"The Vanmoof S3 is equipped with excellent technology at a medium price and absolutely great as a bonus."
Integrated lights and fenders
Smooth automatic transmission
Lower power assist levels are not helpful
Feels bulky when driving
The battery cannot be removed for charging
Vanmoof was way ahead of the curve when its Dutch founders, the Carlier brothers, founded the company in 2009. Maybe ahead of the curve. Electric bicycles were treated as a novelty in 2009. However, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. I regularly ate the dust of a Vanmoof enthusiast on my evening walk out of the office – back when it was still that way.
Now Vanmoof has a couple of news bikes available, just like everyone is looking for a way to explore our new, socially distant lifestyle that only lives outdoors. I tried the more conventional Vanmoof S3, which sells just under $ 2,000 for just one hair. It has a sibling, the Vanmoof X3, with smaller tires and a frame that is easier to step over, but most of the other components are identical between the two.
The start time of the S3 could hardly be better, but it has a lot of competition. Every major bicycle manufacturer is now represented in the e-bike arena, and some offer over a dozen models. Can Vanmoof keep his lead?
One thing is certain, a Vanmoof is unmistakable. The company's design revolves around a thick, straight center tube that extends across the wheels at each end of the frame. It is a look that is classic and modern at the same time.
This is a classic bike for modern life.
Vanmoof keeps an eye on this important property by minimizing all other distractions. Like the company's other motorcycles, the Vanmoof S3 is painted in either matt black or blue and has almost no branding. It's a snappy, sleek design that fits the purpose of the S3 directly. This is a classic bike for modern life.
That doesn't mean that the Vanmoof S3 is without peer. The Gazelle Ultimate T10 is a personal favorite thanks to its combination of ultra-modern sensitivity and easy passage practicality. The new Vado SL from Specialized is also very attractive. Nevertheless, Vanmoof absolutely has the Trek and Giant bicycles that look more like improved bicycles than like specially built e-bikes.
The S3 is equipped as standard with front and rear fenders as well as front and rear lights. It's a big deal, especially for an e-bike that sells for $ 2,000. It's not uncommon for e-bikes in the S3 price range to throw one or both fenders overboard. Although the lighting is usually standard, it is often not as attractive or bright as that of the Vanmoof. If you buy the Vanmoof X3, which has smaller wheels and a less conventional frame, you will also get a built-in luggage rack for carrying small items.
Assembly and initial setup
While Vanmoof has a few dealers, its network is tiny. You will probably order online. Bicycles are large, heavy objects and can be difficult to assemble.
The company does everything it can to alleviate this anger. Open the box and you will immediately find detailed assembly instructions next to a toolbox that contains everything you need to assemble the bike. There's even a handy pull cord that allows you to slide the bike out horizontally instead of lifting it out vertically.
This does not mean that assembly is child's play. I cut myself when my hand slipped as I tightened an uncomfortable plastic clip that holds the front motor cable securely to the frame. However, the overall difficulty is no greater than assembling an Ikea chest of drawers. If you can handle it, you can handle it.
After assembly, setting up the app is easy. Simply download it to your phone, create an account and the bike will automatically connect. It worked seamlessly and I never had a problem with the app connecting to the bike.
The app is probably the actual heading function of Vanmoof. While many competitors technically have apps, they are often simple and buggy. Vanmoof's app, on the other hand, is great. It provides ride summaries, allows you to adjust bike settings, shows the current location of the bike, and provides access to support topics, among other things.
I found that the bike's Bluetooth range is not particularly good. If the app is kept in my garage, it will lose connection to the bike as soon as I leave the room. Other Bluetooth devices I own have no problem communicating across multiple walls. I think Vanmoof could do better.
The bike does not have an LCD display and instead uses a sophisticated LED grid to show speed, battery life and other information on the center tube. Vanmoof calls this a matrix display. It is a unique touch that makes the design of the bike more coherent. The matrix display is bright and always easy to read, even on a sunny summer afternoon at noon. Oh, and if you want a laptop to go with the bike, check out the Asus ROG Zephyrus G14.
It is the combination of the app with this matrix display that distinguishes this bike in everyday use. Most e-bikes have a small black and white LCD screen and are controlled via buttons or twist grips. This is effective, but simple. Instead, Vanmoof only uses the matrix display for important information and transfers the most control over the bike to the app.
This speaks for the focus of the bike on errands and the way to work. It is built so that you can drive with everything you normally carry and to places that you would otherwise reach by car or transit. Using the app is great in this regard, as your phone is always in your pocket and you stop frequently. Your phone's display is much brighter and easier to use than any LCD you find on an e-bike.
Vanmoof bicycles have built-in anti-theft technology. This includes a lock for the rear hub, an alarm, and an optional paid service that promises to track down and replace the stolen bike if it can't be found.
The lock is activated by aligning a mark on the hub with the same mark on the rear chain guard and then pressing a button near the dropout of the rear frame. After locking, an alarm sounds when the rear wheel of the bike moves.
It works as advertised, although I wouldn't trust it. The alarm could be louder and a thief could pick up and pull the bike away (although its sensitivity would make it difficult to do without triggering the alarm). You should always use a strong lock to secure your bike to a fixed attachment. Still, Vanmoof's alarm is reasonable support that could give opportunistic thieves a break.
