The year when the Vanmoof S3/X3 model was released proved to be a big one for the brand as it took their game to the next level by improving the overall characteristics of the electric bike, as compared to the previous generation.
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However, the big news with this model is that the brand took off 1500 euros from the Electrified S3/X3 price. Is this the dream come true for the city e-cyclists? Is this too good to be true? Let’s try to look closer to see if this is the case.
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Whether other e-bike brands like it or not, the Dutch manufacturer, Vanmoof was the first one to introduce a connected electric bicycle to the market. But then, over the next few years, the connected e-bicycle sector was overtaken by other emerging companies. Those companies saw the value of connected gadgets (not only bicycles) and built what we now call – a bunch of good connected electric bikes.
Vanmoof responded to the competitors this year by introducing a revised version of its last year’s e-bike model. The main purpose of this upgrade was to improve the e-bike’s components while also cutting down the retail price by 1500 euros.
Even though Vanmoof’s e-bikes did not manage to have good control over the comments their previous e-bike models have received on Facebook, this upgrade was the first step taken by the brand to show that their e-bikes are the best on the market and that Vanmoof is able to take the criticism seriously.
Design and features of
Vanmoof did not have a very good reputation in one specific e-bike component: the electric power system. The brand has been criticized a lot in the past few years for the electric assistance of its e-bikes. This criticism was never about the design of Vanmoof e-bikes.
S3 or X3?
Vanmoof does not offer several frame sizes for its e-bikes. It offers two identical e-bikes. The difference is in wheel size and rider height. The wheel size is 24 inches on the X3 model and 27 inches on the S3 model. If you are between 1.55m (61 inches) and 1.70m (67 inches), you would prefer X3. If you are above 1.70m (67 inches), S3 is the right e-bike size for you.
Design and protection
When it comes to hiding the electric motor and the battery on the electric cycle, Vanmoof takes this part very seriously and the design looks great. Both motor and battery are well hidden within the e-bike, making the overall design well-finished and aesthetic.
Vanmoof S3/X3 overall is a great e-bike. Its X3 version is designed with shorter riders in mind. Above all, both models possess very clean lines.
S3/X3 weighs around 20 kgs. Its frame is quite large (making it look a little bit like a mastodon). As the handlebars are designed not to turn that much, this e-bike style never fails to retain an undeniable elegance.
The elegance of the e-bike is also very functional as all the e-bike’s components are well-protected. All you can see is two cables of the hydraulic disc brakes at the front, which are then also hidden in the frame on the back of the e-bike.
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Moreover, you will not see any access to the battery, no visible screws, and no levers to detach the wheels or the saddle. Even the electronic derailleur and the chainring block are well-protected, especially to limit potential damages.
Vanmoof S3/X3 can challenge to be called a perfect urban electric bike because it can resist the damaged or not well-paved roads and other city dangers. One element that is still questionable is the ability to absorb road shocks.
Protection and safety
Due to the previous criticism, Vanmoof now tries to pay more attention to safety features. This applied not only to safety on the road but also to safety when parked. With a simple tap on the button, which is located near the rear wheel, you can instantly lock the Vanmoof S3/X3. Clicking the button activates a powerful alarm.
Thanks to its safety specifications, this e-bike fits perfectly into the character of a connected city e-bike. For example, a short stop at the bakery or a ride in the nearest neighborhood grocery store will not require you to protect the e-bike using a U-lock.
This powerful alarm is connected with a GPS tracker, which has made the reputation of the e-bike even better. This link guarantees better theft protection and can also help find and recover the e-bike (thanks to the GPS tracker).
To put it simply, Vanmoof S3/X3 is designed to limit the mental burden of the owner regarding the bike’s safety.
Read also: Are electric bikes dangerous? What are e-bike risks? And, How safe are electric bikes?
Battery integration and other equipment
Apart from a much better price and the protection it offers, we find the rest of the equipment of this Vanmoof e-bike model rather classical and of high quality.
The e-bike has a nice pair of slightly curved handlebars with pleasant foam covering. A well-thought push button will make every ride easy. Other than that, a powerful front headlight, a traffic rear light, and a screen composed of multiple LEDs are powerful enough to show information on the display board, even in plain daylight.
At the same time, we think, Vanmoof S3/X3 has one disadvantage to be used in a city: the e-bike does not have a removable battery. If you do not have access to ground floor storage space or an elevator, it may not be worth purchasing this model, as you will have to carry the e-bike up the stairs, which may not be the best solution for everyone. Remember that this model weighs 20 kgs.
Battery integration can be changed by the after-sales service, in case there is a problem with the battery. Still, we think, this is not the best solution for a city e-bike.
Vanmoof S3/X3 on the road
In summary – Vanmoof S3/X3 is pleasant to ride. You won’t be comprising on the components and the safety when riding the e-bike in the urban area. But its speed system is something that could have been improved.
Using the boost button
Vanmoof S3/X3 feels a bit strange to ride as it mixes up an e-bike and a scooter. The boost button, located under the right thumb, is a trick by VanMoof to help provide the comfort of a high-end bike, along with the motor in the rotation sensor crankset. But the motor is not as efficient because it is housed on the front wheel.
To put it simply, you never feel that the motor is anyhow compromising your pedaling power due to the boost button, which brings motor power to 100% on-demand and makes you instantly accelerate to the maximum speed.
If you feel like pedaling in a more natural way, you can let go of the button (just do not use it). The engine will continue to do its normal job well once it has been started by your pedaling efforts.
Overall, an intuitive riding experience
Riding a Vanmoof e-bike takes time to adjust, but it is ultimately very intuitive. From time to time, the rider might lose the sensation of riding a traditional e-bike due to a somewhat less efficient speed system. At the same time, Vanmoof claims that the boost button experience is both effective and exhilarating.
