The VanPowers City Vanture is a hip, single-speed city bike that looks great, rides nicely and comes with an unusual construction method that means you can save money by building it yourself. It’s very light for an electric bike and has an impressive and extendable battery range.
For the style-conscious urban commuter it’s a great option, although there are a few quirks worth considering before you take the plunge [review by Phill Tromans].
- Urban commuters
- The style-conscious
- Relatively flat terrain
- Stylish looks and tech
- Largely maintenance-free
- Solid, nimble handling
- Great brakes
- Replaceable components
- Firm ride
- Not well-suited to trails or steep hills
- Considerable pedal effort needed to get going
- Not ideal for smaller riders
If you’re a city commuter and fit the right size profile, then there’s a great deal to like about the City Vanture.
It looks great, helped by a choice of eye-catching colour schemes (ours is in shiny chrome Infinite Silver). It’s got a decent battery range and is easy to ride once you’re on the move, with plenty of oomph from the electric motor.
Some riders may want to change out components in search of a more comfortable ride, and lighter riders may grumble about the effort needed to get going. But overall, this is a lightweight, good-value commuter bike that really looks the business and rides very well.
|Components + build quality|
|Safety + security|
|Performance & handling|
|Comfort + practicality|
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VanPowers City Vanture in detail
The VanPowers City Vanture comes with a belt-driven drivetrain – a Gates CDN Carbon Drive belt and a CDX chain wheel – which has several benefits over a traditional chain. It’s designed to be virtually maintenance free, with no lubrication requirement. All it needs is an occasional wipe if it gets dirty. The lack of lubricant also removes the risk of accidentally getting dirty oil or wax on your clothes.
The belt drives a sprocket attached to a 250W motor in the rear wheel hub, which also houses the bike’s cadence sensor and controller. On the move, this provides five different levels of power, selectable from switches on the handlebars and displayed on a colour screen integrated into the stem - we found this bright and clear. This also displays your speed, battery life and a trip meter.
The power is plenty for speedy and remarkably quiet progress up to 15.5mph (which is as fast as UK e-bikes are legally allowed to go before power assistance stops). As with all cadence sensors e-bikes, the faster you spin the pedals, the more assistance you get. The single-speed drivetrain means there are no gears to worry about, so riding couldn’t be simpler.
The downside is that we found moving from standstill requires considerable pedal effort. Because of the way the cadence sensor works, the pedals need to be moving before assistance kicks in, and the lack of gears means you can’t drop down a cog while you build speed.
Even as a heavier rider (around 95kg) with fairly hefty legs, I needed a good stomp to get going. Moving away on a steep hill will be a serious workout, and for smaller, lighter riders, the strain on the quads could quickly get annoying. For smaller riders, it’s worth noting that there’s only one frame size available. At 53cm it’s aimed at those between 5’8 to 6’3.
The 252Wh battery is built into the downtube and will give you around 50 miles of assistance, which is pretty decent for urban riding and commuting. If you need more, you can buy an additional battery (£235) that looks like a bottle and attaches to the seat tube. That ups the range to around 80 miles. Charging takes two to three hours.
Comfort and Handling
The City Vanture has an unusual frame design that’s made up of several components slotted and bolted together. This means it can be packed into a very small box, and you can save money on the purchase price by opting to assemble it yourself. There’s no obvious downside to this construction when on the move; the bike itself weighs just 15.5kg, which is impressively light for an e-bike, and when riding we found it stiff, nimble and responsive through corners but stable at speed.
It rides on 28c Kenda tyres and has an aluminium fork with aluminium handlebars and rather thin rubber bar grips. This makes for an overly firm ride; it’s fine on smooth roads and cycleways, but badly maintained roads or cobbles will give your fillings a good rattle. Forget any thoughts of riding on trails or off-road – this is a resolutely on-road bike.
Fatter tyres could help; we reckon there’s space at the back for something with more cushioning, but the gap between the front tyre and the fork is minimal and it feels like the front is where extra absorption is most needed (the sprung saddle on our test bike kept the worst of the bumps away from my derriere, and is easily swappable to your preferred seat). A change of handlebars and/or thicker grips could also help.
It’s a shame there aren’t alternative options when you order the bike, and means you might need to spend extra to get your preferred setup. Still, in an age where some bikes come with unswappable proprietary parts, it’s nice to know that you can change bits if you want or need to.
Speaking of bits, there are no bottle cage mounts on the frame, so if you want to carry a drink you’ll have to strap a cage on. There are no mudguards or rear carrier rack included either, although you can buy them from VanPowers.
VanPowers has given the City Vanture Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, and they’re really good. We experienced lots of feel through the lever and brilliant stopping power. While hydraulic brakes are more expensive than a mechanical setup, the difference in performance is considerable.
It helps that the bike is light, too. Scrubbing off speed is easy and progressive, which is always appreciated on busy city streets.