The 2021 models compared

In comparison: the smart e-bike trio VanMoof S3, Cowboy S4 and Veloretti Electric

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They are only available online, attract with comparatively low prices and offer quite new features such as integrated GPS modules and extensive app connectivity: at first glance, the bikes from VanMoof, Cowboy and Veloretti appear to be quite similar. And yet they are quite different, as this comparison shows.

For the 2021 vintage, there were some improvements on the VanMoof, including support for Apple’s Find My network or the optional additional battery. In addition, the previously quite dark display on the top tube and the sometimes rough working gearshift are said to have been improved — both points that were already criticized here in our review. And despite these updates, the VanMoof is already the oldest model in this overview! The reason for this is the Cowboy C4, which was introduced in April, as well as the brand new Veloretti Electric. Both models are not yet available, but can already be pre-ordered. Delivery should then take place in the next few weeks for Veloretti and in September for Cowboy.

Three different types of drive systems

From a technical point of view, the most serious differences between the three bikes can be found in the drive system: The Cowboy is designed as a pure single-speed model, so it does not have any gears. The motor is located in the rear wheel and, at 45 Nm, offers slightly more torque than its predecessor. The power is transmitted via a belt drive, which works cleanly, quietly and almost wear-free. A torque sensor is used to control the e-drive. The more power is put into the pedal, the more the motor supports here — which creates a quite natural driving feeling, but also forces you to assist. In keeping with this, the riding position on the bike is quite sporty, and the handlebars are unusually narrow.

The VanMoof is more modest: A hub gear in the rear wheel offers four gears that are shifted electronically and automatically. Although this makes the ride less strenuous for the rider, it also has disadvantages: since there are no indications of an upcoming shifting process, the work of the gearshift feels a bit rough, which can sometimes throw you off your stride. There is also no torque sensor here, instead only the rotation of the pedal is measured. The motor support is rather linear according to the selected drive mode. An unusual feature is the boost button, which can be used to activate the maximum motor power at the push of a button. By the way, VanMoof does without a belt drive, instead a regular bicycle chain is used. This is installed in a closed chain case and thus protected from outside weather conditions. Together with the upright and comfortable seating position and the curved handlebars, the VanMoof appeals to comfort-oriented riders.

The seating position on the Veloretti should be similar, but technically this bike differs significantly from the other two. A 65 Nm mid-motor from Bafang is used here, which is combined with an automatic transmission in the rear wheel. Compared to the four-speed hub of the VanMoof, however, the continuously variable transmission from Enviolo is used here. The rider sets the desired cadence and the transmission then automatically selects the most suitable gear ratio. And since it is a continuously variable transmission, no gear changes are noticeable. Veloretti also uses the clean and quiet Gates belt drive instead of a traditional bicycle chain.

Battery and range

Concrete statements on the range of the e-bikes are hardly realistically repeatable in reality, because there are simply too many influencing factors beyond the installed technology (rider’s own effort, topography, route, etc.). What can be said, however, is that the Cowboy certainly offers the lowest range with a capacity of 360 Wh, especially since the singlespeed drive tends to require more electrical support than bikes with gears. An advantage of the Cowboy, however, is that the battery can be removed and recharged at a power outlet further away from the bike.

VanMoof does not offer this feature: the battery is permanently installed in the frame, so the bike always has to be charged near a power outlet. At least the battery is significantly larger with a capacity of 504 Wh, which means fewer charging processes are necessary. And those who need even more capacity can purchase the optional PowerBank — an additional battery with another 378 Wh.

Finally, the best of both approaches can be found in the Veloretti: here, the battery also offers a quite high capacity of 504 Wh, but it is also removable for recharging!

Similarities …

Besides the quite different concepts of the three bikes, there are also some similarities. This starts with the weight: The Cowboy is the lightest model with 19 kg, but the gap to the two competitors (in contrast to the predecessor Cowboy 3) is not too big. Both the Veloretti and the VanMoof weigh in at around 21 kg — quite a considerable figure, especially for the Veloretti, since mid-motor bikes are usually somewhat heavier than those with hub motors!

Update: According to first owners of the Veloretti, the weight of the bike is actually much higher than mentioned and is said to be over 26 kg!

Brakes are hydraulic disc brakes on all models, and all bikes are equipped with mudguards. VanMoof and Veloretti also provide a kickstand and a bell (electronic on the VanMoof). With the Cowboy, however, the kickstand is an option, and there is also a rear rack as an option. This can also be purchased optionally from VanMoof, where there is even a suitable rack for the front.

All three bikes have an elegantly integrated lighting system with highly visible taillights. At the front, however, only the VanMoof offers a real headlight, the other two are unfortunately only position lights to be seen in traffic.

You won’t find a suspension on any of the bikes, but they are all equipped with quite wide tires around 50 mm. These can also be ridden with comparatively little air pressure, which means that small bumps are better dampened.

… and differences

Even though all three bikes are described as smart bikes here, there are some differences: Veloretti’s app is not yet available, but the feature set already allows us to draw some conclusions: GPS tracking is available, as is a navigation function. The motor and lights can be controlled, and the bike can also receive updates via the app. So far, everything is quite good — but the competitors probably offer even more features.

