VanMoof S3 review: An electric bike for Apple and Tesla fans Review

Nancy J. Delong

I have to be honest. My plan of what an eBike is for and does was completely wrong. I know this simply because I’ve invested the past month or so riding the VanMoof S3, a $2,three hundred electric bicycle, placing nearly one hundred miles on it for the duration of that time. For some, that length may possibly sound trivial, but I can guarantee you the I haven’t ridden one hundred miles on a bicycle in the past 10 several years combined. 

Indeed, component of the rationale I place so several miles on the S3 about the past number of months was to take a look at out the bells and whistles (figuratively, and pretty much), but also simply because I resolved to start out exercising much more. And even although eBikes characteristic a motorized pedal-support to do some or all of the operate for you, I’ve still to appear household drenched in sweat following a lengthy ride on the S3. 

Just what will make the S3 and value $2,three hundred? I am going to try to reply that dilemma down below — but let me tell you, following employing 1 for a when, you should not be stunned if you see me cruising on 1 of my individual in the close to potential. 

The entrance wheel and motor of the VanMoof S3. 

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Do not stay close to a VanMoof retail store? No difficulty

VanMoof only has a handful of showrooms all through the US. It can be at people outlets in which you can e book a take a look at ride in areas like Seattle, San Francisco or Brooklyn. If you you should not stay in 1 of people locations, it is really not perfect, but that won’t exclude you from buying a VanMoof bicycle. 

I stay in the center of Colorado, so VanMoof experienced to ship a bicycle to me. The bicycle arrives partly assembled, requiring only the installation of the entrance wheel and pedals upon arrival. 

Bundled in the box alongside with the bicycle by itself is a toolkit with most of the tools you are going to want to do any repairs on your individual, a foot pump for airing up your tires and a kazoo — for celebrating your purchase. 

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VanMoof’s YouTube channel is whole of tutorial movies that walk you by means of the original assembly, and if you operate into hassle when proudly owning the bicycle and want to go the Do-it-yourself route, you can enjoy the movies to comprehensive any routine maintenance or repairs on your individual. 

It took me about 30 minutes to get the bicycle place together, splitting my time among checking out what all was integrated in the box, and looking at the assembly video a pair of occasions right before tackling the undertaking at hand. 

The bicycle arrived absolutely charged, and VanMoof integrated the external battery pack for prolonged variety screening. 

In addition to attaching the entrance wheel, the relaxation of the setup system required my Iphone. Actually, it involves an Iphone or Android cell phone and the VanMoof app. You use the app to regulate options, look at stats this sort of as your latest speed, ride historical past, lock and unlock the bicycle and look at its latest place. 

The Obtain My app with the VanMoof S3 added to it for Apple buyers.

Speaking of tracking place — by introducing the potential to join the bicycle to Apple’s Obtain My network, even if a person steals your bicycle, you should really have a very good plan of its latest place at any time. The bicycle will join to random Apple devices and anonymously deliver its place back again to your Apple account, enabling you to monitor it. It can be the same know-how that is designed into Apple’s AirTags, only it is really in a bicycle. Setting that features up took a number of added seconds and was dealt with by means of the VanMoof app. 

If you use Android or you should not want to belief Apple’s Obtain My network with finding a lost bicycle, VanMoof does present a  Peace of Head bundle that includes either routine maintenance, theft security or both of those. It can be dear, with the routine maintenance approach costing $348, theft security priced at $398, or a combination bundle for $690. 

Even so, if your bicycle is stolen and VanMoof won’t be able to recuperate it employing the designed-in GSM connectivity within two months, the firm will exchange the bicycle. VanMoof has a series on its YouTube channel exhibiting how its bicycle hunters vacation by means of distinct towns and find lost bikes.

The rear wheel with digital shifter on the VanMoof S3. 

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Style and technical specs

The S3 has a entrance-wheel motor with a leading speed of 20 miles for each hour and ability ranging from 250W to 350W. You can find a 504Wh LG battery that lasts any place from 37 to ninety three miles, based on how significantly you use boost or pedal support for the duration of your rides. Charging the battery takes about four hrs for a whole charge, or you can get to fifty% in about eighty minutes. 

The S3 is the major design VanMoof will make. It has 28-inch wheels, weighs forty six.three kilos, and is manufactured for riders 5-foot eight-inches to six-foot eight-inches. The X3 has 24-inch wheels and is manufactured for people among 5-feet and six-foot 5-inches for the same rate as the S3.

Each wheel has its individual hydraulic disc brake. The overall time I rode the bicycle the entrance brake experienced a little bit of a squeak to it, but it is really evidently normal for disc brakes to have a break-in period. I’ve altered the brake a number of occasions and it is really served. 

On the rear wheel you are going to locate a kick lock that prevents the wheel from relocating. If a person begins to roll off with your bicycle, a visible notify plays on the matrix screen that is on the bar close to the handlebars. The skull and crossbones icon is accompanied by a loud siren, alerting any individual close by that something is wrong. On the opposite of the bar with the exhibit, which also shows your latest speed for the duration of rides, and other info at a variety of occasions, is a really loud speaker and a ability button. When you press the horn button, an audio file is performed by means of the speaker to notify close by riders or people today.

