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The VanMoof app for e-bikes: all smart or what?
It’s no coincidence that VanMoof is often compared to Apple. Like the American tech company, the Dutch bike manufacturer relies on a combination of minimalist design and modern technologies. From early on, connected biking and smart bikes have been more than just buzzwords for the company. As you probably already guessed – VanMoof also has its own e-bike app.
The VanMoof app is intended to underline the company’s claim to create a special VanMoof riding experience. In this article, we will go into detail about what exactly that looks like and whether the app lives up to the “hype” surrounding the brand.
The manufacturer: a few words about VanMoof
The headquarter of VanMoof is – how could it be otherwise – in Amsterdam, the “bicycle capital of the world”. The company was founded in 2009 by the brothers Taco and Ties Carlier. From the beginning, their vision has been to create the perfect city bike. According to VanMoof’s fans, they have long since achieved it.
Either way, VanMoof is now recognised as the coolest brand in the e-bike sector – an image that the company has skilfully built up over the years. For example, it set standards with its first-generation “Electrified”, which was the first integrated smart e-bike on the market according to the company. VanMoof has also taken bikes without electric drive out of its range.
The trademarks of VanMoof e-bikes include – in addition to clever advertising – the purist modern design, the advanced technical equipment and the boost button. From the beginning, company’s own e-bike app has also played an important role in creating connection with the brand’s e-bikes. In the past, criticism was sparked by the fact that not all functions of the smart bikes worked in practice as smoothly as advertised. In addition, some observers accuse VanMoof of being too dependent on Apple devices.
The VanMoof app at a glance
In addition to design and driving characteristics, VanMoof places a high value on theft protection. Their customers can take out a “Peace of Mind” insurance, which allows them to benefit from the fact that so-called “bike hunters” retrieve their e-bike if it is stolen. In case the bike hunters are unsuccessful, the customers receive a replacement for the stolen bike.
Security also plays a key role in the functionality of the VanMoof app. You can use the app to lock, unlock or share your e-bike with selected friends. You can also use it to configure and operate your bike.
“Lock and unlock your bike, check its battery levels and see where you parked – it all works from your phone,” VanMoof says.
But let’s get to the details.
Functions of the VanMoof app
The VanMoof app is available to download for free on the App Store and GooglePlay. It currently offers the following functions:
Keyless unlocking and locking
With the VanMoof app, you don’t need a key to lock your e-bike. You can lock it conveniently via the app. The same applies to unlocking. Alternatively, you can activate the Touch Unlock function in the app. Then you only need to press the left button on the handlebars to unlock the bike.
Important note: The keyless unlocking and locking of a VanMoof e-bike is practical. However, it is not sufficient as the sole protection against theft. After all, thieves can also take your locked e-bike and carry it off in a van. We therefore advise you to also use a good bike lock and a GPS tracker and always lock your bike to a fixed object. This is the only way to stop even professional thieves. Do you want to know more details? You can find them in the article “Best bike lock with GPS – how to protect your e-bike”.
When you activate automatic tracking, your bike records the distance travelled. You receive data on speed, distance and battery consumption.
Configure the VanMoof riding experience
The VanMoof app also functions as a control centre for your e-bike. That means that you can make a number of individual settings on your smartphone. This includes motor assistance as well as the aforementioned Touch Unlock or ringtones.
If you don’t like the automatic gearstick, you can switch to manual shifting via the app. This function was particularly well received by many e-bike fans. In the past, the automatic gearstick has often proved to be a weak point of VanMoof e-bikes.
To change gears, for example during a mountain ride, you press the Boost button. And there is no need to get your smartphone out of your pocket for that.
Share with friends
For all those who would like to share their VanMoof e-bike with others, the app has a special function: add a person as a passenger via the app, enter their email address, select for which period you want to share your bike and send an invitation. The person can then borrow the bike for the period in question. All they need is the VanMoof app.
Again, we advise to be cautious. If your e-bike is not connected to a fixed object, there is always a risk that someone can simply carry it away.
Maintenance and support
If your VanMoof bike doesn’t work quite as it should, you can find support articles with useful information in the app. If that’s not enough, you can book maintenance via the app.
Track your e-bike with Apple Find My network
If you have a VanMoof S3 or X3 that you ordered after 7 April 2022, an iPhone or iPad and the VanMoof app, you can pair your bike with Apple Find My app.
This works as follows:
- First you need to register your e-bike in the VanMoof App or My-VanMoof.
