VanMoof X3: 5 months later
5 months in the past yesterday, I took supply of a VanMoof X3 e-bike. It’s up there as one of many dearer private purchases I’ve ever made, dwelling as I do in Tokyo with none want for a automobile. However like loads of different folks this 12 months, I felt moved to keep away from public transport because the coronavirus pandemic intensified, and VanMoof’s newest fashions got here on the proper time.
I used to be fairly positive I’d just like the X3. I’d test-ridden the unique Electrified X three years prior, when it was first launched as a motorbike designed with Tokyo in thoughts, and I’d wished one ever since. The $1,998 X3 is extra highly effective and extra reasonably priced, with a bunch of recent options that sealed the deal.
5 months on, I’m completely satisfied to report that I do certainly just like the X3. However that’s not the identical as with the ability to give a wholesale advice to everybody. Greater than possibly some other product I’ve ever ordered and owned, the X3 has made me really feel like an excessive early adopter — though that is the third model.
The X3 is actually a smaller model of the S3 that Thomas Ricker reviewed again in April, with 24-inch wheels versus the 28-inch S3. The unremovable 504Wh battery is built-in into the body, that means you get a sleeker design than many rivals however must plug the bike immediately into an outlet to cost. A few of the key options embody an automated four-speed gearbox, a turbo enhance button for a fast jolt of velocity, and a kick lock on the rear wheel that secures the bike and prompts its motion-sensitive alarm.
So far as the final using expertise goes, I principally agree with Thomas’ impressions of the S3. I actually just like the design, together with the built-in lights and lock. I’ve discovered the gear shifting to be clean far as a rule, albeit with the very occasional clunk. The concept of an automated gear field for a bicycle is type of odd to me, as somebody who prefers to drive guide automobiles, however you principally overlook about it when using. Whereas there are undoubtedly instances whenever you’ll end up within the “mistaken” gear in your meant velocity or stage of exertion, you possibly can usually drive a shift up with a fast burst of the turbo button, or a shift down by simply stopping pedaling for a number of seconds.
I’m glad I acquired the X3 over the S3, and I say that as a six-foot-four man who would in all probability feel and look extra pure using the bigger mannequin. It takes dwelling with the X3 to comprehend how way more sense the smaller measurement makes for Tokyo. I recognize it each time I park in a tiny alleyway squeezed between two Shinjuku buildings, or every time I wheel it into my house’s elevator — which occurs to be the precise size of the X3.
Wheeling the X3 into my elevator is a fairly essential use case, as a result of I’d haven’t any method to cost the factor in any other case. I stay in a sixth-floor house that luckily has an influence outlet immediately exterior the entrance door, which is invaluable as a VanMoof bike proprietor. It will be a lot much less handy to must wheel the bike inside each time I wanted to cost it. After all, it could even be way more handy if I may simply take away the battery myself and go away the bike downstairs.
I haven’t tried to hold out measured vary testing as a result of in apply, it isn’t actually one thing I take into consideration. I cost the bike a couple of times per week and that’s advantageous for what I exploit it for. VanMoof claims between 60 km (37 miles) and 150 km (93 miles) of vary relying on how onerous you push the electrical motor. I can say I’ve ridden slightly greater than 60km in a single day, utilizing the turbo enhance so much to get to the opposite aspect of the town and return house rapidly with about 12 p.c battery remaining. However this can be a bike designed for on a regular basis use, and I feel the purpose is de facto that it’s not going to unexpectedly die on you when you’ve labored out your charging routine. The caveat is how straightforward that might be for you and your private dwelling state of affairs.
I do have a number of nits to select. I discovered the Android app constantly extra dependable than the iOS model, which I often needed to force-quit as a way to get it to unlock the bike. The optionally available front-mounted metallic basket (10,000 yen, or $89) appears good however functionally form of sucks, with large gaps between every “wire” in its “mesh.” (It did at the very least make me swear off plastic procuring baggage as soon as and for all, since all my groceries would simply fall via the holes.) The dot-matrix show can be very a lot type over operate, because it’s near-impossible to see in daylight — particularly set towards the lighter paint possibility I went for on the bike.
