The features continue with integrated lights and a minimalist display set into the top tube that relays charge, speed and level of assist. The most exciting aspect to the Vanmoof though is a setting on the app that allows you to toggle your bike’s speed limit between European 25kph and more generous (but not entirely legal) 30kph United States limit. That cheeky extra 5kph is enough to make the Vanmoof the bike for city riding at pace. The S also features a Turbo Boost button (that puts the motor at full assist), which was a welcome bonus nipping across busy intersections or powering out of a tight corner where your speed has dropped.
We found the Groove motor a little laggy in engagement, with often almost a full rotation of the cranks before the assist engaged - compared with the Gazelle and Vanmoof, the pick-up was frustrating. Putting our issues with the assist to one side, we couldn’t fault the aesthetic: we loves the semi-mixte frame style, a practical non-gender specific design.
Glenn has over 15 years of experience building bicycle wheels and has worked for and with the local cycling community in the Philadelphia area for the past 20 years. Glenn is in charge of all wheel building activities at E-BikeKit and oversees quality control on wheels built in the Newportville, PA location. Since joining E-BikeKit in early 2010 Glenn has had a huge impact on the success of the company...
Unlike most e-bikes, the Brompton's battery is integrated into a bag that sits on the front of the bike. While that detracts slightly from the classic, streamlined design, it's handy as it can be unclipped for charging or riding as a regular bike – it's probably one of the easiest to ride without battery assistance thanks to its weight. The battery also powers two lights for safe commuting.
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
By 1898 a rear-wheel drive electric bicycle, which used a driving belt along the outside edge of the wheel, was patented by Mathew J. Steffens. Also, the 1899 U.S. Patent 627,066 by John Schnepf depicted a rear-wheel friction “roller-wheel” style drive electric bicycle. Schnepf's invention was later re-examined and expanded in 1969 by G.A. Wood Jr. with his U.S. Patent 3,431,994. Wood’s device used 4 fractional horsepower motors; connected through a series of gears.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.