When I tested the second-generation Cowboy back in 2020 I thought it was a great urban ebike with snappy handling, smart power delivery, a neat app/interface and a clever take on bike security that kept things minimal. However, the app itself was an iPhone battery killer on longer rides.
This third-generation bike retains the same aluminium frame and fork with steep sporty geometry and the same 250w motor that pushes out 30Nm of torque but gets updates to the tyres, some neat mudguards and a lighter gear ratio to help on the climbs.
The bike is still powered by a 360W/h battery too, which locks into a channel in the back of the seat tube. The battery weighs 5.3lbs/2.4kg on my scales and can be charged from empty to 100 per cent in three and a half hours.
Updates and upgrades
The uprated Cowboy tyres now feature puncture protection and are a little wider than the previous-generation model, too, at 42mm.
On the road, these impressed, and gave the Cowboy 3 a significantly smoother and more comfortable ride than the previous model, rolling well over tarmac and even coping with tracks and trails much more smoothly.
Those rather neat custom-made aluminium mudguards are constructed from a single piece of alloy and offer superb coverage. The rock-solid design means they shouldn’t get knocked out of line either if you rather clumsily park your bike.
The drivetrain gear ratio has been lightened to 2.83:1 from the previous model’s 3:1 ratio. This may not sound like much, but on the road it’s a gear that makes the bike much more manageable on steeper climbs.
The subtle feed of the rear hub’s power is better matched to this gearing too, so I spent far more time cruising around in the saddle than having to stand up on climbs to get ‘over’ the single gear – much more in line with the intentions of this bike.
The braking still comes from the Tektro stable but now the mountain bike derived M285 levers are matched to uprated HD-R310 calipers and large steel rotors. Brake feel is excellent and they stayed noise-free and full of feel throughout testing and in all weathers.
Cowboy 3 range
The Cowboy 3’s claimed range is up to 70km and I managed, at best, between 49.5km/30.7mi with 238m/780ft elevation at an average of 26kph/16.3mph and 48km/23.7mi with 332m/1,089ft elevation at an average of 26.8kph/ 16.7mph.
On flatter urban terrain, 70km may be achievable because you’ll spend more time above the governed 25kph/15.5mph limit. That said, Cowboy does make the most of the 10 per cent leeway on the EU limit, still delivering assistance at around 27.5kph/17mph.
The Cowboy’s charger is reasonably compact and packable, plus that the battery is easy to remove using the included key. This makes charging at your desk a viable option, so even with my lower range findings of around 30 miles, that’s a pretty decent commute each way.
Cowboy 3 geometry
The Cowboy’s steep steering angle means the handling is quick and combined with the fixed-gear style narrow riser bar makes the bike easy to thread through traffic or narrow gates and gaps on bike paths.
The new lock-on grips on the Cowboy 3 have a softer durometer and thicker material than the older model, which is welcome because the ride position of the Cowboy does put more weight on your hands with its forward sporty ride.
The bike is available in a single M-L size that is claimed to suit riders between 5ft 5in and 6ft 4in, and whilst I can’t vouch for the tallest or the shortest, my 6ft 2in stature felt completely at home on the bike.
Despite the bike’s slick, minimalist look, Cowboy hasn’t skimped on the essentials.
The front and rear lights – that auto-light up but can be turned off via the app – provide great day-time visibility and make for good lights to be seen by at night. You will need to add a proper headlight to be able to see your way on unlit suburban night-time riding, though.
The rear light pulses under braking, adding more on-road safety to proceedings.
Cowboy’s choice of using a Gates carbon belt drive makes a lot of sense for commuting, requiring little maintenance beyond keeping it clean and with no oil you’re not going to ruin your clothing on the ride to work.
The Gates CDX belt has a 30,000km lifespan, which makes it pretty much worry-free and I’ve had no issues whatsoever throughout the test period.
The slender, swoopy saddle reminded me very much of Fabric’s Scoop and proved comfortable when wearing jeans and civies – no padded shorts required here.
App security and benefits
Cowboy’s app (iOS and Android) has always been a key element of the bike’s appeal. Set up is simple: download the app, create an account, then add the bike by scanning a QR code on the frame. That’s it.
The app’s headline feature is the security it adds to the bike. When you and your phone are away from the bike, it locks down, and because there are no buttons or switches on the bike it’s effectively immobilised in regards to the electric assist.
If you lose or break your phone you can still unlock the battery with the key and replace it within 20 seconds for the bike to be live again and ready to ride.
The app also has a ‘find my bike’ function with true GPS tracking – when you register the bike you are also registering its built-in SIM card. If your bike is stolen, the thief won’t be able to turn it on and you’ll also be able to track its location via the Cowboy app.
Where Cowboy has upped its game though is with the live part of the app. You can now use it to navigate with a real-time map and turn-by-turn navigation, but I’d recommend purchasing a decent phone mount too (I used the brilliant Fidlock Vacuum) because the live dashboard gives accurate distance, real-time battery levels and range.
The only display on the bike itself is via five LEDs that are flush-mounted into the top tube and display battery charge level.
The map feature also now includes air quality mapping, which shows pollution hot spots so you can pick a route that’s healthier for your lungs.
With all of the impressive extra functionality that Cowboy has brought to the app, I was concerned that my phone battery would again suffer as it had on the previous generation on the bike.
However, Cowboy has done a great job optimising the new functionality and the power drain on my iPhone was much improved, to the extent that my phone didn’t drain any quicker than it does when using Strava or Komoot on my rides.
Firmware updates to the app are automatic when the bike is in the proximity of a wireless connection.
Easy Rider Plus
An extension to the ‘find my bike’ function is Cowboy’s subscription-based Easy Rider Plus program (£120 per year). This gives you theft warnings on the bike should the bike be moved when you’re not near it, immediately notifying you and providing live tracking.
The Easy Rider Plus subscription also includes fully comprehensive insurance against theft, so should the worst happen you simply (through the app) send a scan of the police report and fill out a short form and, once approved, a replacement bike will be shipped immediately.
Insurance against injury and damage is also included with the Easy Plus scheme, as well as priority access to customer support and mobile repair services.
Cowboy 3 bottom line
This third iteration of the minimalist Cowboy is, as you’d hope, its best yet.
The expansion of the app is cleverly done with genuinely smart additions. The insurance/expansion element of the Easy Rider Plus program is good too (depending on how you feel about insurance that is) and £10 a month is good value if you’re using the bike as your daily commuter.
By far the best addition to the third generation model is the new mudguards. These solid aluminium units look suitably sharp and perform just as good as they look. The mountings are rock-solid and the supports constructed from the same single piece of alloy as the ‘guard itself – it’s a very clever piece of aluminium fabrication – ensure great coverage and rattle- and rub-free operation.
The bike is fun to ride, has sprightly handling and the power delivery is smoothly matched to pedal input.
Ideally, I’d like to see the Cowboy drop a bit of weight – 18kg isn’t exactly light to carry up and down steps – and I’d also like a little more range because my office commute of 28 miles each way means I need to recharge it through the day, though most riders won’t be commuting quite as far.
Overall, it’s a great urban ebike that’s simple to use and set up, low maintenance and fun. I couldn’t ask for much more than that.