Like a few of the finest client tech from the final decade, I didn’t know I wanted an e-bike till I used to be on one, breezing down the bike lane considering my newfound freedom.
Earlier than shopping for a Nintendo Change, I might have by no means guessed how a lot a candy-colored gaming console that I might come out of a dock and into my backpack for lengthy flight would fill me with pleasure. An e-bike, significantly this e-bike, the VanMoof X3, appears like that.
I reside in Portland, Oregon, land of ample bike lanes and bare bike rides. After I first moved right here, I biked in every single place, however that behavior slowly dissolved over time. First, I purchased a automobile for weekend tenting journeys, which slowly grew to become weekday errand working.
A number of years later, I bought identified with a continual sickness and instantly discovered myself a lot much less assured in what my physique might do and the place it might comfortably take me. Over time, my bike would solely see a handful of rides a season on lovely days, once I’d at all times sigh and suppose I want I biked extra — it makes me really feel good!
Earlier than testing the X3, I’d discover excuses to drive brief distances as an alternative of using my bike. What if I bought drained and didn’t really feel like biking residence? What if it begins pouring rain? What’s if it’s too scorching? What if I’m too sweaty once I get to the workplace? Using an e-bike erases most of these issues outright.
The X3 is an easy sufficient journey that I can nonetheless zoom to work if it’s 95+ levels out. It’s quick sufficient that I can get out of a shock rainstorm rapidly if want be. If I don’t need to be sweaty at first of the day, I can lean on candy, candy electrical energy to whisk me away, rolling as much as my workplace with out breaking a sweat.
And it might’t go unspoken that going quick on a motorbike — the entire time, with as a lot or little effort as you are feeling like placing in — is admittedly, actually enjoyable. In the event you haven’t had an opportunity to attempt an e-bike, know that the feeling of effortlessly zipping round, electrical energy near-imperceptibly buzzing beneath you, is tough to explain and finest skilled first-hand.
VanMoof’s good-looking pair of excessive tech bikes, the X3 and its bigger cousin the S3, are removed from the one choices in the marketplace, so a few of their pluses would maintain true for any electrical bike. However that doesn’t make the VanMoof interchangeable both. The VanMoof X3 has a really particular look, really feel and have set that may completely swimsuit a sure type of rider (myself included) however different e-bike consumers will nonetheless need to play the sphere. We’ll get into that — right here goes!
I examined the VanMoof X3 over the S3 not by selection — its geometry is a bit of wacky trying in photos — however as a result of I’m 5’4″. The X3, which inserts anyone from 5′-6’5″, is a bit of smaller and fewer conventional trying than the S3, which fits anybody taller than 5’8″. The X3 has 24″ wheels slightly than the S3’s 28″ wheels and it has a bit of bungee-corded platform within the entrance the place presumably you would carry one thing, however I nonetheless do not know what (You can too purchase an add-on entrance basket that slots in there and appears very cute.)
Like most e-bikes, the X3 is way, a lot heavier than a standard highway or commuter bike. The listed weight is 45.8 lbs and also you’ll really feel each pound of it if you happen to ever want to hold it very far. I reside in a standalone home in Portland, Oregon and needed to carry the X3 down a really brief entrance step to journey it — completely high quality!
I used to reside in a fifth flooring walkup in Brooklyn and carrying it up or down that will have been unattainable. In the event you can’t retailer the X3 (or most any e-bike) round floor stage with entry to a charger, it may not be an excellent match for you. (Be aware that in our photos, the small platform above the chain space is the place an non-compulsory exterior battery pack, mentioned later, sits. The platform is detachable.)
Although on paper I’d want the look of the S3, the X3 doesn’t look unusual in any respect IRL, whether or not parked or with any individual using it. It’s cute, futuristic however not conspicuous and will get loads of compliments. My spouse described its aesthetic as “Loss of life Star stylish” and whereas I don’t completely know what which means, she’s not flawed. On the best way to my workplace a sanitation truck driver rolled down his window to bellow “HEY—THAT’S A REALLY COOL BIKE.” Thanks, my dude!
