Tuesday, April 21, 2020

VanMoof S3 Lecky Bicycle

The Verge reports: [edited]

Electric bikes, like cars, come in tiers of quality and prestige. Dependable commuter bikes start at around €1,000. At $1,500, they start to look nice, with batteries and motors integrated into the overall aesthetic. Above €2,000 you start seeing sleek designs, advanced electronics, and a preponderance of high-end or original components. On that scale, VanMoof’s premium prices have made it the Tesla of e-bikes.

VanMoof is now taking preorders for its newest pedal-assisted electric bikes: the S3 and X3. They’re follow-ups to the full-sized S2 and compact X2 theft-defying e-bikes released in 2018 and two of the highest-rated e-bikes we’ve ever tested.

Despite a similar appearance, VanMoof says the S3 and X3 are “an upgrade to the S2 and X2 in every way,” yet they cost €400 to €1,400 less than VanMoof’s previous generations of electrics. Priced at €1,998, VanMoof is aggressively setting a new entry point for premium e-bikes that can cost well over €3,000.

Good Stuff
Smooth automatic shifting
Near-silent operation
Improved value for money
Built-in anti-theft with extended recovery service

Bad Stuff
Battery can’t be removed for charging
Some features can feel gimmicky
Kick Lock finicky to engage
More complexity, more problems?

The S3 is designed for riders ranging in size from 170 to 210 cm (5 feet, 7 inches to 6 feet, 11 inches), while the compact X3 fits riders from 155 to 200 cm (5 feet, 1 inch to 6 feet, 7 inches). Both are available in “light” (white with a bluish tint) or “dark” (dark gray) models.

The S3 and X3 feature a number of improvements:

— New four-speed electronic gear shifter
— More powerful and immediate Turbo Boost
— Smaller, nearly silent 250W/500W front-hub motor
— Front and rear hydraulic disc brake

The S3 is the most sophisticated ride I’ve ever experienced on an e-bike. Shifting is incredibly smooth the vast majority of the time, without requiring a pause between downstrokes. Occasionally, maybe one of out every 50 shifts, I felt my feet chase the new gear for about a third of a revolution, or I heard a mechanical 'clink' as the gears advanced. Otherwise, it was silent and glorious, allowing me to pedal along with constant pressure as the gears shifted beneath me, always returning to first when I stopped.

The bike’s smaller, more refined front-hub motor, like the gears, is quiet. I had to strain to hear it above the wind, making it one of the quietest motors around. And the bike is so balanced that I often found myself sitting upright, hands off the grips, riding with 'no hands' on long, lonely stretches of asphalt during my range test.

Every e-bike should have VanMoof’s Turbo Boost feature. The button, accessible from the right grip, is now even more powerful and torquey, giving a near-instantaneous boost without feeling jerky. Push it when you want to make a fast start, climb a hill, or overtake someone quickly.

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