Vanmoof bike box. Wheels/Suspension/Brakes

Best bike locks in 2023: Tested and rated

A strong, well-designed bike lock will help protect your two-wheeled purchase from opportunistic thieves. But before you choose the best bike lock for you, it’s important to understand what these locks can and cannot do.

For starters, every single bike lock on the market can be cut or otherwise destroyed by a determined thief. However, the best bike locks will deter opportunistic, grab-and-go thieves, and they will thwart all but the most prepared thieves with the correct tools.

The right lock for you will combine usability, portability, and low weight with the level of protection you need for parking your bike wherever you’re most likely to leave it. Of all the bike locks we’ve tested, here are the best ones you can buy today to guard your electric bike or electric scooter.

We’ve divided this guide into sections based on the various types of bike locks available, to better help you decide which is best for your bike and needs.

U-Locks

Best overall

Weight: 4.2 pounds Shackle length: 6.2 inches

Pros: Most resistant to angle grinder attacks Cons: Small shackle

Before you balk at the price, consider how much money the Hiplok D1000 might keep in your It has earned the Sold Secure Diamond rating, which is the highest a lock can get. Ferosafe, a composite graphene material, works to wear down angle grinder blades before they can cut through the overbuilt, blocky shackle. It also stands tough against carbide-tipped drill bits. Hiplok says it’s 20 times more resistant to angle grinder attacks than other locks on the market.

Aside from the price tag, the small shackle length is about the only drawback. Hiplok offers a lifetime warranty on the lock after registration, but does not offer any anti-theft reimbursement for your bike. If you’re looking for the best U-lock on the market, look no further.

Weight: 4 pounds Shackle length: 8 inches

Pros: Easy to use; LED key light; high security rating Cons: Flimsy mount

With a long, 8-inch by 4-inch shackle opening, it was generally easy to find places to lock up my bike with the New York Lock Standard. It’s rubber-coated throughout, which protects your bike’s finish and the lock itself from exposure to the elements. The New York Lock gets an ART rating of 4 out of 5 stars, which is impressive. It also features a Sold Secure Gold rating.

The key hole has a cover to keep muck out of the mechanism, and Kryptonite offers a key replacement program should you lose yours. The included key features an LED light to make locking and unlocking easier in the dark. You can register your bike with Kryptonite to take advantage of the brand’s Anti-Theft offer of 4,000 should your bike get stolen. As U-Locks go, the New York Lock is simple, easy to use, and tough. A set of bolt cutters won’t get thieves very far here.

Best budget u-lock

Weight: 3.17 pounds Shackle length: 9 inches

Pros: Long shackle

Cons: Plastic on locking bar seems weak

The Pitbull features a long 9-inch, 14mm thick hardened steel shackle that makes it easy to wrap around your bike frame and a fixed object. The bolting mechanism locks the shackle at four separate points. The lock features both a rubber coating and molded plastic covers to protect your bike’s finish. The locking bar is constructed with a lot of plastic, which could present a weak point during an attack.

But the lock cylinder is also centered on the bar, which eliminates potential prying points. I made a few futile efforts at cutting the shackle with bolt cutters, but the lock withstood the attack with barely a scuff. The 14mm-thick steel shackle can certainly be cut with an angle grinder and enough time, though.

Best shackle construction

Weight: 3.2 pounds Shackle length: 9 inches

Pros: Long shackle Cons: Expensive

The Granite X Plus U-Lock features a super-long 9-inch shackle (4.5 inches wide), which opens up more locking possibilities. The shackle features a squared profile, which makes it more difficult to cut with bolt cutters. And the shackle is locked and secured at both ends to make it more difficult to pick the lock.

Abus was one of the few brands in the test to note this lock had been ice-spray tested. It gets an ART rating of 3 out of 5 stars, but it’s marked as Abus’s maximum security level. It also has a Sold Secure rating. The shackle and bar are both coated to protect your bike’s finish. It’s a great lock if you want as much shackle length as possible, but you’ll pay for the privilege.