The present era of VanMoof e-bikes are coated in matte paint and you’ll select between a basic, attractive matte black or a pleasantly cheery matte mild blue. A earlier model of the bikes used shiny coating, however apparently the matte is meant to be extra scratch resistant. The paint does appear fairly robust although it’s not completely bombproof. One way or the other the handlebars picked up a bit of nick within the paint, although I nonetheless do not know the place it got here from or what did it (owls?).
One thing vital to notice is that neither the VanMoof X3 or S3 appear like e-bikes. They don’t have an unsightly bulge jutting out from the body and the highest tube and down tube are each thick however uniform — and never so thick you’d suppose twice about it.
The digital parts are nestled away within the body and even the drivetrain is tucked away and enclosed. And whereas there’s a deeply cool LED matrix show embedded within the prime tube, solely the rider actually sees it. For anybody in search of an e-bike that doesn’t scream e-bike!!!! the VanMoof is among the finest decisions if not your best option you would make. It’s an superior trying bike — not simply an superior trying e-bike.
The VanMoof X3 is a nice-looking bike — you get it. However what about, you understand, the biking? I can confidently report that from the primary time you hop on it to your twentieth commute to work, the X3 is an absolute pleasure to journey.
As an e-bike newcomer I had reservations. Would the electrical help cheapen the magic of using a motorbike? Do I actually need a bike doing the shifting for me? Because it seems, fairly the alternative and sure, completely.
The VanMoof X3 (and its sibling the S3) provide you with an electrical enhance whereas pedaling — you’ll nonetheless be pedaling however it feels enticingly simple and also you’ll go quicker with much less effort. The bike additionally includes a Turbo Increase button on the right-side handlebar that provides you a giant enhance on prime of the smoother regular digital help, as much as 20 miles per hour within the U.S.
You may select the quantity of assist that you really want. Utilizing the VanMoof app, which we’ll get to, or a bodily button, you possibly can choose what stage of energy help you’d like from zero to 4. Zero is you pedaling a heavy-ass bike alone with no assist (it sucks) and 4 makes all the things really feel really easy there’s nearly no approach to break a sweat.
In my time testing the bike, I’d use “two” once I felt like getting a little bit of a exercise with additional pep in my pedal, 4 once I was in a rush to get to my co-working area within the mornings and three the remainder of the time, like using to brunch on a weekend. Having the ability to select the extent of pedal help is a big perk and it makes the bike really feel versatile for various makes use of.
No matter mode you’re on, the turbo enhance button is a killer function. It flattens steep hills and makes it really feel approach safer to zip throughout busy intersections the place you’re undecided drivers are paying consideration. It’s enjoyable and superior for secure, defensive metropolis using.
It takes a bit of bit to get used to the automated digital shifting however that’s silky easy too. I initially assumed that, like many issues that labored completely nicely earlier than having some extraneous “good” high-tech nonsense draped over them (fridges! lamps! vibrators!) the expertise would fail simply usually sufficient to be a nuisance.
After a protracted interval of testing, I can report that the X3 rides as easy and seamless as ever. Each every now and then I’d crunch down on the pedal or a gear gained’t catch instantly however it’s tremendous uncommon. You may even use the app to customise when the bike shifts up and down and it’s value taking part in round with that to search out one thing that feels good.
What else? The X3’s most assisted pace is within the U.S. is 20 mph (32km/hr), however anybody in Europe will likely be restricted to fifteen.5 mph (25km/hr). The U.S. pace feels nice and it’s painless to stand up to 20mph and keep that pace with the X3 in a approach I’d must destroy my quads to handle in any other case, even on my zippy non-electric highway bike.
Past that, the seat may be very cozy and the journey is pleasantly upright and pure. After using the X3 for some time I had a tough time going again to hunching over on my (lovely) little Bianchi and pined for the cozy journey I’d gotten so used to.
The VanMoof X3 is a superb worth, all issues thought-about. The corporate has a bizarre behavior of tinkering with its pricing, however after a redesign and a colossal worth drop in 2020 ($3,398 to $1,998 on the time) the bikes really feel very nicely priced. Now they’re retailing for $2,298 — $300 greater than the earlier worth however nonetheless a high quality deal for anybody in search of a really full-featured e-bike with out spending greater than round $2,000.
