Electrical bikes, like automobiles, are available in tiers of high quality and status. Reliable commuter bikes begin at round $1,000. At $1,500, they begin to look good, with batteries and motors built-in into the general aesthetic. Above $2,000 you begin seeing glossy designs, superior electronics, and a preponderance of high-end or unique elements. On that scale, VanMoof’s premium costs have made it the BMW of e-bikes.
VanMoof is now taking preorders for its latest pedal-assisted electrical bikes: the S3 and X3. They’re follow-ups to the full-sized S2 and compact X2 theft-defying e-bikes launched in 2018 and two of the highest-rated e-bikes we’ve ever examined.
Regardless of an identical look, VanMoof says the S3 and X3 are “an improve to the S2 and X2 in each means,” but they value $400 to $1,400 much less than VanMoof’s earlier generations of electrics. Priced at $1,998 / €1,998, VanMoof is aggressively setting a brand new entry level for premium e-bikes that may value nicely over $3,000.
Higher and cheaper? That’s a daring declare that I put to the take a look at for every week in VanMoof’s European house metropolis of Amsterdam.
The S3 and X3 fashions are basically the identical underneath the “hood,” differing solely by body sorts and wheel sizes. The S3 is designed for riders ranging in dimension from 170 to 210 cm (5 ft, 7 inches to 6 ft, 11 inches), whereas the compact X3 matches riders from 155 to 200 cm (5 ft, 1 inch to 6 ft, 7 inches). Each can be found in “gentle” (white with a bluish tint) or “darkish” (darkish grey) fashions. I’ve been using a darkish S3 mannequin for the final week.
The S3 and X3 function quite a few enhancements, headlined by the next:
- New four-speed digital gear shifter
- Extra highly effective and instant Turbo Enhance
- Smaller and practically silent 250W / 500W front-hub motor
- Entrance and rear hydraulic disc brakes for extra correct braking and fewer upkeep
Let me put it plainly: the S3 is probably the most subtle experience I’ve ever skilled on an e-bike. Shifting is extremely clean the overwhelming majority of the time, with out requiring a pause between downstrokes just like the $5,000 Gocycle GXi. Often, perhaps one out of each 50 shifts, I felt my ft chase the brand new gear for a few third of a revolution, or I heard a mechanical “clink” because the gears superior. In any other case, it was silent and wonderful, permitting me to pedal together with fixed strain because the gears shifted beneath me, at all times returning to first once I stopped. The VanMoof app means that you can tweak the “shift down” and “shift up” moments, however the defaults felt excellent for me. I used to be blissful to have that fourth gear, too, one thing I missed on the Gocycle’s digital three-speed as soon as I acquired the GXi transferring quick.
VanMoof’s earlier two-speed computerized shifter was purely mechanical, counting on a centrifugal clutch. The brand new gearbox is constructed round an electrical e-shifter. Don’t fear, I additionally examined the S3 with the motor off, and the gears continued to shift, making it simple to experience with out the pedal-assist operate, regardless of the bike’s 19-kg (42-pound) bulk. For those who do run out of battery, VanMoof tells me that the bike holds sufficient energy in reserve to function the lights and shifting till you get house to a charger.
The bike’s smaller, extra refined front-hub motor, just like the gears, can be lifeless silent, even because it pushes out 250W to 350W of steady energy (500W peak). It’s as quiet as a Cowboy. I needed to pressure to listen to it above the wind, simply making it one of many quietest motors round. And the bike is so balanced that I typically discovered myself sitting upright, palms off the grips, using with “no palms” on lengthy, lonely stretches of asphalt throughout my vary take a look at. Likewise, popping bunny hops off velocity bumps was a breeze.
Each e-bike ought to have VanMoof’s Turbo Enhance function. The button, accessible from the proper grip, is now much more highly effective and torquey, giving a near-instantaneous enhance with out feeling jerky. Push it once you need to make a quick begin, climb a hill, or overtake somebody rapidly. It’s not a throttle, however who cares?
VanMoof says that the 504Wh-capacity battery will eke out a spread of 60 km (37 miles) when using at full energy or as much as 150 km (93 miles) when using in financial system. Once I examined the X2 final year towards comparable claims, I averaged about 60 km per cost. I didn’t get that on the S3, regardless of it having the identical capability battery — however I examined with an S3 working pre-release firmware that restricted a number of the accessible energy to guard the battery. As such, I solely made it 47 km (29.2 miles) earlier than empty. I did my take a look at whereas using within the 32 km/h (20 mph) US mode (an app setting I might select after swiping away a warning that I used to be positioned in Europe), the utmost of 4 power-assist settings, and utilizing the Enhance button closely to get began pedaling or to climb hills — similar to I examined the X2. With the manufacturing firmware, my vary would have been prolonged, VanMoof tells me. My S3 charged to full in about 4 hours.
