Like among the greatest shopper 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.
Before shopping for a Nintendo Switch, 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 dwell in Portland, Oregon, land of ample bike lanes and bare bike rides. When 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 turned weekday errand working.
Just a few years later, I obtained identified with a persistent sickness and immediately 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 stunning days, once I’d at all times sigh and suppose I want I biked extra — it makes me really feel good!
Before testing the X3, I’d discover excuses to drive brief distances as an alternative of using my bike. What if I obtained drained and didn’t really feel like biking residence? What if it begins pouring rain? What’s if it’s too sizzling? What if I’m too sweaty once I get to the workplace? Riding an e-bike erases most of these considerations outright.
The X3 is a simple 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 in the beginning 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 may well’t go unspoken that going quick on a motorbike — the entire time, with as a lot or little effort as you’re feeling like placing in — is de facto, actually enjoyable. If 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 greatest 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 available on the market, so a few of their pluses would maintain true for any electrical bike. But that doesn’t make the VanMoof interchangeable both. The VanMoof X3 has a really particular look, really feel and have set that may completely go well with a sure type of rider (myself included) however different e-bike consumers will nonetheless need to play the sector. We’ll get into that — right here goes!
I examined the VanMoof X3 over the S3 not by alternative — its geometry is just a little wacky trying in photos — however as a result of I’m 5’4″. The X3, which inserts anyone from 5′-6’5″, is just a little smaller and fewer conventional trying than the S3, which fits anybody taller than 5’8″. The X3 has 24″ wheels somewhat than the S3’s 28″ wheels and it has just a little bungee-corded platform within the entrance the place presumably you could possibly carry one thing, however I nonetheless do not know what (You can even purchase an add-on entrance basket that slots in there and appears very cute.)
Like most e-bikes, the X3 is far, a lot heavier than a standard street or commuter bike. The listed weight is 45.8 lbs and also you’ll really feel each pound of it in the event you ever want to hold it very far. I dwell in a standalone home in Portland, Oregon and needed to carry the X3 down a really brief entrance step to journey it — completely effective!
I used to dwell in a fifth flooring walkup in Brooklyn and carrying it up or down that may have been inconceivable. If you may’t retailer the X3 (or most any e-bike) round floor stage with entry to a charger, it won’t be an excellent match for you. (Note that in our photos, the small platform above the chain space is the place an elective exterior battery pack, mentioned later, sits. The platform is detachable.)
Though on paper I’d choose 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 “Death Star chic” and whereas I don’t completely know what which means, she’s not unsuitable. 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 may select between a basic, horny 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 powerful although it’s not completely bombproof. Somehow the handlebars picked up just a little nick within the paint, although I nonetheless do not know the place it got here from or what did it (owls?).
Something essential to notice is that neither the VanMoof X3 or S3 appear to be 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 searching for an e-bike that doesn’t scream e-bike!!!! the VanMoof is likely one of the greatest decisions if not the only option you could possibly 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. But 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? As it seems, fairly the alternative and sure, completely.
The VanMoof X3 (and its sibling the S3) provide you with an electrical increase whereas pedaling — you’ll nonetheless be pedaling but it surely feels enticingly straightforward and also you’ll go quicker with much less effort. The bike additionally contains a Turbo Boost button on the right-side handlebar that provides you an enormous increase on prime of the smoother regular digital help, as much as 20 miles per hour within the U.S.
You can select the quantity of assist that you really want. Using the VanMoof app, which we’ll get to, or a bodily button, you may 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 every thing really feel really easy there’s nearly no strategy 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. Being ready to decide on the extent of pedal help is a big perk and it makes the bike really feel versatile for various makes use of.
Whatever mode you’re on, the turbo increase 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 unsure drivers are paying consideration. It’s enjoyable and superior for secure, defensive metropolis using.
It takes just a little bit to get used to the automated digital shifting however that’s silky clean too. I initially assumed that, like many issues that labored completely properly earlier than having some extraneous “smart” high-tech nonsense draped over them (fridges! lamps! vibrators!) the expertise would fail simply typically sufficient to be a nuisance.
After a protracted interval of testing, I can report that the X3 rides as clean and seamless as ever. Every every now and then I’d crunch down on the pedal or a gear received’t catch immediately but it surely’s tremendous uncommon. You may even use the app to customise when the bike shifts up and down and it’s price taking part in round with that to seek out one thing that feels excellent.
What else? The X3’s most assisted velocity is within the U.S. is 20 mph (32km/hr), however anybody in Europe might be restricted to fifteen.5 mph (25km/hr). The U.S. velocity feels nice and it’s painless to rise up to 20mph and preserve that velocity with the X3 in a approach I’d need to destroy my quads to handle in any other case, even on my zippy non-electric street bike.
Beyond that, the seat may be very comfortable 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 (cute) little Bianchi and pined for the comfortable journey I’d gotten so used to.
The VanMoof X3 is a superb worth, all issues thought of. The firm 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 properly priced. Now they’re retailing for $2,298 — $300 greater than the earlier worth however nonetheless a effective deal for anybody searching for a really full-featured e-bike with out spending greater than round $2,000.