Lightest U-Lock

Weight: 1.05 pounds Shackle length: 8 inches

Pros: Super light and resistant to bolt cutter attacks

Cons: Can be more difficult to work into place than traditional U-Locks

By using spring steel, Tigr has created a unique take on the standard U-lock. It was resistant to attack from my 24-inch bolt cutters, but it would not be overly difficult to cut it with an angle grinder. It’s light at just over a pound, and it comes with a mount so you can stow it right on your bike. It fits easily in a backpack too.

It can be a bit more difficult to work this lock into place than standard U-locks that separate into two pieces. It gets a 2/5 ART certification, so this may not be the lock you’ll want for long-term lockups. But for quick trips into the store or an hour or two at the bar, the Tigr Blue Mini offers good security at a super light weight.

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Chain locks

Best chain lock

Length: 25 inches Weight: 14.8 pounds

Pros: Big, burly, intimidating, and secure

Cons: Very, very heavy

The legend. The beast. This lock has long been used by New York City messengers who lock their bikes up in heavily trafficked areas, sometimes for long periods of time. It’s super heavy and not particularly comfortable to wear over your shoulder. But if you’re looking for the pinnacle in protection, the Legend may be your best bet. It combines heavy duty construction with the flexibility to lock your bike in various locking situations.

I did make a token effort at cutting a link with my bolt cutters, but it was clear from the get-go these links weren’t breaking for anything less than an angle grinder and some determination. The Legend is also one of the very few bike locks to earn a 5-star ART rating. It’s called the Legend for a reason.

Best chain lock on a budget

Length: 3.5 feet Weight: 6.86 pounds

Pros: Locking mechanism is integrated into the chain; good price

Cons: Quite heavy

The OnGuard’s titanium-enforced hexagonal hardened steel chain links aren’t as big and thick as Kryptonite’s Legend chain lock, but the Mastiff weighs almost eight pounds less. It was impervious to my attacks with a 24-inch bolt cutter, but it could be cut with an angle grinder in 30 seconds or so.

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Unlike the Kryptonite Legend, which uses a separate U-lock to secure the ends of the chain, OnGuard integrates the locking mechanism into the lock itself. That’s one less thing to keep track of — or lose. OnGuard does offer up to 5000,001 in anti-theft protection, though you’ll need to register your bike with the company. The Mastiff comes with 5 keys, and the locking mechanism bolts secure in two locations for resistance to pulling and twisting.

Built-in alarm

Length: 3 feet Weight: 3 pounds

Pros: Alarm is a neat feature to deter casual thieves Cons: Looks and feels clunky when mounted to a bike

While the Adaptor Chain included with the Alarm Box 2.0 can be cut with a pair of bolt cutters and some elbow grease, thieves may be additionally deterred by the Alarm Box’s primary feature: a 100 decibel alarm that sounds with excess movement or tampering.

If the bike just gets slightly jostled, a five-second ‘warning’ alarm will sound. If the movement continues, then the 100-decibel alarm kicks in. The chain measures just over 3 feet, making it easy to lock to a variety of solid racks or bars. It’s also possible to affix the Alarm Box to your bike without the use of the chain.

Folding locks

Best Folding Lock

Circumference: 33.5 inches Weight: 2.2 pounds

Pros: Smooth and easy operation Cons: Circumference when open could be slightly larger

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Buttery smooth articulation and a compact design that slides easily into the included mount make the Seatylock Foldylock compact the best folding lock we tested. The 33.5-inch circumference of the lock when fully open is slightly smaller than the Kryptonite Evolution 790, but large enough to open up plenty of locking possibilities.

The rivets connecting the bars are designed to resist sawing and cutting attacks. The rounded heads of the rivets make it difficult to drill through as well. A thief would need an angle grinder to get through the Foldylock’s stout bars. The lock comes with a 3-year warranty, too. The Foldylock Compact meets the right combination of weight, compact design at 7.5 inches long when folded, and locking capabilities to make it best in the folding lock category.

