something you'd want to lug up too many flights of stairs.
Importantly, though, the Pulse does not feel heavy. In fact once up to speed it rides very much like any pedal powered hybrid or mountain bike, even without engaging the motor.
Engaging the motor is what it's all about though, and the Volt's automatic pedal assist mode proved something of a revelation. Smoothly providing power from the first turn of the cranks up to the maximum legal power-assisted limit of 15.5 mph (in fact my model was still providing a noticeable boost at 17 mph - Volt says there is a 10 per cent tolerance), the experience is a very natural one, almost imperceptible at times. It's like riding a normal pedal bike in the normal way but with Chris Froome's legs instead of one's own.
Aside from the automatic mode there are four standard speeds, selectable from the bar mounted console, and a thumb throttle for accelerating away from junctions, also useful when walking the bike up a slope.
While the saddle is on the hard side, it sits atop an adjustable suspension seat post and front wheel road buzz can be conveniently dialled out using the adjustors on the Suntour NCX forks. Meanwhile the Shimano M375 disc brakes feel solid and reliable. The battery seems good for the 60 miles or so per charge claimed by Volt, and if it lasts for three years of daily use that seems reasonable (a new battery will set you back £330).
In fact it's hard to find anything to dislike about the Pulse. Looking to the future it might struggle on price point however. Its £1,499 tag puts it in the 'mid range' band, a category where you get very much what you pay for. But Halfords, with its massive purchasing power has started pushing e-bikes at around the £1,000 mark. How they compare I don't know, but as e-bikes grow in popularity little Volt may have a price fight on its hands.
For: Beautiful frame, quality parts, supple handling, automatic pedal assist mode
Against: Nothing much