The most important criticism I’ve of the S3 applies to all VanMoof e-bikes: the battery can’t be eliminated for charging, though it may be eliminated for service. That may very well be a deal-breaker for a lot of metropolis dwellers, if your solely choice is to cost the bike in your front room. Sure, the X3 is smaller in dimension, making it simpler to maneuver by the entrance door (or right into a elevate), however it nonetheless weighs the identical because the S3, making it very troublesome to hold up any stairs.
Different new options discovered on the S3 and X3:
- New one-piece saddle and pedals (sadly, neither was prepared for me to check)
- Scratch-resistant matte finishes after house owners complained of scratching on the shiny S2 and X2 fashions. The matte gray S3 additionally appears significantly better than the shiny S2, in my view.
Happily, many of the sounds might be disabled within the app.
- New “Ding dong” horn choice sounds similar to these massive conventional mechanical bells. That’s good as a result of the previous VanMoof sonar “ping” didn’t sound like a bell in any respect, which means individuals generally wouldn’t transfer out of the best way. It was additionally embarrassing to make use of, although not as embarrassing as the brand new “get together” bell. It’s cute, however please, don’t ever use this. (You possibly can disable many of the sounds within the app.)
- New grips declare to deal with water higher (I didn’t take a look at this declare, nor do I faux to know it)
- The built-in Matrix Show on the highest tube now exhibits the gear you’re in with a dot that progresses 4 ticks throughout the show, in addition to the correct charging standing. It’s largely seen in daylight, though direct daylight can obscure it, not that it’s one thing you’ll be watching whereas using anyway. It nonetheless appears very cool.
- Fender flaps now assist scale back spray and flying particles
- New one-piece metal discs and brake calipers with the hydraulic parts built-in proper into the body for a clear look
- Extra compact 36V 4A charger
- New snap spacers modify the one-piece handlebar peak with out having to take away it
- The bikes ship in smaller packages for much less waste
- Each bike now comes with a foot pump and toolbox with wrenches, lubricant, reusable yellow restraining belt, and… confetti
- App will let you monitor your journeys later this summer season exhibiting the full variety of rides, common velocity, distance, and length
- Oh, VanMoof doesn’t use the “Electrified” identify anymore with the S3 and X3
That’s plenty of newness! It’s additionally extra alternative for issues to go incorrect over time. The VanMoof S2 and X2 had been already made from largely customized or unique components of VanMoof design, and the S3 and X3 use much more, I’m informed. VanMoof credit “industry-first full provide chain management” and the dimensions of its e-bike gross sales for serving to convey down costs. Let’s hope that additionally ensures a excessive stage of high quality management to maintain repairs to a minimal. In any other case, that 4-speed digital shifter is bound to flummox various native bike retailers.
The S3 and X3 additionally carry over a powerful listing of options from earlier VanMoofs:
- The built-in Kick Lock secures the rear wheel and prompts the alarm with a kick of the protruding button. It nonetheless requires correct alignment of the rear wheel to have interaction, which is usually a finicky maneuver, particularly at night time when you’ll be able to’t see the guides. The lock might be opened within the app or by tapping out your secret code on the Horn button mounted on the left grip (my desire). The Kick Lock can really feel gimmicky in theft-happy locations like Amsterdam the place a motorbike requires two locks to be secured, however it’s all you want in cities like Tokyo.
- The built-in alarm system slowly escalates in depth earlier than disabling the bike’s motor and begins broadcasting its location to VanMoof and the proprietor. The non-obligatory Peace of Thoughts theft restoration service prices $290 / €290 for 3 years. If VanMoof’s Bike Hunters can’t find your bike inside two weeks, they’ll exchange it with a motorbike of comparable or higher age and situation (first substitute is free, 2nd and third value $98 / €98).
- A Sensible Cartridge within the high tube internet hosting the pc, GSM and Bluetooth theft monitoring, and speaker might be eliminated by the person, as can the battery pack in a pinch, and despatched to VanMoof for servicing (as a substitute of the entire bike). It’s one thing it’s possible you’ll must do if you happen to don’t stay near certainly one of VanMoof’s world shops / service facilities in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle, Taipei, and Tokyo.
- Most cables are hidden, however two cables nonetheless snake out of the handlebar, making them inclined to snagging in bike racks. It’s a disgrace they’re not utterly hidden just like the cables on Gocycle bikes and different premium rides.
- Chunky 28-inch (S3) and 24-inch (X3) Schwalbe puncture-protection tires
- Computerized chain-tensioning system that requires a couple of drops of oil at times
- Bikes might be up to date over the air when vital
- Giant lineup of customized equipment, together with entrance (coming this summer season) and rear carriers and panniers