Crucial factor to say in regards to the X3 is that I actually love using it. It’s by far my favourite method to get round Tokyo and I exploit it every time sensible, together with on journeys that I in any other case would by no means have thought of a bicycle for. It’s usually quicker than driving or taking the subway, and it’s at all times an entire lot extra enjoyable than both possibility. It’s liberating to experience a car that feels equally suited to roads and aspect streets, taking within the metropolis at floor stage as you journey. I’ve discovered a lot about my neighborhood and past this 12 months simply because it’s trivial to get anyplace inside a 5-mile radius.
Total, I’m pleased with my buy. Proudly owning a motorbike like this has actually made an enormous distinction to my high quality of life, which isn’t one thing I’d usually say in regards to the issues that I purchase. However I additionally really feel fortunate that issues labored out for me, as a result of that hasn’t been the case for everybody.
I ordered my X3 on April twenty second, the day preorders went stay. I used to be given a supply date of June twenty seventh, which wasn’t excellent, however I didn’t thoughts ready for one thing that I knew I wished. (I spent that interval using round Tokyo on Docomo share bikes that nearly invariably turned out to have practically depleted batteries upon unlocking, which did make me additional anticipate proudly owning a motorbike I may cost myself.)
Whereas I used to be ready for the bike to ship, I joined a Fb group of different VanMoof clients, a lot of whom had additionally preordered an S3 or an X3. Alarmingly, lots of people gave the impression to be receiving S3s in poor situation, with the bins and bikes having been broken in transit. It’s onerous to know what quantity of individuals had been affected by this, however VanMoof’s co-founders Taco and Ties Carlier confirmed the difficulty in a September interview with GadgetClock, saying that the cheaper, smaller bins initially didn’t provide sufficient safety. The corporate anticipated round 1 p.c of bikes to have points “essential sufficient for a buyer to provide us a name,” based on Ties, however the precise determine ended up being “nearer to 10 p.c.”
I used to be slightly frightened about what state my X3 would ultimately arrive in, as a result of it’s no small inconvenience to return one thing that giant for restore or alternative. S3 bikes had been being despatched out forward of the X3, and no-one within the Fb group had reported receiving their X3 but. Fortuitously, I had no issues in any respect when my bike did present up. It was lined in protecting foam, a further measure VanMoof took to guard the bikes contained in the field, and I couldn’t fault the situation it arrived in.
It was, nonetheless, delayed from the preliminary June twenty seventh date I’d been given. I acquired in contact with VanMoof in Could to substantiate the date, since I observed my card had been charged, and I used to be informed the June twenty seventh date nonetheless held. On June twenty fifth I acquired an automatic electronic mail saying my order was “nonetheless on observe and scheduled to ship inside your supply window,” however two days later I hadn’t obtained any transport notification. VanMoof responded to a different electronic mail on June twenty ninth saying that they might “begin transport tomorrow,” and I acquired a transport affirmation on July 4th. The bike finally confirmed up on July seventh.
This wasn’t an enormous deal to me. There’s an unprecedented pandemic happening. Issues occur. However I noticed a lot of on-line stories of much more intensive delays, and it’s clear that VanMoof didn’t have its provide chain and buyer help altogether in place at launch. The corporate informed us as a lot. It’s one thing to keep in mind if you happen to’re contemplating ordering a motorbike and want it to reach on time.
As soon as mine did arrive, all was good. The packaging was well-designed, if just for a motorbike protected in further foam, and setup was straightforward barring one fiddly cable cowl that took loads of effort to connect. The X3 rapidly grew to become an essential a part of my every day life.
Then in October I acquired a worrying electronic mail titled “Motion wanted in your VanMoof X3 bike.” I’ll simply reproduce the physique right here for full readability:
We’re getting in contact since you personal (or have owned) a VanMoof X3 bike.
