We’ll be starting the family cycle commute from next week, and what do you need for a cycle commute? You guessed it…
I have written about my trials and tribulations involving my VanMoof S3 a few times but since the return-to-base repair, it has been dependable. I’ve put 350 miles on the clock (well, the miles that have been recorded as that function is occasionally intermittent) and other than squeaky front brakes it has made the commute a dream.
The bike is far from perfect, given my earlier struggles, but after doing some intense research into the current e-bike offerings on the market, there’s very little that is comparable at the same price point (around £2000). And some of the really nice bikes have lead times of several months which wasn’t going to work for us. We needed a bike within the week. The first stop was Evan’s Cycles in Plymouth, but they only stocked a handful of e-bikes which were mostly older models.
After perusing every top 10 list of UK e-bikes and finding half of them lacking or unavailable, I started to drift back towards VanMoof. Their step-through version of the S3, the X3, has the same features in a smaller and easier to ride package. It’s relatively expensive for a front hub motor, but the integrated design and security features cinched it. The lack of a torque sensor is a problem (one that has been resolved in the newer S5 and A5 models) but I have found the turbo boost button makes mincemeat of even relatively steep hills. It’s not a perfect solution but it’s much better than hauling a trailer on my steam alone. The more expensive S5 and A5 were an attractive option, but the estimated shipping date was September which was about a month too late to be of use to us.
So we bit the bullet, and Sarah ordered an X3. There must have been stock waiting in the UK as we placed the order three days ago for delivery today, and that was with a day’s unexplained delay from UPS. The box was pretty much as per the S3, but this time the toolbox was slightly updated and the front motor cable clip was redesigned. Gone was the extremely annoying and fidgety way of screwing the cover into place – now you just clip it on with no tools required. Otherwise assembly is as simple as removing the packaging, attaching the front wheel, aligning the handlebars, and pumping up the tires. And fixing the pedals of course, which brings me to a stumbling block.
The box contained a right pedal…and another right pedal. The way pedals are designed the threads are reversed one side to the other, so you can’t put a right pedal on the left side and vice versa. So we have a fully assembled bike which is unusable. I have a set of SPD pedals somewhere in the house, but not readily available which is extremely frustrating. This is a pretty simple oversight on the part of whoever packs the toolkits, and I don’t see a replacement being shipped for a week at least, which has resulted in us being out of pocket buying a replacement set. I did take the opportunity to buy a much better set, but when you fork out for a set of fancy new forks, you don’t expect to be unable to ride the bike.
My experience with VanMoof customer service has been largely positive, although perhaps it is telling that I have had so much communication with them. This company is not without it’s issues, but damn it’s a nice bike. I’m slightly jealous of the light blue colour scheme too which makes it a bit more distinctive than my flat black S3. Having a black bike does make mine slightly less conspicuous on the other hand.
Ultimately there have been small refinements since I bought my S3 including some better packaging and the motor cable cover, but failing to include the right pedal (the left one, that is) is a fairly major oversight and one that has left us with a stationary e-bike.
What’s next? A bike with pedals?! We’ve bought a decent set from Chain Reaction which will be fitted when they arrive over the weekend. I can give my honest impressions at that point. I’m looking forward to giving it a spin.