That’s not very far more than you’d spend on an everyday bike, sans electrical energy and plenty of, many cool bells and whistles. And in the event you’re into larger finish bikes, it might even be so much 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.
Still, it’s type of annoying that VanMoof is quietly messing round with the pricing with the bikes already out within the wild. It would suck to plan to purchase one solely to see the worth shoot up earlier than you’d pulled the set off.
The firm ought 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 would possibly differ from an X3 you could possibly purchase in 2020. That’s complicated and all of it ought to be made clearer someplace apparent on the web site.
One of the most important concerns with an e-bike (or an e-anything!) is vary. VanMoof says the X3’s vary is 37 miles utilizing “full power” and as much as 93 miles in economic system mode. If 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 may simply toss that quantity out. The low finish estimate of 37 miles could be just a little beneficiant for somebody who’s utilizing the bike on the fourth energy help stage and smashing the turbo increase frequently, however 35-45 miles feels about proper from my testing (normally mode 3 or 4, sometimes 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 day by day brief rides (2.5-5 miles, normally) and the occasional longer journey (10-20 miles). If you’re utilizing the X3 or S3 to commute to work someplace that’s farther away, you’re going to seek out your self plugging in additional. Even so, I by no means obtained right into a state of affairs the place I used to be involved that I’d run out of battery removed from residence. And even in the event you do, you may nonetheless pedal the bike — it’s simply actually heavy. Most folks will in all probability cost up in a single day, however you may refill the battery in 4 hours if it’s essential to.
Something to notice is that you simply’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 lack of a detachable battery could be a strike in opposition to the VanMoof bikes for folk who dwell in walk-ups or small flats, however for folks with someplace straightforward to retailer it, this wasn’t one thing I assumed twice about.
While the built-in vary is completely satisfactory for lots of use instances, VanMoof simply launched an exterior add-on battery pack for each the X3 and S3. The battery slots into just a little platform, pictured beneath and mounted on our check 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. Again, nearly no one 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, but it surely positively makes the X3 appear to be an e-bike. It’s not elegant just like the detachable battery on the Cowboy, one other extraordinarily good-looking e-bike, but it surely’s okay. If every thing else a couple of VanMoof fits you completely however you want extra vary, it’s nice to have the choice, even in the event you’ll be shelling out for it.
The tech bells and whistles are one thing that actually makes the VanMoof X3 and S3 stand out from the gang. The X3’s worth feels cheap for a dependable, great-looking e-bike, however on prime of that you simply’ll be getting an electrical steed with some fairly candy tips:
- Matrix show: On the bike’s prime tube an array of LED lights constructed into the metallic shows your velocity, battery life and different helpful data. This is a killer function, it’s extraordinarily cool!
- Alarm. You can activate an alarm that may *actually growl* at anybody who jostles your bike. It’s intense and actually loud.
- Kick lock. You can kick a small bodily button to alarm the bike and lock the again wheel. If 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.)
- Find My on iOS. If you’re an iOS person you may 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 can customise numerous small issues (bell noise, alarm on or off, shifting preferences), use it to trace your rides and extra. You additionally don’t need to be linked 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 routinely tracked. Importantly, you can even observe your bike’s whereabouts by the app and VanMoof touts this function mixed with its alarm system and restoration group for serving to folks get their bikes again.
Overall, one thing nice in regards to the X3 is that the tech options aren’t simply fancy tips — they actually improve the expertise. And even so, they’re elective. You can journey the bike and profit from the facility help with out utilizing the app. You can use an everyday lock and skip the alarm system in the event you select to, or use a bodily button code to disable it manually. You can change the facility help mode with the identical button. This is all enormous 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 hassle.
Shipping and Assembly: The VanMoof X3 and S3 come within the mail in an enormous field. The meeting course of was nearly painless — aside from this one actually fiddly bit you must 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!)
Extra Support: VanMoof provides three paid plans to maintain your bike in working order and in your possession. You can purchase a three-year upkeep plan for $348, a three-year theft restoration plan for $398 or a mixed plan for $690 (damaged down by way of VanMoof beneath).
Maintenance: Where you reside ought 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 stunned 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. Of course, important put on and tear means any bike may benefit 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. Beyond its flagship shops, the corporate relies on an expanding network of service centers and “certified workshops” to take care of its bikes, so make sure you examine what’s close to you. Personally, I’d need to be close to sufficient to a VanMoof retailer or at the least a service middle to ensure my $2,000+ funding and its many, many technological bits could possibly be maintained in excellent well being. Nobody needs to ship a motorbike again for repairs, particularly a heavy, technologically advanced one.
Prior to testing out the X3, e-bikes aren’t one thing I’d thought so much about and I wasn’t actually certain who they have been for. I first heard of VanMoof a few years in the past when a detailed buddy and far 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 fantastic about them! Could an e-bike actually translate the joyful simplicity of biking into one thing far more excessive tech? As it seems, sure. After check 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 linked to the world round me. I’m seeing my metropolis with contemporary eyes, biking to new neighborhoods I’ve by no means explored and appreciating the entire little issues I took with no consideration. My solely e-bike remorse isn’t hopping on one sooner.