Sexy New Dutch Ride: Vanmoof No. 3

 

Is the Vanmoof sexy enough to lure motorists from their oil addiction?

If you notice such things, chances are you have caught a glimpse of a Vanmoof bicycle somewhere already. The stylish new Dutch commuter bike has been featured everywhere from Treehugger to GQ Magazine. Even the Bike Snob had something snide to say about the striking Vanmoof when he spotted one outside the Apple Store in Soho.  The innovative brushed aluminum frame with integrated solar powered lights are something Steve Jobbs would probably approve of.

Lipstick red

When the Vanmoof No. 3 caught the attention of a Milwaukee police officer, he went to Vince at Ben’s Cycle to get one.  Vince didn’t stock the bikes, but he was happy to order one, er make that two.  It seems he had to order two to get one and Ben’s is now listed as a Vanmoof dealer. Vince was nice enough to let me put the extra bike through its paces for this review. You will find it back on his showroom floor now if you just can’t wait to get your hands on it.  The price is about $600.

Brooks saddle, faux leather grips and the high-tech solar powered rear light integraged into the back of the top tube.

In the US, the No. 3 comes standard with a singlespeed rear hub with a coaster brake and a front rim brake (thanks to the lawyers).  Minimalists will appreciate that it is sold without the front brake elsewhere in the cyclocivilized world because it looks a lot cleaner without those cables and the coaster brake is enough stopping power for getting around town.  The No. 3 is also available in the “Over the Top” model with Shimano 3-speed rear and rollercam front hubs.  

The fat white-wall tires and flat black fenders recall the classic street rods of the 50s.

Like a teenage boy with his first girlfriend, the first thing that hooks you about the No. 3 are the striking good looks, but it isn’t until you put a leg over her that you really know what you are in for. The bike only comes in two frame sizes, the 28-inch-wheeled 56cm (center-to-center) and he 26-inch-wheeled 51cm frame.  The 56cm has a longish 59cm top tube, which is offset by a very short stem. It also has long chainstays (46cm) which give it a bump-smoothing stretch limo-like 110 cm wheelbase.

Hop on the big-wheeled bike and you feel like a soccer mom in a jacked up Cadillac Escalade thanks to the combination of the cushy

The solar panels on the front and rear lights are integrated into the unit that fits snuggly into the top tube.

white walls, long wheelbase and the a tall (300mm) bottom bracket.  Two friends independently said they felt like they were walking when they took the Vanmoof for a spin, because the high bottom bracket gives the rider a head and shoulders over traffic view.  But that high bottom bracket combined with the fat level top tube results in an unusually tall standover height for a 56cm frame.  I am 5’10″ tall, normally ride a 56cm road bike, and I could just barely stand over the top tube. I measured the standover height at 34 inches, but the specs say is 36 inches (850mm). If you are shorter than me you will need to order the 26 inch-wheeled model to gain precious crotch clearance.

OK, the Vanmoof is faster than Oma, but not so fast you will have to worry about speeding tickets.

The bike has a 71 degree head tube angle and a 72.5 degree seat tube angle, on the slack side, but well within the realm of most modern road bikes sold in the US compared to more traditional European commuter bikes.  This means it rides faster and steers quicker than bikes like my Oma.  I’m not comparing the Vanmoof to racing machines, but the modern frame geometry combined with a long wheelbase and fat tires might yield the perfect combination of comfort and speed.  I did not miss the lack of gears.  This bike still climbed faster than my Oma because it was easier to stand and pedal.

Other than the standover height, the only problem I can see s if you leave your bike in dark storage (bike locker, garage, basement) for more than a few days, the solar lights won’t work if you pull it out to ride in the dark.  From what I hear though, the next model will have a usb port so you can power the lights with your cellular phone if they go dead.

Classic double diamond frame with modernist tweeks make the Vanmoof No. 3 a second looker.

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About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bike Review, Dutch Bicycles, Equipment Review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Sexy New Dutch Ride: Vanmoof No. 3

  1. Tim says:

    So, how will this work for the hills in Seattle? Also, can you put a basket or rack on this? BTW, I like the front brake, based on my recent bike riding (rentals) in Copenhagen and Stockholm.

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Hey Tim,
      Well, there are plenty of people who ride single-speeds and fixed-gear bikes in Seattle, so this would be no different. Besides, the original Dutch Bike Co. store is in Seattle and as I mentioned, this bike climbs better than my Dutch omafiet. They do have some racks for the bike on the website, and some of the new racks are very cool.

