VanMoof of the Netherlands just announced a new 30mph (50kph) electric bike: the VanMoof V. It's a new ebike that pushes the boundaries of what an ebike is that VanMoof has decided to call it a Hyperbike. Well they would, wouldn’t they? The V is available to pre-order now, by invitation only, with the first bikes being delivered in 2022 – full details are at the end of this story.
It's an electric bike that sits in a legal grey area, and all I've seen of it so far are the renders you see here; the brand says the V is currently at the 'engineering stage', which could mean practically anything. Even so, it's hard not to be excited by the promise of the VanMoof V.
The bike goes at 30mph – that is currently illegal for an ebike in Britain – and has all VanMoof's well-established set of anti-theft and connected features, as found in the T3 Award winning VanMoof S3. It's also very affordable. VanMoof says it's "a true car replacement for everyday life in cities and beyond," which seems a little bold but hey, you won’t get anywhere if you don‘t think big.
Still, with its crazy looks – a weird hybrid of bike designs from 1950 and 2050 – and the promise of speeds more suited to urban living than current ebikes, VanMoof V certainly looks like one possible future of transport. It's just for mass adoption, a few laws probably need to change – and also perhaps a certain amount of infrastructure. Then, hey presto: best electric bike ever.
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Those Van Moof V renders in full
Clearly a man very much given to hyperbole, VanMoof co-founder Ties Carlier says, "The VanMoof V is our first hyperbike, an e-bike dedicated to higher speed and longer distance. I believe this new type of high-speed e-bike can fully replace scooters and cars in the city by 2025.”
Regular readers of T3's ebike coverage will be aware that I am not too happy about the 15.5mph speed limit currently applied to them in the UK. I am not sure anyone is happy about it, in fact. It's purely a legal requirement rather than one brought about by the technology. Something like the Specialized Turbo Vado could easily do the same 30mph as the VanMoof V, if Specialized decided to take the artificial limit off. In fact, practically any existing ebike could, although it might fry the motors of cheaper and lighter ebikes.
So of course, upping the top speed on its own doesn't reinvent the ebike. However, VanMoof is also promising two-wheel drive, front and rear suspension and thicker tyres. It says the VanMoof V will thus be "optimised for smoother and longer-distance riding."
Slightly worryingly, there's no mention of the brakes. A good quality pair of hydraulic disk brakes on a bicycle can generally bring it to a halt from 30mph in reasonably good time without too much drama, but it would be nice to know some more details on this.
The V also comes with all tech found in existing VanMoof ebikes, including 'the much-loved' Turbo Boost, which applies all available power at the push of a button, rather than relying solely on your pedalling. There's also the quick and keyless Kick Lock, Bluetooth locking and unlocking, anti-theft alarm and GPS tracking. They've also kept the automatic gear shifting from the S3, which I personally happen to hate, but you can't have everything.
VanMoof also says the V is designed to "keep the joy and simplicity of riding a bike." However, to be legally ridden on the roads of the UK and much of the rest of the world at 30mph, the VanMoof V will require you to obtain insurance and a license, register for road tax (though not pay any, admittedly), display a number plate and wear a helmet. That immediately removes several of the most appealing features of current ebikes though you should, of course, wear a helmet regardless of the law.
Due to a bizarre quirk of current UK law, you could get by with a provisional license so long as your VanMoof V is limited to 28mph, but the other restrictions apply.
Ties Carlier attempts to address this by saying, "We’re calling for policies designed around people, rethinking how public spaces can be used if not occupied by cars. I am getting very excited thinking about what a city could look like in the near future, and we are very proud to be part of the change by building the right tools for the transition."
VanMoof furthermore calls on "lawmakers and city governments to urgently update e-bike regulations to advance the further adoption of this category. During the development of the VanMoof V, VanMoof intends to work with city governments to explore solutions from geofencing to revised speed regulations."
Okay, good luck with that, fellas.
It's worth noting, however, that shop-bought electric scooters are absolutely everywhere right now, and they are totally illegal on UK roads and pavements. That's not even a legal grey area, despite what some claim. One obvious way that VanMoof V bikes could end up on UK roads is simply through people chancing their arm, and hoping that any police officers they may run into just see them as standard ebikes. All the while hoping that the government will update the laws around ebikes to make it all above board.
Anyway, while it's easy to see a few potential barriers to the widespread adoption of the VanMoof V, I am just delighted that someone is bringing out an ebike that can do 30mph. And from what VanMoof has shown us so far, it really is an ebike. Okay, you could say that technically it's an electric moped, but for me the size, shape and probable weight of it make it a bike.
I say probable weight, because VanMoof has not yet revealed that, nor the battery spec, nor the motor spec, nor… anything else of much use.
Still, just like when rumours and renders of the next iPhone are flying about, products are never more exciting than when they don't quite exist yet, and all we know is the bare minimum. I can't wait to see the VanMoof V in the flesh, and on the roads. It needs to be a genuine reinvention of the ebike though, not just an ebike that happens to do 30mph.
• Get more info on the VanMoof V, live and direct from VanMoof (opens in new tab)
VanMoof V: price, availability and how to pre-order
The VanMoof V will be available in the UK, EU and USA by the end of 2022, at the 'category-bending' price of €3498/$3498/£3498. We don't have Australian pricing as yet but it'll probably turn up there too.
How and when can you really buy a VanMoof V, though? Okay, pay attention.
Right now, from today, pre-orders are by invitation only, with current VanMoof owners being the first to get the chance to go on the waiting list. All that is required initially is a €20/$20/£20 deposit. If you're not part of the VanMoof fam as yet, "reservation codes will be shared periodically via a waitlist on vanmoof.com."
• Find out more at VanMoof's online store (opens in new tab)