It's not light and it's unusual-looking but the Vanmoof 6 charmed us with its idiosyncrasies and round-town practicality.
The Vanmoof 6 isn't a conventional-looking bike. Its compact yet portly over-size aluminium tubing and its matt silver paint job make it look more like something you might find on the roof rack of a space ship than something you would expect from a Dutch bicycle company.
Big height range
The Vanmoof 6 looks a bit different but has been designed to fit not only your life style but a wide difference in rider heights. The radical sloping top tube gives it massive stand over clearance but also allows for the seat to go deep into the frame allowing a person with short legs to straddle it.
The seat post is a bit like a Brompton's, with a large diameter to give it stiffness and allow it to extend like a flag pole to accommodate leggy riders. The range of riders who can pedal this bike start at about 1.55m tall (5ft 1in) and go up to 1.85m (6ft 1in); a massive spread.
The riding position is the same as a traditional Dutch bike: very upright with your back practically vertical. With the swept-back handlebars almost wrapping around your knees when you are pedaling, it is a very authoritative position and one that makes you very tall in traffic, able to peer over the top of most cars. However, it also turns you into a sail in anything greater than a breeze.
The single gear is low enough to climb all that you would want to on a bike weighing a hernia inducing 15kg.
With its bolt upright riding position and swept back bars by your knees, you can't really honk on the bars but that isn't what this bike is for. It is more for pootling about town because it ain't fast either with its big balloon, beach cruiser-like tyres.
Lifting this beast up the stairs is pretty taxing too, I felt like a mother with a push chair when faced with lugging it up stairs, waiting for someone to ask if I needed assistance. Or a crane.
The problem wasn't just the weight but how to lift it, the frame is too compact to shoulder and the rear light is very fragile and positioned in the place you want to lift the bike, under the saddle. The light broke before it even left road.cc towers but stayed intact after it was taped up and I remembered not to lift it by the saddle again.
Apart from it being slow and heavy and difficult to lift, it was comfortable to ride and if you weren't in a rush to get anywhere, this made it enjoyable to get about on.
In fact, I found myself choosing this bike to do short journeys on, its quirky looks became charming and its idiosyncrasies were winning me over.
The clutter-less handlebar and the built-in front light, powered by a dynamo in the front hub make for a very clean look. Even if it does look chunky, it's well turned out. I think you will either think this is the most ugly bike ever conceived or you will love it.
Give me a brake
Braking duties are carried out by a solitary backpedal drum brake, which scrubbed speed off with about the effectiveness of dragging your feet on the floor, although if you stand on the back pedal you can manage a broady. I'm not a great fan of a backpedal brake but it fit the uncluttered aesthetic, with no cables or brake levers.
I coast with my right leg forward and therefore brake with my left leg but when I stop I put my left foot on the curb which means I no longer have the brake on which is a problem when you are on a slope.
A front brake will cost you an extra £60, and that's an option you should take up to make the bike street-legal in the UK.
Built like a tank
Apart from a couple of bolts rattling their way loose and the fragile rear light, this bike is remarkably robust. Okay, it is built like a tank and I kept thinking people were going to lock their bikes to it, mistaking it for an immovable object but this sturdiness is what you want for a daily town ride.
The matt silver paint works well at hiding scratches and always manages to look tidy.
Full length painted steel mudguards do their job at preventing road filth from being sprayed onto your clothing and helps keep the bike looking clean too.
To me, the best bit about this bike is what the bike didn't come with, the attachments. There's a choice of racks for the front which plug in to the hole that the front light currently occupies. It's a very thoughful bit of engineering and at about 65 quid a piece, pretty good value too for the quality.
The rear rack bolts on to the rear seat stays forming a very secure platform and offering itself for backies home from the pub.
As much as I don't like heavy bikes I found myself very fond of this stocky Vanmoof 6. It is solid and pretty basic and manages to service your needs to go from A to B as long as B isn't very far away.
A quirky looking Dutch bike that is simple, robust and innovative. And slow and heavy. You will either love it or hate it, and sometimes both.
road.cc test report
Make and model: Vanmoof 6
Size tested: n/a
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Vanmoof say their bikes are to "help the ambitious city dweller worldwide move around town fast, confident and in style". - I will be a little more subjective about the styling and omit the word fast.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Philips 40Lux led front light
pedal back brake
26 inch wheels
1 inch headset
The use of a 1 inch headset is interesting but they tend not to need to be adjusted as frequently as an ahead set.
The only bike I have ridden that makes a Boris bike seem sporty.
Apart from the fragile and silly position of the rear light everything is built for battle.
This thing is a workout.
Upright position and wide seat made for very comfortable short journeys.
The value comes not from performance but for how robust it is, this bike will last yonks.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
This bike needs its accessories and would make perfect sense with a big rack and luggage.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
Its weight and how slow it is plus I'm not a fan of a pedal back brake.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes, despite my moaning.
Would you consider buying the product? With racks attached and a front brake.
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes, to my more eccentric friends.
About the tester
Age: 40 Height: 179 Weight: 75
I usually ride: Condor pista My best bike is: Condor Pista fixed. Look KG241, Jean Thomann vintage
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed, bare back