16/10/2021

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Not just any technology

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

I have to be straightforward. My concept of what an eBike is for and does was thoroughly mistaken. I know this simply because I have spent the previous thirty day period or so riding the VanMoof S3, a $2,300 electrical bike, placing just about a hundred miles on it through that time. For some, that distance may seem trivial, but I can assure you the I haven’t ridden a hundred miles on a bike in the previous ten years put together. 

In truth, section of the motive I put so many miles on the S3 in excess of the previous few months was to exam out the bells and whistles (figuratively, and pretty much), but also simply because I determined to commence performing exercises additional. And even while eBikes feature a motorized pedal-support to do some or all of the function for you, I have yet to occur home drenched in sweat following a prolonged journey on the S3. 

Just what can make the S3 and worthy of $2,300? I’ll try to remedy that concern under — but enable me notify you, following utilizing one for a even though, never be amazed if you see me cruising on one of my own in the in the vicinity of upcoming. 

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The entrance wheel and motor of the VanMoof S3. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

You should not stay in the vicinity of a VanMoof store? No problem

VanMoof only has a handful of showrooms in the course of the US. It truly is at these shops exactly where you can e-book a exam journey in areas like Seattle, San Francisco or Brooklyn. If you never stay in one of these places, it can be not suitable, but that will not exclude you from ordering a VanMoof bike. 

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

Incorporated in the box alongside with the bike by itself is a toolkit with most of the equipment you are going to require to do any repairs on your own, a foot pump for airing up your tires and a kazoo — for celebrating your order. 

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VanMoof’s YouTube channel is entire of tutorial movies that stroll you by the initial assembly, and if you operate into trouble even though owning the bike and want to go the Do-it-yourself route, you can watch the movies to entire any servicing or repairs on your own. 

It took me about 30 minutes to get the bike put jointly, splitting my time among checking out what all was involved in the box, and watching the assembly video clip a pair of situations in advance of tackling the task at hand. 

The bike arrived thoroughly charged, and VanMoof involved the external battery pack for prolonged variety testing. 

In addition to attaching the entrance wheel, the relaxation of the set up course of action required my Apple iphone. Really, it calls for an Apple iphone or Android mobile phone and the VanMoof app. You use the app to change configurations, see stats these types of as your current speed, journey record, lock and unlock the bike and see its current location. 

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The Uncover My app with the VanMoof S3 included to it for Apple customers.

Talking of monitoring location — by adding the capability to hook up the bike to Apple’s Uncover My network, even if anyone steals your bike, you should have a fantastic concept of its current location at any time. The bike will hook up to random Apple products and anonymously ship its location back again to your Apple account, enabling you to observe it. It truly is the exact same engineering that’s designed into Apple’s AirTags, only it can be in a bike. Placing that features up took a few extra seconds and was handled by the VanMoof app. 

If you use Android or never want to believe in Apple’s Uncover My network with getting a dropped bike, VanMoof does offer you a  Peace of Intellect offer that includes possibly servicing, theft security or the two. It truly is pricey, with the servicing plan costing $348, theft security priced at $398, or a combination offer for $690. 

Nonetheless, if your bike is stolen and VanMoof can’t recover it utilizing the designed-in GSM connectivity within two months, the firm will change the bike. VanMoof has a series on its YouTube channel exhibiting how its bike hunters vacation by distinct metropolitan areas and track down dropped bikes.

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The rear wheel with electronic shifter on the VanMoof S3. 


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

Design and technical specs

The S3 has a entrance-wheel motor with a top rated speed of twenty miles for each hour and energy ranging from 250W to 350W. There is a 504Wh LG battery that lasts anywhere from 37 to ninety three miles, based on how much you use boost or pedal support through your rides. Charging the battery requires about 4 several hours for a entire charge, or you can get to fifty% in around eighty minutes. 

The S3 is the major model VanMoof can make. It has 28-inch wheels, weighs 46.three lbs, and is produced for riders 5-foot 8-inches to 6-foot 8-inches. The X3 has 24-inch wheels and is produced for these among 5-toes and 6-foot 5-inches for the exact same price tag as the S3.

Each and every wheel has its own hydraulic disc brake. The entire time I rode the bike the entrance brake had a bit of a squeak to it, but it can be evidently normal for disc brakes to have a break-in period. I have adjusted the brake a few situations and it can be helped. 

On the rear wheel you are going to find a kick lock that helps prevent the wheel from shifting. If anyone commences to roll off with your bike, a visual inform plays on the matrix display that’s on the bar in the vicinity of the handlebars. The skull and crossbones icon is accompanied by a loud siren, alerting anybody close by that some thing is mistaken. On the reverse of the bar with the display, which also displays your current speed through rides, and other information and facts at different situations, is a extremely loud speaker and a energy button. When you press the horn button, an audio file is played by the speaker to inform 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 automatic shifting 4-equipment hub that requires the guesswork out of when you should be in a specific equipment. A software package update for the bike and the app was unveiled through my time with the S3 that enabled manually shifting for additional manage. One popular complaint I have examine about the S3 and professional myself is that when the e-shifter alterations gears, the chain can make a clunk seem. The only way I can determine out to get about this seem is to attempt and guess when the shifter is going to make a alter (it can be completed at specific MPH measurements) and prevent pedaling for a short second. Immediately after a few rides, timing this alter became pretty much second character. Nonetheless, the guide shifting feature will definitely do away with any issues for these who want it. 

