Why ride an electric bike? That's a question I asked until this past weekend, when I had the opportunity to test ride the VANMOOF Electrified bicycle. It's been hailed as the world's most intelligent commuter bike, and it lives up to that title - the Electrified is elegant, efficient, and a blast to ride. It's a stealth bomber. It's hands-down the best-looking electric bike I've seen, and it incorporates technology that actually simplifies and enhances the act of cycling.
San Francisco is a city of hills, with some of the steepest streets in the nation. After cycling the city for 8 years I’ve learned its bike-friendly highways and byways by heart – but SF can be daunting for new cyclists who wander off the bike path and onto one of the seven hills from hell. Electric bikes make it easier for cyclists to take to the streets – you can fly up hills and get to work on time without breaking a sweat.
The VANMOOF Electrified is a pedal assist bike – so its 250W front hub motor boosts your pedal power as you ride. A streamlined touchpad controls the built-in lights and allows you to select two electric modes – a low, efficient setting or a high setting that drains the battery faster but amplifies your pedal power by up to 80%.
The bike’s “smart power assistance” system is remarkable. It monitors your cycling behavior and controls the motor to maximize efficiency, and the bike automatically kicks into second gear at higher speeds so you never have to worry about shifting. The electric speed is limited to 20 mph, so it isn’t necessarily faster than a regular bike – but it’s certainly easier to pedal.
VANMOOF‘s quoted range for the Electrified is 18-37 miles, which sounds about right – I climbed from San Francisco’s lowest point to the top of Twin Peaks on the bike’s highest assist mode, and I still had plenty of battery left to burn. The bike’s motor tackles gentle inclines with aplomb, although steep slopes can be a bit of a struggle. All told, the bike lasted about 23 miles before conking out – and even then it was surprisingly easy to ride through flats. I wouldn’t want to chug up hills sans pedal assist, however.
The Electrified is targeted at commuters, and it suits this market to to a T. It ships standard with fenders that ward off splashes, and the concealed chain keeps your leg free from bike grease on the way to work. The bike is quiet in operation so it doesn’t attract a lot of attention, and its built-in lights are a boon, since they’re essentially theft-proof. Speaking of theft, the Electrified comes with built-in GPS tracking, so that you can easily locate it if it ever goes missing.
The Electrified ships almost fully assembled, so setup is a snap – simply screw on the pedals, set the handlebars and seat, and pump up the tires – you’re good to go. All the batteries and electronics are contained within the bike’s frame, so there’s no fiddly wires or bulky components – in fact, you can hardly tell it’s an e-bike until you hit the pedals.
There’s only a few downsides. All electric bikes are heavy, since motors and batteries add weight. At 42 pounds, the VANMOOF Electrified is actually one of the lightest e-bikes on the market – but if you live on the top floor of a 6-story walkup, this probably isn’t the bike for you. Second, it’s expensive – the Electrified costs $2,998, so start saving now.
Caveats aside, the VANMOOF Electrified is smart, stylish and a joy to ride whether you’re an experienced cyclist or a new bike commuter. If you’d like to pick one an Electrified but are short on cash, enter our Halloween Contest for a chance to win one!
Photos by Mike Chino for Inhabitat