The VANMOOF S3 Review: Better than the best
Like cars, e-bikes have different qualities and reputations.Reliable commuter bikes start at about $1,000.At $1,500, they start to look good, and the battery and motor blend into the overall aesthetic.For more than $2,000, you'll start to see stylish designs, advanced electronics, and lots of high-end or original components.At this scale, the VanMoof's high price makes it the BMW of electric bikes (or, if you prefer, Tesla).
VanMoof is now ordering its latest pedal-assisted electric bikes: the S3 and the X3.They are the successor to the full-size S2 and compact X2 anti-theft electric bikes released in 2018, as well as two of the most highly rated electric bikes we tested.
Despite their similar appearance, VanMoof said, the S3 and X3 "upgrade S2 and X2 in every way," but they cost $400 to $1,400 less than VanMoof's previous generation of appliances.Priced at $1,998 / €1,998, VanMoof is aggressively setting new entry points for premium e-bikes priced above $3,000.
Better and cheaper?My week-long test in Amsterdam, VanMoof's European home, was a bold proposition.
The S3 and X3 models are basically the same under the "hood", except that the frame type andwheel size are different.The S3 is designed for riders measuring 170 to 210 centimeters (5 feet, 7 inches to 6 feet, 11 inches), while the compact X3 is designed for riders measuring 155 to 200 centimeters (5 feet, 1 inch to 6 feet, 7 inches).Both models are available in "light" (light blue white) or "dark" (dark grey) models.I've been using the dark S3 model for the last week.
Let me be clear: The S3 is the most complicated ride I've ever had on an e-bike.Most of the time, the shift is smooth without a pause between downshifts, such as a $5,000 Gocycle GXi.Sometimes, perhaps one in 50, I feel my feet chasing the new gear about a third of the way around, or I hear a mechanical "jingle" as the gear moves forward.Otherwise, it is silent and glorious, enabling me to pedal under constant pressure, for the gears move under me and always return to the first place when I stop.The VanMoof application allows you to adjust when you move down and when you move up, but the default Settings are just right for me.I'm also happy to have a fourth gear. Once I get GXi moving fast, I miss Gocycle's electronic three-speed system.
The VanMoof's previous two-speed automatic transmission was purely mechanical, relying on a centrifugal clutch.The new gearbox is built around an electric shifter.Don't worry, I also tested the S3 with the motors turned off, and the gears continued to shift, making the bike easy to use without pedal-assist features, even though it weighed 19 kilograms (42 pounds).If you do run out of power, VanMoof will tell me that the bike retains enough power to operate the lights and shift gears until you return to the charger.
Like gears, the bike's smaller, more refined front hub motor also keeps quiet, even though it can output between 250 and 350 watts of continuous power (peak 500W).It's as quiet as a cowboy.I had to struggle to hear it in the wind, easily making it one of the quietest motors around.The bike is so balanced that, in range testing, I often find myself sitting upright, not holding the handlebars, "mindlessly" riding the long, lonely asphalt.It's also easy to pop a rabbit out of a speed bump.
Every e-bike should have VanMoof's Turbo Boost feature.Now, the button can be accessed through the right handle, with more power, more torque, and almost instant enhancement without feeling awkward.
VanMoof says a 504Wh battery will travel 60 kilometers (37 miles) at full power and 150 kilometers (93 miles) at economy.When I tested the X2 last year for similar requirements, it averaged 60 kilometers per charge.Although The S3 had the same battery capacity, I didn't get it - but I did test the S3 running pre-released firmware, which limited some of the available power to protect the battery.So I was only 47 kilometers (29.2 miles) empty.I tested it in the 32km/h (20 MPH) US mode (the app Settings were optional after clearing my European warnings), could use up to four power-assist Settings, and used a hard push of a button to start pedaling or climbing as I had tested the X2.VanMoof told me that with the production of firmware, my product range would be expanded.My S3 was fully charged in about four hours.
My biggest criticism of the S3 applies to all VanMoof electric bikes: while the batteries can be removed for maintenance, they can't be removed for charging.If your only option is to charge your bike in your living room, that could be a big problem for many city dwellers.Yes, the X3 is smaller and can be operated more easily through the front door (or into the elevator), but it still weighs the same as the S3, making it difficult to climb stairs.
VanMoof returns two bikes that are far better than the best electric bikes ever made.They look similar, but they have a much better ride.Incredibly, they cost less than $2,000 for the first time, which is impressive for a high-end e-bike that offers advanced features and an advanced cycling experience.This is close to mainstream prices for quality commuter bikes for everyday use.It's easy to call the S3 and X3 the best e-bikes under $2,000, but these are the best e-bikes anyway.