Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Review
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Vvolt is a company that designs and manufactures electric bikes. The company was founded in 2019 by Kyle Ranson, who is also the founder of Showers Pass, a successful cycling apparel and gear brand. Based in Portland, Oregon, Vvolt aims to make affordable, easy to ride, low-maintenance, long-lasting personal mobility solutions to make getting around better for everyone. We will be testing out the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike to see how it compares to other E-Bikes on the market.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Unboxing
The Vvolt Centauri E-Bike is delivered in the standard size ebike box. The box arrived a little beat up and in places and it looks like it was taped, un-taped and re-taped. Ours either had a rough ride during delivery or it was a returned bike that was sent to us.
Notice that the box above says “open here” on the left side? Vvolt’s take on ebike unboxing and assemble is different than most. There is no need to pry out staples, struggle with hard stuck glue from the top flap or fight with getting the bike up and out of the box. It is a simple process of opening the side flap and pulling on the strap inside to slide out the entire ebike package. High praises from us on that very well thought out unboxing process.
Most all of the packaging is recyclable cardboard which is always a bonus in our book. The Vvolt Centauri E-Bike gets delivered almost completely assembled, with a quick, less than 10 minute installation of the pedals and front wheel the bike is ready to roll. We did order the Warp Core Upgrade display (more on this below), so that and the nonintegrated head and taillights do require an additional 5 to 10 minutes to install. Overall this ebike is on of the easiest and quicker assemblies that I have ever done.
As for the rough ride during delivery or potentially returned ebike, we did notice the Centauri has a ding and a scrap on the front fork. For us it was not enough to return the bike since some of our gravel and trail rides can result in more of the same, but if we were planning on keeping it as a pristine road only commuter we would have to discuss possible solutions with Vvolt.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Build
The Vvolt Centauri features an aluminum alloy frame, a 250-watt mid-drive motor, a 375wh battery, an Enviolo TR CVT rear hub with stepless shifting, a Gates CDX belt drive system, hydraulic disc brakes, an onboard computer and nonintegrated front and rear rechargeable lights. The entire ebike package weighs in at just over 51 lbs., which believe it or not is on the lighter side for an ebike.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Mid-Drive Motor
Mid-drive motors offer a number of advantages over hub motors. They provide a more natural riding experience, as they mimic the feeling of pedaling a traditional bike. They are more efficient than hub motors, as they can transfer power more effectively to the wheels. And they provide a better power output ratio when compared to a similarly spec’d hub motor, making them great at tackling hills and long distances. Their downfall, they are expensive, which in turn adds to the overall cost of an ebike.
The Vvolt Centauri E-Bike’s 250W MPF mid-drive motor is a powerful and efficient unit that provides 80Nm of torque, but it also has some minor drawbacks. At slower speeds the motor has a bit of noise and produces a very slight amount of vibration, which can feel awkward and even annoying when trying to enjoy a slow leisurely ride. At faster speeds the pedaling smooths out and the vibration and noise all but disappear. When I compare it to some other mid-drive ebikes on the market it doesn’t quite match up with the polished and quiet pedaling I have come to expect, but in fairness there is also thousands of dollars difference between those bikes.
Despite these small drawbacks, the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike’s mid-drive motor is still a powerful and reliable unit, that can handle a lot of hills and stop/start riding. It is capable of providing plenty of assistance, and it is a good choice for anyone looking to enter the mid-drive motor ebike category.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Drivetrain
The Vvolt Centauri’s drivetrain is one of its’ most impressive features. It combines the strong mid-drive motor, an efficient Gates belt drive and a smooth shifting Enviolo CVT hub. The bike comes with a Gates CDX belt drive, which is incredibly durable, grease-free and silent. Having a belt eliminates the need for frequent maintenance and chain replacement.
The Enviolo CVT hub offers stepless gear shifting across an expansive 380% range, so you can find the perfect gear for any situation. Shifting is done with the dial shifter on the handlebars in which the belt drive and Enviolo hub work together to provide a smooth and seamless shifting experience every time. The drive train on the Vvolt Proxima is a premium component that helps make this bike a versatile and low-maintenance hybrid.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Battery
The battery on the Vvolt Centauri E-bike is a 36V, 10.4Ah battery that is fully integrated into the frame and can be removed for charging. The battery uses quality LG cells and has a capacity of 375Wh. While this is definitely on the lower end for battery size and specs, it can provide up to 40 miles of range on a single charge, when using a low assist setting and the riding conditions are optimal. The battery can be charged on or off the bike using the included 2 amp charger that takes just under 6 hours to fully charge a depleted battery. Overall, the Vvolt Centauri’s battery is suitable for this bike and manages to hold its own.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Computer
The Centauri comes with a standard Xplova Display that monitors the bike’s stats and offers 4 levels of pedaling assistance up to 20 mph. But, Vvolt also offers a Warp Core Display Upgrade for an additional $100 that turns the ebike into a class 3 ebike with 5 levels of assistance and supposedly bumps the max speed up to 28 mph. I of course went with the upgrade, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t quite reach 28 mph. For me it topped out at 27 mph and offered a comfortable top cruising speed of 25 mph.
The Warp Core Display replaces the standard handlebar display and features a bright, backlit LCD screen that displays current speed, assist level, battery level, odometer, trip distance, and estimated range. It has simple controls and a USB charging port underneath to charge devices out on the ride. The Warp Core upgrade offers five levels of assistance plus a walk mode for more control over the level of aid. It is a great option for riders who want to get the most out of the Promixa and enjoy more speed on their Vvolt E-bike.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Shifting
The Vvolt Centauri E-Bike deliver a very smooth and seamless shifting experience. The Enviolo TR CVT rear hub provides stepless shifting, which allows you to find the perfect gear on any terrain. The hub has a 380% gear range, so it can easily adjust the speed to match the riding situation.
