Electric bicycles are expensive. The simplest motorcycles for pedaling, those with unsightly screwed batteries, start at around $ 1,000 and quickly rise to more than $ 3,000 once a little delicacy is applied to the design.
But what if an electric bicycle can be shared with the whole family to help justify the cost?
Imagine the value you would get from an electric bicycle you use daily during the week, and then spend it over the weekend for a teenage girl for soccer games, or an elderly grandfather who longs for a walk in the Park.
To do that, you would need a bicycle with a broad visual appeal and a frame that can accommodate cyclists of all sizes. Something like the Electrified X2 of $ 2,598 of the Dutch bicycle manufacturer VanMoof, a miniature electric bicycle that I have been testing with three generations of pilots.
First, a question: did you ever test an electric bicycle with pedals?
Share X2 electrified with the beginners reminded me of how magical an electric bicycle with pedal assistance can be for people who have never ridden one, similar to the first time you wear a VR headset, it's a fun time you'll never forget because it has only looked towards the future.
In Europe, particularly in cultures obsessed with bicycles like the Netherlands and Din amarca, bicycles assisted by electric pedals have been the domain for years. of the elderly. The big and ugly e-bikes have allowed our parents and grandparents to remain active for longer, while helping them maintain their independence. You can not put a price on that.
Travelers are now also discovering the benefits of electrified personal travel. The best options include $ 1,399 e-boards, $ 1,599 scooters, $ 3,000 e-bikes, or $ 7,000 electric scooters. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and the laws that govern the performance and use of the road. The electric bicycle offers a good balance between price, comfort, safety, comfort, range and familiarity for most people.
Pedal-assisted electric bicycles extend the radius of what is normally considered a bicycle, allowing cyclists to get to work without sweat while promoting a healthier planet and person. Many e-bike users have been able to replace, or at least reduce their need for cars and public transport, which helps offset the cost of the bicycle.
Thanks to the largest buyers and now to those who travel daily, the sales of electric bicycles are booming in general, and specifically in VanMoof. In April, the company announced the most successful pre-order period in its ten-year history, selling more than 11,000 of its city's S2 and X2 electrified bicycles worth more than $ 33 million. Better yet, buyers are replacing their legacy modes of transport. "Nearly 70 percent of the people who bought the S2 and X2 now use the Electrified as their main mode of transportation," said VanMoof co-founder Ties Carlier in April.
Unfortunately, the VanMoof pre-order period is coming to an end. The price of the Electrified X2 jumps from $ 2,598 / € 2,598 to $ 3,398 / € 3,398 on June 1. Therefore money, it is better that it is a very good bicycle.
The Electrified X2, available in black or white, can accommodate cyclists up to 5 feet (155 cm) or as tall as 6 feet 5 inches (200 cm)). The compact X-frame design, popular in Asia, also features 24-inch wheels instead of the larger 28-inch wheels found in most urban bicycles. The X2 is small, but not embarrassingly like a Brompton, with its tiny wheels and handlebars and comically long poles. However, the VanMoof does not bend like a Brompton bike. That could cost you if you plan on taking the X2 on public transport, where folding bicycles are often allowed to be taken for free.
A non-removable 504Wh battery is located in the lower tube and can be removed by any bicycle store when it needs to be replaced. The 250-watt engine is located in the hub of the front wheel, which produces a maximum speed of 25 km / h (15.5 mph) for European cyclists, or 32 km / h (22 mph) for the USA. UU (Fortunately, anyone can select the US configuration Faster after removing a warning message). The engine is not silent, so it can not distort its superhuman speed: it's a bit noisier than the latest generation of Bosch medium-traction engines. but not as strong as Mate X. I wish it was quieter.
The brains of the bicycle are also designed to be repaired. Both the X2 and the larger S2 have a removable "Smart Cartridge" in the upper tube, which contains the printed circuit board, the radios, the screen, the controller, etc. That way, if VanMoof can not repair your bicycle remotely with software that modifies it. You can always remove the cartridge and send it without sending the entire bicycle.
