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

I have to be trustworthy. My notion of what an eBike is for and does was entirely incorrect. I know this for the reason that I have invested the final month or so using the VanMoof S3, a $2,three hundred electrical bicycle, putting approximately 100 miles on it through that time. For some, that length may sound trivial, but I can guarantee you the I have not ridden 100 miles on a bicycle in the final ten several years blended. 

Without a doubt, component of the purpose I place so quite a few miles on the S3 about the final number of weeks was to exam out the bells and whistles (figuratively, and virtually), but also for the reason that I resolved to commence doing exercises a lot more. And even though eBikes element a motorized pedal-help to do some or all of the perform for you, I have still to come home drenched in sweat right after a lengthy ride on the S3. 

Just what will make the S3 and well worth $2,three hundred? I will endeavor to answer that problem beneath — but let me inform you, right after employing just one for a while, don’t be shocked if you see me cruising on just one of my possess in the near foreseeable future. 

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The front wheel and motor of the VanMoof S3. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

You should not reside near a VanMoof store? No dilemma

VanMoof only has a handful of showrooms all over the US. It’s at people merchants in which you can reserve a exam ride in locations like Seattle, San Francisco or Brooklyn. If you don’t reside in just one of people regions, it truly is not great, but that isn’t going to exclude you from purchasing a VanMoof bicycle. 

I reside in the center of Colorado, so VanMoof had to ship a bicycle to me. The bicycle comes partly assembled, necessitating only the set up of the front wheel and pedals upon arrival. 

Involved in the box alongside with the bicycle alone is a toolkit with most of the tools you may want to do any repairs on your possess, a foot pump for airing up your tires and a kazoo — for celebrating your invest in. 

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VanMoof’s YouTube channel is full of tutorial video clips that walk you by means of the preliminary assembly, and if you operate into hassle while proudly owning the bicycle and want to go the Diy route, you can look at the video clips to total any servicing or repairs on your possess. 

It took me about 30 minutes to get the bicycle place alongside one another, splitting my time involving checking out what all was included in the box, and viewing the assembly movie a pair of situations before tackling the undertaking at hand. 

The bicycle arrived fully billed, and VanMoof included the external battery pack for prolonged assortment testing. 

In addition to attaching the front wheel, the relaxation of the set up procedure essential my Iphone. Really, it necessitates an Iphone or Android phone and the VanMoof app. You use the app to regulate configurations, see stats such as your latest pace, ride background, lock and unlock the bicycle and see its latest spot. 

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The Obtain My app with the VanMoof S3 additional to it for Apple customers.

Speaking of tracking spot — by incorporating the potential to join the bicycle to Apple’s Obtain My community, even if anyone steals your bicycle, you should really have a fantastic notion of its latest spot at any time. The bicycle will join to random Apple products and anonymously mail its spot again to your Apple account, enabling you to track it. It’s the same know-how that is built into Apple’s AirTags, only it truly is in a bicycle. Environment that features up took a number of more seconds and was handled by means of the VanMoof app. 

If you use Android or don’t want to belief Apple’s Obtain My community with obtaining a dropped bicycle, VanMoof does provide a  Peace of Brain offer that contains possibly servicing, theft protection or equally. It’s pricey, with the servicing approach costing $348, theft protection priced at $398, or a blend offer for $690. 

Having said that, if your bicycle is stolen and VanMoof can’t recover it employing the built-in GSM connectivity in two weeks, the corporation will exchange the bicycle. VanMoof has a collection on its YouTube channel displaying how its bicycle hunters journey by means of different cities and locate dropped bikes.

VanMoof S3.jpg

The rear wheel with electronic shifter on the VanMoof S3. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Structure and requirements

The S3 has a front-wheel motor with a top rated pace of 20 miles per hour and power ranging from 250W to 350W. There’s a 504Wh LG battery that lasts anywhere from 37 to ninety three miles, based on how much you use improve or pedal help through your rides. Charging the battery can take about four hrs for a full demand, or you can get to fifty% in around 80 minutes. 

The S3 is the largest product VanMoof will make. It has 28-inch wheels, weighs forty six.three lbs ., and is made for riders 5-foot eight-inches to six-foot eight-inches. The X3 has 24-inch wheels and is made for people involving 5-toes and six-foot 5-inches for the same selling price as the S3.

Every wheel has its possess hydraulic disc brake. The whole time I rode the bicycle the front brake had a bit of a squeak to it, but it truly is evidently ordinary for disc brakes to have a break-in period of time. I have altered the brake a number of situations and it truly is aided. 

On the rear wheel you may uncover a kick lock that prevents the wheel from transferring. If anyone starts to roll off with your bicycle, a visible notify performs on the matrix display that is on the bar near the handlebars. The cranium and crossbones icon is accompanied by a loud siren, alerting everyone close by that one thing is incorrect. On the opposite of the bar with the screen, which also demonstrates your latest pace through rides, and other info at different situations, is a extremely loud speaker and a power button. When you press the horn button, an audio file is played by means of the speaker to notify close by riders or individuals.

