Test riding the new VanMoof e-bike S5 and A5

VanMoof just announced their latest premium electric bike: The S5 full size With 27.5″ wheels and A5 smaller With 24-inch wheels and, for the first time for the company, a rolling frame. They bring a host of improvements as VanMoof attempts to capitalize on the growing demand for e-bikes from first-time buyers, even as it raises prices above the emotional $2,000 threshold.

“There are only a few parts left from our previous models, the S3 and X3,” VanMoof CEO Taco Carlier says in a statement. “Every last detail from the frame to the chipset and sensors has been engineered for the smoothest, most powerful ride ever.”

I had the opportunity to test semi-finished engineering prototypes of both the S5 and A5 at the company’s new headquarters in Amsterdam. The company has grown from around 250 people in that time S3 / X3 launching in 2020 For nearly 900 people now. Most importantly, many of these new hires have joined our support and engineering teams in order to meet VanMoof’s goal of having 10 million riders on their e-bikes by 2026, while avoiding a repeat. slips That plagued the early days of the S3/X3 launch.

One of the biggest upcoming changes to the S5/A5 is replacing the iconic VanMoof top-tube display with illuminated “Halo Rings” near the Bell and Boost buttons along with the left and right knobs. According to the company, the lights make you more visible on the road, and the new steering wheel interface transmits real-time information like battery life, speed, lock status and more to the passenger — all without having to take their eyes off the road ahead.

The new Halo Ring and the new two-button multifunction interface located next to both the left and right handles.
Photo: VanMoof

A brighter, slightly redesigned taillight and new Halo rings make the bike more visible.
Photo by Thomas Rieker/The Verge

A brighter, slightly redesigned front headlight and new halo rings make the bike more visible.
Photo by Thomas Rieker/The Verge

VanMoof knows the decision will be controversial. Sometimes you have to “kill your dear,” Carlier said, sometimes laughing during a question-and-answer session with reporters last week, echoing the term that directs designers to dispense with anything they find personally exciting but don’t add value to the user.

The VanMoof app can be used as a dashboard with an optional phone holder and a new USB-C charging socket under the steering wheel.
Photo: VanMoof

If you want more info during your trip, you’re in luck: VanMoof co-designed an optional phone holder with SP . Connect And add a new 5V USB-C socket under the handlebar. This way, you can keep your phone charged while the VanMoof app is open on a new dashboard view. Price and official disclosure of the mount is still TBD.

Both bikes feature a top speed of 20 mph in the US and 25 kph in Europe from a reworked, “silent” 250W 5th generation front hub motor in a custom VanMoof design, with a boost button that now delivers slightly more torque (68 newton meters) than before (59 newton meters). Also new is a three-speed automatic transmission paired with a new torque sensor that is now standard across all regions. Combined, the S5 and A5 are said to provide a smoother ride than the four-speed S3 and X3 e-bikes.

This motor is powered by new high-performance 47V/5A batteries with a capacity of 487Wh in the S5 and a slightly smaller 463Wh in the A5. The S5’s 23 kg (50 lb) range has a slightly higher range of 60-150 km (37-92 miles) compared to the 22 kg (49 lb) A5, which has a range of 55-140 km (34-87 miles) when riding In full power or environment modes. Non-removable batteries (excluding service) charge from 0 to full in six hours and 30 minutes slow with a smaller, lighter 48V/2A charger that comes in the box, though the optional 48V/4A speed charger drops that to 4 hours and 30 minutes (price to be determined later).

While previous VanMoof S series bikes have been criticized for being too tall for many riders, the S5’s frame height has been lowered by 5 cm (2 in) to accommodate riders 165 cm (5 ft 5 in) and taller. The diminutive A5 meets the needs of 155 cm (5 ft 1 in) riders and uses a more angled frame compared to the X3 it replaces, allowing for an easier stride.

