Vanmoof Electrified S – Electric Bike Review

Vanmoof Electrified S – Electric Bike

Speed freaks, tech nuts, and commuters, Vanmoof reckon its revolutionary Electrified S is just the bike for you. Its sleek, light frame hides an arsenal of integrated smarts. With a mobile app and enough anti-theft features to throw bike thieves out of business, it also manages the clever trick of looking fairly normal for an e-bike. Created in Amsterdam, it’s very much a shoe made for the city. But how will it handle the UK’s far meaner streets?

First impressions

With its all-oven black paintjob and matching components, the VanMoof reminded us of the VW Beetle before it got a hippy makeover. Smuggling its battery, lights, locking mechanism, and onboard computer into the frame, it’s a seriously mean-looking machine. Turning on with abashing of lights, and synchronizable via a smartphone, it’s a bit of a stretch to fling a leg over thanks to a high top tube. Once aboard, the Vanmoof feels like it’ll take on the world, with power supplied smoothly and its huge balloon tyres rumbling inexorably onwards.

On the road

Driving the bike forward is a250Wfront wheel hub motor, with four programmable assistance levels. Drawing power from an integrated 418 watt-hour capacity battery, this provides a range of 60-120km depending on riding style. With the rise of mid-engined bikes, hub motors have found themselves in danger of being relegated to cheaper bikes in the interests of integration, better weight distribution, and easier servicing. Despite this, we like the handling of the VanMoof.

Powerful, and with great modulation, the extra weight at the front of the bike might have made hopping up curbs marginally trickier, but that’s about our sole complaint. A boost button on the handlebar won’t power the bike independently of your pedalling, but provides a little lift, ideal when pulling away from the lights or overtaking uphill.

With a scene-surveying upright riding position, the Vanmoof isn’t quite as stately as some Dutch bikes. Surprisingly light, it’s happy to get going, and not an absolute wrench to ride without electrical assistance. Slow and steady in its handling this suits the bike’s build.

Handling

The Sram Automatix two-speed hub is likely to be a new one on most users. Requiring no shifter or cables, and needing little maintenance, it uses a centrifugal clutch to automatically swap gears when you reach a certain speed. Paired with the electrical assistance this keeps your cadence pleasingly constant, regardless of the pace you’re going. Having been warned the system can be a little clunky, we were surprised to find it really quite seamless.

All-in the combination of smooth motor assist and automatic gearing means the Vanmoof takes a minimum of effort or attention to keep at cruising speed. One slight gripe though. On average Dutchmen are the world’s tallest. This might explain one of the Vanmoof’s quirks. Despite an advised height range of 170-210 cm, if you’re at the shorter end of this you’ll find yourself wanting a dose more standover. Really, the S2 is going to be the best match for people closer to six foot. Coming in only one size, this loses the bike a couple of marks.

Happily, the low-slung X2 frame variant provides a better fit, so it’s worth checking out if you’re of average or shorter height.

The frame

There’s a lot going on here. Made of sizable aluminium tubes the whole thing feels reassuringly solid. With the battery integrated into the downtube, the top tube is home to a charging port, digital display, and lock fixing point. Also built into either end is the powerful integrated lighting, with the front kicking out enough lumens to just about illuminate your way.

Able to auto-activate thanks to an ambient light sensor, you need never worry about remembering to charge or switch them on again. Standard vertical dropouts ensure the rear wheel is going nowhere, while mounts for the included mudguards, and optional rack, are neatly hidden. Sitting in a little holster above the bottom bracket is the VanMoof’s dedicated frame lock.

With a loop at one end, this chain slips through itself before clicking back into a mechanism hidden in the frame’s top tube. Activated by the proximity of a synched and Bluetooth enabled phone it’s possible to unlock the bike without a key. If you don’t fancy using a phone, there’s also a keyless fob. Should someone fiddle with your bike the lights will flash, and you can even set it to send alerts to your phone. With a built-in GPS the bike’s companion app can also track your rides, locate your bike, or even cut out the motor should it be stolen.

Groupset

Atthe heart of the groupset is Sram’s Automatix two-speed hub. With the chain itself enclosed in a discreet case, the whole drivetrain is likely to require an absolute minimum of attention to keep running. Using a tensioner bolted to the chainstay it also needs next to no adjustment and makes removing and replacing the wheel a little easier. Built around it, the rest of the parts are good quality, if anonymous. In keeping with this it took a little digging to reveal the VanMoof’s cable disc brakes come from a brand called Bengal. A new name to us, they worked faultlessly, although we’re unable to comment on long-term durability.

Finishing kit

We’d hate to see the bottom thatfinds the VanMoof’s saddle comfy. Very wide and a little oddly shaped it’s likely aimed towards posteriors less well acquainted with cycling than ours. We reckon most riders will probably swap it out. Better is the seatpost. Both its height and the angle of the saddle are adjusted via a pinhole centred Torx key. Included with the bike, this makes them difficult to steal, perfect for the city. The backswept bars and short stem are comfy and create an easy-going riding position, and we also dug the foam grips.

Wheels

With 36 spokes on the front to support the hub-drive system, and a still robust 32 on the back, these look tough. Adding to the bike’s anti-theft credentials they’re secured with locking nuts that require a special socket to remove. The huge Schwalbe Big Ben balloon tyres provide plenty of scope to barrel over poor surfaces.

Their volume also makes it possible to drop a few psi and add in extra cushioning, with the motor absorbing any slight increase in rolling resistance. Given the slightly increased difficulty in removing either front or back wheels, it’s good to know these are very puncture resistant. That said their slick tread will meet its match in loose gravel or similar.

Specs

Frame: Aluminium. Integrated lights, lock, and display

Groupset: Sram Automatix 2-speed

Brakes: Bengal, cable disc brake

Chainset: Single chainring 4?t

Gearing: Sram Automatix 2-speed

Bars: Backswept 60 cm

Stem: 60mm 31.8

Saddle: Airsprung

Seatpost: Micro-adjust with security bolt

Wheels: 36/32h, Locking nuts, 700c

Tyres: Schwalbe Big Ben, 50mm

Geometry

Size tested: One sizeWeight: 19.3 kg
Top tube (TT): 605 mmSeat tube (ST): 600 mm
Stacks (S): 590 mmReach (R): 385 mm
Chainstays (C): 406 mmHead angle (HA): 71°
Seat angle (SA): 72°Wheelbase (WB): 1110 mm
BB drop (BB): 80 mm 

 

Rating 7.7/10

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