Most versatile folding lock

Circumference: 35 inches Weight: 3.15 pounds

Pros: Big circumference; cool frame mount Cons: Hinges felt a bit stiff

Like all folding locks, the Evolution 790 only moves two dimensionally, making locking in certain situations trickier. But it has the biggest circumference of the three we tested, so you’ll have plenty of wiggle room to secure your bike. While not a major issue, the hinges don’t move as smoothly as other options in this category.

The lock includes a pretty neat mount that holds the lock tightly until you press a release button. But I wonder if more moving parts makes it more susceptible to failure over time. The slim profile when folded makes it a good option for stowing in a backpack. I chopped at this lock with my 24-inch bolt cutters, made a few scratches, then gave up.

Most compact folding lock

Circumference: 27 inches Weight: 1.5 pounds

Pros: Folds down small and stores easily Cons: Small circumference

The Hendrix is compact and easy to use. A plastic mount is included so you can secure the Hendrix to your bike. The lock would just as easily stow in a backpack, or in a jersey — though it’s a touch heavy, so it will likely pull on your jersey enough to become uncomfortable.

The overall circumference when the lock is completely unfolded is a bit small, which limits where you can use the lock. And like all folding locks, the Hendrix only articulates in a linear fashion. It’s a handy and portable lock that’s easy to toss in a backpack. I was almost able to cut through the lock with my 24-inch bolt cutters, but despite repeated cuts and lots of twisting, the lock withstood the attack — just barely.

Best electric bikes | 17 top-rated ebikes for every type of rider

The best electric bike for you will depend on the type of riding you want to do, so in this guide we’ll cover the whole range of different electric bike types and recommend some of the best we’ve tested.

Electric bikes – or ebikes as they’re commonly known – are bicycles with an electric motor and battery that provides assistance as you pedal. There are many benefits to riding an electric bike. Electric bikes make riding up hills easier and will enable most riders to travel at a higher speed over longer distances without arriving at their destination covered in sweat.

Despite common misconceptions, you can still ride an electric bike for fitness. Electric bike laws limit the power of an ebike motor, so you still need to pedal – there’s no twist-and-go throttle here. There is an electric bike for every type of riding. Electric folding bikes and electric hybrid bikes are great choices for cycling to work, the best electric mountain bikes will help you get to the top of the next trail so you can enjoy more descending and the best electric road bikes and electric gravel bikes will enable you to take on longer adventures. Making sense of how an electric bike works and how to choose the right one for you is a daunting task. Luckily for you, BikeRadar’s team of expert testers have put in hundreds of hours riding more than 175 of the best ebikes across all categories. Our testing is 100 per cent editorially independent, so you can always trust our recommendations. In this in-depth buyer’s guide to choosing the best electric bike for any rider, we’ll talk you through the things you need to consider for each category of ebike. We also highlight the best ebikes we have reviewed, as selected by BikeRadar’s expert team of tech editors, for each type of ebike, with links to our detailed buyer’s guide for each category. We also have a general buyer’s guide to electric bike tech at the bottom of this article that answers common questions. For even more information, take a look at our ebike FAQs. There’s a lot to cover here, so use the links below to skip to the section you need, or read on for every detail.

Best electric hybrid bikes

Like a non-assisted hybrid bike, electric hybrid bikes feature an upright riding position, flat bars and stable handling. They’re often the least expensive entry point into ebikes.

With lots of mounting points for accessories such as pannier bags and mudguards, electric hybrids are great if you’re planning to commute to work by bike, ride around town or want to go for leisurely rides on bike trails or through parks.

Electric hybrid bikes can be quite heavy because they tend to use less sophisticated motor systems and the bikes are built for robustness. This is worth bearing in mind if you need to carry them up stairs.

Below is a selection of four of the very best electric hybrid bikes as tested by our senior road technical editor, Warren Rossiter. For more recommendations, check out our full round-up of the best electric hybrid bikes.

Specialized Turbo Vado SL 4.0

  • £2,600 / €2,999 / 3,500 as tested
  • Pros: Well-tuned power delivery; low weight
  • Cons: Lower-torque motor means you have to put in more work

Specialized makes two electric hybrid bike ranges. Whereas the standard Turbo Vado is a heavy-duty ebike, the Vado SL uses a less powerful motor with 35Nm of torque. This reduces the weight to under 15kg, but the flip side is that you have less assistance than with the Turbo Vado, which could be a problem on hills.

