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Cowboy 3 e-bike review: Elegantly brilliant

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1990
inc VAT

This is what all e-bikes should be like – elegant, lightweight and supremely rideable


  • Good range
  • Light and elegant
  • Packed with tech
  • Virtually maintenance-free


  • Only one size
  • Struggles a bit on steep hills

E-bikes have a reputation for being overweight and over-priced but some brands are doing their best to change that perception. Belgian firm Cowboy, for instance, whose e-bike has now reached its third generation, has managed to produce an e-bike that not only looks like a regular bicycle but rides like one, too.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best e-bikes to buy right now

Cowboy 3 e-bike: What do you get for your money?

Indeed, you have to look pretty hard at the Cowboy to tell it’s an e-bike at all. The 250W motor in the rear hub is small and discreet and, if viewed from the right-hand side, is pretty much completely hidden behind the brake disc.

The 36V battery, which has a range of up to 70km, is stealthily tucked away in a slot behind the seat tube. There’s no LCD display unit to give it away, either. The only indication that this is an e-bike are five white LEDs embedded into the upper surface of the top tube that show you how much charge is remaining.

It’s a fantastic looking bike all-round, in fact, with smooth welds knitting the tubes of the 6061 aluminium frame together and front and rear lights neatly integrated into the head and seat tubes.

You can opt for integrated metal mudguards for an extra £79, which are very smart and solidly put together. Plus, there are no messy derailleurs to spoil the bike’s elegant lines, either. This is an elegant, single-speed machine that employs a Gates CDX belt drive to connect the cranks to the rear wheel.

Don’t be fooled by the Cowboy 3’s simple appearance, however. Under that simple exterior, lurks one of the smartest e-bikes we’ve tested.

Motion sensors, cellular connectivity and a GPS radio all work together to enable anti-theft alerts and location tracking. That means not only will the bike send you a message if some ne’er-do-well tries to move the bike but if they get away, you’ll be able to see exactly where they’ve gone with it.

In fact, the bike won’t turn on at all unless you switch it on via the Cowboy app on your phone and it will also lock automatically after a couple of minutes sitting idle. You’ll still have to secure it to a sturdy object but, if someone did steal it, they certainly wouldn’t be able to ride it power-assisted.

That’s not all, though. The bike can also send out a text message to your emergency contacts if it detects you’ve had a crash. Plus, you can use the Cowboy app to plan journeys and receive turn-by-turn route guidance, view remaining charge and trip history and where your bike is at the moment if you’ve forgotten where you locked it up.

Cowboy 3 e-bike review: What’s it like to ride?

All of this goes together to produce a bike that’s as rewarding to own as it is to ride.

No, it isn’t the most powerful e-bike I’ve ever ridden. There’s little evidence of the surge of torque you get from a bike equipped with the latest Bosch CX mid-drive motors. Peak torque is a fairly underwhelming 30nm and, up hills, the bike slows noticeably. This is not an e-bike that’s going to all-but turn the pedals for you like the Cube Kathmandu Hybrid 500 I reviewed recently.

However, the combination of torque sensors and the subtle feed-in of power assistance contributes to a fantastically enjoyable ride. It’s just like riding a regular bike, except with a little extra oomph to help you go longer without over-exerting yourself.

It feels sharp and responsive, that belt drive means it’s utterly silent on road, and the bike’s Tektro hydraulic brakes stop you on a sixpence.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best e-bikes to buy right now

Cowboy 3 e-bike review: Anything else you should know?

All in all, the Cowboy 3 is a wonderful thing to ride but it’s also fairly low-maintenance.

There are no gears to worry about here, or brake cables to adjust and that Gates belt drive needs no oiling, ever. In fact, since it has a rated lifespan of 30,000km, you’ll be going some if you ever need to replace it.

The only things you’ll need to keep an eye on are the brake pads; there’s barely anything else that needs regular maintenance on the Cowboy 3.

Cowboy 3 e-bike review: Is there anything we don’t like?

The one thing I’m not keen on is that the Cowboy 3 is only available in one size.

It’s “optimised for riders between 170cm and 190cm” tall and, at 182cm in height with an inside leg measurement of 81cm, I found it a comfortable fit.

If you’re significantly shorter or taller than this range, however, you might want to get a test ride to make sure it’s not too big or small (you can book one via the website) or consider a different bike altogether.

READ NEXT: Our guide to the best e-bikes to buy right now

Cowboy 3 e-bike review: Verdict

That’s disappointing, and the bike could do with a touch more torque for hill-climbs, but those are the only things that could be improved upon here.

In all other respects, the Cowboy 3 is a well-engineered, supremely rideable bike with technology in all the right places.

Better still, the price at £1,990 (£2,069 with the integrated mudguards) is eminently reasonable for a bike that’s been so elegantly and thoughtfully put together. It’s a genuinely brilliant product. Just make sure it fits you first.

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