You can press and hold a very useful Boost button near the right grip when you need an additional push on the start line or on a slope. It is addictive to use, but it will shorten the expected range. During my testing week, using the impulse button generously and with the power adjusted to its maximum position of 4, I was able to travel about 60 km (37 miles) per load on mostly flat surfaces, but with a lot of wind. VanMoof claims a range of 150 km in eco mode, but that must be very tedious and slow. The battery of my X2 test is fully charged in about four hours. It will be charged from 0 to 50 percent in 80 minutes, says the company.
Although the battery is not removable, the X2 easily enters through doors or into an elevator where it can be charged inside. The X2 is surprisingly heavy at almost 42 pounds (19 kg); Something to keep in mind if you live in a five-story tour.
The Electrified X2 has a two-speed automatic transmission. I prefer it to 10-speed electric bicycles, because moving in a flat city like Amsterdam is boring. I could feel different if I lived in mountainous San Francisco. What I do not like is the feeling of slack in the chain when the bike changes at second speed at approximately 17 km / h (10 mph). If you stop selling at that speed, or more, you'll essentially be carefree for about half a turn of the crank before you feel resistance on the pedals again. It's disconcerting at first, and annoying after that, but not as annoying as a 10-speed shifter would be if it were installed on an X2.
Even with the engine off, I found that the VanMoof is surprisingly easy to push forward with the strength of my leg alone, something that is good to know if your battery is ever depleted.
One of the most characteristic designs of the VanMoof motorcycles is the extended upper tube with integrated front and rear lighting. It's still as impressive in the X2 as it was in the company's first bicycles for ten years. The front light produces 40 Lux (that's brilliant!) While the tail light is designed for a wide angle of visibility. The lights can turn on, turn off or be automatic, the latter being my preference to set it and forget it.
The X2, like the electrified S2, comes with a whole series of technology gadgets. The main one is the screen, 166 LEDs integrated perfectly into the aluminum of the upper tube. It is such a beautiful piece of engineering that only the screen could persuade you to buy a VanMoof. It can be difficult to see in direct sunlight, but otherwise shows the battery level of the bicycle, speed and other useful information, in addition to whether it is blocked or not.
The X2 features a built-in "Stealth Lock", a locking pin that you kick to secure the rear wheel and to arm the anti-theft defense system (more on that later). The trick is to align the check marks on the rear hub with the opposite mark on the chain guard before kicking the pin. The screen confirms the maneuver with a lock and shutdown animation (and a sound if you are antisocial enough to leave them on). It is satisfactory to put the padlock in place, but aligning the things so that the cube assembly does not block the locking pin can be complicated.
Of course, Amsterdam is not like Tokyo, so I also carried a second chain lock (wrapped around the saddle post) to lock the X2 on a bicycle stand (tree trunk or lamp post) when It is not in use. Yes, I felt comfortable leaving it out overnight because the X2 was designed to make thieves move towards easier targets.
For example, if someone pushes your X2 after the Stealth Lock is activated, a sinister animated skull appears on the screen. An alarm sounds and the front and rear lights start flashing. It sounds a bit sophisticated, and sometimes it feels that way when the alarm is accidentally activated on a crowded sidewalk, but the theft protection is the VanMoof business card.
If the movement continues for more than one minute, the alarm will sound continuously. If it is not disarmed within two minutes, the X2 enters robbery mode: S.O.S. appears on the screen, the bicycle begins to transmit its location to VanMoof, and the engine and all the intelligent functions are deactivated. That's when VanMoof Bike Hunters get involved.
You can sign up for the Peace of Mind service appropriately called VanMoof for € 100 / $ 100 a year, or less if you commit for three years. If your bike is ever stolen, the VanMoof Bike Hunters have two weeks to recover it, otherwise they will replace your bike for free. You can even request a bicycle loan while the search is activated if you live near a VanMoof store in Amsterdam, Berlin, London, New York, Paris, Taipei or Tokyo. In my opinion, the VanMoof theft protection makes owners of the company's expensive electric bikes feel good about leaving their bicycles outside in cities where small apartments are the rule and organized bicycle theft is a scourge.
There is also a VanMoof app, for those who prefer to lock / unlock their bikes that way. I do not. Instead, I used the application to configure all my preferences and then used the multifunction button next to the left hand grip to unlock the X2. It's a good sign: press the button, hold the button and then touch the code. If it's 1-2-1, for example, tap once, then twice, then once more. Then he sees an open padlock on the screen and has five seconds to roll the bike to release the locking pin.
