VanMoof e-bike owners need to download this app now or risk being bricked

Bankruptcy means VanMoof e-bikes could be permanently locked

Outside VanMoof service centre
(Image credit: VanMoof)

VanMoof has filed for bankruptcy. After weeks of uncertainty and rumour, the operations of the Dutch e-bike manufacturer has been taken over by administrators and that could negatively impact its customers.

That's because, what was heralded as one of the VanMoof bikes' biggest selling points, could turn out to scupper existing owners. The online digital key system that keeps the innovative e-bike's secure and trackable, could stop working if the company's servers are taken offline - thereby locking them out of their own bikes.

Thankfully, if you are an owner of a VanMoof e-bike, a third-party app could come to your rescue. Bikey App for iPhone allows you to generate a unique digital key and use it to unlock the bike, even if the servers are offline.

Bike Key app screens

(Image credit: Cowboy)

It safely stores the digital key on your phone and developer (and fellow e-bike brand) Cowboy guarantees that the data is not captured by any other service. You can import or export your digital key though - if you upgrade your iPhone, for example.

The app is available for iOS and Android, but will only work with VanMoof S3 and X3 e-bikes at the time of writing. Cowboy has said that it plans to expand support, though: "Whilst our focus has to be on our own Cowboy software development, our team is also working to add support for S4, X4, S5, and A5 in the coming days," it explained to T3 in a statement.

VanMoof V render – electric moped set for launch in 2022

(Image credit: VanMoof)

A sad ending for VanMoof

VanMoof's bankruptcy is a sad ending for a genuinely innovative, exciting product range and concept. Its S3 e-bike won a T3 Award in 2020 and it looked to have taken things up a notch with the VanMoof S5 released last year. It was certainly among the best electric bikes we've seen.

The company's design team did such a good job, we've seen a few similar looking e-bikes in recent times - such as the BirdBike from Halfords. Maybe that's partly contributory to its downfall.

Not all is lost though, the administrators assigned by the Dutch courts could manage to bring the company back from the brink - sell it to a rival even. And, it promises to keep the servers and first-party app running as long as possible in its official statement.

We certainly hope some positive outcome is achieved. It'll be a massive shame not to see such good-looking, well-designed bikes on our roads in future.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.