Ok, so I may be getting ahead of myself; let me start at the beginning. Once I found out about the plans for the City Vanture, I dedicated an article to it. Shortly after, I got in touch with Vanpowers as I'm a huge Lego fan and wanted to get my hands on the experience of completing a bicycle, tube by tube, from scratch. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with the components and process required to build a bike; if you can make it past some minor Chinese-to-English translation issues, classic. Don't worry, if you decide to opt for the DIY version, you'll receive step-by-step instructions, both written and video, to ensure a safe and compliant machine.
Now, I received my version built most of the way. All I had to do was throw on the headset with an integrated LCD screen, adjust my brakes, part of which included manually bending the disk slightly into place as it had been warped slightly during shipping, and tightening the seat post in place. A few pumps and off I went.
Now, this is an e-bike; electric assistance is what it's all about, and the Vanture I ride lets me reach a top speed of 23.3 mph (37.5 kph) with assistance from that rear-mounted 250-watt motor available to E.U. riders. U.S. owners have access to a tad more power with a 350-watt motor, but the top speed is still set at 25 mph (40 kph). As for myself, I have a European version with a 250-watt motor unlocked to U.S. speeds; lucky me.
The motor may not sound like much, but once you couple things with a rather intelligent operating system and a cadence sensor, the experience really starts to take shape. For example, I have a hill next to my house that I like to test EVs on as it has a massive grade. At one point, it offers a 30 to 35-degree incline. I can safely say that this is the limit for the motor; it stopped growing in output after about 25 degrees, but I still made it to the top with leg power and the Gates drivetrain.
Powering the motor and LCD display is a battery. I enjoyed that Vanpowers decided to integrate this component into the down tube because the result is an e-bike that leaves most folks surprised when you tell them it's electric. Overall, LG cells make up a 35-volt, 7-amp-hour, 252-watt-hour battery that, surprisingly, lasts me around 46-50 miles (75-80 kilometers) depending on how much time I spend in Power or Boost mode; it feels like Tour is the sweet spot in terms of assistance, speed, and range that the bike can offer. This is preferential, however, and you can squeeze more range out of the cycle if you also ride with no assistance or in Eco. An additional battery pack can kick the capacity up to 80 miles (129 kilometers). As a personal opinion, Vanpowers did a nice job with the power/range ratio.
The RideWell, my first impression upon seeing the completed bike was that this could be a questionable design because of all the separate segments. I couldn't have been more wrong. As I hopped on, nothing, and I mean nothing, creaked, budged, or shifted as I settled my 172-pound (78-kilogram) carcass onto the seat.
At first, I wanted to see how my ride would be with nothing but my own two legs moving the Gates Carbon drivetrain. Yup, it's a single speed for sure, and with minor adjustments to your rear-axle position, you can find that sweet spot that allows you to ride around town with no electric assistance whatsoever.
As for the electric magic, from the first push of the pedal, before you even rotate more than a courter-turn of the sprocket, the cadence sensor picks up your motion and kicks in the motor. Since I rarely use Eco mode, you'll find me cruising in Tour; the assistance level I find offers the perfect speed, power, and cadence I like to ride in. Sure, Power mode is great for climbing hills and Boost for traffic-less straightaways or midnight riding, but rarely will you end up using them for city riding. Even downhill, Tour is more than enough to give you an extra kick. Since I don't have access to the software, I couldn't tell you what's going on in terms of power delivery.
One aspect of the Vanture's design I'm still paying attention to is the whole Frankensteinian nuts and bolts design. As you ride over a speed bump, this thing is just as stiff as any other urban aluminum bike you may have ridden. Hitting a bump too fast will buck you right off, and coming off a curb will most certainly pop your tires if not controlled; it's a road bike and shouldn't do things like that anyway.
What I like about this bugger is taking it out in the morning for a ride to local coffee shops. I typically wait to weave into the traffic going by, and once I get an opening, I'm up to a 15 mph (24 kph) cruising speed in around 50 yards (45 meters) or so, and that's just perfect for keeping pace on the street. Once you make it out to wider roads, it's into Power mode, and you'll really start to feel the wind on your face. On, and the sound your rear hub makes is something else entirely, easily identifiable if tested against other e-bikes in the category.
Once I've had my coffee and cakes or whatever else I get myself into, it's back to the bike, and off I go, back up the hills that surround my home. While I already mentioned the limit to the Vanture's motor, on your average hill, it will actually gain speed as your ride, even in Tour. Want the workout? Click the minimal-design controller until you see a white outline on the screen and the word "off," and kick those legs, Mr. Armstrong.