The VANMOOF’S Next Generation Test-Riding New S5 and A5 E-Bikes.

VanMoof

VanMoof S5 & A5

VanMoof has announced its latest premium electric bikes: a full-size S5 with 27.5-inch wheels, a smaller A5 with 24-inch wheels and, first for the company, a step-by-frame.  As VanMoof tries to take advantage of the rising demand for e-bikes from first-time buyers, they bring about a number of revisions that raise prices above the emotional $ 2,000 threshold.

VanMoof S3 & X3

“Only a handful of our preceding models, the S3 and the X3, remain,” VanMoof CEO Taco Carlier stated in a statement.  “Every final element from the body to the chipsets and sensors is designed to be the smoothest, maximum effective experience ever.”

Bright and slightly redesigned front lighting and the new Halo Rings make the bike more visible.  Photo through Thomas Ricker / The Verge

The company’s new Amsterdam HQ allowed testing the final engineering prototypes of both the S5 and A5.  At the time of the S3 / X3 release in 2020, the company had grown from about 250 people to about 900 now.  Importantly, many of those new recruits have joined support and engineering teams to meet VanMoof’s goal of getting 10 million riders on their e-bikes by 2026, while avoiding a repeat of the missteps that plagued the early days of S3 / X3.  The launch.

The biggest change coming to the S5 / A5 is the replacement of VanMoof’s iconic top-tube display with left and right grips and two light “halo rings” near the bell and boost buttons.  According to the company, the lights will make you more visible on the road, and the new handlebar interface will tell the rider about real-time information such as battery life, speed, lock position and more – all without taking their eyes off the road.

The new Halo Ring and the new multi-function two-button interface are next to the left and right hand grips.  Picture: VanMoof

The VanMoof decision is known to be controversial.  Sometimes you have to “kill your darling,” Carlier laughed off the questionnaire with reporters last week, echoing the idiom that guides designers to deliver something they think is personally exciting but fails to add value to users.

The VanMoof app can be used as a dashboard with an optional phone mount and a new USB-C charging jack under the handlebar.  Picture: VanMoof

If you’re looking for more information during your ride, you’re in luck: VanMoof has co-designed the optional phone mount with SP Connect and added a new 5V USB-C jack under the handlebar.  You can charge your phone when the VanMoof app is open for a new dashboard view.  Mt’s pricing and official disclosure is still TBD.

Both bikes are 20mph in the US and 25kph in Europe (59Nm).  The new one comes standard in all areas now with a three-speed automatic transmission and a new torque sensor. Combined, the S5 and A5 are stated to provide a smoother experience than the four-velocity S3 and X3 e-bikes.

That motor is powered by new high-performance 47V / 5A batteries with 487Wh capacity on the S5 and a slightly smaller 463Wh on the A5.  The 23kg (about 50 lbs) S5 has a slightly higher range between 60-150km (37-92 miles) compared to the 22kg (49 lbs) A5, which has a range of 55-140km (34-87 miles) when riding.  In full energy or environmental modes.  The non-removable (except service) batteries charge slowly from 0 in six hours and 30 minutes with the smallest and lightest 48V / 2A charger in the box, though the optional 48V / 4A speed charger drops to 4.  Hours and 30 minutes (price TBD).

Previous VanMoof S-Series bikes have been criticised for being too tall for many riders, reducing the S5 frame height by 5cm (2 inches) to accommodate 165cm (5 feet, 5 inches) and taller riders.  The diminutive A5 caters to riders as small as 155cm (5 feet, 1 inch) and uses a more angular frame compared to the X3, which allows for easy stepping.

The VanMoof S5 is prepared with a new prolonged battery. And   A5 is outfitted with non-compulsory the front and rear service racks.  Picture: VanMoof.

Another significant change has been made to accommodate the redesigned “Click-On” extended battery at the beginning of the summer.  The optional 463Wh add-on battery (price at launch) nearly doubles the capacity.  It powers the motor directly (or charges the main battery) without all the messy cables and Velcro found in the VanMoof Powerbank.  It attaches to the S5 and A5 through a new “lock dock” mount that isn’t always well suited with older VanMoof e-bikes.

Other changes include brighter front and rear lights now visible from the sides, a new auto-retractable pin on the integrated kick lock (no need to roll it after unlocking), integrated environmental sensors for air quality and temperature, better cable handling, and a combination of GPS and LTE-M  Improved location tracking (a type of low power wide area network).  Both bikes offer a variety of front and rear cargo options, including a heavy-duty rear rack for both the S5 and A5, which can carry up to 27kg (about 60 pounds).  Features such as integrated Apple’s Find My Network, theft recovery, and built-in alarm from previous generations.

The S5 and A5 are only available in grey at launch.

In my brief test rides with prototypes, I can confirm that the S5’s slightly smaller wheels and lower overall frame height make it significantly easier to mount than VanMoof’s infamously tall S-Series bikes.  The smaller A5 is easier to get thanks to the new step-through design, which improves on the straight X3 frame it replaces.  I can’t directly comment on the much-hyped “smooth” as I am testing non-production firmware on a small test track.  However, I feel that shipping bikes maintain the power, fluid transfer and quick torque openings (assisted by the push of the boost button) when I mash the pedals over the prototypes.

The jury has not yet come out on the benefits of the Halo Ring interface.  On my left, I saw a solid ring of static white lights as I rode, but the opposite ring rose and fell without a tangible 1: 1 relation to what I was doing – does it show pedal-assist power, speed, or anything else? Also, while ought to I use the brand new secondary buttons underneath the Boost and Bell buttons?  VanMoof tells me that the new multi-function buttons are used to control the function of the halo ring, enter the passcode to unlock the bike, and switch between four pedal-assisted power levels.  None of this is immediately apparent, despite VanMoof’s wish that first-time riders do not need to consult the manual.  In fairness, I’ve only ridden bikes for all five minutes, and even VanMoof’s old interface needs a little education.

The VanMoof S5 was revealed at a press conference in Amsterdam last week.  Photo through Thomas Ricker / The Verge

Unfortunately, VanMoof, like every other e-bike manufacturer, has been forced to raise prices in the face of chip shortages and rising transportation costs.  With deliveries starting in July, the S5 and A5 can be ordered today at a price of $ 2,998 / € 2,498 – more than the current $ 2,448 / € 2,348 price of the S3 / X3 models and just two introductory prices more than their $ 1,998 / € 1,998 years ago.  And Carlier said when asked by The Verge that if anything, those prices increase over time, not decrease.

Even at those high prices, Carlier says the company is preparing to produce “15 times” S5 and A5 bikes at its Taipei factory compared to its pre-epidemic production rate.  While Carlier does not give an exact number (which he says is “less than 100,000” per month), the company needs to dramatically increase production to meet its five-year, 10 million VanMoof riders’ target – substantially 200,000 or more riders after more than a decade of operation.

And yes, for those paying attention, VanMoof is omitting the “S4” generation bikes with its name.  If you ask Job Stehman, head of product design, he echoes his CEO and says the bike deserves to be left behind because the S3 has more progress.  (Carlier acknowledged during the questionnaire that Asia was four unfortunate numbers.) VanMoof has released several updates to S3 / X3 bikes in early 2021, and it is worth noting that the minor revisions made throughout 2020 have never been increased.  Model numbers.

VanMoof is good at provoking its most popular e-bikes.  As soon as we do an in-depth analysis, we will see if the new S5 and A5 models are worth it.  Here’s hoping that the Carlier Brothers can apply all the lessons learned over the past two years by shipping a good, error-free product without support issues to justify these high prices.

Sources VANMOOF’S

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