That’s not very rather more than you’d spend on an everyday bike, sans electrical energy and plenty of, many cool bells and whistles. And if you happen to’re into increased finish bikes, it might even be rather a lot much less. It’s additionally considerably lower than the excessive finish of e-bike competitors, which the VanMoof bikes really feel like they compete with, even with the wallet-friendlier price ticket.
Nonetheless, it’s type of hectic that VanMoof is quietly messing round with the pricing with the bikes already out within the wild. It will suck to plan to purchase one solely to see the value shoot up earlier than you’d pulled the set off.
The corporate needs to be extra clear about this, giving set future dates for deliberate worth adjustments. There additionally appear to be updates inside generations of the bikes, so an X3 you purchase now may differ from an X3 you would purchase in 2020. That’s complicated and all of it needs to be made clearer someplace apparent on the web site.
One of many greatest issues with an e-bike (or an e-anything!) is vary. VanMoof says the X3’s vary is 37 miles utilizing “full energy” and as much as 93 miles in financial system mode. In the event you’re getting 93 miles out of the battery, you in all probability aren’t even utilizing the pedal help in any respect, so you possibly can simply toss that quantity out. The low finish estimate of 37 miles is likely to be a bit of beneficiant for somebody who’s utilizing the bike on the fourth energy help stage and smashing the turbo enhance recurrently, however 35-45 miles feels about proper from my testing (normally mode 3 or 4, often 2, mild use of turbo button).
The vary feels good. Even utilizing the X3 most days out of the week, charging is rare sufficient to by no means really feel annoying. In my case, that meant every day brief rides (2.5-5 miles, normally) and the occasional longer journey (10-20 miles). In the event you’re utilizing the X3 or S3 to commute to work someplace that’s farther away, you’re going to search out your self plugging in additional. Even so, I by no means bought right into a scenario the place I used to be involved that I’d run out of battery removed from residence. And even if you happen to do, you possibly can nonetheless pedal the bike — it’s simply actually heavy. Most individuals will in all probability cost up in a single day, however you possibly can refill the battery in 4 hours if it’s good to.
One thing to notice is that you just’ll plug in a wall charger on to the bike to cost it. For anybody who can’t cost and retailer the X3 on floor stage, know you’ll have to hold the entire dang bike to an outlet. The shortage of a detachable battery is likely to be a strike in opposition to the VanMoof bikes for people who reside in walk-ups or small residences, however for individuals with someplace simple to retailer it, this wasn’t one thing I assumed twice about.
Whereas the built-in vary is completely sufficient for lots of use instances, VanMoof simply launched an exterior add-on battery pack for each the X3 and S3. The battery slots into a bit of platform, pictured under and mounted on our take a look at bike, and it extends the X3’s vary significantly. VanMoof sells the PowerBank accent for $348. The factor isn’t small — it weighs six kilos — however VanMoof says it’ll provide you with anyplace from 28 to 62 miles of additional vary. Once more, nearly no person goes to hit the excessive finish of this, however even on the low finish it nearly doubles the bike’s current vary.
The PowerBank is huge and fairly clunky. It doesn’t look terrible, however it positively makes the X3 appear like an e-bike. It’s not elegant just like the detachable battery on the Cowboy, one other extraordinarily good-looking e-bike, however it’s okay. If all the things else a few VanMoof fits you completely however you want extra vary, it’s nice to have the choice, even if you happen to’ll be shelling out for it.
The tech bells and whistles are one thing that basically makes the VanMoof X3 and S3 stand out from the group. The X3’s worth feels affordable for a dependable, great-looking e-bike, however on prime of that you just’ll be getting an electrical steed with some fairly candy methods:
- Matrix show: On the bike’s prime tube an array of LED lights constructed into the metallic shows your pace, battery life and different helpful data. It is a killer function, it’s extraordinarily cool!
- Alarm. You may activate an alarm that may *actually growl* at anybody who jostles your bike. It’s intense and actually loud.
- Kick lock. You may kick a small bodily button to alarm the bike and lock the again wheel. In the event you reside in a metropolis with bike theft, somebody might nonetheless toss the bike in a truck simply so this isn’t a single safety answer (I used a standard mini Kryptonite lock and that labored nice.)
