Hardware

Cowboy rides to the rescue of VanMoof owners with app to unlock threatened bikes

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Bikey app
Image Credits: Bikey app (opens in a new window)

Since struggling e-bike startup VanMoof confirmed it had gone into the Dutch version of administration, there has been a question hanging over the VanMoof bikes out there in the wild. These bikes relied heavily on a connected smartphone app made by the company. The app controlled a number of important settings and functions, not the least of which was actually allowing the bike to start (although there are two non-app options).

If VanMoof servers go offline during their administration, VanMoof riders will be left with a less than satisfactory e-bike, which barely works without its software “key.”

However, riding to the rescue is, somewhat improbably, Cowboy, their e-bike competitor over the border in Belgium.

“Bikey” is a simple app to enable VanMoof riders to generate their unique digital key and keep riding.

It’s now live on the Apple app store and will be available for Android soon, says the company.

A spokesperson said: “Our software team worked through the night on this and we must stress that it’s a beta so bugs may be experienced… but we wanted to get this shipped ASAP because it will work while the VanMoof servers are live.”

They say VanMoof riders should grab their key immediately, as it will be impossible to retrieve this key if the servers go down, and riders would more or less lose total access to their bikes.

“This is about keeping bikes on the road, which is our No.1 mission as a company, regardless if it’s a competitor or not,” they added.

Admittedly, Cowboy would suffer from the bad optics of the connected e-bikes of a major rival turning into expensive lumps of metal, in theory setting a precedent for the whole startup sector. However, by releasing an app it’s also a potentially good PR-win for Cowboy to be seen to help VanMoof customers.

The appearance of an app made by a rival firm does, however, beg some questions of VanMoof, which is largely no longer responding in a normal sense during its administration period.

For instance, would a buyer or new financier struggle to maintain VanMoof’s customer base if it loses them to a third-party app?

Suffice it to say, Bikey isn’t the only option, as the Moofer app also offers another third-party app alternative for VanMoof owners to try and keep their bikes going. At least for the foreseeable future.

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