I’ve been an admirer (but sadly, not an owner) of ebikes from Dutch cycle maker VanMoof for many years, due to the innovative design of their iconic ebikes, which feature automated gearing, built-in lighting, seamless (and essentially invisible) battery integration and that cool, ultra-modern, ultra-clean look. It’s tough to tell a VanMoof ebike is actually an ebike.
While other ebikes tend to be a mass of wires and parts that can seem cobbled together, VanMoof’s X2 and S3 models look like they arrived from some future utopia where the big problems have been solved and flying electric cars traverse sunny skies overhead. Someday, I will have one.
But the pandemic lit a major fire under the popularity of ebikes, and other ebike makers are starting to pick up the slack, many with features, performance and specs that were once thought to be something we’d only see in the future – except that future is suddenly here now.
More and more bikes I get in for review can climb to Class III speeds – 28mph in the United States – while VanMoof’s bikes are still limited to the Class II 20mph limit. Nothing wrong with that, but everyone knows speed sells (e)bikes. Build quality, innovation and performance continue to advance across the industry. Nobody has been able to supercede VanMoof’s signature look in my opinion, but the company has now responded with a new model, the VanMoof V (”Vee,” not “5”), that should put them back at the front of the pack both in terms of design and performance.
The $3598 VanMoof V is a Class III “high-speed” (their words) ebike with some unexpected features and plenty of VanMoof’s cool signature style. While all past VanMoof bikes have been rigid with no suspension, the V adds full suspension, with a clever rear monoshock tucked into the frame instead of a bunch of linkages and motorcycle-style “upside down” front suspension forks. But the biggest surprise is the inclusion of two wheel drive, with a motor in each hub.
VanMoof says the final version of the bike (likely depending on options) will have 1,000 cumulative Watts of motive power. That will likely come from a 500W/500W split between the hubs, but to be clear, no final specifications have been released along those lines. VanMoof does say the V will carry a stout 700 Watt-hour battery. It’ll need it, if the claimed top speed of 31 miles an hour on essentially beach-cruiser sized tires will be met. Hydraulic disc brakes will scrub off the speed. VanMoof says the bike will be configurable through their app to meet local ebike speed laws.
While two-wheel drive systems are not unheard of – New Zealand-based UBCO offers a pair of innovative 2WD machines, one of which is road legal – they are still extremely rare in the ebike business. One reason: Technical development of a safe two-wheel-drive system for bicycles is no ride in the park. But it can be done, and it will be interesting to see what kind of options (if any) VanMoof will give riders when it comes to motor output and control.
The look of the V in renders seen here is pure VanMoof, with two pronounced triangles just slightly altered by the rear suspension system. Other VanMoof givens include integrated LED headlight and tail lights, speed-sensitive automatic gear shifting, an electric “kick lock” for security and literally not a wire to be seen.
The VanMoof V is still in the development process, and the company says it should arrive in the later half of 2022. Look for a review when it comes out. I’ll be ready.