Effectively, it is a shock. Regardless of saying they’d be skipping straight from the 3-series to the 5-series of electrical bikes, VanMoof simply introduced two new e-bikes — the full-size S4 and smaller X4 — days after its $4,000 S5 and A5 e-bikes began delivery. At $2,498 / £2,198 / €2,198 the S4 and X4 fashions aren’t solely priced to compete, they need to additionally require fewer assist calls since there’s lots much less that may go mistaken.
The S5 and A5’s fancy Halo Ring shows are gone, as are the built-in Apple Discover My monitoring, difficult three-speed computerized e-shifter, and superfluous multifunction buttons that the majority common commuters don’t want.
VanMoof’s e-bikes have been notorious for initial quality issues and you’ll readily discover complaints about lengthy wait occasions for assist on Reddit, the Vanmoof-ing Facebook fanpage, and comment threads right here on The Verge.
In line with VanMoof’s co-founders (and brothers) Taco and Ties Carlier, the S4 and X4 are supposed to handle considerations that VanMoof’s e-bikes have turn out to be too difficult for their very own good.
Extra easy, extra accessible, and extra dependable
“We spend lots of time listening to our potential rider. And what we heard clearly,” says Ties Carlier, “was the need for our key options and iconic VanMoof design — in an e-bike that was much more easy, extra accessible, and extra dependable. We designed the S4 & X4 with iconic VanMoof tech and design however a massively simplified consumer expertise particularly to fulfill their wants.”
We’ll see concerning the reliability declare. However what I can say already after driving an “evergreen” coloured S4 for the final 5 days is that this: For those who’re out there for a VanMoof, then the S4 and X4 are the e-bikes most individuals can buy — not the dearer S5 or A5.
The S4 and X4 are basically the identical bike with completely different body sorts and wheel sizes. Referred to collectively as SX4, they’re assembled from a mixture of tech inherited from VanMoof’s older e-bikes and new flagship SA5 fashions. Notably, the SX4 have the higher kick lock from the SA5 and use an improved two-speed inside gear hub such as you’d discover on the corporate’s e-bikes from before 2020’s SX3 series. The S4 relies on the taller S3 body so select the X4 mannequin for those who’re not at the very least 170cm (5 toes 7 inches).
Right here’s a full breakdown that compares the SX4 with the discontinued SX3 and new SA5 fashions:
There’s no show of any variety on the SX4 fashions which is okay by me. However the SX4 ship with an SP Connect telephone mount (you present the case) that permits you to fireplace up the superb VanMoof app to make use of as a dashboard if you’d like. Sadly, the SX4 fashions lack the SA5’s USB-C charging port, however you do get hydraulic disc brakes which is the norm for VanMoof.
Using the S4 is a deal with. I’m six toes tall (183cm) and like the S4 which stands a couple of inches taller than the S5. And since I reside in a metropolis that doesn’t require a automobile, I respect the brand new 27.5-inch wheels with huge 2.25-inch puncture resistant tires as somebody who, for twenty years, has bicycled day by day in all types of climate. I want a robust base to hold the children to high school, commute to an workplace, after which return residence with groceries, small home equipment, or the occasional Christmas tree. The broader tire width does, nonetheless, current a problem in some bicycle racks designed for normal tires.
And regardless of missing a torque sensor discovered within the SA5, the S4’s 250W front-hub motor tied to the automated (mechanical) two-speed shifter and RPM sensor nonetheless provided a moderately intuitive pedal-assisted journey, particularly when supplementing issues with the occasional press of the enhance button. The journey might be improved, nonetheless.
The pedals will be slippery when it’s moist outdoors, and typically the S4’s pedal-assisted energy will be equipped for a cut up second too lengthy after pedaling stops. And infrequently after coasting at medium-to-high speeds, stepping on the pedals will trigger them to spin freely for as much as a full revolution earlier than reengaging with the chain drive. You’ll know the sensation for those who ever rode a VanMoof S2 or X2.
Nonetheless, I’ll echo what I mentioned within the VanMoof S5 review, I want VanMoof provided a single-speed belt-drive choice paired with that enhance button. That may be magical and additional cut back the possibilities of issues going mistaken.
I don’t have sufficient knowledge for a variety take a look at, but — I’ll replace this evaluate with real-world numbers as quickly as I’ve them. VanMoof says that the SX4 ought to get the identical 60km (37 miles) vary because the SX3 and SA5 in max energy mode and my testing on each of these e-bikes was between 47km / 29.2 miles (S3) and 48.6km / 30.2 miles (S5). I’d count on the identical from the S4 and its 478WH battery, possibly extra because it’s not affected by the idle battery drain situation I found on the S5. Notably, the SX4’s batteries cost from 0 to one hundred pc in 4 hours and half-hour with the included charger — two hours quicker than the flagship SA5 collection.
The SX4 fashions — like all VanMoofs — don’t have consumer detachable batteries which is an issue for anybody confronted with hoisting the 21.6kg (47.6 kilos) e-bike up stairs. VanMoof does supply a $348 / €348 378Wh PowerBank range extender option for the S4 that may be charged inside.
The S4 is outlined by what it’s not. At $2,498 it’s not costly for a premium e-bike in 2023, a worth that undercuts the Cowboy 4 collection by $1,000. The S4 additionally isn’t overloaded with options most day by day commuters don’t want and that would create service complications down the street.
One factor the SX4 fashions do add is shade. You possibly can select a deep inexperienced like my evaluate bike, a purple pastel, yellow, and a don’t name it white “foam inexperienced.” Colours that ought to assist brighten up essentially the most dour metropolis streets.
The S4 I’ve been testing is a wonderful e-bike — among the finest, and superior to the VanMoof S5 by way of worth for cash. Whether or not the S4 and X4 proceed to be nice e-bikes after months of wear and tear and tear is anybody’s guess.
I requested VanMoof to answer proprietor considerations about reliability and assist. Right here’s the assertion I acquired from CEO and co-founder Taco Carlier:
Bettering service is our precedence. Larger reliability sits on the core of the S4 and X4 design and growth course of with tackling the highest 6 challenges of the S3 and X3 and incorporating learnings from the SA5. Our Service community technique has expanded in the direction of extra give attention to bike servicing to get nearer to our riders, supply extra choices and extra capability. Extra information right here will comply with within the subsequent few weeks.
Sure, I’m additionally curious to listen to what’s coming.
VanMoof at present affords probably the most in depth networks of service hubs obtainable in cities round Europe, Japan, and the US. That’s vital as a result of most VanMoof e-bike components are customized made and solely obtainable from VanMoof — so ensure you have a service heart close by for those who’re concerned about shopping for. You’re additionally coated by a two-year warranty in Europe, one in the US, and free 14-day returns.
Gross sales start now on a staggered foundation earlier than they’re scheduled to ship in August. You possibly can preorder the S4 and X4 in the identical “evergreen” shade I reviewed beginning right now, purple in late Could, yellow in late June, and “foam inexperienced” in late July.
I’d suggesting ready a tick for those who’re tempted to purchase. Let the early adopters take a look at VanMoof’s claims of improved reliability and repair — you’ve obtained higher issues to do along with your time.
All images by Thomas Ricker / The Verge