For example, the VanMoof has an integrated alarm system that triggers an acoustic alarm if the bike is moved while locked. The user is also informed about the incident via app. Cowboy has a similar function, but without the alarm sound. Both can also be unlocked automatically via app when you get close to the bike. With the Cowboy, the bike is only unlocked on the software side, i.e. the electric drive becomes active only then. The VanMoof, on the other hand, has a real frame lock that mechanically locks the rear wheel. Veloretti also offers a conventional frame lock from Abus, but it is usually operated “analog”.

When it comes to components, both Cowboy and VanMoof rely even more on their own developments: On both bikes, for example, the custom brake levers are integrated flush into the handlebars, which makes for a clean look. The Cowboy additionally routes the brake cables directly at the handlebars into the frame, making them barely visible. Furthermore, there is an integrated smartphone mount on the stem here, which can also charge the device wirelessly! In comparison, the cockpit of the Veloretti is more traditional with conventional brake levers, grips and openly routed cables.

The three bikes in direct comparison

The main differences between the three bikes can be compared in this table:

VanMoof S3 (2021)Cowboy C4Veloretti Electric Ace
MotorHub motor in the front wheel,
59 Nm torque,
Speed sensor
Hub motor in the rear wheel,
45 Nm torque,
Torque sensor
Mid-motor from Bafang,
65 Nm torque,
Torque sensor
Battery504 Wh capacity,
fixed in the frame
360 Wh capacity,
removable
504 Wh capacity,
removable
Drivetrain4-speed automatic transmission (hub gear) with chainSinglespeed drive with belt driveContinuously variable automatic transmission from Enviolo with belt drive
BrakesHydraulic disc brakesHydraulic disc brakesHydraulic disc brakes
Tires28 inch,
50 mm width
27.5 inch,
49 mm width
28 inch,
47 mm width
Standard equipmentMudguards,
kickstand,
frame lock,
bell
MudguardsMudguards,
kickstand,
frame lock,
bell
Optional equipmentFront and rear rack
Auxiliary battery
Rear rack
Kickstand
Lighting systemIntegrated headlight with 40 lux and rear lightIntegrated front position light and rear lightIntegrated front position light and rear light
Smart featuresTracking via GPS,
navigation,
Drive settings,
Over the air updates
Unlock via app,
Apple Find My support,
Alarm system with sound
Tracking via GPS,
navigation,
Drive settings,
Over the air updates
Unlock via app,
Alarm system via app notification,
Wireless charging for smartphone
Tracking via GPS,
navigation,
Drive settings,
Over the air updates,
Alarm system via app notification
Frame sizeOne-size for 170-210 cm tall ridersOne-size for 170-195 cm tall ridersOne-size for 173-200 cm tall riders
ColorsDark (gray-black)
Light (Light blue)
Black
Sand
Khaki
Black
High gloss black
Graphite
Weight21 kg19 kg26kg
Distribution modelOnline direct distributionOnline direct distributionOnline direct distribution
Return option14 days30 days30 days
Warranty3 years2 years2 years
PriceEUR 2.198EUR 2.490EUR 2.399*

*Introductory price, later 2,799 euros

Minor differences at the comfort frame bikes

In addition to the models with diamond frames, all three bikes are also available with a comfort frame – and these demonstrate extreme versatility! Veloretti plays it safe and provides the Ace with a typical trapezoid frame, this model is then called Ivy. Cowboy goes one step further and offers a classic deep-entry frame. ST is the name suffix and stands quite appropriately for Step Through. Radical, on the other hand, is the approach of VanMoof: the model called X3 has a completely separate frame and also relies on significantly smaller wheels in 24″ format. This results in a much more compact bike overall, which should also fit riders taller than 155 cm. Apart from that, the comfort frame models correspond to their diamond frame counterparts in terms of technology and equipment.

VanMoof X3 (2021)Cowboy C4 STVeloretti Electric Ivy
Tires24 inch27,5 inch28 inch
Frame sizeOne-size for 155-200 cm tall ridersOne-size for 160-190 cm tall ridersOne-size for 164-184 cm tall riders
ColorsDark (gray-black)
Light (Light blue)
Black
Sand
Khaki
Black
Desert-Green
Pebble-Grey

Conclusion

As shown in our direct comparison, the bikes differ in part significantly — to choose a winner or the best of the three bikes therefore does not really make sense. With its minimalist singlespeed drivetrain and rather sporty orientation, the Cowboy is suitable for active riders who are more likely to ride on the flat and attach importance to a removable battery and smart features. Comfort-oriented riders are more likely to find what they are looking for in the VanMoof and Veloretti, whose gears make riding easier even in hilly areas. While the VanMoof offers more smart features and a permanently integrated frame lock, the new Veloretti Electric should be a really interesting alternative for many interested riders. For example, the bike offers the more powerful drive system with a better gear hub and a removable battery!

After VanMoof’s current price increase, the e-bikes have also moved closer together in terms of pricing. The S3 and X3 are still the cheapest at 2,198 euros, while the Cowboy is almost 200 euros more expensive. In between is the Veloretti, which is available at an introductory price of 2,399 euros — although the regular price will later be 2,799 euros. In all cases, buyers have to be aware that these companies are direct sellers and thus repair and warranty issues might be a bit more complicated.

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