A beautifully designed ebike that pushes the boundaries of bike tech
To say that VanMoof’s ebikes are just stylish would be an understatement. These visually stunning electric bikes are in a league of their own when it comes to the eye test, but looks aren’t the only thing the VanMoof S3 and X3 have going for them. Innovations like smartphone pairing, an elegantly designed mobile app, proprietary automatic gear shifting, and an anti-theft system that is miles ahead of all competitors in its segment have led some to call the S3 the iPhone of ebikes.
The S3 commands a price of $2,000, which prices it out of the budget ebike category. However, with so many advanced features and solid components compared to other bikes in the higher-end electric road bike market, this is still a very affordable ebike option. The market has clearly responded, with reports that VanMoof doubled company revenue in 2020, reaching an estimated 80M.
The combination of cutting-edge ebike technology and clean, modern design present an attractive package that CAN appeal to both new and experienced cyclists, but we think it leans more toward the newer rider who may be less concerned with a powerful motor capable of speeds above 20mph. At its core, the VanMoof S3 is an elegant city commuter ebike for those more interested in short commutes.
Mobile App: Compatible with Android and iOS
Top speed: 20mph (US)
Brakes: Front and rear hydraulic disc brakes
Tires: 28” Schwalbe puncture-resistant tires
Battery: 504 Wh
Charge Time: 50% charge in 80 minutes, full charge in 4 hours
Charger Variant: 36V 4A
Range: 37-93 miles
Design and Styling
As mentioned before, the S3 is one of the most visually stunning and clean-looking electric road bikes on the market. The battery and motor are entirely concealed, along with most cables (normally exposed on most bikes) within the handlebars to provide a wireless and tidy appearance. However, it may be important to note that this concealment of the battery makes it nearly impossible to remove. There is also no LED display on the handlebars, as is the case with most ebikes, just two buttons for controlling the horn and motor assistance.
These design features combine to make for a uniquely “next-gen” looking ebike, causing the S3 to stand out by not standing out. Its simplicity and cleanliness make it an unforgettable player in the modern ebike scene.
S3 vs X3
One aspect of the design of the S3 to note when considering purchasing is the frame and overall build size. This is a big bike. In all honesty, it isn’t too much of a surprise that a bike designed by two Dutchmen, statistically the tallest people in the world, would develop a large bike (the Netherlands has an average male height of 6’0” to 6’2”). VanMoof declares the bike to be suitable for riders 5’8” to 6’8”. This bike’s size is so significant that if you’re under 5’8”, you may want to opt for VanMoof’s X3 variant.
The X3, which accommodates riders 5’0 to 6’5, shares many similarities with the S3, the key difference being frame geometry. The S3 has a standover height of 34 inches, compared to 28 inches for the X3, with the top tube and seat tube forming a perfect triangle. Because the top tube sits significantly lower on the X3 it doesn’t have that perfect triangle framed shape that the S3 has. On its own, it’s still a great-looking bike, but next to the clean lines of the S3, it looks a bit odd. Because of its more compact frame, the X3 carries 24-inch wheels while the S3 28-inch wheels. Other than that, the two bikes contain the same core technology that VanMoof is using to stake its claim as the preeminent high-tech ebike brand of the moment.
Automatic Gear Shifting
Perhaps the S3’s most notable feature is its highly advanced, proprietary 4-gear auto shifting capabilities. That could seem like a dream come true for people new to riding bikes and unfamiliar with shifting gears, but it could possibly take some of the fun out of riding for those used to shifting gears manually.
The S3 automatically shifts gears for the rider based on software that recognizes the environment, speed, and incline of the bike. Not forgetting that there is more than one type of bike rider, VanMoof ensures that for those keen on doing their gear shifting manually, there is still an option to enable this via the VanMoof smartphone app.
Smartphone Compatibility and Security
As the maker of one of the best-looking ebikes on the market, VanMoof is aware that the S3 can fall victim to theft attempts. For this reason, the S3 has some of the best security measures of any ebike on the market. The bike has Bluetooth and smartphone compatibility, allowing owners to track their bikes no matter their locations via the award-winning VanMoof mobile app.
In addition to tracking features, the S3 also offers a locking mechanism. The lock is engaged by lining up the back wheel to markers on the frame, then kicking the lock into place, preventing someone from riding or rolling it away. The bike can then be unlocked via the app or with a passcode using the horn button, one of the only two buttons on the S3’s handlebars.
Front Motor and “Boost” Feature
A front wheel hub motor is relatively uncommon for electric bikes, but the S3 pulls it off rather stylishly. The S3’s front motor commands between 250W and 350W of power and can produce 59Nm of torque. VanMoof took a risk with such a non-traditional motor placement because with a smaller motor like that of the S3, not a lot of consistent power can be exerted. For this reason, those expecting an experience more akin to a moped rather than a bicycle may not favor the S3, as it stays true to its bicycle nature, providing some support in riding while not completely taking over as some alternative electric bicycles would.
It doesn’t mean that the S3 is completely without motor support though, as the small but capable front motor can still provide instant torquey boosts on command. The other button present on the bike’s handlebars serves as the “boost” button. When pressed, this will deliver a boost of motor support to get a quick start, climb a hill, or to assist with whatever the task at hand may be. Regardless, increased motor support is immediately accessible, similar to a throttle.
Final Words on the S3
With the latest version of the S3, VanMoof has established itself as one of the world’s leading ebike brands. It has succeeded in not only producing a gorgeously designed ebike that is almost too beautiful to ride, but by also introducing proprietary features that are groundbreaking for electric bikes in this segment. For instance, it is not a stretch to expect all ebike companies to offer phone pairing technology and elegant mobile apps in the not too distant future and VanMoof is clearly leading here.
The S3 is a great bike that is already inspiring legions of fanboys and fangirls, as well as strong counter-opinions, because of its iconoclastic bend as a company. This makes it a very personal bike in many ways. Meaning, this is an ebike for a very specific kind of rider. With so many bold and unique features, the S3 will appeal to those who are either not afraid to go against the grain, or are drawn to the company’s reputation for innovation and iconic design. This certainly does not take away from the VanMoof S3’s impressive rideability and utility as a city commuter ebike. Still, it may fall short for bike traditionalists who are looking for a purer biking experience, which other brands like Aventon or Juiced Bikes are happy to offer in their products.