Finding a mid-drive ebike for less than $3000 with a CVT internally geared hub and Gates belt drive is rare. So, when I came across the VVolt Promixa, I had to share the details. VVolt is a newer ebike company based out of Portland, Oregon. They sell directly to consumers through their website, or you can purchase through MooseJaw.
First, a quick look at the Proxima:
- 250 watt (500 watt peak) MPF Mid-Drive Motor with 80 Nm of Torque
- 375 Wh Celxpert LG Cells Lithium-ion Battery
- Range 20-40 miles
- Weight 50 lbs for S/M Frame; 52 lbs L/XL Frame
- Torque Sensor
- Enviolo TR CUT Rear Hub with Stepless Shifting
- Gates CDX Belt Drive
- Hydraulic Disc Brakes, 160 mm
- 4-Levels of Assist
- Bluetooth Compatible
- USB Outlet
- Class 1 (Top Speed 20 MPH, No Throttle)
- Two frame sizes, S/M and L/XL
- 3-Year Warranty
- Price: $2699 w/Free Shipping
- Purchase Online at VVolt
After looking over the specs, it’s easy to see that this is a good price for what you’re getting. A similar bike to compare against is the Priority Current, which goes for several hundred dollars more. I’ll be writing up a comparison of these two bikes soon, but basically the Current has larger capacity battery, more torque, integrated lights, and ships with fenders. The Proxima will provide a very similar riding experience for less money.
Enviolo CVT Hub
What is great about internally geared hubs is that there is virtually no maintenance. Most bikes that I have reviewed required some derailleur adjustments out of the box, and as time goes on. Sometimes those adjustments are minimal, and other times they require a visit to the bike shop. Also, derailleurs can get bumped into or damaged. An advantage is that they are lightweight.
An advantage of an Enviolo geared continuously variable hub is that you have way more “gears” to choose from. You should be able to find that sweet spot for both cruising and hill climbing that will suit your needs, instead of dealing with a bike that you can’t get a comfortable cadence going because of poor gear ratio. A lot of ebikes suffer from this!
A con of internal gears is that they do add weight to the bike and can cause some drag when pedaling. They’re also more expensive than a derailleur.
Gates Belt Drive
The Gates belt drive found on the Proxima also has advantages of a regular chain. Belt drives are much more durable, and require much less maintenance than a chain. They’re especially good for an ebike with a mid-drive motor, since a lot of torque is sent through the chain or belt from the motor to the rear wheel. If the chain or belt breaks while riding a mid-drive motor, you’ll be pushing the bike.
An ebike with a motor in its rear or front wheel works independently of the chain, so even if the chain or belt falls off, you can still use the motor. Advantages of a mid-drive are that they are positioned low and center on the frame for great weight distribution, are more efficient because they can use the bike’s gears, are usually equipped with a torque sensor for a more natural pedaling experience, and have good torque for hill climbing. They’re usually quieter, too.
So, the Proxima is set up with a nice drive system. It checks a lot of the boxes as a city commuter. I especially appreciate the 3-year warranty, which is well above the industry standard of 1-year.
Some cons of the Proxima are that it doesn’t have fenders, a rear rack, or integrated lights. It does come with rechargeable lights, but it would be great to have them integrated into the bike’s electrical system. It does have mounting points for fenders, a rear rack and/or front bags, but you’ll need to purchase them separately.
It also doesn’t have any suspension, but this isn’t necessarily a con. The rigid fork provides a more efficient ride, while keeping the weight and price of the bike lower. I thought I wouldn’t like an ebike without front suspension, but I love how stable and efficient my Ride1Up Prodigy is. As long as you stick to pavement, front suspension isn’t needed.
Another con of the Proxima is its smaller battery capacity. It 375 watt-hours, you’ll need to use the lowest pedal assist level to achieve those higher range estimates. I’d like to see a larger battery option in the future. If you’ll be riding in a hilly area or are a heavier rider, you might want to look for something with more range.
But, if you’re wanting an ebike that is low maintenance with some pretty sophisticated technology for a comparatively reasonable price, then the Proxima is one to check out.
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