VanMoof S3 e-bike assessment | Bicycle owner
Two sensible electrical bikes, every in a single measurement, and offered out of devoted city-centre retailers. With such a restricted vary, no quantity of slick advertising or intelligent app-design goes to save lots of VanMoof if its bikes suck.
Fortunately, this third-generation mannequin is as near good an e-bike as you’ll discover.
On the day I collected the VanMoof, the streets round its posh Covent Backyard store had been buzzing with individuals attempting out its wares. I’m offering this scene-setting solely as a result of it’s price noting VanMoof has gone all-in on buyer expertise.
Producing only a pair of bikes and promoting them at quantity via devoted shops, it’s a drastically completely different enterprise mannequin to the sprawling ranges supplied by many different retailers and types. Now concentrating solely on e-bikes, I’ve tried a number of of its earlier machines, discovering each tons to love and likewise a couple of less-pleasing quirks.
Crucially, at over £3,000, the outdated S2 was overpriced and under-specced. Nonetheless, with hydraulic brakes, instantaneous smart-locking and computerized gearing, the brand new VanMoof S3 mannequin packs in higher options, but manages a diminished value of £1,798.
Having now introduced virtually all manufacturing in-house, VanMoof says it’ll must shift 100,000 of them to interrupt even. Given my expertise, I reckon they’ll have loads of takers.
Moreover styling, VanMoof’s key expertise has all the time been its sensible integration. The S3 builds on this custom to supply four-speed computerized shifting, in-built lights, anti-theft monitoring and a proximity-based immobiliser.
Driving the whole thing ahead is a captive 504Wh battery and 250 watt entrance hub motor, whereas stopping the bike are uprated hydraulic disc brakes.
In case your first go on an e-bike felt like a leap into the long run, the S3’s sensible app-integration and computerized gearing really feel as in the event that they push issues ahead a couple of many years extra.
First, the bike unlocks by way of the app or a keycode tapped in on the handlebar. As soon as activated, a show on the highest tube offers you all of the important stats, which may also be tracked and adjusted by way of the interface in your telephone.
Mechanically, issues are simply as slick. For starters, as soon as powered up, the bike’s four-speed hub will robotically shift gears.
Adjustable by way of the app to match your model of pedalling, it means you’re usually in the appropriate gear; no mind energy required. The system will even shift when the bike is static, so that you’ll all the time be prepared to drag away from the lights.
With variously adjustable ranges of help, apart from the grip is a lift button. Push it and also you’ll get most help to pull your self up the steepest hills or zoom off from stationary. Simply be warned, these with poor impulse management could have to withstand the temptation to go away it completely pressed, as doing so will quickly rinse via the battery.
Fortunately, if you happen to do handle to flat it, working beside the principle powerpack is a smaller second unit which all the time retains sufficient cost to activate the bike’s lights, gears and sensible options. This implies you’ll by no means end up locked out and it’ll additionally energy the bike’s GPS tracker ought to it go lacking.
For all of the S3’s intelligent controls, the bike’s motor itself is a reasonably normal entrance hub mannequin. This appeared cheeky when it price greater than £3,000, however in actuality, it offers away little in comparison with costlier mid-mounted alternate options and is respectable sufficient given the brand new price-point.
Powered by a captive 504Wh capability battery, its claimed vary of 60-150km appears about proper, as did the cost time of 4 hours.
Options and safety
Regardless of being a worthwhile bike, the S3 is maybe the least nickable machine I’ve ever ridden. For a begin, the typical mechanic would wrestle to set about disassembling it. Its wheels bolt-on utilizing unassailably safe keyed nuts, whereas the saddle additionally adjusts with a recessed Torx key.
The bars and stem are one-piece, the lights inbuilt, and also you’d have a tough time prying off the brakes.
Assuming it stays in a single piece, with a GPS tracker hidden inside if somebody manages to separate you from the bike, VanMoof additionally affords a three-year insurance coverage and restoration programme for £270. This implies if its bike-hunters can’t retrieve your bike, they’ll change it with certainly one of the same situation.
