VanMoof’s new A5 and S5 e-bikes are harder to steal and smoother to ride

IIt was a breezy two-mile ride on the VanMoof A5 e-bike through Battersea Park in London. Based out of VanMoof’s flagship store in London, the company’s CEO, Ties Carlier, took the lead. He fired on the more typically framed S5 (), while I got to grips with the boost and controls of VanMoof’s new, shorter A5 (also ). A few seconds later I caught up. I wasn’t sweating. My quick test drive around the neighborhood was almost to easy.

I had briefly ridden VanMoof e-bikes before, but it’s making a difference across the board. The company has attempted to manufacture most of the parts on its latest e-bikes in-house. The most significant change might be the removal of the tube-based display from the S3 and X3 bikes, swapped out for a duo of halo rings near the buttons on each side. (One rings the digital cute bell while the other controls the boost.) In addition to showing battery life, it also shows how much the bike’s motor is working, along with the bike’s lock status.

Anti-theft technology (and a team of bike hunters)

E-bike safety is a key selling point for VanMoof bikes. Carlier explains that deterring theft is one of the biggest challenges in making “the perfect city bike,” which was the company’s goal long before it even began developing its first electric bike.

“A good bike – a good ride – requires more money,” he said. “It’s even more true with an e-bike.” He added that with every solution companies like VanMoof come up with, the thieves get smarter. The threat of it being stolen has put me off investing big bucks in bikes and has put me off e-bikes completely.

Anti-theft technology in the S5 and A5 (both priced at ) includes an improved kick lock on the rear wheel. What’s more, the bikes will automatically unlock when they detect the user’s phone nearby, and riders can otherwise unlock it with a numeric code you can tap into the left handlebar – another case of the new Halo rings come into use.

VanMoof S5 first impression

Mat Smith/Engadget

If someone does manage to steal, tamper with (or break) the S5/A5 – which is integrated into the e-bike’s computer in the tube – the lock will first sound the alarm and a short time later disable the e-bike functions quiet . To the thieves, it’s then just a heavier balance bike with a slightly distinctive frame and built-in lights that don’t work.

And if you’re willing to pay an extra $398 for three years of coverage (and that’s a fraction of the cost of replacing those $3,000+ bikes), your VanMoof ride will be protected by an entourage of bike hunters supports – the quiet sounds cool. The e-bike transmits its location via 3G and the hunters are equipped with finer Bluetooth signal detectors to track down stolen bikes. If your bike is lost, you can mark it as stolen in the VanMoof app, and if the hunters can’t find it within two weeks, the company will replace the bike for you.

It’s a peace of mind for sure, but it’s also another subscription. The S5 and A5 are even more expensive than their predecessors, which cost just under $2,500. VanMoof’s newest rides are $3,498 each — a $500 increase since they were first unveiled. The company has also added support for Apple’s Find My network, but that’s more of a help in locating your bike in a parking lot than in tracking down a thief.

VanMoof S5 first impression

Mat Smith/Engadget

The new VanMoof Stepover A5

The A5 model has a lower step-in which means the bike is smaller, and VanMoof believes it makes riders feel closer to the road. VanMoof’s high-end e-bikes don’t look like typical electric bikes — there’s no visible battery to begin with — but I like the unusually flat A5. If I use a bike, it’s multiple short rides with multiple stops. This step-through model felt easier to ride. That was more my thing.

The S5 and A5 come with 487 Wh and 463 Wh batteries, respectively. With the included charger, both take about six and a half hours to charge. VanMoof also teased a fast charger, but prices are still TBC. On a full charge, the A5 can go about 34 miles on full power, or 87 miles in economy mode. Meanwhile, the S5 has a range of 37 miles on full power, which can be extended to 93 miles in economy mode. If VanMoof’s claims are true, both bikes should be able to handle many short rides before needing to be plugged in overnight. The company also plans to offer a battery extension pack that should double the range of the bikes.

A smoother ride

VanMoof S5 first impression

Mat Smith/Engadget

Both new bikes have also improved shifting technology. I tried a friend’s VanMoof S3 bike and found that the newer rides had smoother gear changes. The engine has plenty of pep, but the A5 shifts three gears incredibly smoothly. It’s hard to forget that this was a premium e-bike.

While you can’t adjust the gears yourself, the bike’s “interface” remains (dare I call it that?) simple. That’s part of the plan. VanMoof’s Carlier says the company is targeting people who might not consider themselves bike people. The challenge is to convince them to invest in an e-bike. (At these prices, I’d call it an investment.) And if you’re waiting for the company’s even more expensive high-speed e-bike, the VanMoof V, expect to wait a little longer. Due to delivery issues, production has been postponed to fall 2022

We plan to test VanMoof’s newest bikes more extensively soon. Both the A5 and S5 can be ordered direct from the company, with delivery dates currently estimated to be around January and February 2023.

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