The other advantage of the lower output is clean looks, with the concealed battery giving a sporty appearance. Specialized fits lights to all models and includes mudguards and a luggage rack on pricier models.

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Canyon Pathlite:ON 5

  • £2,499 / €2,699, as tested
  • Pros: Great handling and confident off-road
  • Cons: Heavy versus its rivals

The Canyon Pathlite:ON 5 is a powerful electric hybrid bike that handles and rides commendably. Our testing found the Canyon’s 100km claimed range to be true, but there’s no denying the bike is heavy at 23.5kg.

Where the Pathlite:ON 5 truly stands out is off the tarmac, where it rivals electric mountain bikes with confidence-inspiring chunky tyres and a shock-absorbing suspension fork.

Tern Quick Haul P9

  • £3,100 / 3,299 / AU4995 as tested
  • Pros: Great fun to ride and versatile
  • Cons: Official add-ons are fairly pricey

The Tern Quick Haul P9 looks like a cargo bike at first glance, but its compact design means it isn’t much longer than a typical electric hybrid.

With the option to fit a huge array of useful add-on accessories both front and back, our tester described the Quick Haul P9 as a “genuinely viable car replacement”.

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Best electric folding bikes

Commuters who travel by public transport or are short on space are catered for too. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media

If you want to cycle to work or are just pressed for space to store your ride, a compact electric folding bike could be the answer.

Folding ebikes often have the battery hidden in their frames, or they may come with a removable battery to make carrying them on and off public transport a bit easier.

A removable battery also means you can take it somewhere where it’s easier to charge (at your desk, for example, if you use the bike to ride to work).

But the extra weight of the motor and battery means carrying a folding ebike on and off public transport, and up and down stairs, will be harder. The available range can be quite limited in some models too.

For more product recommendations, check out our round-up of the best folding electric bikes.

Brompton Electric

The Brompton Electric adds a front-hub motor to the iconic folder. Russell Burton / Immediate Media

  • £2,725 as tested
  • Pros: Very compact fold; smooth power delivery
  • Cons: Quite heavy; two pieces to carry

A front-hub motor adds electric power to the classic Brompton folding bike, giving you a range of around 40km. The battery sits in a separate pack, which can be removed from the bike for carrying.

Since we tested the Brompton Electric, the standard bike has been redesignated the C Line Explore. It’s been joined by the P Line, which uses lighter frame materials and components to chop almost 2kg off the C Line’s 17.4kg claimed weight.

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GoCycle G4

  • £3,999 as tested
  • Pros: Larger wheels ride more smoothly; stylish design
  • Cons: Expensive; doesn’t fold as small as some ebikes

While pricey, the GoCycle G4 is a folder, commuter and electric bike in one. The ride and handling are far more assured than most folding bikes on- and off-road, thanks to the meaty tyres and larger wheels.

The bike folds in half at its centre, making it easier to roll than to carry and the removable battery in the front of the frame is accessed via the fold. At over 17kg, it’s quite heavy though.

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MiRider One GB3

The GB3 is an upgrade on the original MiRider One, with an accompanying price rise. David Caudery / Our Media

  • £2,495 as tested
  • Pros: Very compact
  • Cons: Price has increased significantly from the original bike

The MiRider One GB3 is an upgrade from the original model we tested a few years ago. Unfortunately, that’s resulted in a significant price hike, but the ebike is still a compact, nippy city commuter.

The belt drive is cleaner and lower-maintenance than a chain, there’s good adjustability, and built-in rear suspension and wide tyres add comfort.

The GB3 design has three speeds, adding flexibility over the singlespeed predecessor, and you can change gear while stationary. We achieved a range of up to 50km.

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Best electric mountain bikes

Electric mountain bikes can be great on the climbs, but handling on the descents can take a bit of getting used to. Ian Linton

An electric mountain bike will get you to the top quicker, particularly on technical, steeper climbs, and with more energy to enjoy the descents. Plus, getting up the ups more easily will give you extra range to explore further.