That button with the yellow line is the kick lock. 

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The rear wheel also has an digital computerized shifting four-gear hub that takes the guesswork out of when you should really be in a particular gear. A application update for the bicycle and the app was produced for the duration of my time with the S3 that enabled manually shifting for much more manage. One widespread criticism I’ve study about the S3 and knowledgeable myself is that when the e-shifter adjustments gears, the chain will make a clunk sound. The only way I can determine out to get all-around this sound is to test and guess when the shifter is going to make a modify (it is really finished at particular MPH measurements) and prevent pedaling for a transient 2nd. Soon after a number of rides, timing this modify became virtually 2nd nature. Even so, the handbook shifting characteristic will certainly eliminate any troubles for people who want it. 

On either side of the handlebars is a brake lever, alongside with a one button. The left button triggers your assigned horn or bell sound, when the ideal button activates boost mode to maximize your cruising speed. There are LED lights on the entrance and back again of the bicycle to assist with late afternoon or night time riding. 

The style of the S3 is really minimum and feels like every single piece and component has a objective. It arrives in an all-black complete, or sky-blue. 

What it is really like to ride

Up until eventually riding the S3, I assumed that eBikes required no pedaling. You either pushed a button or throttle and just went alongside for the ride. I was so wrong. 

There are some eBikes that are like that, but the greater part of eBikes I’ve because investigated present pedal aid. Which means, the motor will turn on and assist you as lengthy as the pedals are relocating. Once you prevent pedaling, the motor stops. And when that does imply you can pedal slower than typical to reach a speed of, say, 15MPH, you’re nevertheless physically lively. 

With the S3, there are technically 5 distinct pedal support degrees. Setting the bicycle to zero turns off all pedal support, reverting it to a much more common bicycle, missing any assist from the motor. Stages 1 by means of 4 present assist up to a particular speed. Level 1 will assist you get to 10MPH when pedaling, and level 4 will keep you at 20MPH as lengthy as your feet are relocating. 

The boost button on the ideal side of the handlebars will crank the motor to whole speed, no matter of your latest pedal support level, and keep you at the whole 20MPH — once more, as lengthy as the pedals are relocating. 

When you’re at a greater pedal support level or employing the boost button a good deal, battery daily life will obviously decrease. The much less you use pedal support, the lengthier the battery will past. 

If you’ve got ever driven or rode in an electric motor vehicle, you know that there’s instantaneous torque each time the pedal is pushed. The very first time I pressed the boost button on the S3, I was a little hesitant. I didn’t know if the same torque would be present, and if I should really be keeping on for expensive daily life. As an alternative, there’s a gradual improve to the motor’s ability until eventually you reach leading speed. Under no circumstances did I truly feel like I was at risk of losing manage. 

The VanMoof S3 with PowerBank.

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My riding about the nearly one hundred miles of screening was blended, as some of the time I was riding with my household who have typical bikes, and other occasions by myself. I didn’t monitor details, but I imagine the most affordable the battery attained was all-around 30% of a charge, but with the more PowerBank, all I experienced to do was press the ability button and the bicycle was charging — either when I was riding, or when the bicycle was parked. The PowerBank attaches the bicycle through a locking system and can incorporate any place from 28 to sixty two much more miles of variety. It can be significant, introducing six.2 kilos to the total excess weight of the bicycle. 

I you should not think I have a want or use for the PowerBank. The bicycle is straightforward sufficient to park future to an outlet when I want to charge it, but for a person who has to carry the S3 up a number of flights of stairs just to charge it, I can see the PowerBank being a practical accent. 

Exterior of the squeaky entrance brake disc, the only concern I knowledgeable when riding the S3 was flat tires. I am not certain if I stored running about stickers that ended up robust sufficient to poke holes by means of the wheels and the tubes, or if I was hitting something else on my rides, but for the duration of my time with the S3 I experienced a total of 4 flats. The very first time all-around, I changed the tubes simply because I required to get a truly feel for what all is included with taking both of those wheels off and executing routine maintenance myself. The 2nd time all-around, I resorted to patching the tube. 

It can be not the fault of VanMoof’s, and probable a byproduct of the spot I stay in, but ideally it is really something I can determine out should really I choose to acquire an S3 of my individual. I want to appear into regardless of whether or not you can use slime in the tubes on eBikes, or the most effective approach to keep random flats to a bare minimum. 

All of the possibilities and options at this time out there in the VanMoof app. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The S3, and by extension the X3, are bikes developed for a person who desires a dependable bicycle for the commute to operate, or something protected and fun to ride at household. 

The $2,three hundred rate tag may possibly sound like a good deal, and it is, but when you appear at the eBike landscape, the S3 is essentially priced reduced than its competition and gives much more state-of-the-art know-how.

If you experienced questioned me to create a record of what I required in an eBike, I would have started off with connectivity and some type of smarts. The VanMoof gives both of those by means of the smartphone app and Obtain My integration, and automobile-shifting based on how speedy you’re riding. 

The S3 truly does truly feel like a bicycle that is the adore kid of Apple and Tesla, with consumer encounter and know-how at the forefront, combined with the simple fact that it is really just downright fun to ride.

See also: Ideal eBikes for commuting

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