Cowboy 3 is one of the most feature-rich electric bikes we’ve ever tested
If you’re looking to stir up your commute this year, you won’t find a better option than the Cowboy 3. With its sleek design and nifty app experience, this electric bike is a really chic part of the kit. Express.co.uk has been charging (and charging) the Cowboy 3 for about a month. Here are our in-depth thoughts on this urban e-bike.
Cowboy 3 E-Bike rating: price and availability
At £ 1,900 there are undoubtedly cheaper electric bikes out there than the Cowboy 3. However, the price of the Cowboy 3 is quite reasonable compared to some of its competitors. Cowboy 3 was introduced last year and is available now from a number of retailers, as well as direct from Cowboy.
Cowboy 3 E-Bike Review: Design and Ride
The Cowboy 3 design is a clever optical illusion. The sleek exterior doesn’t hint at the sheer amount of technology that’s under the saddle. From automatic crash detection to location tracking, there are a lot of smarts in this electric bike.
Cowboy also integrates the lights into the frame design so you can never accidentally leave your bike lights at home. This approach also means you don’t have to worry about charging your lights, as both the front and back are powered by the 360 Wh battery.
This is useful, but pretty normal for an electric bike in this price range. However, the team at Cowboy have taken it a step further and programmed the taillight to flash when it senses you’re slowing down. This is meant to grab attention and make you more visible as you approach an intersection. It’s a really clever idea and it works like a charm right away – don’t worry, you don’t have to hunt around the settings to activate it.
Cowboy 3 keeps things pretty minimal across the board. Unlike some electric bikes that put dials and switches on the handlebars to tune your nuclear batteries for power and turbines for speed, thankfully there isn’t any of that here.
The bike has a small battery life indicator on the top tube, but leaves the handlebars completely free. There’s not even a gearshift in sight as the Cowboy 3 dispenses with gears. That could sound Like a bad decision but honestly the extra pressure from the engine means you won’t miss it – even the toughest hill can be conquered without a sweat. This is ideal if you want to use the bike for your commute.
Commuters will also be delighted to know that Cowboy uses a carbon fiber belt instead of an oily chain, which means your work clothes won’t get smeared with grease. Carbon straps are also great and hassle-free, so you don’t have to worry about a chain slipping at an intersection or re-oiling after a ride in the rain. Also, with a rating of 30,000 km (18,600 miles), you probably don’t need to worry about replacing the belt when you buy new ones.
Compared to its predecessor, Cowboy 2, the new version offers puncture-proof tires. We didn’t get a puncture during our time riding the motorcycle, but it’s hard to tell if this is credit for Cowboy’s new tire design … or just plain stupid luck.
The highlight of the Cowboy 3 design, however, is the removable battery, so you can always recharge your bike – even if your garage doesn’t have a power plug. This is especially helpful if you live in a block of flats (or are visiting someone) as you don’t have to drag the entire bike to the ground to refill the tank.
Thanks to the detachable battery, you don’t need a plug where you parked
There’s a subtle battery life indicator on the top tube that shows you how much charge is left at a glance
We didn’t have a flat tire during our time on the bike, but it’s difficult to tell if this is credit for the new puncture-proof tires … or just plain stupid luck
With roughly 43 miles of mileage between charges, you should be able to spend most of the week commuting before you have to look for a plug. That said, 43 miles is easy to get to for those who are serious about biking, so Cowboy 3 may not be the best choice for those who want to spend hours on the weekend.
Charging is done using a proprietary plug that comes with the bike. According to Cowboy, it takes about 3.5 hours to completely empty the battery. We found this in our tests. That’s fast enough that you can easily recharge your battery if you’re spending the afternoon with a friend before heading home.
In terms of ride, the Cowboy 3 feels incredibly natural. Unlike some electric bikes, where the motor feels like the moment the nitro button is pressed in The Fast And The Furious, Cowboy increases the assistance gradually based on the load on the pedals. So if you push to the top of a hill you will hear the purr of the engine. With this system you always have control, which is not the case with electric bikes with a coarse accelerator pedal switch on the handlebar.