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That button with the yellow line is the kick lock. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The rear wheel also has an electronic computerized shifting four-equipment hub that can take the guesswork out of when you should really be in a unique equipment. A program update for the bicycle and the app was launched through my time with the S3 that enabled manually shifting for a lot more control. A single frequent criticism I have study about the S3 and seasoned myself is that when the e-shifter improvements gears, the chain will make a clunk sound. The only way I can figure out to get close to this sound is to test and guess when the shifter is likely to make a change (it truly is accomplished at unique MPH measurements) and stop pedaling for a brief second. Right after a number of rides, timing this change became nearly second character. Having said that, the handbook shifting element will surely do away with any challenges for people who want it. 

On possibly facet of the handlebars is a brake lever, alongside with a single button. The remaining button triggers your assigned horn or bell sound, while the correct button activates improve method to improve your cruising pace. There are LED lights on the front and again of the bicycle to assist with late afternoon or night time using. 

The design and style of the S3 is extremely minimal and feels like just about every piece and component has a purpose. It arrives in an all-black complete, or sky-blue. 

What it truly is like to ride

Up right up until using the S3, I assumed that eBikes essential no pedaling. You possibly pushed a button or throttle and just went alongside for the ride. I was so incorrect. 

There are some eBikes that are like that, but the the greater part of eBikes I have due to the fact researched provide pedal support. Indicating, the motor will switch on and assist you as lengthy as the pedals are transferring. As soon as you stop pedaling, the motor stops. And while that does suggest you can pedal slower than normal to attain a pace of, say, 15MPH, you’re even now bodily lively. 

With the S3, there are technically 5 different pedal help levels. Environment the bicycle to zero turns off all pedal help, reverting it to a a lot more standard bicycle, missing any assist from the motor. Amounts just one by means of four provide assist up to a unique pace. Degree just one will assist you get to 10MPH while pedaling, and level four will keep you at 20MPH as lengthy as your toes are transferring. 

The improve button on the correct facet of the handlebars will crank the motor to full pace, no matter of your latest pedal help level, and keep you at the full 20MPH — all over again, as lengthy as the pedals are transferring. 

When you’re at a greater pedal help level or employing the improve button a whole lot, battery lifestyle will naturally lower. The a lot less you use pedal help, the extended the battery will final. 

If you’ve ever driven or rode in an electrical auto, you know that there’s instantaneous torque when the pedal is pushed. The very first time I pressed the improve button on the S3, I was a minor hesitant. I failed to know if the same torque would be existing, and if I should really be holding on for expensive lifestyle. As a substitute, there’s a gradual increase to the motor’s power right up until you attain top rated pace. In no way did I sense like I was at risk of losing control. 

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The VanMoof S3 with PowerBank.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

My using about the approximately 100 miles of testing was combined, as some of the time I was using with my spouse and children who have typical bikes, and other situations by myself. I failed to track particulars, but I think the lowest the battery reached was close to 30% of a demand, but with the further PowerBank, all I had to do was press the power button and the bicycle was charging — possibly while I was using, or while the bicycle was parked. The PowerBank attaches the bicycle by means of a locking mechanism and can insert anywhere from 28 to sixty two a lot more miles of assortment. It’s hefty, incorporating six.2 lbs . to the total excess weight of the bicycle. 

I don’t imagine I have a want or use for the PowerBank. The bicycle is easy plenty of to park subsequent to an outlet when I want to demand it, but for anyone who has to have the S3 up various flights of stairs just to demand it, I can see the PowerBank getting a handy accessory. 

Outside the house of the squeaky front brake disc, the only problem I seasoned while using the S3 was flat tires. I’m not guaranteed if I kept working about stickers that have been potent plenty of to poke holes by means of the wheels and the tubes, or if I was hitting one thing else on my rides, but through my time with the S3 I had a total of four flats. The very first time close to, I replaced the tubes for the reason that I wanted to get a sense for what all is involved with getting equally wheels off and executing servicing myself. The second time close to, I resorted to patching the tube. 

It’s not the fault of VanMoof’s, and likely a byproduct of the place I reside in, but ideally it truly is one thing I can figure out should really I come to a decision to invest in an S3 of my possess. I want to glimpse into irrespective of whether or not you can use slime in the tubes on eBikes, or the ideal technique to keep random flats to a minimum amount. 

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All of the selections and configurations at this time offered in the VanMoof app. 

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The S3, and by extension the X3, are bikes made for anyone who wants a trustworthy bicycle for the commute to perform, or one thing harmless and enjoyable to ride at home. 

The $2,three hundred selling price tag may sound like a whole lot, and it is, but when you glimpse at the eBike landscape, the S3 is really priced reduced than its competitors and gives a lot more superior know-how.

If you had questioned me to generate a listing of what I wanted in an eBike, I would have started off with connectivity and some sort of smarts. The VanMoof gives equally by means of the smartphone app and Obtain My integration, and vehicle-shifting based on how quick you’re using. 

The S3 truly does sense like a bicycle that is the appreciate kid of Apple and Tesla, with user practical experience and know-how at the forefront, blended with the actuality that it truly is just downright enjoyable to ride.

See also: Very best eBikes for commuting

Maria J. Danford

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