Vanmoof, it’s kind of …different

Pressed with a desire to move about Melbourne……Without traffic jams and train crowds…. A bike is the way to go. But what?

Good Morning Glenferrie
Good Morning Glenferrie Station, how I enjoy your queues!

The thing is – I just want to get around, not particularly break the land speed record when commuting through the city streets. I have a carbon machine for those runs down the coast, and its great at doing just that. But it is absolutely useless if you just want to shoot up to the pub on a Sunday afternoon, or head to work without needing man lycra…. Yes, that is a thing best left for the speed attempts and not the pub. And yes, design with form, function are all important.

So  with a little searching, found quite the different solution! A Vanmoof No.3 , M1 for the diehards. With some decent thought about the purpose of this machine, the creators made it do some pretty obvious stuff:

  • Chain guard, so you don’t get chain grease on you clothes
  • Mud guards, so you don’t look like you missed when at the WC
  • Tyres that can ride over broken glass! handy in Melbourne
  • Upright seated position, so riding is just relaxed and you have good view of any traffic.
  • Solar powered/charged front and rear lights – nothing too bright, but enough to let other road goers know you’re there.
  • Rear carrier to tie your gear on, accessory but its got the hook points for it.
  • A sturdy frame, aluminium helps it stay lighter at an average 13kg (okay not a carbon racer at < 6kg).
  • Hub gears – 3 speed Shimano Nexus, NO external derailleur! Why 3 speeds? Well -Do you really use all 21 speeds on a city bike…

Suffice to say, this M1 No3 that I found was second hand and after 4 years of prior ownership, had been given sparing attention to maintenance. It is really a bike to just use and not to constantly adjust. So a little tuneup and its right to go. How heavy was the maintenance work exactly? Pump tyre, adjust chain and grease it then a quick adjustment of the rear hub – done and right to go for another year.

Only extra that was added was an aluminium rear carrier. Just went to the people at Urban Bicycles in North Melbourne and they supplied and fitted so that I may carry my gear without backpacks – better for summer !


Maintenance tips if you have a Vanmoof M1:

  • The Nexus hub is explained in detail here: Sheldon Brown
  • How to adjust the hub is on a youtube is explained in detail here: Youtube to adjust But its not often needed and its a lot easier than a 21 speed.
  • Tyres are a 28″x1.75″ (47×622) Schwalbe, there are 26″ models as well. Pump up to about 60psi. Consider the reflective wall style if you need new ones…
  • Adjust the chain to have about 10-15mm play – CAUTION the hub sprocket is elliptical and the chain loosens and tightens depending on the hub position. Measure at the tightest point.
  • Chain lube from a bike shop.
  • Adjust the seat and the handle bar right – this thing will never be a racer so if your seat is higher than your handlebars – your just kidding yourself. Get help from a bike store to make this thing into a relaxing ride.