Cowboy strips off the oily chain in favor of a durable, maintenance-free carbon fiber belt
The cowboy’s taillight will flash as you approach an intersection to make you more visible
That said, if you push hard from a standing start, you can really tear yourself away from the traffic light. Given that Cowboy 3 is designed to be a city commuter, it makes sense – you want to clear the distance between you and the crowd of disgruntled motorists as soon as possible.
In our time with the bike we only encountered a few quirks with the engine. These usually occurred after pushing off – only to brake when we suddenly thought about our route. It took the engine a few seconds to realize that we had decided not to go and the wheels kept turning. It hasn’t happened often, but it’s not the problem we’ve ever encountered with Ampler’s motor system, although admittedly it’s not available on bikes in this price range.
Cowboy 3 is available in three color options: absolute black, anthracite gray, mineral gray
Cowboy 3 E-Bike Review: The App
More than any other electric bike we’ve tested, the Cowboy 3 feels like a device. And why not? Electric car makers shouldn’t have a monopoly on fun new features and software updates for road vehicles!
That said, if you’re a little tech-savvy or want to buy a bike for someone who is, Cowboy 3 might not be the best example. As it stands, you can’t even ride a bike without taking out a smartphone, loading the Cowboy app, and unlocking the bike.
Cowboy has promised to soon introduce a smartphone-free method to unlock his bikes. However, this shows how tightly the bike and companion app is really integrated.
That integration isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it enables some really nifty features, including the ability to locate your bike on a map at any time using the built-in GPS.
Going forward, the Cowboy app will send a notification when it detects movement when you are not by the side of your bike. The so-called theft alarm gives you an overview and allows you to follow the movements in the app while you find out what happened.
It is crucial that you can “lock” the bike via the app, but this only deactivates the motor. The bikes won’t stop, so you’ll need to invest in a bike lock to stop thieves.
At 16.9 kg, the Cowboy 3 is pretty light for an electric bike
The Cowboy app also contains an integrated turn-by-turn navigation and a live dashboard with which you can display your current speed, the remaining battery charge (in percent as well as the mileage), the duration of your journey and the total distance. If you don’t have a handlebar mount for your Android or iOS device yet, you should add one to your shopping cart at checkout with the Cowboy 3 in order to get the most out of this well-designed app.
Finally, Cowboy 3 has crash detection that is activated when sensors detect that the bike has tipped over while pressure was applied to the pedals. In this case, the bike lights will start pulsing, indicating that the function has been triggered. If you fail to respond to a notification from the Cowboy app, it will be assumed that it cannot and will reach your emergency contact with your current GPS location.
Thankfully, we didn’t get a chance to test this out in the real world, but it’s incredibly comforting to know the feature is there.
Fenders can be added at checkout although they will cost you extra
Cowboy 3 E-Bike Review: Final verdict
- Benefits: Stylish design, GPS location is really useful, automatic crash detection is a calming feature, smoother pdeal-assist engine
- Disadvantage: If you’re not a fan of downloading a smartphone app to make a new gadget work, this is probably not the bike for you
Even without an engine, Cowboy 3 would take a hit. It has a stunning design, is surprisingly light at 16.9 kg, and eliminates the hassle of a greasy chain for a carbon belt. But combined with all the clever devices – GPS location tracking, automatic crash detection and the ability to reach emergency contact, live statistics for your ride, flashing brake lights – Cowboy 3 is a lot smarter than your average bike. In fact, it’s also way smarter than your average electric bike.
If you’re the type of person who regularly goes on a bike ride without your smartphone, you might want to look elsewhere. However, if you like the idea of a bike that improves with software updates and syncs with your smartphone, Cowboy 3 is a great option.
Once we all start commuting again, it will be a phenomenal start to the year if we avoid the cramped train cars to pedal assist with this beauty. And for that we have to give our (cowboy) hat to the team that put this together.