The slick design and smooth ride of the VanMoof S3 makes 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 Dutch brothers Taco and Tiers Carlier.
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.
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.
The range is impressive for a small-wheeled compact bike.
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.
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.
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.