The VanMoof S3 electric bike is dead. Long live the VanMoof S5. Wait, what happened to S4? Never mind. Live and direct from Amsterdam, home of the considerate cyclist and legal weed cafes, VanMoof just announced the new S5 ebike in standard and step-through models, as well as the A5 cargo bike. I'll be bringing you updates from the event but luckily VanMoof furnished me with most of the 5 Series details in advance, so you can read it all here and now. One thing I can tell you straight away is the new VanMoof has scooped a prestigious Red Dot design award, and I think you can see why.
The big news here is that, as you can also see, VanMoof has actually found a way to make a step-through bike quite sexy. That's because they have slightly 'cheated' and retained a crossbar, where most step-throughs do away with them entirely. However, by steeply raking it, they have created a bike that's more like a BMX in overall appearance, but which is still easy to swing your leg over and mount up. Most step-through bikes and ebikes look like they're designed for Victorian ladies, so this is very good to see.
Both the step-through – or 'Step In' as VanMoof calls it – and standard frame look suitably urban and futuristic. They're joined by the A5, which is similar but has front and rear mounting points for carrying more cargo than you can fit in your backpack. As ever with VanMoof, they come with a raft of security features that make them theoretically impossible to steal. These include integrated locks, anti-theft warnings and alarms and a doughty group of people who will actually go and retrieve your bike should it get stolen. Yes, really.
The VanMoof S3 was probably the best electric bike for city riders, and the S5 looks likely to elevate the experience still further. Just as well, as VanMoof-alike bikes from rival brands have been cropping up all over the place in recent years, from Cowboy to Bird. VanMoof riders include Little Simz (pictured above), Frank Ocean and Tyler Tha Creator, so I think I can safely say they aren't too fussed.
VanMoof's launch event, which I am totally at, is fully aimed at an urban hipster audience, with talk of various creative people and brands who I have heard of in some cases. The brand's positioning probably alienates as many people as it appeals to, but I have always found their actual ebikes to be right up there with the very best you can get, so please don't be dissuaded by the marketing. Certainly in terms of step-through frames for urban environments, I've not seen anything better than this, and from experience I am sure it will ride very well.
What are the disadvantages of electric bikes? Your questions answered.
If you want to know what the S5 is broadly like to ride and use, go and read my VanMoof S3 review. Very little will have changed in terms of the brilliantly stable ride, quirky user interface, and features that make it fun and safe from bike thieves – of whom there are many, let's face it.
The S5 can only broaden the appeal of VanMoof bikes, thanks to the addition of the Step In and the A5 cargo bike. The most notable upgrades are a re-engineered motor that's more powerful and a longer-range battery. I guarantee these will be barely noticeable to most users, as the top speed will still be 15.5mph, and the range was plenty long already.
What will be noticeable is a new handlebar interface, which tells you your speed, battery levels 'and more' via 'LED Halo Rings'.
If you want a display that's a little less cryptic, there's also now an optional phone mount, similar to the one that's fitted as standard on the Cowboy 4 ST, which turns your mobile into a securely-attached bike computer. A USB port means you can recharge your phone as you ride.
Speaking of secure, the anti-theft features have also had an update, with a larger locking pin and new 'auto-retract' function. Thanks to the bikes' Bluetooth connectivity, you can lock them with a tap, and unlock just by approaching your VanMoof with your phone turned on.
The three-speed gearing is automatic, so as you slow down for traffic lights, the VanMoof 5 Series bikes change down, then as you accelerate away, they go back up again. Experienced bike riders may find this quite annoying – I certainly do – but it makes the bike as easy as possible for newcomers to cycling.
Also aiding acceleration is the excellent 'Turbo' button, which applies maximum thrust, regardless of your pedalling speed. Don't get too excited – you'll still only be able to reach 20mph in the USA and 15.5mph in the rest of the English-speaking world – but this is a handy feature for hills, pulling away from lights and general acceleration without needing to exert yourself.
When you aren't using the Turbo, the VanMoof 5 Series will intelligently apply electric motor assistance in a way that matches your pedalling and the prevailing riding conditions. Earlier VanMoof bikes did this very well indeed and apparently the S5 and A5 have been improved so the ride experience is even more natural.
And how about the VanMoof A5?
The A5 is another step-through – sorry, Step In – design, but adds some suitably sturdy looking luggage racks for transporting 'the near equivalent to a small city car.' Erm, really? There are definitely some luggage racks, anyway. It's a smaller bike than the S5 and has 24-inch wheels rather than full-size ones.
VanMoof S5 and A5: price and availability
The VanMoof S5 & A5 come in gray only and are on sale worldwide from April 5 and ships from July.
Pricing is USA: $2998; UK: £2298; EU: €2498. Australian pricing and availability are TBC.
- Sign up for the waiting list at vanmoof.com
VanMoof 5 Series: key spec
Unisex S frame: for riders 165-210cm
Weight: 23 kg
Unisex A frame: for riders 155-200cm
Weight: 22 kg
Front wheel hub motor
Boost torque: 68Nm
4 custom power levels
487 Wh capacity 47V/5A (S5)
463 Wh capacity 47V/5A (A5)
Integrated 26 cells
Removable for servicing only
60 km-150 km (S5)
55 km-140 km (A5)
Gen 5 Charger
6h 30 min (0 - 100%)
2h 30 min (0 - 50%)
Updated smart Kick Lock, with auto detract pin
Automatic Rider Recognition with Manual Disarm
Anti-theft nuts and bolts
Apple Find My*
*Available pending certification
LPWAN and Bluetooth theft tracking
Anodized aluminum rims
Stainless steel spokes
VanMoof Gen 5 Tires with premium puncture protection
Gen 5 Hi-Vis Lights
*EU/UK: ISO 6742-1 & Germany: K mark
2x 20x LED color Halo Ring Interface
One-piece adjustable handlebar and stem with VanMoof co-designed SP CONNECT phone mount with USB Type-C (5V) charging port
Front & rear perforated Gen 5 Hydraulic Disc
Integrated automatic 3-speed hub
Automatic smart shifting for most natural shifting
Range extending battery (optional extra)
463 Wh capacity 48V/5A
6h 30 min (0 - 100%)
2h 30 min (0 - 50%)
Added range: 55 km ~ 140 km*
Other features VanMoof would like you to know about…
Fully enclosed drivetrain
Automatic chain-tensioning system
One-piece integrated design
Electronic Sensors; Air quality, Temperature & Humidity and Light, NFC, GPS, BLE, LTE-M, NB-IOT
Immediate motor response (torque sensor)
Integrated Kick Stand!