I was impressed by the user-friendly VanMoof S3 electric bike when I reviewed it last year, and the Dutch brand’s new X3 bike is based around the same well-considered technology but in a more compact design.
The slick design and smooth ride of the S3 made it one of the best electric hybrid bikes for urban riding, and the X3 looks set to build on that success with the attention to detail lavished on its new frame adding to the air of quality.
The X3’s X-shaped frame sets it apart from other electric bikes from the brand launched in 2009 by brothers Taco and Tiers Carlier.
How we tested
Some models are motor-equipped folding bikes for nipping around town. Others have mountain-bike style wide tyres and can cope with rugged terrain.
Besides commuter-bike staples such as racks and full-length mudguards, some have integrated lights and locks. The range of most is sufficient for all but the longest and hilliest trips home from the office.
In this test, we’ve looked at four premium assisted bikes that offer different riding experiences in the £2,000 to £4,000 bracket.
Also on test
VanMoof X3 spec details
The bike only comes in one size and VanMoof claims it will fit riders between 5ft and 6ft 5in tall. If you are taller than this, VanMoof recommends the larger S3. I’m 6ft 2in and my partner’s 5ft, and we both felt at home on the bike, so it looks as though VanMoof is accurate in this.
A signature design seen on every VanMoof is the top tube that extends beyond the head tube and seat tube junction and holds an integrated bike light at each end.
A new feature for the X3 is that the bike forgoes a traditional computer-type display in favour of a matrix of 166 LEDs embedded into the top tube, which shows current speed and a remarkably accurate battery-level indicator.
When the bike is dormant but unlocked, the LEDs form a ‘V’ logo. When you lock or unlock the bike, it shows an animated padlock, and it turns into an animated skull if the bike is disturbed when it’s locked. It also emits an audible alarm that’s accompanied by a built-in immobiliser.
If you align the mark on the frame with one on the rear hub and tap the button on the rear dropout with your foot, it locks the bike and rear wheel. This also arms the alarm that works in conjunction with the VanMoof app.
Security is boosted further still by a built-in tracker that works over GSM and close-range Bluetooth. You can also add a VanMoof to Apple’s ‘Find My’ app. You unlock the bike by your phone being in proximity to it, or by inputting a three-digit code.
The one-piece bar and stem is designed neatly, with grips the same diameter as the bar. The electronic bell’s three options include a klaxon like a clown’s car, but I’d stick to the classic bell sound.
A ‘turbo’ boost button brings you the full 59Nm of torque, which gives a real kick when speeding off from lights or starting a climb.
VanMoof X3 range and battery life
The range is impressive for a small-wheeled compact bike. I managed 39.47m / 63.5km, with 1,690ft / 515m of elevation.
VanMoof claims a 37 to 93 miles / 59.5 to 150km range for the X3, and I can only imagine the top range is achieved with the 378Wh range-extending battery added to the internal 504Wh battery, and even then on a flat route.
The X3’s charger gets the battery to 50 per cent from empty in 80 minutes and to fully charged in four hours. At just 80x180x70mm and weighing 867g, it’s compact enough to carry.
VanMoof X3 ride impressions
The X3 is a real treat to ride. The riding position is quite upright, and the steering light and fast, both of which make it a great around-town runabout or electric bike for commuting.
I found it easy to manoeuvre through traffic, and the two-inch wide Innova tyres provide plenty of cushioning for dropping off the occasional kerb or hitting aggressively profiled speed bumps.
Its ride quality and the all-round experience put VanMoof’s X3 up among the best electric bikes I’ve tried – and I’ve ridden a vast number over the years.
Power delivery is smooth and matches your input well, and about the only things I didn’t like were the X3’s plastic-bodied pedals, which are slippery in the wet.
Even aspects such as the front carrier are well-considered. It’s compact, but its bungees held my backpack securely.
VanMoof also offers a host of accessories to expand its capabilities further, making busy lives a little easier and enabling you to take advantage of the benefits of owning an electric bike. You can add on a rear rack, a front basket, a child seat and more.
VanMoof X3 bottom line
Overall, the X3 is brilliant at what it does. Its integrated approach and VanMoof’s superb app result in much more than a bike with a motor added on.
Its great ride makes it a fine urban machine, the range is good and VanMoof’s designers have made sure that, even though it’s less expensive than some rival electric bikes, it certainly doesn’t look it.
Design-conscious urbanites should be able to speed confidently around town in comfort on this one, but it’s far from just about the looks.
The same price
- VanMoof S3
This is VanMoof’s iconic styling in a full-sized wheel package to suit taller riders. The S3’s range impresses and it includes many of the same features as the X3.
A little more
- Cube Compact Sport Hybrid
This is Mycle’s take on an all-terrain tourer, with a larger 12.8mAh battery and the same seatpost-integrated technology. It comes with 26in wheels, a seven-speed drivetrain and a suspension fork.
|Price||EUR €2198.00GBP £1998.00USD $2298.00|
|Weight||21.43kg (One-size only)|
|Features||Extras: Front and rear mudguards, front rack, integrated front and rear lights, kick stand, platform pedals|
|Available sizes||One-size only|
|Bottom bracket||Square taper threaded|
|Brakes||VanMoof hydraulic disc with 160/140mm rotors|
|Cranks||VanMoof with single ring|
|Handlebar||Integrated VanMoof bar and stem|
|Motor||VanMoof 250w front-hub motor with LG 504Wh internal battery, integrated LED display, VanMoof charger|
|Seatpost||VanMoof with integrated rear light|
|Stem||Integrated VanMoof bar and stem|
|Tyres||24x2in Innova slicks|
|Wheels||24in alloy rims with VanMoof 250w motor front hub, 4-speed Sturmey Archer Hub Gear|