Properly, this can be 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 transport. At $2,498 / £2,198 / €2,198 the S4 and X4 fashions usually are not solely priced to compete, they need to additionally require fewer assist calls since there’s loads much less that may go improper.
The S5 and A5’s fancy Halo Ring shows are gone, as are the built-in Apple Discover My monitoring, difficult three-speed automated e-shifter, and superfluous multifunction buttons that almost all common commuters don’t want.
VanMoof’s e-bikes have been infamous for preliminary high quality points and you’ll readily discover complaints about lengthy wait occasions for assist on Reddit, the Vanmoof-ing Facebook fanpage, and remark 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 grow 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 will 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 person expertise particularly to satisfy their wants.”
We’ll see in regards to 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 available in the market for a VanMoof, then the S4 and X4 are the e-bikes most individuals can purchase — not the costlier S5 or A5.
The S4 and X4 are basically the identical bike with totally 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 telephone mount from the SA5 and use an improved two-speed inner gear hub such as you’d discover on the corporate’s e-bikes from earlier than 2020’s SX3 collection. The S4 is predicated on the taller S3 body so select the X4 mannequin if you happen to’re not a minimum of 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 sort on the SX4 fashions which is ok by me. However the SX4 ship with an SP Connect telephone mount (you present the case) that allows you to hearth 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.
Driving 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 stay in a metropolis that doesn’t require a automobile, I admire the brand new 27.5-inch wheels with broad 2.25-inch puncture resistant tires as somebody who, for twenty years, has bicycled each day in all types of climate. I would like a robust base to hold the youngsters to highschool, commute to an workplace, after which return residence with groceries, small home equipment, or the occasional Christmas tree. The broader tire width does, nevertheless, 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 quite intuitive pedal-assisted experience, particularly when supplementing issues with the occasional press of the increase button. The experience may very well be improved, nevertheless.
The pedals might be slippery when it’s moist outdoors, and typically the S4’s pedal-assisted energy might 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 if you happen to ever rode a VanMoof S2 or X2.
Nonetheless, I’ll echo what I mentioned within the VanMoof S5 evaluation, I want VanMoof provided a single-speed belt-drive choice paired with that increase button. That might be magical and additional cut back the possibilities of issues going improper.
I don’t have sufficient information for a spread check, but — I’ll replace this evaluation 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, perhaps extra because it’s not affected by the idle battery drain subject I found on the S5. Notably, the SX4’s batteries cost from 0 to 100% 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 person 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 vary extender choice 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 value that undercuts the Cowboy 4 collection by $1,000. The S4 additionally isn’t overloaded with options most each day commuters don’t want and that would create service complications down the street.
One factor the SX4 fashions do add is coloration. You may select a deep inexperienced like my evaluation bike, a purple pastel, yellow, and a don’t name it white “foam inexperienced.” Colours that ought to assist brighten up probably the most dour metropolis streets.
The S4 I’ve been testing is a superb 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:
Enhancing service is our precedence. Larger reliability sits on the core of the S4 and X4 design and improvement 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 deal with 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 the moment affords probably the most in depth networks of service hubs accessible in cities round Europe, Japan, and the US. That’s vital as a result of most VanMoof e-bike elements are customized made and solely accessible from VanMoof — so ensure you have a service middle close by if you happen to’re excited about shopping for. You’re additionally lined 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 may preorder the S4 and X4 in the identical “evergreen” coloration 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 if you happen to’re tempted to purchase. Let the early adopters check VanMoof’s claims of improved reliability and repair — you’ve received higher issues to do together with your time.
All images by Thomas Ricker / The Verge