VanMoof S5 is equipped with a new extended ‘Click-On’ battery.
Photo: VanMoof

VanMoof A5 is fitted with optional front and rear rack racks.
Photo: VanMoof

Another notable change has been made to accommodate a redesigned ‘Click-On’ extended battery that is coming in ‘early summer’. The optional 463Wh additional battery (price at launch) nearly doubles the capacity. It can directly start the motor (or charge the main battery) without all the messy cables and velcros in VanMoof PowerBank replaces. It connects to the S5 and A5 via a new “Lock Dock” mount that does not fit older VanMoof e-bikes.

Other changes include brighter headlights and taillights that are now more visible from the sides, a new automatic retraction pin on the built-in Kick Lock (no more having to roll the bike after you unlock it), integrated environmental sensors for air quality and temperature, better cable management, and improved tracking. Location using a combination of GPS and LTE-M (a type of low energy wide area network). Both bikes offer a variety of front and rear cargo options, including a heavy-duty rear rack for both the S5 and A5 that can hold up to 27 kg (about 60 lbs). Features like Apple’s built-in Find My network, theft recovery, and built-in alarm carry over from previous generations.

The S5 and A5 will only be available in gray at launch.

In my short test rides with prototypes, I can confirm that the S5’s smaller wheels and lower overall frame height make it noticeably easier to install than VanMoof’s popular S series long bikes. The smaller A5 is easier to access thanks to a new gradient design that improves on the X3 straight frame it replaces. I can’t comment directly on the much touted improved “smoothness” since I’ve been testing the non-production firmware on a short test track. However, I’m hoping the charging bikes will maintain the power, fluid shifting and the quick torque (aided by pressing the Boost button) that I achieved when mashing the pedals on the prototypes kicks in.

The jury is still out on the benefits of the Halo Ring interface. On my left side I saw a solid ring of steady white lights while riding, while the opposite ring rose and fell with no apparent 1:1 connection to what I was doing – was it showing pedal-assisted power or speed or something else? Also, when can I use the new secondary buttons below the boost and buzzer buttons? VanMoof tells me that the new multifunction buttons will be used to control the Halo Ring function, enter a passcode to unlock the bike, and change between the four power levels with pedal assistance. None of this was immediately apparent although VanMoof hoped first-time riders would not need to refer to a manual. In fairness, I only rode the bikes for five minutes and even the old VanMoof front requires some education.

The VanMoof S5 was unveiled at a press event in Amsterdam last week.
Photo by Thomas Rieker/The Verge

Unfortunately, VanMoof, like almost any e-bike maker, has had to raise prices in the face of chip shortages and high transportation costs. The S5 and A5 can be ordered today at $2,998 / €2,498 with deliveries beginning in July – well above the current price of $2,448 / €2,348 for the S3/X3 models, and well above their introductory price of 1. 998 / 1,998 euros from just two years ago. When asked before, Carlier said, if there is anything, these prices will rise in time, not fall. the edge.

Even with such high prices, Carlier says the company is preparing to produce “15 times” as many S5 and A5 bikes at its Taipei factory than it did before the pandemic. While Carler didn’t give an exact figure (he says it’s “less than 100,000” per month), the company needs to ramp up production significantly to reach its five-year target of 10 million VanMoof riders – far more than the 200,000 or so riders it currently has yet. More than a decade in business.

And yes, for those who are paying attention, VanMoof skips over the “S4” generation of bikes with its naming. If you ask Job Stehmann, the head of product design, he’ll echo what his CEO said and say it’s worth skipping a number because the bike is a huge advance over the S3. (Carlier admitted during the Q&A that four is also an unlucky number in Asia.) It is also worth noting that VanMoof has released a number of S3/X3 Bikes Updates Early 2021plus smaller improvements made throughout 2020, without increasing model numbers.

VanMoof is good at generating hype for their very popular e-bikes. We’ll see if the new S5 and A5 models are worth it once we can do an in-depth review. Hopefully the Carlier brothers can apply all the lessons learned over the past two years by shipping a better, flawless product without support issues to justify these higher prices.

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