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  • Flywheel: The Resurrection of VanMoof | Vehicles from VinFast, Lectric, Riese & Müller, Velotric, & Haibike

Flywheel: The Resurrection of VanMoof | Vehicles from VinFast, Lectric, Riese & Müller, Velotric, & Haibike

Exploring Lavoie/McLaren Applied’s resurrection of VanMoof & featuring the top 5 vehicles of the week


Welcome to Flywheel, a weekly exploration of owned and used micromobility. Each newsletter will highlight an observation of trends emerging in the industry and feature five of the most interesting vehicles/hardware in micromobility.

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The observation of the week explores Lavoie/McLaren Applied’s efforts to resurrect VanMoof. This week’s featured vehicles are a scrambler from a new automotive OEM, two commuters, a fat-tire ebike, and a hybrid ebike.

Observation of the Week

The resurrection of VanMoof

When Lavoie announced last summer that it acquired VanMoof, there were lots of concerns and open questions. The McLaren Applied subsidiary made several ambitious promises, including a redesigned supply chain, a new dealer network, upgrades to vehicles, and resumption of sales. Many onlookers were understandably skeptical. After all, acquirers often make lofty promises that don’t actually materialize. In Lavoie’s case however, things look to be a bit different.

Earlier this month, VanMoof restarted sales of a re-engineered S5 and A5. Priced at an MSRP of €3,298, the SA5 series is currently available for purchase in the Netherlands and Germany. Sales are expected to expand to more countries across Europe over the next month as Lavoie continues to expand the service network it launched earlier this year that is built on top of 3rd party bike shops and retailers.

Performance specs for the new SA5 ebikes remain largely unchanged from what they were for the S5s and A5s VanMoof announced back in 2022, but the new vehicles have been re-engineered with a simplified supply chain that reduces the number of proprietary parts and makes it easier for 3rd parties to maintain.

For those of you that remember the first launch of this series, you may recall that the S5 and A5 were originally designed to improve upon the many reliability issues that plagued the S3 and X3. However, those SA5s were hurriedly launched in late 2022 amidst the impending bankruptcy of the OEM, and it’s unclear if those models ever actually met the goals for which they were designed.

Lavoie is hoping that the new SA5 series picks up where the old SA5 series left of. Key reliability improvements of the new models include new firmware that fixes connectivity issues, upgrades that mitigate problems with water ingress, vibration-resistant screws, better wiring and mounts for the hub motor, and a new saddle mount. The new vehicles still have many proprietary parts, but Lavoie claims that the supply chain for these components has been stabilized and that replacement parts will be amply available. From a software perspective, in addition to the improved firmware, there’s a several new features that improve upon the electronics platform that VanMoof 1.0 left behind. The rear light can now act as both a brake light and turn signals, and riders can set up battery notifications to alert them when the battery level drops below an adjustable minimum threshold. More features are expected to become available via OTA.

The SX4 series that VanMoof launched in May last year has been scrapped. This line was originally supposed to be an ultra-simplified version of the SX3 series that would make maintenance even easier, but Lavoie no longer sees the need for the SX4 series given that their redesigned SX5 series largely achieves the same goal. The dual-motor V is still on the product road map but isn’t expected to launch until 2026, and there’s even talks of a VanMoof-branded escooter that could be launched later this year.

Interestingly, bikes are no longer shipped D2C like they once used to be, and VanMoof 2.0 is adopting more of an incumbent dealer-network model. Bikes are first shipped from the factory to quality control centers for final QA, and are then shipped to local bike shops for delivery. These bike shops are ultimately responsible for handing over the vehicle to customers and managing the relationship with them.

Both the Peace-of-Mind maintenance subscription and Bike Hunters theft-protection program that VanMoof used to offer have also been scrapped. It’s a shame to see some of VanMoof’s most unique and appealing offerings be discontinued, but it’s understandable given how expensive they were to maintain as well as the fact that they were really only possible due to the vertically integrated model VanMoof used to operate with.

I own a VanMoof S3 and have been regularly riding it for almost four years. I have experienced my fair share of bugs and maintenance challenges with it, but it’s still one of the best products I’ve ever owned. It was saddening to see VanMoof go through bankruptcy, and I, like many others, had doubts and skepticisms about the brand’s survival after its acquisition. Frankly, I thought that the brand would quickly sunset and fall by the wayside. However, Lavoie has done an excellent job thus far in rebuilding VanMoof. The new leadership has kept every single promise they made when they took over. There’s a quickly growing servicing network, replacement parts are available again, and sales of ebikes have resumed. I can’t wait to test ride a new SA5 ebike, and I’m excited for the resurrection of one of micromobility’s most important brands.

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MSRP: $2,599 | Flywheel Price Comparison: $0 less than avg resale price | Flywheel Vehicle Value: $2,599

Unveiled at CES 2024, the VinFast VF DrgnFly is a class-2/class-3 scrambler entering the competitive moped-style ebike segment kickstarted by Super73. VinFast is a Vietnamese EV automaker that made headlines when it went public via SPAC last year on August 15, 2023. The VF DrgnFly represents VinFast’s “unwavering commitment to bringing electric mobility to everyone,” and is designed to combine “current US e-bike trends with Vietnamese cultural aesthetics.” Its powertrain features a 90Nm (750W) rear hub motor controlled by a torque sensor and a 640Wh battery pack. The VF DrgnFly is a single-speed vehicle, which makes sense considering that this is likely a vehicle that will primarily be ridden via throttle like most other scramblers. It’s limited to class-2 speeds out of the box, but it can be unlocked to an off-road mode that allows it to hit speeds up to 28 mph. One interesting design choice by VinFast is the use of a flat frame vs. the tube frame that is typically found on most ebikes. This makes the vehicle lighter while still maintaining similar payload capacities. Paired with 20” by 4” fat tires, the VF DrgnFly should be a comfortable and agile vehicle to ride. Lastly, the VF DrgnFly comes with many software features like OTA and remote locking that are quickly becoming standard amongst urban-focused vehicles. Customers will be able to test ride and order the VF DrgnFly through VinFast’s growing US dealer network, which will now sell both electric cars and electric bikes. Listing can be found here.