Not that nicking it within the first place can be straightforward. When leaving it on the road, the S3 has a motion-sensitive alarm that will get progressively louder, whereas flashing a cranium and crossbones at anybody fidgeting with it.
It additionally has an extremely intelligent immobiliser. Activated by kicking a button beside the rear hub, this activates the alarm, whereas locking the rear wheel. In the event you’re glad leaving your Bluetooth on, each will be robotically deactivated based mostly in your proximity, letting you hop on and journey straight off.
Built-in into the bike’s body are highly effective 40 lux lights, which swap on robotically because it will get darkish. At all times simply on the appropriate aspect of gimmicky, the S3 additionally options an digital bell you’ll be able to swap between ding-dong, submarine or occasion horn modes.
Much less high-tech, however simply as welcome, an enclosed chaincase, mudguards and a kickstand are included as normal, whereas a rack is accessible as an additional for a further £55.
With a relaxed head angle and lengthy wheelbase, the S3 feels considerably like a lightweight electrical car. But turning off the motor reveals it rumbles forwards comparatively effectively regardless of its 19kg weight.
Combining an upright entrance finish and backswept bars, it supplies a strong perch from which to survey site visitors. With out suspension, consolation is supplied by way of enormous Schwalbe Massive Ben puncture-resistant tyres which let you level it at most surfaces. With nothing to rattle, this implies it’s glad barreling over cobbles or taking much less well-paved routes.
When automotive advertisements use the time period ‘for safer overtaking’, I assumed this was code that you might drive it like a jerk. Nonetheless, the S3’s increase button did present the additional torque to assist safely navigate site visitors, particularly when overtaking or accelerating. Though adjustable, the help tends in the direction of the fully-charged, a trait that’ll go well with most customers.
Growing security over the earlier model, the newly hydraulicised disc brakes are greater than ample to cease the bike in all situations.
It’s bikes just like the VanMoof that’ll attain demographics biking has beforehand missed. Going again to the thought of the bicycle as unbiased private transport and reimagining it for the modern-day; using and working it feels easy.
Each its electronics and mechanical bits are hidden away, leaving you to get on along with your journey. There’s no sweat, there’s no grease, and there’s little or no to go fallacious.
It’s so self-contained, individuals used to standard bikes is likely to be just a little spooked. And the S3 in all probability isn’t the e-bike almost certainly to attraction to those who usually commute in lycra. Nonetheless, I’d problem anybody to journey it and never discover it a massively pleasant expertise.
As a substitute, the principle marketplace for VanMoof might be most of the people. Take anybody who can already stability on a motorbike, however doesn’t use one as a lot as they’d like and I assure they’ll wish to purchase the S3.
Forgive the London-centric instance, however now it’s cheaper than a yearly Zone 1-4 travelcard, I believe lots of people will probably be doing so. In actual fact, the VanMoof S3 is so good, I reckon its predominant competitor is one other VanMoof.
The S3 I rode is offered as becoming riders between 5’8” (172.7cm) – 6’8” (203.2cm), whereas the x-framed X3 caters for these 5’ (152.4cm) – 6’5” (195.5cm), however with the X3 supplying extra standover plus an built-in entrance rack – who wouldn’t need these extras? This implies if you happen to can match on it, I’d advocate the X3.
Nonetheless, if you happen to’re determined for a standard body or exceptionally tall, the S3 will do exactly wonderful too.
So what can I discover to grouse about? Not realizing precisely when it’ll shunt the gears, you would possibly get the occasional slipped shift courtesy of the auto-change mechanism.
It’s just a little heavy, is available in a single measurement, and with an enclosed battery it’ll want to return indoors for charging. That’s it. Oh, and it’s likey to harass anybody who paid full-wack for the earlier model.
In any other case, the VanMoof S3 is fantastically slick, very trendy and near-flawless in its operation.