- Discover My on iOS. In the event you’re an iOS consumer you possibly can track your bike’s whereabouts easily. It’s a pleasant function, although ideally in case your bike is well-locked you aren’t going to be messing with this a lot.
- Lights. The VanMoof X3 has nice built-in lights, back and front.
- App: Surprisingly, the app is definitely fairly good. You may customise a lot of small issues (bell noise, alarm on or off, shifting preferences), use it to trace your rides and extra. You additionally don’t must be related to the bike with the app to do probably the most important stuff, liking using it, unlocking it and altering your stage of electrical help. I had an occasional connectivity drawback with the app (normally on Android) however this was simply resolved and by no means stored me from biking anyplace, although it did imply some rides weren’t robotically tracked. Importantly, you can even monitor your bike’s whereabouts via the app and VanMoof touts this function mixed with its alarm system and restoration crew for serving to individuals get their bikes again.
Total, one thing nice in regards to the X3 is that the tech options aren’t simply fancy methods — they actually improve the expertise. And even so, they’re non-compulsory. You may journey the bike and profit from the facility help with out utilizing the app. You should utilize an everyday lock and skip the alarm system if you happen to select to, or use a bodily button code to disable it manually. You may change the facility help mode with the identical button. That is all big and allows you to use the e-bike the way you need to. Personally, I’d by no means purchase an e-bike that required connectivity, a cellphone or an app to function it; that’s simply asking for bother.
Delivery and Meeting: The VanMoof X3 and S3 come within the mail in a giant field. The meeting course of was nearly painless — apart from this one actually fiddly bit you need to slide into one other fiddly bit which took me the higher a part of an hour and a few looking out on the VanMoof subreddit (not the one one with this drawback!)
Further Assist: VanMoof presents three paid plans to maintain your bike in working order and in your possession. You should purchase a three-year upkeep plan for $348, a three-year theft restoration plan for $398 or a mixed plan for $690 (damaged down through VanMoof under).
Upkeep: The place you reside needs to be a significant consideration when occupied with shopping for a VanMoof. In my time testing it for reliability over an prolonged interval, I used to be shocked by how few issues got here up. I needed to fiddle with re-centering the entrance wheel sooner or later as a result of a brake pad was rubbing, however apart from occasional app connectivity points, that was just about it. In fact, important put on and tear means any bike may gain advantage from a professional tune up from somebody who is aware of the mannequin.
VanMoof has full-fledged shops in Amsterdam, London, Paris, Berlin, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Tokyo. Past its flagship shops, the corporate relies on an expanding network of service centers and “licensed workshops” to keep up its bikes, so you should definitely examine what’s close to you. Personally, I’d need to be close to sufficient to a VanMoof retailer or no less than a service middle to ensure my $2,000+ funding and its many, many technological bits could possibly be maintained in good well being. No person desires to ship a motorbike again for repairs, particularly a heavy, technologically advanced one.
Previous to testing out the X3, e-bikes aren’t one thing I’d thought rather a lot about and I wasn’t actually certain who they have been for. I first heard of VanMoof a few years in the past when an in depth buddy and rather more critical biker than me purchased one for towing her canine (the goodest lady) on a protracted work commute. We rode to the farmer’s market collectively and her bike seemed very cool, however I used to be skeptical that one thing with a lot expertise beneath the hood might show dependable over time.
Bikes are mechanical and easy — that’s one thing great about them! Might an e-bike actually translate the joyful simplicity of biking into one thing rather more excessive tech? Because it seems, sure. After take a look at using the VanMoof X3 to get a way of its reliability over time and the way its options maintain up in regular day-to-day use, I remorse my early skepticism.
I don’t know if I can overstate how a lot using an e-bike, particularly this e-bike, enhanced my life in small methods for the higher whereas I attempted it out. Biking extra — and e-bikes do get people biking more — makes me happier and more healthy. Biking extra has helped me ease out of the intensely sedentary pandemic interval into new habits that make me really feel extra related to the world round me. I’m seeing my metropolis with recent eyes, biking to new neighborhoods I’ve by no means explored and appreciating the entire little issues I took without any consideration. My solely e-bike remorse just isn’t hopping on one sooner.