Recent improvements in eMTB performance mean handling is approaching that of the best mountain bikes without a motor, providing heaps of flat-out riding fun.

But, nevertheless, the extra weight can make handling more tricky on particularly technical sections, so it’s a good idea to ease off a bit until you’ve got the feel of the bike

This is a small selection of the best electric mountain bikes we have tested, as selected by our expert team of mountain bike tech editors, Alex Evans, Robin Weaver and Tom Marvin.

Focus JAM2 SL 9.9

  • £7,499/€8,499/AU14,499 as tested
  • Pros: Powerful and efficient motor; high levels of performance
  • Cons: Inadequate tyres specced; ride remote feels cheap

The Focus JAM2 SL 9.9 is on the lightweight end of the electric bike spectrum, using Fazua’s Ride 60 motor, which provides the bike with 60Nm of torque.

The motor is very frugal, being one of the best for power consumption, with the 430Wh battery lasting longer than other bikes we’ve tested.

Focus has given the JAM2 SL an adjustable geometry, with the frame featuring two flip chips in the linkage and the chainstays enabling the bike to be set up longer, lower and slacker.

While the bike only features 150mm of rear travel, we found it spanned both trail and enduro riding well, which added to enjoyment on gnarlier trails.

The only let down was the slightly cheap-feeling Fazua remote and underwhelming lightweight tyre choice.

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Orbea Wild M-Team

The Orbea Wild M-Team impressed us with its modern geometry and powertrain. Olly Bowman / Our Media

  • £9,207/9,844/€9,727/AU17,429 as tested
  • Pros: Bosch motor and battery combo performs well; feels capable on all trails
  • Cons: Priced at the top end of the market

Winning our Electric Mountain Bike of the Year award for 2023, the Orbea Wild M-Team impresses with a balanced geometry that feels dominant whether the trail is going up or down.

The Fox Factory 38 fork features 170mm of travel, while the 160mm of rear travel is controlled by a Fox X2 Factory shock that does a great job of gobbling up rough terrain and finding grip on technical sections.

The punchy nature of Bosch’s Performance Line CX motor gives the bike great climbing ability, with assistance feeling constant up until the cut-off speed.

Alongside the great spec list, Orbea has fitted the bike with downhill casing tyres, which means you can push the Wild M-Team to the extremes of it’s geometry with little worry.

For just the essentials: Ortlieb Twin-City Urban

Take this instead of a hand bag

This around-town pannier, which you can also carry on your shoulder, provides easy access to your phone and wallet, but it can’t hold much more than a decent-sized purse or sling pack.

Buying Options

Get this if: You’re meeting friends for lunch or exploring town by bike. This bag won’t hold a full-size laptop, but it would be a good replacement for a purse, fanny pack, or sling.

Why it’s great: As panniers get smaller in size, the experience of using them becomes more streamlined, and that’s why we love the Ortlieb Twin-City Urban pannier. It handles more easily and attaches more easily than any of its bigger cousins.

The mounting system on this bag sits at an angle, so that when the bag is on your bike, its bottom corner is up and out of the way of your heel as you pedal. Photo: Rozette Rago

You can stow the shoulder strap in a to keep it out of the way while you ride. Photo: Rozette Rago

The bag has some interior organization, but it’s minimal. Here, part of the insert has slots for pens and a small Photo: Rozette Rago

The mounting system on this bag sits at an angle, so that when the bag is on your bike, its bottom corner is up and out of the way of your heel as you pedal. Photo: Rozette Rago

That’s mostly because it uses Ortlieb’s QL2.1 attachment system, widely regarded (and confirmed in our testing) as the best pannier mounting system there is. It latches onto a bike rack with less hassle than anything else, and it doesn’t let go—and in the case of the Twin-City, you don’t even have to mount the bottom half of the bag.

