A bicycle to take you to the future
Not only will you be faster but the bike is also unstealable. This is VanMoof’s plan to get you and billion others to stop using cars and choose to pedal instead.
Well, if a girl sitting on the top tube of the stolen bike lifts her legs in the air while you pedal, you’ll surely get there faster. Or at least that is the impression we get from the Slovenian song Bicikl, which was a hit among young people in the mid-nineties.
A quarter of a century later, VanMoof, a young Dutch bicycle manufacturer is saying something similar, yet pretty different to its customers. Since then, with no exaggeration, a technological revolution took place in all areas of our lives, but at least the top tube of a bike for girls to sit on has remained the same – well, roughly the same.
VanMoof has redesigned the top of the bicycle frame so that its front and back parts are lights, and the area by the seat became a digital window displaying speed, battery life, and information on whether the lights are on or if the bike is locked.
Renting a bicycle from VanMoof will cost an initial hundred euros when subscribing, and 25 euros a month after that.
At least that’s the deal for their electric bicycles. They don’t come with a girl on the top tube, but a special battery will help you accelerate if you’re in a hurry or trying to get up a steep hill. Something else differentiates their bicycle from the one in the song – it is not stolen, and it never could be.
The company claims that their special lock system makes the bicycle practically impossible to steal, even though it doesn’t even come with a key. But if someone manages to take your bicycle, despite the multi-stage safety mechanism controlled by an app on your phone, the company’s »detectives«, the so-called Bike Hunters, will soon track it, thanks to the inbuilt GPS device.
For now, their smart electric bikes can be purchased in nineteen countries across the globe, and from the summer onwards, renting will also be an option, even though it is as yet unknown exactly where. Their subscription economy model, called VanMoof+, for now includes »only« a regular bike, which as you can imagine, is not so regular after all.
It comes with wireless technology and a speaker, and its waterproof seat will improve the cyclist's comfort in case he or she gets caught in the rain. The bike costs 898 euros to buy, but renting will be 25 euros a month, not including an initial cost of 98 euros to buy the digital key which remotely unlocks (and locks) the bicycle.
If thieves do manage to get their hands on your VanMoof bike, the company’s Bike Hunters will immediately get on the case to recover it.
If you still worry about the bicycle, despite the advanced safety mechanism, you can buy an additional lock on their website, or pay an extra 100 euros a year and enter their »Peace of Mind« programme. This means that a team will be available to immediately start hunting for your bicycle should it ever get stolen. If your bike gets damaged, they will either fix it or deliver you a new one. Even if a scratch or two are your fault, they will without hesitatation repair the damage free of charge.
This is because VanMoof is trying to convince you and a billion other people to stop using your car and switch over to a bicycle, preferably one of theirs. The bike will not be truly yours, but you will be able to use it for as long as you like.
The Dutch startup believes it will keep you company for a long time. However, you also have the option of passing the key onto someone else. That's ok with them. The subscription under the principles of life per month can easily be transferred to another person. If you simply stop paying your monthly fees, you will first be asked to return the bike. If you do not, they will remotely disable it, after which it will be collected by the Bike Hunters, much like any other stolen bike.