Just before Apple announced AirTag, they also announced that Find My can now be integrated directly into third-party products. One of the first to announce Find My support was VanMoof with the latest version of their S3 electric bike.
Now I have to be frank and say up front that I am not a bicycle expert. I am not an avid cyclist who tests how an e-bike can fit into my bike setup. I don’t have a garage full of bikes or even really how to fix one properly without watching a YouTube video.
What I am is a tech nerd who, after years of riding a basic hybrid bike I bought from Target, has a glimpse of what the bike can and will be in the future. Certainly, I hope this review can add some value to both amateurs and pros alike. Essentially, this review is a crossroads where bike meets technology and a tech nerd plopped in the seat for a few weeks.
So, after riding the VanMoof S3 for two weeks, what do I think as a basic biker and tech nerd? I basically want to throw my Target bike in the trash and still ride electric now. Let’s dive into why.
At the end of the line : The VanMoof S3 is an incredibly fun electric bike that also offers peace of mind.
- It’s amazingly fun to ride
- The Boost button is like having a NOS tank attached to your bike
- Find My integration adds a lot of peace of mind
- You need the app to configure the bike
- The horn is odious
VanMoof S3: Pricing and availability
The VanMoof S3 costs $ 2,198 and is available direct from VanMoof on their website or at one of their retail outlets. The bike is available in black or light blue.
VanMoof S3: What you will like
The best thing about the VanMoof S3 is the ease – it’s an incredibly fun bike to ride. Between the pedal assist, the boost button and the battery performance, it really unleashes a level of fun in relaxed riding that I haven’t experienced in years. Testing this electric bike for a few weeks made me wish I lived in a place where I could use it as a daily driver instead of my car. Maybe I have to quit my job and work closer to home so I can ride a bike.
The best part of the driving experience is the boost button. It’s basically a button on the right grip that when pressed turns on the NOS like in Fast and Furious. Turning the pedal assist on all the way and pressing the boost button immediately made me feel like a kid again. I had never accelerated so fast on a bike in my life and it was so awesome that I found myself standing outside to ride as long as possible. It really took the level of fun of the bike and pushed it to a level that I haven’t felt in years.
As for the battery performance, I was also very impressed. I took it on a railroad that runs from my town to one near my home not only to test how it worked, but also how long the battery would last. The round trip is about 20 miles and at full power the battery was still about 25% after I finished my ride. It was also for me to keep the boost button pressed all the time because the boost is too much fun not to use it. The whole trip also only took about an hour or so which is crazy to think that if I wanted I could really work in another town 10 miles away and commute with my bike in less than half an hour.
It really took the level of fun of the bike and pushed it to a level that I haven’t felt in years.
One thing that is normally horrible in my base bike is tackling a hill, and the VanMoof absolutely changed my experience here as well. Having that electric motor supporting you also makes it easier to climb a hill. There is a hill near my apartment which is normally a beast to conquer with my other bike. Towards the top, I’m usually shedding sweat, my legs are screaming, and I’m just ready to give up and let gravity do its job. With the VanMoof, I just hit the boost button and filed this thing down without breaking a sweat. It was so wonderful that I shouted for joy at the top.
Of course, the main reason iMore is reviewing this bike is the integration of Find My. VanMoof is one of the first companies to have Find My built right into the product rather than attaching an AirTag to something, and that’s great. It works exactly as you would expect from an AirTag. You can see the location of the bike, give it a name, tell it to play a sound, turn on lost mode, or try to find it yourself. I took the bike around town, on the train tracks, and around my neighborhood. No matter where I was, I was always able to see exactly where the bike was on the map in the Find My app and, when my wife moved it to another street for a fun game of “hide and seek “, I was able to track him down without any problem. Coupled with the already great safety features VanMoof has built into the bike, Find My should make it easier for many people to breathe easier when they get off their bikes while shopping or visiting a friend.
VanMoof S3: What I do not like
One thing I encountered while testing this bike was a problem setting it up. The bike requires you to set it up through the VanMoof app before you can ride it and the app was down the day I needed to start the exam. So keep in mind that if the VanMoof app has a day off the day you get your bike, you’re basically stuck waiting for them to fix the app before you can use your bike. They fixed the problem later that day and I was able to get everything set up, but it was an immediate reminder of how good the technology is – when it works.
Once the bike was set up, of course, I wanted to learn all the controls so I would know what to press when I was riding. While everything looked and sounded great, I shuddered in my soul when I hit the horn button. Now don’t get me wrong, it definitely gets the job done. It’s loud and noticeable. However, the speaker on the bike isn’t great, so combined with the loud horn sound, I was hesitant to use it at all. I actually felt embarrassed to use this horn because, at least to me, it feels so overkill.
The last thing I have to fiddle with is the speed limit for the boost button. I noticed that when using the boost button it would cut off at 20 miles per hour. While I was able to get the bike to go faster than 20 MPH downhill, that 20 MPH cutoff seems like a limit to what the bike will help you up to. While I’m not saying I think it should be unlimited and you should be able to steeply down your local railroad track at 60 MPH, I found myself wishing I could get a little more out of it.
VanMoof S3: Competition
While VanMoof certainly has some competition in the e-bike business, they are currently the only e-bike brand that supports Find My. So if you are looking for an electric bike and want something that is fully grounded in the Apple ecosystem, VanMoof is currently in a class of its own.
While you can technically attach (or hide) an AirTag on any other bike, having the technology built right into the chassis is a superior method – not only is it smoother integration, but the bike’s huge battery. powers this localization function. If you wanted to attach an AirTag to your regular bike, check out our list of the best accessories for AirTags 2021.
Of course, there are a growing number of e-bikes entering the market which, while not supporting Find My, are obvious competitors to VanMoof. The S3, which lands in the commuter bike category, faces stiff competition from models like the Specialized Turbo Vado, Propella 7-Speed and Batch E-Bike.
VanMoof S3: Should we buy it?
You should buy it if …
- You want a stellar commuter electric bike
- You want a bike integrated into the Apple ecosystem
- You want even more safety and peace of mind for your bike
It is a perfect electric bike for those looking for a commuter bike. If you’re looking for a bike to take you from home to work, to a friend’s house, or to replace walking or a car if that applies to your area, this is a great option.
You shouldn’t buy this if …
- You want an electric bike that you don’t have to pedal at all
- You need more than a commuter bike
If you are looking for an electric bike without pedaling, this bike is not for you. It’s also not the bike for those looking for a serious road or mountain bike – there are other electric options making their way into the market for these use cases.
I was actually very interested in trying the VanMoof S3. As a tech scholar who loves to ride a bike but never really got into it, riding this e-bike for a few weeks made me want to replace my regular bike in the future. This opens up more areas around my city than I should have walked through before, as the bike would take too long or the ride would be too difficult for the kind of relaxed ride I wanted.
I can see how, for those who can live with just a bike as their primary commuter, the VanMoof S3 would be a huge upgrade and not only make cycling easier but more enjoyable and, dare I say it again, incredibly fun to ride. new.