This riding inconvenience is partly due to electronic speeds, which adapt the power to be applied to each pedal stroke (depending on the speed).
Read also: What is the difference between a regular e-bike and a speed e-bike? And, is it legal to derestrict electric bicycle speed?
On this Vanmoof e-bike, you are not supposed to think about anything: everything is done automatically. All you have to do is let yourself enjoy the ride. Going from 2nd mode to 4th mode on this bike is a lot easier as compared to the Vanmoof S2. The speed change process in the S2 version is rather limited as it causes the rider to release pedals abruptly.
In-app speed configuration is questionnable
The e-bike has some limitations, regardless of how good the equipment is. First of all, we find the speed configuration in the mobile app is very tedious. Vanmoof asks to enter at what speed we want the bike to ride.
Having to configure all the settings on the app is not a good idea, as the system probably needs to choose the shifts on its own. How do you know at what speed you need to shift to a higher or lower gear? It also feels that, after such configuration, the speed chosen by the system is not the best one for the riding experience.
However, as you start using the boost button, you get used to it after a few hours of riding. Still, this experience does not seem to be consistent with the promise of a perfect urban e-bike.
How about climbing hills?
Another concern, perhaps rare for many cyclists, is related to the behavior of the e-bike while climbing hills. Without a boost, the engine has latency and does not activate instantly. The boost mode can only be activated at a certain speed.
As a result, if you stop on a steep incline (our garage ramp for example), it is simply impossible to start riding from this stop. The e-bike is too heavy to carry both its own weight and yours, as the engine has not started and the boost mode has not been activated.
Read also: Can e-bikes help go up steep hills? And, How to switch electric assistance levels on an e-bike?
The design of Vanmoof S3/X3 shows that it is not made for those situations. On the other hand, if you are already on the ride and the engine is fully launched, it is one of the models that swallows the climbs best, precisely, thanks to the boost mode.
What about autonomy?
Autonomy is average. Expect to ride around 50 kilometers on a single charge. It feels a bit unrealistic to expect to reach the maximum autonomy announced by Vanmoof (more than 100 km on a single charge). This autonomy is calculated with the engine speed at mode 1 (the least electric assistance) and without using the boost button.
In practice, it is comfortable to use the engine at speed 4 mode and use the boost button quite often. But for comfortable everyday use in a city, autonomy is already very sufficient.
What about connectivity?
From our point of view, the app still requires some work on it. If you only want to open it once when you first configure your new e-bike, you will be able to do this. You can use a code and a button to lock and unlock the e-bike.
The app seems more like an appendix, not a must-use with the e-bike. Your e-bike still works very well without the app. Also, it does not look like a good idea to always use the app when riding your e-bike.
Beyond configuring the speed system, you can also set the bell sound, power of the engine, the lock, and location on the map, showing the last place the bike was parked.
It is also through the app that you can declare that your e-bike was stolen and activate its geolocation via GPS. In case your e-bike gets stolen, Vanmoof’s customer care team will approach you and will take care of it.
Read also: Cowboy 3 vs Vanmoof S3 review, top connected city e-bikes. And, Angell vs Cowboy vs Vanmoof, which one would you choose?
Interesting to see that you can derestrict your Vanmoof in one click via the app, to give it electric assistance up to 32 km/h (the US e-bike speed limit). The simple fact of doing this is a legal offense and the manufacturers are required to do everything in their power to prevent it. But, obviously, Vanmoof fell short on this one.
In most of Europe, the e-bike speed limit is set to 25 km/h. Most well-accelerated e-bikes will easily exceed this limit. We can only encourage you not to derestrict your e-bike as long as the legislation does not change.
- Unbeatable value for money
- Practical boost button
- Connected but not as expected
- Inconvenient speed system configuration
- Bike bell is hardly noticeable
- No suspension, not much shock absorption
Vanmoof S3/X3 specs
|Announced Range||93 miles (150 km)||124 miles (200 km)|
|Net Weight||46.3 lbs (21 kg)||44.1 lbs (20 kg)|
|Max Load Capacity||330 lbs (150 kg)||330 lbs (150 kg)|
|Type of Brakes||Hydraulic disc brakes||Hydraulic disc brakes|
|Suspension||Front suspension||No suspension|
|Pedal Assist Modes||5||5|
|Applicable Rider Height||5’2″ – 6’6″ (157-203 cm)||5’2″ – 6’6″ (157-203 cm)|
|Charging Time||3.5-4.5 hours||3.5-4.5 hours|
|Lighting systems||Front and rear lights, integrated taillights that act just like a brake light||Front and rear lights, integrated taillights that act just like a brake light|
A few words in conclusion
Vanmoof S3/X3 is an extremely pleasant electric bike to ride in the city. For around € 2,000, the experience can hardly be better.
It is well equipped for city riding, with its hydraulic disc brakes, its practical boost button, as well as with its security settings, which reassure urban protection from theft. Such security features contribute to the rider’s peace of mind. One can ride this e-bike to the nearest grocery store or around the neighborhood without applying the requirement to lock the e-bike with a U-lock at every stop.
One of our regrets is that the automatic gear system as it is not that easy to master. Another one is that the battery is not removable, which will possibly make you think twice before purchasing this model, especially if you do not have a sufficiently spacious elevator or a place to recharge the e-bike at your workplace.
At the same time, if we are to talk about the previous generations of Vanmoof’s e-bikes, the company showed that it knows how to listen to its critics and correct its faults.
Read also: Check out reviews of popular models of electric bikes.