Because it’s a 9 L bag, it won’t comfortably carry a laptop (you might be able to jockey a small one in), but it will fit a big pile of commuter stuff—a tablet, a notebook, a water bottle. We like the Twin-City because it has an exterior key that actually zips shut, and interior s for your wallet and phone make it simple to get to your phone or wallet if you need it.

Shoulder-bag panniers provide easy access to everyday-carry items better than any other design. A lot of backpack panniers have exterior s for small items, but for some reason they often don’t zip shut—instead, they’re secured by magnets or covered by a flap. Those of us wound a little tighter know the acute anxiety of having a wallet out of reach, behind you, in an unsealed on a crowded subway.

The Twin-City provides a place to stow its shoulder strap without your having to open the bag, as most well-designed bags of this type do. It’s also weatherproof—it will withstand splashing water and dust as long as the top is rolled down and secured. Ortlieb offers a five-year warranty that covers defects in craftsmanship.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Learning the sequence of moves that converts this bag from pannier to shoulder bag takes some attention, but after a few tries it becomes automatic.

To carry big loads in bad weather

A fully waterproof, seam-welded touring classic made for rain and snow and lots of gear, this pannier (sold in pairs) is nearly indestructible.

Buying Options

Get this if: You’re often hauling heavy or oddly shaped gear and you ride in near-constant wet weather. These panniers are waterproof, seam-sealed, and so tough that cyclists have found all sorts of uses for them. One long-distance touring rider we met empties his out, fills one with clean water and the other with soapy water, and uses them to do his dishes.

This is the Ortlieb QL2.1 mounting system: hooks at top, hook at bottom. It’s as unfussy as anyone has figured out how to make one of these things. Photo: Rozette Rago

The shoulder strap is functional, if a little uncomfortable, but it works much better as a compression strap on the outside of the bag. Photo: Rozette Rago

This is the Ortlieb QL2.1 mounting system: hooks at top, hook at bottom. It’s as unfussy as anyone has figured out how to make one of these things. Photo: Rozette Rago

Why they’re great: The Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic panniers, which come in pairs, are considered the gold standard for touring panniers. They feature Ortlieb’s QL2.1 mounting system; this design is beloved for its simplicity. During testing, we had no issues with wobbling, shifting, or loose panniers. We also think that this has something to do with the size of the bags. We noticed 20 liters is about as large as you can make a pannier before the handling of the bike changes significantly. In spite of the fact that the components of the mounting system are plastic (we’d prefer metal), we’ve had these bags in long-term testing for three years and they haven’t broken or worn out.

This pannier works best as a big bucket you can dump anything into; the bottom sits squarely on the ground, so it’s easy to rummage through it. However, it has no exterior s, and the rolltop requires attention to open and close, so it’s not an easy bag to access on the go—you’ll need to keep your keys and phone on your person. On the inside, there is a narrow sleeve suitable for documents or a laptop (though there’s no padding) and a flat mesh zippered. but both are minimal. Ortlieb offers a five-year warranty that covers defects in craftsmanship.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: This aren’t bags for your average commute, as Back-Rollers don’t make great shoulder bags. It can be done… but the included shoulder straps are thin and uncomfortable. If you take a lot of public transportation or do much of your commute on foot, a backpack pannier or a smaller shoulder-bag pannier might be a better choice.

The specific waterproof rating for the bags is IP64, which means the bags can withstand splashing water in all directions but they’re not as impermeable as dry bags (the sort of thing you’d take on a boat).

Dimensions: 16 by 12 by 6 inches (upper section); 16 by 9 by 6 inches (lower section)Capacity: 20 liters each (40 L total capacity)Other sizes: Back-Roller City, Back-Roller Plus, Back-Roller UrbanOther styles: Back-Roller Free (PVC-free), Back-Roller Hi-VisColors: black, asphalt/black, red/black, petrol/black, yellow/black

VALUE

The VanMoof X3 is an excellent value, all things considered. The company has a weird habit of tinkering with its pricing, but after a redesign and a colossal price drop in 2020 (3,398 to 450,998 at the time) the bikes feel very well priced. Now they’re retailing for 5000,298 — 300 more than the previous price but still a fine deal for anyone looking for a very full-featured e-bike without spending more than around 5000,000.

