The motor is the standout feature of every e-bike. It’s what gives a bike its ‘e-ness’. And it’s what powers you through every ride you take. But with the new electric VanMoof S3 & X3, we stopped thinking in terms of pure horsepower. We wanted to make an e-bike motor that disappears into the riding experience. A motor that’s so smooth, so silent, and so smart, that you forget it’s even there.
Browse any e-bike catalogue and all you’ll see is numbers – wattage, amps, and torque.It’s all important of course, but numbers on a page don’t translate into the experience of riding it. It’s no good having the most powerful motor in the world if it jolts you off your bike every time you turn the pedals. For our updated motor, we focused on how all these specs feel, to create the most natural, most intuitive e-bike experience ever.
When you jump on the VanMoof S3 & X3, the first thing you’ll notice is what isn’t there. There’s no more motor whirr or jerkiness as the motor kicks in. In fact, it doesn’t ‘kick in’ at all. The pedal-assist power is always immediately there, ramping up intelligently as your speed increases.
“Our goal from the start was to make the riding experience as natural as possible,” explains Project Manager of Smart Products Jean-Paul Niellissen. “There’s a reason bikes have been used for hundreds of years – they’re not just an efficient mode of transport, they feel really good to ride. With the VanMoof S3 & X3, we’re taking that feeling and amplifying it. The motor isn’t doing the work for you, it’s doing the work with you.”
And he’s right. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was no motor assistance at all... until you realise you’re riding at 25km/h in Berlin with almost no effort. As you speed along, the motor is in constant communication with the Smart Cartridge, sending real time feedback to the bike’s integrated ‘brain’. The Smart Cartridge processes this data and fine-tunes the power delivery, so you have exactly the right level of assistance at every stage of your ride.
“We could’ve added a load of complicated controls to the handlebar, but we challenged ourselves to provide the maximum level of performance with the minimum rider input,” says Jean-Paul. “Specs-wise, this is our most powerful motor, but it’s also the simplest and most unobtrusive to use. We even made the casing smaller, so from the outside you can hardly tell it’s an e-bike.”
But one control the Product Design team had to include was the Turbo Boost. Our riders’ favourite feature is back, delivering more furious fun than ever before. For the uninitiated, the discrete button on the handlebar delivers a blast of instant acceleration – 59Nm, if you’re feeling technical. In real terms, it accelerates you to maximum speed in as little as three seconds. Amazingly, the VanMoof S3 & X3’s Turbo Boost is both more aggressive and smoother than the previous generation. Whether you’re coming out of a tight turn, or tackling a tricky incline, the Turbo Boost gives you the extra ‘oomph’ you need.
“It’s a bit like overclocking a computer,” laughs Jean-Paul. “For a short while, you’re pushing all systems to the maximum capacity. So you’re not going to get the maximum possible range if you’re using the Turbo Boost. But you will have the maximum amount of fun.”