Thursday, August 3, 2023

$3,500 electric bicycle might be rendered useless by company's bankruptcy

NYT noted the potential problem in 2022:

In a bike market remade by the pandemic, VanMoof, the Dutch e-bike company started by the brothers, has been among the biggest winners. With a simple and stylish design and clever integration of technology, the company has drawn comparisons to Apple and Tesla and has attracted a loyal and fast-growing customer base among urban professionals in Europe and the United States.


An added inconvenience is that the company has only a few maintenance shops, which means that customers not in one of those major cities need to box up their bikes and ship them to the company for servicing.


Global sales of VanMoof e-bikes have been halted, and at company locations that remain open, like its shop in Brooklyn, repairs can be done only if the parts are in stock.

In Amsterdam, where all VanMoof locations are shut, most bike repair shops cannot, or will not, repair the brand’s bikes. And that’s a problem, because VanMoof bikes have developed a reputation for breaking down.


Other riders expressed concern about theft, in part because of the increased demand for parts since VanMoof’s bankruptcy.


Another VanMoof rival, Belgian-based Cowboy, has come up with a clever solution to helping VanMoof riders continue to unlock their e-bikes even without a functioning smartphone app.

Currently, VanMoof bikes require owners to unlock their bikes either directly from the app or with a digital key, which is created by the app. Cowboy created an app that allows VanMoof owners to generate and save their own digital key, which can be used in place of one created by a VanMoof server.

Riders will need to grab the app now, though, since it requires an initial connection to the VanMoof server to fetch their current keycode. If the server goes offline