The shifting is controlled by a dial shifter on the handlebars that allows you to adjust your cadence seamlessly without any missed shifts. The shifting is very precise and responsive. Shifting gears can be done when pedaling hard or at a standstill, which is very convenient for stop and go’s and steep hills. This helps make the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike a more enjoyable and efficient ride.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Brakes
The brakes on the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike are radius hydraulic disc brakes with 160mm rotors that provide strong and responsive stopping power. As I have said before, hydraulic brakes are the way to go on all ebikes, they are low maintenance, self adjusting and consistent.
The brakes also have a motor cut-off feature that automatically stops the motor assistance when applying the brakes, preventing any unwanted acceleration. The radius brakes on the Vvolt Centauri are a high-quality component that are reliable, perform great and makes riding it feel safe.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Tires
The tires on the Centauri are 27.5” x 45mm Kenda Koast 650×45 tires that have a light tread. These tires are great for a variety of riding conditions, including concrete, paved and gravel roads and even some light trails. If my past experience with Kendra tires holds, these tires will prove to be very durable and withstand almost anything that you can put them through.
The tires provide a smooth ride and offer good traction. They also have a good amount of grip on high speed comers. And because of the low profile tread, the tires are also very quiet on bike paths so you can enjoy the ride without any annoying road noise.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Ride Experience
Riding the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike is a fun experience that combines just enough power with plenty of versatility. The small but mighty mid-drive motor easily handles hills and headwinds. The torque sensor automatically adjusts the power output based on how hard you pedal, which results in a smooth ride that feels natural and responsive. While I wasn’t able to achieve the top speed of 28 mph that the Warp Core upgrade stated, it is still plenty fast and delivers an easy to maintain top cruising speed of 25 mph, which gets me where I want to go quickly.
The most impressive feature has to be the Enviolo CVT hub that provides stepless gear shifting. No matter the terrain or how hard I was pedaling or not pedaling, I could seamlessly find the perfect gear every time to match the effort that I wanted to put into the pedals. Pair that with the Gates CDX belt drive system that is grease-free and requires almost no maintenance, all equals a drive train system that I want on every bike that I ride.
Vvolt says that the Centauri has a “Hybrid Gel Comfort Saddle”, well there isn’t much gel and not a lot of comfort. The seat is fine for short rides or if you are wearing a chamois, but if you are planning on more than a half hour in the saddle, I would consider replacing it or plan to wear some bike shorts with a chamois. I ended up replacing it after just a couple of rides.
Notably absent is a throttle lever, which activates an ebike motor without pedaling. For the large majority of ebikes on the market, that has become standard fare. And I found myself reaching for the non-existent throttle more than once on the Centauri. They are great to have for takeoffs and tight trails, but not including one on the Centauri is by no means a deal breaker, it just would have been a nice addition.
Overall the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike is easy and enjoyable to ride and it provides plenty of power to make hill climbs a breeze. Vvolt was able to design the Centauri with some nice features that all work well together. Delivering a mid-drive ebike package that keeps that natural bike riding feel and is well balanced from the standpoint of price and premium components.
Vvolt Centauri E-Bike Specs
- Frame: Lightweight 6061 Aluminum Frame and Fork
- Fork: Vvolt Alloy 15mm Thru-Axle w/ fender and accessory mounts
- Headset: Zerostack-style integrated sealed bearing, 1.125-1.5″ tapered
- Cranks: Alloy, 170mm
- Shifter: Enviolo Twist Shifter w/ Indicator
- Front Hub: Sealed Bearing, 15x100mm Thru-Axle Disc, 32h
- Rear Hub: Enviolo TR bolt-on, 32h
- Motor MPF6C – 650w Max power 80nm max torque
- Belt Drive Sprocket Gates CDX, 50t
- Belt Drive Rear Cog Gates CDX, 22t
- Drive Belt Gates CDX, 122t
- Computer: Xplova by Acer -LED Display, Bluetooth Compatible w/ USB charging port
- E-Power Battery: 36V 10.4Ah Integrated Battery 375Wh
- E-Power Charger: MPF e-Bike Battery Charger 36V2AP, 100-240V Output 36V/2A CC-CV
- Spokes: 14g Black Steel
- Rims: Lightweight Alloy 650b Disc Specific
- Brakes: CStar Radius Hydraulic, 160mm rotors
- Pedals: Plastic platform w/reflectors
- Handlebar: Alloy, 31.8 clamp, 520mm width, 20mm rise x 10° sweep
- Grips: Dual-Density Locking
- Stem: Alloy, 31.8 clamp, 80mm length x 10° rise
- Seat: Hybrid Gel Comfort Saddle
- Seatpost: 27.2 x 350mm
- Extras: Mini bell, USB-chargeable front and rear light set, and rear-mounted kickstand with adjustable foot
- Warranty: Three Year
Final Thoughts on the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike
The Vvolt Centauri E-Bike is a great choice for riders who are looking to get into the mid-drive ebike motor category. The Centauri has a quality build with great components that offer an efficient and natural ride. If you are looking for a reliable commuter that has easy to use shifting and performs well on hills, the Vvolt Centauri E-Bike is worth taking a look at.
For more info on the Centauri and other Vvolt e-bikes, visit www.vvolt.com.