  2. Jeff says:

    I bought an “Over the Top” No. 3 in July (in Chicago, from Jon Lind). My impressions so far are:
    1) It’s a much faster ride than my Gazelle Toer Populair or any other classic Dutch bike;
    2) It’s light enough to easily carry up the four flights to my apartment;
    3)The solar LED lights are OK to help drivers see you in city traffic on well-lit streets, but the headlight is far too weak to light the roadway; lacking sunlight, you can charge them using a micro-usb charger (I use the one from my blackberry 9700 phone). Don’t confuse this with the slightly larger mini-usb that a lot of phones and cameras use.
    4) The ride is very smooth (due to the combination of long wheelbase, wide tires, and decent Brooks saddle);
    5) In city riding, you often have to make unexpected stops. Using only the coaster brake sometimes leaves the pedals in the wrong position for setting off again – and sometimes you need to get moving again quickly (to get out of the middle of an intersection, etc.). I use the coaster brake only for braking at high speed, where it prevents me from flying over the handlebars ;-) At typical city street (i.e., low) speed, I almost never use the coaster brake. In a less congested environment than Chicago, maybe the coaster brake alone is fine…
    6) The front fender is a bit too short; the front wheel can spray water onto the chainring. I added a ginormous mud flap to stop this.
    7) This is not a fancy Dutch bike. The frame is aluminum, made in Taiwan. The components are low cost but functional (Shimano Nexus 3-speed hub and rollercam brake). It’s a decent value for the money compared with other city bikes in its price range.
    Overall, I see this bike competing with fixies as practical city transportation. It doesn’t have the character or the bullet-proof toughness of the classic Dutch bike. But the ride is great, very little maintenance is needed, and it’s light enough to carry up stairs and onto the train like you would a fixie. The more upright riding position is also much more comfortable (and probably safer) for keeping an eye on all the goofball drivers trying to kill you ;-)

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Jeff,

      Do you live around Chicago, or is this a bike I am going to see on the streets of old Milwaukee?

      Sounds like you had the same feelings I did about the bike. I just hellped a friend buy a No.3 from Ben’s Cycle in Milwaukee. My friend wanted more gears, so they rebuilt the rear wheel around a 7 speed internal hub. He is picking it up on Monday, so I will let everyone know how he likes it after he has it for a bit.

    • VANMOOF says:

      Dave,

      such a great review of your bike. And great to see you are helping out the others. We just started to sell VANMOOF in the US, and we are very pleased to read such great comments. We are working hard to improve our dealer network and make sure everybody will love riding their bikes!

      If you can help you out with anything, and also everybody else here on this blog, please let us know!

      greetings from VANMOOF HQ – Amsterdam :)

      • daveschlabowske says:

        Thanks Neils,

        I follow Vanmoof on Facebook, but feel free to email me any new product announcements.

        Dave Schlabowske
        overthebarsmke (at) yahoo (dot) com

  3. Jeff says:

    I live in Chicago, but I know that Jon Lind here has sold at least one VanMoof to someone in Milwaukee.
    After a couple of months of riding, I like this bike a lot for Urban transportation…

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Hey Jeff,

      I believe that Vince at Ben’s got his Vanmoof’s from a shop in NY. He sold the second one to a pal of mine who had a 7speed hub put on the rear. It is his only bike and he needs more than a single speed for long recreational rides, etc. They really are super bikes.

  4. murray says:

    Question for you–my husband fell in love with the VanMoof no. 5 that he saw in the London Design Museum. I’ve decided to get him a No. 3 for his 50th b-day (great gift, I know!) but I can’t decide on the “over the top” or the single-speed.
    A couple of factors:

    1. He loved the simplicity of design with the single-speed
    2. He rides a cannon mountain bike
    3. He’s never ridden a single-speed
    4. It’d be mostly for weekend bike rides, no group cycling or long hauls

    My concern is that he THINKS he wants a single-speed but doesn’t really know what it’s like to ride one, but I really want him to have what he wants and since it’s a surprise I’m trying to figure it out without asking

    I live in Santa Monica CA but I have to order it from Chicago, so a return would be a hassle. Do you have any thoughts on which might be better for him?

    Sorry to be so long winded. I really appreciate any thoughts you might have.

    Thanks,

    murray

    • daveschlabowske says:

      Hi Murray,

      You are certainly in the running for the best wife award! I say go with the single speed. If he found later that he really would prefer a 3 spd, it would cost about $150 to buy a 3 spd hub and rebuild the rear wheel. Any of your local bike shops could do that. Email a photo of your happy hubby after you give him the bike!

  5. murray says:

    You’re so sweet (and so right, re: best wife…)

    Thanks very much for your input, it really helped–Single speed it is! Photos to follow–though his birthday isn’t until August, but follow they will.

    Cheers,

    Murray

  6. Tony says:

    Hello Jeff,
    After reading your opinion about the vanmoof bike, it make me consider getting a single-speed one. I also own a Gazelle Toer Populair 3-speeds in Indonesia and rarely touch the shifter at all. I am a weekend rider and spend most of the time with just one gear. Gazelle is a fun bike to ride but sometimes it is too heavy to move around over the curb or stairs. The Vanmoof bike is simply the answer to get the modern look of a Dutch bike and moving around town with ease. By the way, here are some questions for ya:
    How long does it take to charge the LED light with USB port and how long does it last?
    How comfortable is the unsprung Brooks saddle compare to spring one?

  7. Matt says:

    Hi Tony
    I can’t answer your questions because I have the exact same ones ! My research has yielded some insight however. Apparently the unsprung seat discomfort if there is any is compensated for by the long wheel base and balloon tyres. Also the Brooks saddle store in the Uk told me the B67 saddle which is sprung fits the Vanmoof but the upgrade would cost around 150-200. Re the lights the only info I can find is they are obviously not the brightest but in blinking mode more than safe in city traffic. I live in Oz and am about to buy the 3 speed. Such a cool looking bike ;)

  8. Jim says:

    Where are these bikes made?

  9. Scott Deagan says:

    I just bought a Vanmoof 5.7 and was wondering if it would be possible to replace the massive 1.75 inch thick balloon tyres with something thinner. I love everything about the Vanmoof 5.7 except for the thickness of the tyres.

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