The Vanmoof Electrified S2 bike is from Holland, with a USA store in Brooklyn.
It is a very handsome bicycle:
In particular, just looking at it, you probably would not know this is an electric bike. Weighing about 41 pounds, it is a lot heavier than a standard high-end bike, but it is a lot lighter than many other e-bikes (~60 pounds). My neck is fused (I cannot look up), so I installed the two (included) stem risers. It still does not give me a particularly upright sitting position.
The Vanmoof claim to fame is a very clever anti-theft system. Your bike is connected to an app on your Android or IOS device. You can lock or unlock the bike using the phone. You can also lock the S2 by pushing in the little knob you can see just in front and a bit below the rear axle nut. You can unlock it by entering a code using a button on the left handlebar. When the bike is locked, the rear wheel will not turn, and moving the bike sets off a loud alarm. Furthermore, if you report the bike stolen (via the app), and if if is locked, Vanmoof can track it down via a GPS cell connection built into the bike. It costs $240 for three years of this service. If Vanmoof cannot find the bike, they will replace it. There are also two special security nuts on the axles that can only be removed using a special tool (included). However these security claims may be overblown.
I will come back to the phone app later in this review.
Mechanically, the motor is in the front wheel hub, and there is a two-speed Sturmey-Archer internal shifter in the rear hub. The only thing the rider can control is the power assist level (from 0–4), which I always left on 4. This also can be done via the app or manually on the stopped bike. From my point of view, the power train is the weakest part of the S2 in hilly East Tennessee. We have many steep hills, and the power assist gets lower and lower as you pedal slower and slower. To help solve this problem, there is a button on the right side of the handlebars you can press to give a power boost. On a long, gradual hill, this works like a charm, but on a short steep hill, I could barely make it to the top of the hill. If the hill is longer, the S2 just does not have power. There are no hills in Holland! When I got the S2, the power assist button did not work properly. It stuttered and dropped out. It took a month for Vanmoof to admit that this was a problem, which they mostly fixed with a bike firmware update (version 1.6) The app tells you such an update is available—a nice touch.
I also had difficulty with the gearing. Often, after coasting down a hill, I had trouble keeping my feet on the pedals because there was little resistance. I wish there was a way to shift manually.
When the hills are not to steep, the S2 feels like a normal bike, but one in which you do not have to worry about gear shifts. It is easy to keep up a 15 miles-per-hour speed.
The tires are not at all puncture resistant. Over night, my rear wheel went flat, and this was due to a thorn that barely entered the tire. And when the tire goes flat, the kickstand no longer works, and the bike keeled over into my glass table top (see above). It was also totally unobvious how to remove the rear wheel which is captured by the chain guard. I had to call Vanmoof in Holland to get a video of the process, which took a week. You will need to carry two different Allen wrenches, the special nut remover, and a wrench for that (plus a repair kit and a pump) to rescue yourself from a flat in the middle of nowhere. The front wheel is ner to take off. It is very hard to get at the screws of the cover for the cable on the front fork—it took me well over an hour. There are no welded points to attach a pump or water bottle holder.
The biggest source of frustration with the Vanmoof system is the app. If you switch phones or update Android, the app will not start. I rebooted the phone, uninstalled/reinstalled the app, reset the bike with a paperclip, and it still crashed every time I tried to start it. Eventually, I unlocked the bike manually, and lo and behold, the Vanmoof app then started. Also, there were times that the app lost connection to the bike. It did this after the above-mentioned flat tire. I replaced the wheel, and knowing that the bike was unlocked. I took it out. I live on a hill, and when I reached the bottom and started up the next hill, I realized that the bike was off. There was no connection to the app. It required a reset using a paperclip. I did not have one with me, so had to walk the bike home. Carry a paperclip with you! The app also controls things like the lights, horn, the max top speed, and shows you where the bike is parked. I hope Vanmoof fixes the issues I had with the app.
But I need a more powerful bike motor where I live. Vanmoof has been gracious about letting me return the S2 for a refund.