The application also has options that allow you to unlock the bike when it is nearby. It worked well the few times I tried it. But personally, I do not trust Bluetooth for such an operation. The application also shows the location of your bike, which can be useful when you look for your bike in the huge bicycle parking structures that are around some European cities.
The multifunction button turns into a bell when the bicycle is unlocked. However, it is a good idea poorly executed. It does not sound like the bells that are found on most city bikes, it sounds like a series of tones instead of a warning, and as such, no one reacts. That can be dangerous for you and for those around you. If you buy a VanMoof, you will also want to buy a mechanical bell.
Like an urban bicycle, a transporter is essential for trips to the market and what not. The front luggage rack of the X2 is as compact as the bike itself. It is large enough to carry a small shoulder bag or a rigid case, for example, held in place with two bungees equipped with balls that slide into the slots in the back of the carrier. Fortunately, Vanmoof also sells two other transportation options for the X2: a beautiful bamboo-wrapped basket of $ 79 / € 69 capable of holding up to 22 pounds (10 kg) of goods, or a rather dull, but probably more useful, option $ 59 / € 59 rear luggage rack capable of supporting 33 pounds (15 kg).
Riding the X2 is like riding a full-sized city bike. I did some long distance testing with two runners: myself with 6 feet 0 inches (183 cm) and my wife with 5 feet 4 inches (163 cm). We adjusted the seat with the Allen key supplied by VanMoof, but we did not modify the height of the handlebar (it can be raised with spacers). She tested it on her 22-mile (34 km) regular trip back and forth to work, while I tried it on a couple of 18.6-mile (30 km) shots around the city. The X2 placed us in a relaxed position, mostly vertical, which requires a little more tilt than a traditional "oma fiets" design. But it was still comfortable even after 40 minutes of non-stop driving.
My teenage children (the tallest who is 6 feet 2 inches / 188 cm) probably enjoyed riding the X2 more than anyone else. It was the effortless speed and the visual design that hooked them. My 10-year-old daughter could pedal well, but it was not high enough (4 feet 9 inches / 145 cm) for the bicycle to stop gracefully. (You need to grow another 3 inches, accordion to the X2 spec sheet). He said the X2 was "good" and asked if we could "keep it".
I also gave the VanMoof to a 73-year-old boy. Grandmother with a bad knee. She loved him. She, like many Europeans over 65, is already riding an electric bicycle, and has done so for the past five years. They sold it in the looks of the X2, although it felt that perhaps it was more suitable for a younger audience. She was very surprised at how light it felt to drive, she commented repeatedly, and how easy it was to get in and out of her house compared to the tank bicycle of a five-year Victoria that she normally drives. . However, he said he still prefers his full-size electric bicycle, since it "feels tougher" and fits the two child seats his grandchildren need: the X2 fits one. Yes, three on a bicycle is not unusual in the Netherlands, even with septuagenarians on the handlebar.
I left my week of tests with a revelation. E-bikes must be shared. Why would I buy a "men's bike" with a straight top tube that makes the bike too high for half my family to use, when I could buy a shorter bike that everyone can use? I grew up with a shared family car, why not a shared family electric bicycle? Especially one that approaches the price of a used car.
The Electrified X2 is an extraordinarily impressive electric bicycle that is suitable for sharing thanks to its ability to adapt to such a wide range of bike heights. I thought I would be discouraged by its relatively small size, but in a large and densely congested city, its smaller size is a real advantage. And, for whatever it is worth, it does not make me feel like a fool as I thought.
The X2 currently has a list of $ 2,598 / € 2,598 and it's worth all that in my opinion, especially for families, or any shared housing situation that can maximize its use. Yes, you can get electric bicycles with cheaper pedals, but not with such sophisticated engineering, careful design, a long list of useful features and a demonstrated commitment to service.
Unfortunately, the price rises to $ 3,398 / € 3,398 on June 1. So, if you have thought about buying a VanMoof Electrified X2 or your big brother, the S2, now is the time to do it.
Photograph by Thomas Ricker / The Verge
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