The X2 electrified is the latest from VanMoof, the Dutch company looking to (in their own words) ‘redefine cycling and open it up to the masses’. The X2 is the sister to the slightly larger S2, and both have a non-electrified variant. Owned and loved by an increasing number of London commuters – including, I was reliably informed, Lord Russell of the APPG on cycling – it’s a clear eye-catcher at traffic lights.
As electric bikes go, it’s fast. A 250-500W motor in the front hub gives this bike all the maneuverability you could ask for. Head into the settings and tell it you live in the US – this disables the daft European speed limiter, which means you can cycle up to 32 km/h instead of 25 km/h. A handy ‘boost’ button is positioned on the left handlebar allowing for a speedy departure at the lights.
The X2 claims a range of up to 150 km. That’s in eco mode though – which no one in their right mind would ever use. Using the highest power and the ‘boost’ button pretty much permanently depressed, expect less than half of this. Charge time is also only four hours and I only needed to charge it once all week on a twice-daily commute.
I would go so far as saying it is the best bike I’ve ridden. It’s smooth, the gear changes in the two-speed gearbox seamless, the steering tight and the ride position comfortable. Unlike the electrified Brompton in the same price class, it feels sturdy and confident in traffic. The thick tires handle the London roads, and the disk brakes are sharp and effective when needed.
This bike has everything a tech-loving hipster could want: a connected app, an instant live-chat helpline, a built in digital speedometer into the frame… But I’m not sure they’ve got it quite right. A lot of the time I found myself fighting the tech just to be able to ride. You have to use your phone to unlock your bike. And yes – there is feature called ‘auto unlock’; but I found that the bike would continuously unlock itself in the office whenever I came near. When I did actually want it to auto unlock I needed to move the bike within five seconds of unlocking – else it would re-lock itself, setting the bike alarm off and re-setting it on a continuous loop. Still, I like to think – if it confounded its owner, a genuine bike thief would be just as clueless!
Which brings us neatly on to the next point: security. The X2 clearly excels in this area. It has a built-in GPS – so if a thief was determined enough to turn up, ignore the alarm and load your treasure into the back of a van, you’d be able to trace – and hunt – them down. In fact, VanMoof are so confident in their technology that they’ll offer an ‘iron-clad peace-of-mind service’ for a nifty $100. In short – if your bike is nicked, they’ll dispatch a team of ‘bike hunters’ (think scary burly men) to get it back – with the full support of the local police.
Only a hardy thief would steal one – but then only a hardy owner would tempt fate!
It’s a great bike, if you go back to the basics of what it is supposed to be – theft-proof and commuter-friendly. It does have an enormous price tag, which I am still not fully convinced is justified – and later this year I gather another $500 is being added, taking it up to an eye watering $3,000.
But none of that can detract from the fact that, having given the bike back, I miss it. I’m back on the tube, my commute is 30 minutes and I arrive for work distinctly disheveled. With the X2 I was able to get to work in 20 minutes, sweat-free with a smile on my face. And that’s something no-one can put a price on – even VanMoof.
The X2 is available in Thunder Gray (pictured) and Fog White, prices start from £3,198. VanMoof.com