On possibly facet of the handlebars is a brake lever, alongside with a one button. The still left button triggers your assigned horn or bell seem, even though the ideal button activates boost manner to increase your cruising speed. There are LED lights on the entrance and back again of the bike to help with late afternoon or night riding. 

The style of the S3 is extremely minimum and feels like each and every piece and section has a purpose. It comes in an all-black finish, or sky-blue. 

What it can be like to journey

Up until finally riding the S3, I assumed that eBikes required no pedaling. You possibly pushed a button or throttle and just went alongside for the journey. I was so mistaken. 

There are some eBikes that are like that, but the vast majority of eBikes I have due to the fact researched offer you pedal assistance. That means, the motor will turn on and help you as prolonged as the pedals are shifting. Once you prevent pedaling, the motor stops. And even though that does imply you can pedal slower than normal to access a speed of, say, 15MPH, you might be even now bodily active. 

With the S3, there are technically 5 distinct pedal support stages. Placing the bike to zero turns off all pedal support, reverting it to a additional classic bike, lacking any help from the motor. Stages one by 4 offer you help up to a specific speed. Stage one will help you get to 10MPH even though pedaling, and level 4 will keep you at 20MPH as prolonged as your toes are shifting. 

The boost button on the ideal facet of the handlebars will crank the motor to entire speed, irrespective of your current pedal support level, and keep you at the entire 20MPH — yet again, as prolonged as the pedals are shifting. 

When you might be at a increased pedal support level or utilizing the boost button a good deal, battery life will in a natural way minimize. The a lot less you use pedal support, the more time the battery will previous. 

If you’ve got ever pushed or rode in an electrical motor vehicle, you know that there’s immediate torque anytime the pedal is pushed. The initially time I pressed the boost button on the S3, I was a small hesitant. I failed to know if the exact same torque would be present, and if I should be holding on for dear life. Instead, there’s a gradual increase to the motor’s energy until finally you access top rated speed. By no means did I feel like I was at threat of dropping manage. 

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The VanMoof S3 with PowerBank.


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

My riding in excess of the just about a hundred miles of testing was mixed, as some of the time I was riding with my spouse and children who have common bikes, and other situations by myself. I failed to observe details, but I think the most affordable the battery arrived at was about 30% of a charge, but with the additional PowerBank, all I had to do was press the energy button and the bike was charging — possibly even though I was riding, or even though the bike was parked. The PowerBank attaches the bike by using a locking system and can add anywhere from 28 to 62 additional miles of variety. It truly is weighty, adding 6.2 lbs to the complete bodyweight of the bike. 

I never assume I have a require or use for the PowerBank. The bike is quick sufficient to park upcoming to an outlet when I require to charge it, but for anyone who has to carry the S3 up quite a few flights of stairs just to charge it, I can see the PowerBank remaining a effortless accent. 

Outdoors of the squeaky entrance brake disc, the only concern I professional even though riding the S3 was flat tires. I am not absolutely sure if I retained working in excess of stickers that were being strong sufficient to poke holes by the wheels and the tubes, or if I was hitting some thing else on my rides, but through my time with the S3 I had a complete of 4 flats. The initially time about, I changed the tubes simply because I needed to get a feel for what all is included with getting the two wheels off and doing servicing myself. The second time about, I resorted to patching the tube. 

It truly is not the fault of VanMoof’s, and possible a byproduct of the space I stay in, but hopefully it can be some thing I can determine out should I determine to buy an S3 of my own. I require to glimpse into whether or not you can use slime in the tubes on eBikes, or the most effective strategy to keep random flats to a minimum. 

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


Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The S3, and by extension the X3, are bikes designed for anyone who would like a reputable bike for the commute to function, or some thing risk-free and pleasurable to journey at home. 

The $2,300 price tag tag may seem like a good deal, and it is, but when you glimpse at the eBike landscape, the S3 is actually priced decreased than its opponents and presents additional sophisticated engineering.

If you had asked me to produce a record of what I needed in an eBike, I would have started out with connectivity and some form of smarts. The VanMoof presents the two by the smartphone app and Uncover My integration, and automobile-shifting based on how fast you might be riding. 

The S3 really does feel like a bike that’s the love boy or girl of Apple and Tesla, with consumer knowledge and engineering at the forefront, put together with the actuality that it can be just downright pleasurable to journey.

See also: Very best eBikes for commuting