Cowboy 3 full review
Cowboy is based in Brussels and from day one has focused solely on electric bikes. This means it has been able to design its bikes from the ground up to have the features it - and modern cyclists - want.
It’s certainly a looker: only the battery behind the seat tube gives away the fact it’s electric. Plus, integrated LED lights and a battery gauge in the top tube are neat while a stealthy matt black theme is used for practically all components.
This review has been updated for the third-generation model, which has a few subtle improvements over the second-generation - the version pictured.
These changes include:
- Full, instead of partial, mudguards (now included in the price)
- Gates carbon belt (stronger & longer lasting than the previous fibreglass belt)
- Lower gear ratio
- Wider, sturdier tyres
- Approx 900g heavier
Features & design
Rather than use an off-the-shelf system, Cowboy cherry picks the components it wants, such as the motor, torque sensor and controller. And it wraps a bike around these rather than doing it the other way around.
There’s no display like most electric bikes. Instead, you download the Cowboy app to your phone. The app was originally required to power the bike on, but while that's changed so it will unlock when your phone is within Bluetooth range (no need to unlock your phone), you can also use the Manual Unlock feature if you don't have the phone with you.
And the app means it’s possible to update the firmware in the bike, which has allowed Cowboy to add features such as theft tracking.
Where the app comes into its own is when riding, as you can see your speed, remaining distance / battery power, and other details such as trip distance and time, and your rides are stored so you can see how far you’ve cycled over the last week or month.
The only snag is that there's no phone mount on the handlebars: a universal Quad Lock mount is the recommended way to solve this (don't forget to additionally buy a QuadLock case or adhesive mount for your phone as well). You can add this mount as an accessory when ordering for £29 / €29.
The app is also required to turn on the front light, but the rear light will flash when the bike detects you’re slowing down – a neat feature. It’s done by using an accelerometer, and Cowboy later updated the app to use that sensor to detect if you fall off and remain motionless, and send a text message to a contact if you do.
There’s GPS, plus an embedded SIM and Bluetooth within the frame. This means you can track the bike’s location, whether you’ve simply lent it to a friend, or in the event it’s stolen. Bluetooth lets you narrow down the location more precisely than GPS using similar technology to Bluetooth trackers. All of this is included in the price: there’s no subscription fee for the SIM.
The bike itself weighs a shade over 18kg, which isn't bad for an electric bike. The one-size-fits-most design is attractive, but it does limit the Cowboy’s audience. Most women won’t appreciate it and neither will anyone under about 5ft7 (170cm).
If you’re at least that tall, though, you’ll love the Cowboy’s simplicity. There are no gears to worry about: the single-speed belt drive works really well and despite offering just 30Nm of torque the motor feels powerful. It's able to propel you from a standing start to the 15.5mph / 25km/h top speed almost effortlessly (and near silently too). You can see how much power is being delivered in the app, and change modes from no assistance up to maximum.
Brakes are just as powerful. The Tektro hydraulic discs have a great feel, and also offer fantastic stopping power.
The 27.5in wheels have custom tyres which are now wider than before and have a puncture-resistant compound.
If you do get a puncture, you’ll need a spanner to remove either wheel and you’ll probably want to disconnect the motor wire if it's a rear puncture: the connector is hidden behind the bottom bracket.
It’s also worth noting that the saddle height can’t be adjusted without removing the battery, but it’s not a deal-breaker by any means. The battery has a 360Wh capacity, and is good for a range of up to 70km (around 43 miles). It'll charge in just 3.5 hours thanks to the 100W charger.
By European law, the Cowboy is limited to 15.5mph and there used to be an option (below) to increase that for off-road (private land) use. That's gone in the latest version of the app, which is a shame.
Should any problems occur, there’s live chat support available in the app, as well as diagnostics thanks to the connected design. If spare parts are required, you have the option of receiving them and fitting them yourself, or you can take the bike to an authorised repair centre.
Price & availability
In the UK, you can buy a Cowboy 3 for £1690, which includes delivery. You have to order via Cowboy’s website, but you can request a 30-minute test ride where the bike is brought to you and you can ask any and all questions about it.
In Europe, it costs €1990, again from Cowboy’s website.
These are discounted from the previous £1990 / €2190 prices now that the Cowboy 4 has launched.
If you're in the US, you can order a bike from Cowboy's website, but the Euro pricing will be converted to Dollars - around $2350 + shipping.
For alternatives, check out our recommendations of the best electric bikes to buy.
With great build quality, thoughtful design and some handy features, the Cowboy is an impressive electric bike. It would be great to see other frame sizes and styles available, but so long as that isn’t a problem for you, you’re getting good value at this new, lower price.
Cowboy 3: Specs
- Weight: 16.1 kg total weight, including battery
- Frame material: Aluminium
- Rider height: One M/L frame size, optimized for riders between 170-195 cm tall
- Tyres: Custom-designed Gravelking Panaracer tires at a width of 42 mm
- Brakes: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes
- Front lights: Integrated LED front light can be turned on/off via the app
- Rear lights: Integrated LED rear light intensifies when decelerating and/or braking
- Warranty: 2 years
- Range: up to 70km
- Battery: 2.4kg removable battery. 360Wh, 10Ah
- Mobile app: iOS and Android. Secure, digital-key lock/unlock via personal app
- Colour: Matt black
- Belt: Belt-drive system with a gear ratio of 3.1:1
- Charger: 100 W charger with a charging time of 3.5 hours
- Motor: Custom-designed 30 Nm / 250 W motor, integrated into the rear wheel
- Maximum speed: 25 km/h
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