Not too long ago we’ve had some riders report that the bolts on the rear fender of their VanMoofS3 or X3 bike got here unfastened in use. Upon additional evaluation we’ve ascertained that these incidents are linked to an early batch of bikes – the place it seems that on some bikes, the rear fender bolts weren’t tight sufficient. This problem doesn’t exist on later batches of bikes. Our preliminary evaluation didn’t present that unfastened fender bolts may trigger a security threat to our riders. We’re nonetheless now investigating what triggered a critical accident involving a VanMoof S3. We now have not decided what triggered that accident to happen, however whereas we conduct that investigation we wish to take additional precautionary measures now.
Sadly, your bike with *body quantity XXXXXXXXXX* got here from that early batch (round 1,600 bikes). As an additional security precaution, we’re asking you to have your rear fender bolts checked earlier than your subsequent experience.
The e-mail really helpful that I’m going to a VanMoof model retailer to have the fender bolts tightened, or take it to a daily bike mechanic. There was a hyperlink to a video displaying what to do, and VanMoof provided to reimburse any restore prices. Not desirous to become involved in a “critical accident,” I took my bike to the Tokyo retailer, the place the useful workers took it to the again and gave every part a checkup. quarter-hour later I used to be again on the streets.
I ought to say right here that I undoubtedly wouldn’t have purchased this bike if there wasn’t an official VanMoof retailer close by. This fender problem was comparatively easy to repair, if slightly scary to search out out about, however I don’t assume many native bike retailers right here would have a lot thought what to do with the X3’s battery or automated gears. This can be a sophisticated sufficient product that I’d by no means have risked the opportunity of needing to ship it again. Alternatively, I recognize that VanMoof shops in cities across the globe are even a factor within the first place. It made the X3 a way more viable possibility for me than a few of the cheaper e-bikes you’ll find on the market on-line.
Life with my X3 and its newly-tightened fender bolts continued. In November, nonetheless, I acquired one other electronic mail from VanMoof alerting me to an upcoming change to its cellular apps that will take away the power to vary area settings. The default prime assisted velocity is 25kph, however there’s an possibility consistent with US rules that permits you to enhance as much as 32kph. The e-mail didn’t point out what the settings truly do, however a be aware on VanMoof’s help web site says that the transfer was made in response to some house owners within the EU being stopped by authorities for with the ability to exceed the velocity restrict.
I’m not going to litigate the ins and outs of regional e-bike velocity limits right here, however this entire state of affairs actually struck me as an newbie transfer on the corporate’s half. The bikes ought to have simply been bought with the suitable velocity settings for every area. You’d in all probability not be very completely satisfied if you happen to purchased a automobile that the producer unilaterally determined to limit to your native freeway velocity restrict after you purchased it. VanMoof isn’t accepting returns over the matter.
The entire cause I’m scripting this story is as a result of it’s onerous to get a way of actual possession in a brief evaluate interval, significantly in terms of a product with the potential to have a serious influence in your day-to-day life. Most of what Thomas wrote in regards to the S3 applies to my expertise with the X3, which is to say I feel it’s an ideal bike and I don’t remorse the acquisition.
However that’s not the entire story. It’s additionally the primary $2,000-plus buy I’ve made that concerned transport delays, characteristic removals, and warnings about potential bodily hurt. I’m used to being an early adopter of expertise — it comes with the territory on this job. Nevertheless, I’d have most popular a smoother onboarding expertise with a product that I experience on precise roads subsequent to actual automobiles.
VanMoof does have an ideal product on its palms, and the corporate has been open in regards to the modifications it’s making to the client expertise. I really like my very own X3 and might’t think about a time after I received’t personal the same e-bike sooner or later. However I’d simply strongly advise potential patrons to work out which e-bike firm is the correct one for their very own state of affairs, bearing long-term service and security in thoughts. Whereas I’ve had an total optimistic expertise with my X3, it’s proven me that it is probably not the correct match for you.