That’s not that much more than you’d spend on a regular new bike, sans electricity and VanMoof’s many, many cool bells and whistles. If you’re into higher end bikes, it could even be a lot less. And realistically, it’s just as likely that you’re shopping for an e-bike to rely less on a car, public transportation or whatever else you’re paying for to get around — not to replace a traditional bike. (For something in the U.S. in the sub-5000,000 range, check out Rad Power Bikes and Charge for some good options.) VanMoof’s pricing is also substantially less than you’d pay for the high end tier of feature-rich e-bikes with high quality components, but the company still manages to compete with those on looks and features. Still, it’s kind of stressful that VanMoof is quietly messing around with the pricing with the bikes already out in the wild. It would suck to plan to buy one only to see the price shoot up before you’d pulled the trigger. The company should be more transparent about this, giving set future dates for planned price changes. There also seem to be updates within generations of the bikes, so an X3 you buy now might differ from an X3 you could buy in 2020. That’s confusing and all of it should be made clearer somewhere obvious on the website.

The VanMoof app’s in-app ride tracking and summary stats.

RANGE

One of the biggest considerations with an e-bike (or an e-anything!) is range. VanMoof says the X3’s range is 37 miles using “full power” and up to 93 miles in economy mode. If you’re getting 93 miles out of the battery, you probably aren’t even using the pedal assistance at all, so you can just toss that number out. The low end estimate of 37 miles might be a little generous for someone who’s using the bike on the fourth power assistance level and smashing the turbo boost regularly, but 35-45 miles feels about right from my testing (usually mode 3 or 4, occasionally 2, light use of turbo button). The range feels good. Even using the X3 most days out of the week, charging is infrequent enough to never feel annoying. In my case, that meant daily short rides (2.5-5 miles, usually) and the occasional longer ride (10-20 miles). If you’re using the X3 or S3 to commute to work somewhere that’s farther away, you’re going to find yourself plugging in more. Even so, I never got into a situation where I was concerned that I’d run out of battery far from home. And even if you do, you can still pedal the bike — it’s just really heavy. Most people will probably charge up overnight, but you can fill up the battery in four hours if you need to.

Something to note is that you’ll plug in a wall charger directly to the bike to charge it. For anyone who can’t charge and store the X3 on ground level, know you’ll have to carry the whole dang bike to an outlet. The lack of a removable battery might be a strike against the VanMoof bikes for folks who live in walk-ups or small apartments, but for people with somewhere easy to store it, this wasn’t something I thought twice about. While the built-in range is totally adequate for a lot of use cases, VanMoof just introduced an external add-on battery pack for both the X3 and S3. The battery slots into a little platform, pictured below and mounted on our test bike, and it extends the X3’s range considerably. VanMoof sells the PowerBank accessory for 348. The thing isn’t small — it weighs six pounds — but VanMoof says it’ll give you anywhere from 28 to 62 miles of extra range. Again, almost nobody is going to hit the high end of this, but even at the low end it almost doubles the bike’s existing range.

External PowerBank via VanMoof

vanmoof, bike, wheels, suspension

The PowerBank is big and pretty clunky. It doesn’t look awful, but it definitely makes the X3 look like an e-bike. It’s not elegant like the removable battery on the Cowboy, another extremely handsome e-bike, but it’s ok. If everything else about a VanMoof suits you perfectly but you need more range, it’s great to have the option, even if you’ll be shelling out for it.

TECH FEATURES

VanMoof support for “Find My” app in iOS

  • Lights. The VanMoof X3 has great built-in lights, front and back.
  • App: Surprisingly, the app is actually pretty good. You can customize lots of small things (bell noise, alarm on or off, shifting preferences), use it to track your rides and more. You also don’t have to be connected to the bike with the app to do the most essential stuff, liking riding it, unlocking it and changing your level of electric assistance. I had an occasional connectivity problem with the app (usually on Android) but this was easily resolved and never kept me from biking anywhere, though it did mean some rides weren’t automatically tracked. Importantly, you can also track your bike’s whereabouts through the app and VanMoof touts this feature combined with its alarm system and recovery team for helping people get their bikes back.