Launched earlier this month on April 16, 2024, the Lectric XPress is a class-2/class-3 commuter and yet another category leading ebike from the best selling ebike OEM in the US. The XPress has the same price tag as the XP 3.0, but acts as a full-size, commuting-focused alternative to the folding form factor Lectric has become so popular for. Its powertrain features a 55Nm rear hub motor and a 500Wh battery pack, and there’s an upgraded version of the XPress with an 85Nm motor and a 672Wh battery pack that costs $800 more. As a pre-order special, the upgrade is currently available for $500 off and comes with a second spare 672Wh battery pack. Notably, the XPress is Lectric’s first commuter with a torque sensor. This combines with Lectric’s recently introduced PWR+ (Pedal Assist Wattage Regulation+) motor controls schema and a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain to make the vehicle's pedal assistance extremely intuitive and responsive. The battery pack is UL 2271 certified, and the ebike system as a whole is UL 2849 certified. Rounding out the XPress are a custom, ebike-rated Lectric front suspension fork, hydraulic disc brakes, and integrated lights. Surprisingly, the vehicle doesn’t come with integrated fenders or racks. The Lectric XPress is easily the best value commuter available in the market, and does an effective job filling the gap in the market that the now discontinued Rad Power RadMission was designed for. This vehicle is available for pre-order on Lectric’s website, and is expected to begin shipping in June. Listing can be found here.

The Riese & Müller Roadster Mixte Vario is a class-1 hybrid bike designed for both commuting and sport riding. R&M is a stalwart of the ebike industry renowned for its high-quality, luxury vehicles that are outfitted high-end, maintenance-free components. The Roadster Mixte is their agile commuter offering and R&M’s 5th most popular model in the secondary market. Its powertrain features an 85Nm Bosch Performance CX mid-drive motor and a 500Wh Bosch battery pack, and is paired with a continuously variable Enviolo hub. R&M also offers Roadster Mixtes with an 11-speed Shimano Deore transmission. Both are impressive drive train options; The Enviolo hub offers a smoother pedaling experience and is often seen as the more luxurious choice, but is heavier and offers less torque than the Shimano Deore transmission. Lastly, the Roadster Mixte Vario’s frame is robust and rigid, which is complemented by an adjustable spring suspension front fork to ensure a solid and responsive yet smooth ride. R&M bikes are great pre-owned purchases due to their exceptional durability and the availability of extensive service networks. This listing was bought two years ago, has a mileage of 1659mi, and has been annually serviced by certified Bosch mechanics. It was primarily used for commuting but is being resold because the seller now works a remote job. While this is an excellent vehicle, note that the listing is considerably overpriced and is listed at ~$1,600 above the model’s average resale price. Listing can be found here.

The Velotric Nomad 1 is a class-2 budget fat-tire ebike built for biking enthusiasts seeking a versatile hybrid capable of navigating both urban roads and rugged trails. Its powertrain features a 75Nm rear hub motor and a 691.2Wh removable battery pack, and is paired with a Shimano 8-speed transmission and hydraulic disc brakes to give the Nomad 1 tight control and handling. The Nomad 1’s e-systems are both UL 2271 and 2849 certified, making it one one of the few fat-tire ebikes with such safety credentials and one of the most affordable UL-certified options on the market. Additional features of the Nomad 1 include a suspension fork and 26” by 4” fat tires that cushion rides, as well as built-in lights and fenders that make the Nomad 1 ready to ride on streets or trails as soon as you unbox it. The Nomad 1 is Velotric’s highest-performance offering. It has a higher-torque motor, larger battery pack, and Velotric’s custom high-performance Velopower H75 motor controller. However, it only has a cadence sensor (vs. a torque sensor) and lacks smart, urban-centric software functionality (i.e. Apple Find My, GPS tracking, and app interface) that have fast become commonplace amongst D2C city bikes. This listing was purchased last July and only has a mileage of 32mi. It comes with an upgraded suspension seat post, pedals, flat-out tire sealant, and several other smaller accessories. Listing can be found here.

The Haibike Urban Plus is a swift class-3 commuter, and the premium urban model within Haibike’s vehicle lineup. Its powertrain features a 70Nm custom-developed TranzX mid-drive motor and a 490Wh TranzX battery pack. The Urban Plus is one of the few Haibike ebikes that uses a TranzX system. Although TranzX powertrains are not as well known as those from Bosch, Bafang, or Yamaha, they are reliable systems that Haibike’s parent company frequently uses in its other brands as a lighter and cheaper powertrain alternative. The Urban Plus has sporty handling due to its rigid frame and hydraulic brakes, but its stiffness, compounded by the lack of suspension, might be a challenge for less experienced riders. Unlike many dealer-brand ebikes that use a built-in display for the UI and vehicle controls, the Urban Plus features a connected COBI smart hub. This hub lets riders dock their smartphone to their vehicle and use the COBI app for ride controls, navigation, music, and security features like locks and alarms. This listing has minimal use (Flywheel estimated mileage of 553.36 mi) and comes with a rear rack. Listing can be found here.

That’s it for this edition. Thanks again for joining, see you next week!

- Puneeth Meruva

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