Montanara Volta Is The World's Lightest Electric Bike

Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular, and as they are, the technology that goes into their making is improving. The motors are getting more powerful and smaller. The bikes are being fitted with more "smart" features. They are also getting lighter, and the lightest of them all is the Montanara Volta.

Montanara VoltaMontanara Volta

Lightest Electric Bike Ever

Weighing only about 17 pounds, the Montanara Volta is 4.5 pounds lighter than its lightest competitor, the Vivax Veloce. Compare that to a race-legal road bike, which has to be at least 14.99 pounds, and you'll understand why this bike is special--not only is it designed as a mountain bike (they tend to be heavier than road bikes), it also carries the added weight of a motor.

Designer, Jean-Pierre Schiltknecht, lives by the motto, "weight reduction is vital to peak performance," and his stint at designing electric bikes has lived up to that. In 1995, he designed the world's lightest mountain bike, weighing only 12.9 pounds (the bike made the Guinness Book of World Records), and in 1998 he designed what was then the world's lightest electric bike, weighing 21.4 pounds.

Now, after countless hours at the drawing board and working with various motors, drive systems and controllers, he has surpassed the 1998 design with an even lighter bike. Not only is the Montanara Volta lighter than the '98 design, weighing in at precisely 16.9 pounds, it is designed to take on rugged terrain and off-road trails. 

Jean-Pierre Schiltknecht With His VoltaJean-Pierre Schiltknecht With His Volta

Montanara Volta's Components

The biggest challenge with the design of the Volta was implementing a motor and drive system that would be efficient enough to power the bike without weighing it down. Schiltknect didn't want to use an electric hub motor, because the low RPMs of the hub wouldn't be efficient. However, since he chose an ultra-light frame (a Scott Scale with the lightest components on the market), he had to address how a high torque motor would affect a light frame. 

Schiltknect chose to mount the motor just above the bottom bracket of the bike, directly affecting the outer chainring. The motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and it is controlled by a push button throttle that looks like a bike bell. Schiltknect actually made a battery of his own that extends the riding mileage (you could ride up to 120 miles with his "homemade" battery). 

There are really no other technological perks to this bike--any added technology would only weigh down the bike. The Volta was designed for 100% off-road use, so it could be a nature lover's best friend for touring trails. 

Volta's MotorVolta's Motor

You won't find the Montanara Volta for sale anywhere. Schiltknect designed and built one, and that single bike cost over $15,000 to bring to existence, and he enjoys the perks of the lightest electric bike in the world himself.