Test-riding Vanmoof’s new S5 and A5 e-bikes

VanMoof has announced its latest premium electric bikes: the full-size S5 with 27.5-inch wheels and the smaller A5 with 24-inch wheels and, for the first time, a step-by-step frame. Taking advantage of the growing demand for e-bikes from first-time buyers, Van Moof raises prices above the sensible $ 2,000 limit, but they bring a number of refinements.

“Only a few parts remain from our previous models, the S3 and X3,” VanMoof CEO Taco Carlier said in a statement. “Every last detail from the frame to the chipset and sensors is always designed for a smooth, powerful ride.”

I had the opportunity to test the engineering prototypes of both the S5 and A5 at the company’s new Amsterdam headquarters. The company has grown from about 250 people to almost 900 people by the time the S3 / X3 was launched in 2020. Importantly, many of the new hires have joined support and engineering teams to help VanMoof achieve its goal of getting 10 million riders on its e-bikes by 2026, while still avoiding the missteps of the early days of the S3 / X3. Throwing.

One of the biggest changes coming to the S5 / A5 is the replacement of VanMoof’s iconic top-tube display with two glowing “hollow rings” next to the bell and boost buttons on the left and right grips. According to the company, the lights make you more visible on the road, and the new handlebar interface gives the rider real-time information on battery life, speed, lock status, and more – all of which are in front of you without taking your eyes off the road.

The new Hollow Ring and the new multi-function two-button interface are located next to the left and right hand grips.
Image: Vanmoof

A bright and slightly redesigned rear light and new hollow rings make the bike even more visible.
Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

A bright and slightly redesigned front light and new hollow rings make the bike look even better.
Photo by Thomas Ricker / The Verge

VanMoof knows that decision will be controversial. Carlyre said with a laugh during a question-and-answer session with reporters last week that sometimes you have to “kill your loved ones”, echoing the proverb that guides designers to deliver anything they consider personally inspiring but fails to add value to the user.

The VanMoof processor can be used as a dashboard
Image: Vanmoof

If you want more info during your ride, you’re lucky: VanMoof has designed a custom phone mount in conjunction with SP Connect and added a new 5V USB-C jack under the handle. That way you can keep your mobile charged while the VanMoof apps open on the new dashboard display. The official expression of price and mount is still TBD.

Both bikes have a top speed of 20mph in the US and 25kph in Europe (59Nm). Also new is the three-speed automatic transmission and a new torque sensor is now standard in all areas. Together, the S5 and A5 are said to offer smoother ride than the four-speed S3 and X3 e-bikes.

The motor is powered by new high performance 47V / 5A batteries with 487Wh capacity on the S5 and a slightly smaller 463Wh capacity on the A5. At 23kg (approximately 50 lbs) the S5 is slightly over 60-150km (37-92 miles) compared to the 22kg (49 lbs) A5, which has a range of 55-140km (34-87 miles) when riding. In full power or environmental modes. Although the 48V / 4A Speed ​​Charger reduces the optional 48V / 4A Speed ​​Charger, non-removable (excluding service) batteries charge from 0 to a full six hours and 30 minutes with the smaller and lighter 48V / 2A Charger that comes in the box. 30 minutes per hour (price TBD).

Previous VanMoof S-Series bikes have been criticized for being too tall for many riders, with the S5 frame height reduced to 165cm (5 feet, 5 inches) and 5cm (2 inches) to accommodate taller riders. The smaller A5 supports smaller riders up to 155cm (5 ft, 1 inch) and uses a higher angle frame compared to the X3, allowing for easier navigation.

VanMoof S5 is equipped with the new “click-on” extended battery.
Image: Vanmoof

The VanMoof A5 is fitted with optional front and rear carrier racks.
Image: Vanmoof

Another notable change was made to allow the redesigned “click-on” extended battery to arrive “early in the summer”. The optional 463Wh add-on battery (price will be introduced) almost doubles. It can run the motor directly (or charge the main battery) without all the messy cabling and velcro found on the replaceable VanMoof PowerBank. It is connected to the S5 and A5 via a new “lock dock” mount that is not compatible with older Vanmoof e-bikes.

Other changes include bright front and rear lights, more visible from the side, a new automatic retraction pin on the integrated kick lock (no need to roll the bike after opening), integrated environmental sensors for air quality and temperature, better cable management, and GPS and LTE-M ( Improved location monitoring using a combination of low power wide area network type). Both bikes offer a variety of front and rear cargo options, including a heavy duty rear rack for both the S5 and A5, which can carry up to 27kg (approximately 60 pounds). Features like Apple’s Find My Network, theft recovery and built-in alarm have been implemented from previous generations.

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

In my brief test rides with prototypes, I can confirm that the S5’s slightly smaller wheels and lower overall frame height make mounting significantly easier than Vanmoff’s sleazy tall S-Series bikes. The smaller A5 is much easier to obtain by upgrading to a straight X3 frame that replaces it with a new step-through design. Since I was testing non-productive firmware on a narrow test track, I could not directly comment on the much-anticipated enhanced “softness”. However, I hope the shipping bikes will maintain the power, fluid transfer and rapid torque starts (by pressing the boost button) that I achieved when pedaling the prototypes.

The jury has not yet commented on the benefits of the Hollow Ring interface. On my left, I saw a solid ring of fixed white lights as I rode, while the opposite ring rose and fell – with no apparent 1: 1 connection to what I was doing – does it show pedal-assisted power, speed or something else? Also, when should I use the new secondary buttons below the Boost and Bell buttons? VanMoof tells me that new multi-function buttons will be used to control the hollow ring function, enter the passcode to open the bike and switch between four pedal-assisted power levels. Although Van Moof believes that first-time riders do not need to look at the manual, none of these are immediately apparent. Reasonably, I only rode the bikes for five minutes, and even Vanmoof’s old interface required some education.

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

Unfortunately, VanMoof, like all other e-bike makers, is forced to raise prices due to chip shortages and rising transport costs. The S5 and A5 can be ordered at $ 2,998 / € 2,498 with deliveries starting in July – higher than the current $ 2,448 / € 2,348 price of the S3 / X3 models, and up to $ 1,998 / € 1,998 from the two introductory prices. Years ago. If anything, those prices will increase or decrease in a timely manner, Carlier said when asked On the edge.

Even at that high price, Carlier claims that its Taipei factory is preparing to produce “15 times” S5 and A5 bikes compared to its pre-infection production rate. Although Carlier does not give the exact number (which he says is “less than 100,000” a month), the company needs to dramatically increase production to reach its five-year target of 10 million Vanmoof riders – 200,000 or more. Riders have been in operation for over a decade now.

Yes, for those who are a little tired of the stereo-typed VonMoof, this is the “S4” generation bikes. If you ask Jab Stehman, the head of product design, he will echo his CEO and say that he deserves to avoid a number because the bike is a big improvement over the S3. (Carlier acknowledged that the number four in Asia was an unfortunate number.) Sample numbers.

VanMoof excels at creating exaggerations for its most popular e-bikes. We will see if the new S5 and A5 models are worthy of it after an in-depth review. We hope that Brothers Carlier will be able to apply all the lessons learned over the past two years by sending the best, flawless product without support issues to justify these high prices.

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