Overall, something great about the X3 is that the tech features aren’t just fancy tricks — they really enhance the experience. And even so, they’re optional. You can ride the bike and benefit from the power assistance without using the app. You can use a regular lock and skip the alarm system if you choose to, or use a physical button code to disable it manually. You can change the power assistance mode with the same button. This is all huge and lets you use the e-bike how you want to. Personally, I’d never buy an e-bike that required connectivity, a phone or an app to operate it; that’s just asking for trouble.

Boost? It’s a Throttle

VanMoof calls its throttle, discreetly placed on the right handlebar near your thumb, the “boost button”. But it is just a throttle and I get the importance of a throttle when taking off from a start.

But here’s what I don’t get: even in the highest assist mode, the throttle adds significantly more power. But I’d rather have that extra oomph available to me in the pedal-assist. With this system, going up a big hill, you have to have your thumb on the throttle the whole time.

0-350W Front Motor

VanMoof is taking the unorthodox route of placing the motor at the front of the bike. It definitely works for the S3 because the motor is relatively small and light. The flipside is that the motor isn’t super-powerful and won’t give you a great experience if you don’t like pedaling or expect a lot of help going up steep hills. You can ride that throttle up to 15 mph or so on flat ground but that’s no way to live.

As I mentioned above, it was easy to pop the front wheel on and off (with security lug nuts) but getting that cable cover screwed in made me insane. That would also make taking the front wheel off a hassle, but doable.

The motor itself is quiet but you can certainly hear when it engages.

VanMoof S3 Technology Sets It Apart

As far as e-bike hardware goes, the S3 is a gorgeous, well-designed but mediocre-powered e-bike. What sets it far apart from its peers is the technology in here. The well-hidden speakers on the bottom side of the top tube are loud and when your Bluetooth connected smartphone comes within reach, it turns on the bike with a loud futuristic noise. When you leave its Bluetooth range, it says goodbye in a similar fashion.

I’m not sure why you can’t play music from your phone through these speakers and annoy everyone around you but it would certainly be a doable software update.

Also, the smartphone app is by far the best I’ve ever seen for an ebike. This is where you adjust your gearing and can even track the location of your bike and remotely lock it up – something fun to do while your friends try out the bike.

You can also lock out the bike and set an alarm with a kick to the rear. I can’t imagine needing this but I live in the suburbs and don’t even use a lock. When I lived in LA, I had a bike I chained to a fence stolen, along with the fence. In NYC, I had a bike lock cut within 10 feet of an NYU security guard desk. So I get it.

The left-side button, which counters the throttle button on the right side, acts as a horn and you can currently set 3 different loud horn sounds including one that makes you sound like a barge. Car drivers love it!

Speaking of fixes, the matrix display on the top bar is super cool — when you can see it. The powder blue matte paint mixed with sunlight makes it almost unreadable but VanMoof says that they are adjusting the paint to make it less reflective in the sun. In the video above you can see the difference between dusk visibility and sunny visibility.

Electrek’s Take

If you can’t already tell by now, I’ve got mixed feelings about this bike. On one hand, the price, technology, and design are all incredibly good. The technology direction is far out in front of any other ebike in the world.

But actually using the bike day to day teases out some drawbacks, specifically about power and the “more things to fail” type of complexity. My biggest issue was the auto-gearing. In theory, I could get used to auto gearing and after about a week I was OK with it – when it was working. But then when the gearing was wrong, like opposite high/low gear going up/down hills, I’d have to jump off the bike or use throttle only. Like all software issues, VanMoof said they were still updating the software on the gearing and the final version of the bike would have the problem worked out.

If I didn’t live in the mountains, I would have loved this bike. Not just the look and feel but also as a techie, I think the company is doing some revolutionary things.

But the bottom line for me is that heading out to my mountainous commute, I didn’t want to take the VanMoof over a dumb ebike, that I had to gear myself, and that just worked.

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