If the Vanmoof S3's commuter-friendly design isn't already obvious, you will surely feel it when you get on your bike for the first time. The relaxed frame and the retracted handlebars of the bike offer an upright feeling and excellent visibility. As is so often the case with an upright driving position, this comfort comes at the expense of agility. It's an easy bike to turn on a narrow road at low speeds, but it doesn't feel eager or nimble.
The S3 weighs 42 pounds. This is heavier than most conventional bikes, but light for an e-bike. The Specialized Como is 45 pounds, while the Gazelle T10 Ultimate is 51 pounds. The S3 doesn't feel light on the pedals, but your back will love the lightweight frame as you pull the bike up stairs or over a large curb.
Fat tires help the S3 deal with small bumps and potholes without any problems. It's a smooth ride over manicured sidewalks or tightly packed gravel. However, if you encounter large potholes, the rigid frame and lack of suspension on the bike can cause large bumps from the handlebars.
The electric motor of the S3 is attached to the front wheel and delivers power in four stages or can be switched off completely. The lowest power level is worthless, but higher settings are strong. I usually drove around at level three or maximized the performance on paved bike paths. The bike's engine switches off at 32 km / h. This is the maximum speed allowed for a class 1 e-bike like the S3. There are settings that comply with European and Japanese regulations, but as expected, this will make the top speed even lower.
Adrenaline junkies should, however, look elsewhere. The performance is tentative compared to racing options such as the Specialized Vado or the Giant ToughRoad GX E +. While the S3 has a "turbo" button, hitting is only a modest gear and is most useful when you need a little more juice on a steep hill.
While the S3 lacks the thrill, it's supple. The front hub motor pulls with a steady stance. Don't take that for granted. Many e-bikes in the Vanmoof price range, such as the Pedego City Commuter Lite, use a rear wheel hub motor. A rear hub can dramatically shift the balance of a bike backwards, making wheelies a little too easy. The balanced, sophisticated power transmission of the S3 is good for every e-bike and excellent for an e-bike with a price of $ 2,000.
The S3 brakes are activated with a soft, precise feel that creates trust.
The power is transmitted via a chic four-speed automatic transmission. That's right, you don't even have to switch for yourself. Four speeds are not many, and I felt that on steep hills. Nevertheless, I will bring this automatic transmission over the bargain six, seven or eight-speed transmission that can be found in most e-bikes in this price range.
The S3's deceleration is more impressive than its acceleration. The bike has hydraulic disc brakes at the front and rear. While almost all e-bikes have disc brakes, some mid-range bikes have mechanical disc brakes, a setup that can feel chunky or wooden. The S3 brakes are activated with a soft, precise feel that builds trust and prevents too much brake from being accidentally pressed.
Battery life and range
There is a 504 watt-hour battery in the large top tube of the Vanmoof S3. The range is indicated at 37 to 93 miles. In most situations, you are closer to 37 miles than 93 miles.
My most demanding trip was a 23-mile trip with maximum performance on a paved, flat bike path. This used up almost half of the battery, suggesting that if I kept going until the battery was empty, I would see the total mileage in the mid-1940s. I have also made numerous short trips, approximately 10 miles each, at level three. .
These results are typical of a modern e-bike. Most commuters cover short distances (less than 16 km), so the range of the S3 should last for several days, if not a whole week.
You can't just remove the S3's battery (Vanmoof says it can only be removed for maintenance) and charge it away from the bike. This can be impractical if you have a small apartment and want to keep the S3 in a common room.
Vanmoof's S3 is a feature-rich commuter bike that sacrifices little despite a mid-range price of $ 2,000. This bike is an excellent choice if you need a bike for city errands or for daily commuting up to 32 km round trip.
Is there a better alternative?
While the price of $ 2,000 for the Vanmoof S3 appears very high next to the $ 600 you can buy on Amazon, I generally recommend avoiding these. They do their job, but use components that are as inexpensive as possible, which affects longevity. They also tend to have small batteries.
The Propella e-bike is the best affordable alternative. Starting at $ 1,100 for single-gear or $ 1,300 for seven-speed, this is a less complicated option with a smaller battery and inferior brakes. Still, it's a nice entry-level bike with decent components, and works well for commuting 10 miles or less.
RadPower is another good choice. The brand manufactures a variety of electric bikes that offer excellent value for money, such as the affordable RadRover and its sturdy RadWagon. RadPower is all about function. So you prefer Vanmoof when design and technology are important to you.
The Vanmoof S3 has few strong rivals that come very close to its $ 2,000 price tag. Pedego's City Commuter Lite is nowhere near as sophisticated. Trek, Specialized, and Giant tend to go into a higher price range, so their $ 2,000 motorcycles can't normally compete with the Vanmoof.
Don't forget the sibling of the Vanmoof S3, the X3. The motorcycles are similar, but the X3 has smaller wheels, a lower top tube, and an integrated front rack. I would expect the X3 to be even better for short distances and errands in the city, while the S3 would be better for long distances and errands.
How long it will take?
A bike can last a very long time, although e-bikes are limited by the longevity of the battery and the durability of other electronic devices. You should also know that e-bikes require more maintenance than a standard bike. Still, I would expect at least five to ten years of operation, and that could be extended as long as replacement batteries are available.
The bike comes with a three-year warranty against defects, which is not particularly long for an electric bike. Vanmoof has a smaller dealer network than its larger competitors such as Specialized, Trek or Giant. This could make it difficult to find service if you are not near a dealer.
Should you buy it
Yes. The Vanmoof S3 is a mid-range commuter e-bike with an outstanding design and great technical features.