Electric bikes have a reputation for being clunky, inelegant machines. So, the first thing I notice about the new VanMoof Electrified S is how it's not clunky or inelegant at all. The aluminum commuter bike weighs 40 pounds. But it feels light and balanced, and it looks terrific. The brushed metal frame hides all the cables and there's a guard over the chain, so you don't get your pants dirty.
And that's before you start moving. Once aboard, riding feels almost effortless. With a few clicks of the pedal assist control—a button on the bar between your legs—you're soon whizzing along at 15 mph. And there's a booster button on the left handle in case you need a little extra help getting up any hills.
The new VanMoof Electrified S—which I rode recently in Brooklyn—is the third generation of the Amsterdam company's e-bike line, and it incorporates some improvements from the previous model, which appeared in 2014. The battery lasts longer (up to 70 miles), the LED lights are brighter (a very decent 13 lumens) and the cables are laid out internally so you can't break them, even if you twist the handlebars around.
I was initially skeptical about the $3,000 price-tag ($2,298 on preorder). But VanMoof's Brent van Assen made a good case for it. The Electrified S is a commuting bike designed for longish distances (say 10 miles), he says. So, it's more useful than a normal bike, and you're less likely to get sweaty riding it. In other words, you can compare it to a scooter, which easily cost $3,000. Plus, the model has some anti-theft features, like an app-controlled lock, and it comes with a GPS tracking system, so you can always locate it with the accompanying app.
The pedal-assist feature has four settings, giving you between 20% and 80% help, depending on how lazy you're feeling. It charges up to 90% in about three hours and fully to 100% overnight. Van Assen says the battery will probably need to be replaced in three years, depending on how often you commute with it.
All in all, the comparison to a Tesla—which several reviews have made—didn't seem outlandish. The Electrified S is a sleek, beautifully designed specimen and it seems like the future of the breed. If you want to commute to work over a decent distance and don't want to pedal the whole way, this is the bike you aspire to.