Right before Apple announced AirTag, they also announced that Find My could now be built directly into third-party products. One of the first to announce Find My support was VanMoof with the latest version of its S3 electric bike.
Now, I need to come clean and say right off of the bat that I am not a biking expert. I'm not an avid cyclist who is testing out how an electric bike can be worked into my biking setup. I don't have a garage full of bikes or even really know how to properly repair one without watching a YouTube video.
What I am is a technology nerd who, after years of riding a basic hybrid bike I bought at Target, is getting a glimpse into what biking can and will be in the future. Granted, I hope this review can provide some value for both the amateurs and the pros. This review is basically a crossroads where biking meets tech and a tech nerd got plopped down on the seat for a couple of weeks.
So, after riding the VanMoof S3 for two weeks, what do I think as a basic biker and a tech nerd? I basically want to throw my Target bike in the trash and always ride electric now. Let's dive into why.
Bottom line: The VanMoof S3 is an insanely fun electric bike that also packs peace of mind.
- It is incredibly fun to ride
- Boost button is like having a NOS tank strapped to your bike
- Find My integration adds a lot of peace of mind
- You need the app to set the bike up
- The horn is obnoxious
VanMoof S3: Price and availability
The VanMoof S3 retails for $2198 and is available directly from VanMoof on their website or at one of their retail locations. The bike comes in either black or a light blue color.
VanMoof S3: What you'll like
The best thing about the VanMoof S3 is easy - it is an insanely fun bike to ride. Between the pedal assist, boost button, and battery performance, it really unlocks a level of fun when casually riding that I haven't experienced in years. Testing this electric bike out for a couple of weeks made me wish I lived in a location that I could use it as my daily driver in place of my car. Maybe I need to quit my job and work closer to home so I can ride my bike.
The best part about the riding experience is the boost button. It's basically a button on the right handle that, when pressed, turns on the NOS like in Fast and Furious. Turning the pedal-assist all of the way up and pressing the boost button immediately made me feel like a kid again. I've never accelerated that fast on a bike before in my life and it was such a blast that I found myself staying outside to ride around as long as I could. It really took the fun level of biking and cranked it up to a level that I haven't felt in years.
As far as battery performance goes, I was also quite impressed. I took it on a rail-trail that runs between my town and another near me to not only test out how it rode but how long the battery would last. Riding out and back is about 20 miles and, at full power assist, the battery was still at about 25% after my ride was over. That was also with me basically keeping the boost button smashed down the entire time because the boost is too much fun not to use. The entire ride also only took about an hour which is crazy to think that, if I wanted, I could really work in another town 10 miles away and commute with my bike in less than a half-hour.
It really took the fun level of biking and cranked it up to a level that I haven't felt in years.
One thing that is normally horrible in my basic bike is tackling a hill, and the VanMoof absolutely changed my experience here as well. Having that electric motor backing you up also makes taking on a hill an easy feat. There's one hill near my apartment that is normally a beast to conquer with my other bike. Towards the top I am usually pouring sweat, my legs are screaming, and I'm just ready to give up and let gravity do its thing. With the VanMoof, I just held down the boost button and filed right up that thing without breaking a sweat. It was so wonderful that I audibly yelped with glee at the top.
Of course, the main reason iMore is reviewing this bike is because of the Find My integration. VanMoof is one of the first companies to have Find My built directly into the product rather than attaching an AirTag to something, and it is great. It works exactly as you would expect an AirTag to. You can see the location of the bike, give it a name, tell it to play a sound, enable Lost Mode, or try to find it yourself. I took the bike into town, onto the rail trail, and around my neighborhood. No matter where I was, I was always able to see exactly where the bike was on the map in the Find My app and, when my wife moved it to another street for a fun game of "hide and seek," I was able to track it down without any issue. Paired with the already great security features that VanMoof built into the bike, Find My should make a lot of people breathe easier when leaving their bike when they are running errands or visiting a friend.
VanMoof S3: What I don't like
One thing I did run into when testing this bike was an issue when getting it set up. The bike requires you to get it set up through the VanMoof app before you can ride it and the app happened to be down on the day I needed to start the review. So, keep in mind that if the VanMoof app is having an off day on the day you receive your bike, you're basically stuck waiting for them to fix the app before you can use your bike. They did fix the issue later that day and I was able to get everything set up, but it was an immediate reminder about how great technology is — when it works.
Once I did get the bike set up, I wanted to, of course, learn all of the controls so I knew what to press when I was riding. While everything looked and sounded great, I shuddered in my soul when I pressed the button for the horn. Now, don't get me wrong, it certainly gets the job done. It is loud and noticeable. However, the speaker in the bike isn't great so that, in combination with the horn sound being really loud, resulted in me being hesitant to use it at all. I actually felt self-conscious about using that horn at all because, at least to me, it sounds so excessive.
The last thing that I have to nit-pick on is the speed limit for the boost button. I noticed that, when using the boost button, it would cut off at 20 miles per hour. While I was able to get the bike to go faster than 20 MPH on a downhill, that 20 MPH cut-off does appear to be a limit on what the bike will assist you up to. While I'm not saying I think it should be limitless and you should be able to come rocketing down your local rail trail at 60 MPH, I did find myself wishing I could get just a little more out of it.
VanMoof S3: Competition
While VanMoof certainly has competition in the e-bike space, they are currently the only electric bike brand that supports Find My. So, if you are looking for an electric bike and want something that is fully ingrained into the Apple ecosystem, VanMoof currently exists in a class of its own.
While you could technically attach (or hide) an AirTag on any other bike, having the technology built directly into the chassis is a superior method — not only is it a smoother integration, but the bike's enormous battery is powering that location feature. If you did want to attach an AirTag to your regular bike, check out our list of the Best Accessories for AirTags 2021.
Of course there are a growing number of electric bikes entering the market that, while not supporting Find My, are clear competitors to VanMoof. The S3, which lands in the commuter bike category, is getting tough competition from models like the Specialized Turbo Vado, the Propella 7-Speed, and the Batch E-Bike.
VanMoof S3: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want a stellar commuter electric bike
- You want a bike that is integrated with the Apple ecosystem
- You want even more security and peace of mind for your bike
This is a perfect electric bike for those who are looking for a commuter bike. If you are in the market for a bike to take you from home to work, to a friend's house, or to replace walking or a car if it applies to your area, this is a great option.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want an electric bike that you don't need to pedal at all
- You need something other than a commuter bike
If you are looking for an electric bike where you don't have to pedal at all, then this isn't the bike for you. It's also not the bike for those who are looking for a serious road or mountain bike - there are other electric options making their way into the market for those use cases.
I was actually quite interested in trying out the VanMoof S3. As a technology person that has enjoyed biking but never really got deep into it, riding this electric bike for a couple of weeks made me want to replace my regular bike in the future. It unlocks more areas around my town that I would have previously had to drive through because biking would either take too long or the ride would be too difficult for the kind of casual ride I would want.
I can see how, for those who can live with just a bike as their main commuter, the VanMoof S3 would be a huge upgrade and not only make biking easier but more enjoyable and, dare I say again, insanely fun again.