- Make sure your bike has the latest app update and is unlocked.
- Open the Find My App and tap on “Items” and “Add items”.
- Press the power button on your e-bike twice in quick succession.
- A sound and an animation on the matrix display indicate that everything has worked and your e-bike is connecting to the Find My network.
- Once your bike has been found, all you have to do is click on “Find” and follow the further instructions.
The advantages? The Find My network and the underlying principle of Crowd GPS can be used to track objects. Normally you need an Apple AirTag for this. With a VanMoof S3/X3, you can do it without.
Caution: Crowd GPS is not comparable with genuine GPS and is not suitable for finding stolen bicycles. In this way, objects are only located if they are in the vicinity of another person with a Find My app. This also only works at a short distance of a maximum of 30 metres and as a snapshot. This principle has nothing to do with seamless real-time tracking, as offered by the GPS tracker BikeTrax and the PowUnity app. It is therefore primarily suitable for finding a parked bike in cities when you are no longer sure where you parked it.
You can read more about Crowd GPS and Apple’s Find My network in our articles “Crowd GPS vs. genuine GPS” and “Apple AirTag: Bike tracking solution to rely on”?
Using the VanMoof app with Apple Watch
The VanMoof app can be operated not only via a smartphone, but also via an Apple Watch. If you connect the Apple Watch and the app, you can use the smart watch on your wrist to change settings, check the battery level or unlock/lock your bike.
How good is the app in practice? – Reviews
So much for the theory, let’s get to the practice. According to the user reviews, the VanMoof app does relatively well in practice. In contrast to many apps from other e-bike manufacturers, VanMoof’s 4.1 and 3.9 stars are good overall ratings.
Recurring points of criticism are connection problems (which occur less frequently than with other similar apps) and the relatively basic route evaluation.
Advantages and disadvantages of the VanMoof app
From what has been written so far, it is already clear: the VanMoof app has its strengths and weaknesses.
- easy unlocking and locking of e-bikes
- many valuable setting options (for example, manual gear shifting)
- modern design and user-friendliness
- coupling with AppWatch and Find My network possible
- good functionality in practice
- regular updates with incoming features and improvements (including firmware update)
- locking with app and connecting with Find My network are not sufficient as theft protection
- no navigation function
- no real-time view of fitness data
- route tracking with limited functionality
The risky alternative: the Moofer app
In many cases, e-bike riders who want to make settings or track routes on their smartphone are dependent on the application of a manufacturer. This is usually an e-bike brand or a manufacturer of e-bike drives.
With a VanMoof e-bike, the choice is greater.
In fact, in addition to the official VanMoof app, there is also the Moofer app.
This is an application of an indepedent Dutch developer. Like its official relative, it is available in the App Store and on Google Play. If you want to install and use it on your smartphone, you need to pay a one-time fee of $9.99.
The Moofer app is primarily promoted as a way for riders to exploit the full potential of their e-bike and unlock “hidden features”.
Currently, three features of the Moofer app stand out:
- Navigation: Unlike with the official VanMoof App, drivers can navigate with Moofer. In the future, this will even be possible with voice announcement.
- Higher speed: As with all e-bikes on the German market, the motor support of VanMoof is limited to 25 km/h – unless you use Moofer. You can increase the speed limit to 37 km/h using the app. Whether this makes sense is a topic we will discuss in a moment.
- Fifth support level: Do you want to ride permanently with the boost button? Moofer makes this wish come true with an additional support level.
There is also the Smart Speed function, which controls the motor assistance based on the average speed.
However, there is at least one catch: as soon as an e-bike motor accelerates to more than 25 km/h, the bike’s road permit expires. If you ride on public roads, you risk high fines and even worse consequences in the event of an accident. In addition, tuning apps bring with them the risk that regulations for e-bikes in general will be tightened. For this reason, we strongly advise against using them. The developer himself suggests that the increase in speed is only intended for “off-roading”.
Info: You have not dealt with e-bike tuning yet? In the article “E-bike tuning – possibilities and risks” you will find out what the consequences are if you want to trick the speed lock in e-bike motors.
WLess serious is the fact that some Moofer features place a heavy load on the battery, which noticeably decreases the battery life.
In addition, some Moofer users also have to deal with the same problem, such as connection issue or error after update.
Conclusion on Moofer: Moofer sounds tempting, especially for speed fanatics and for people who are looking for previously inaccessible features. However, we recommend that you keep your hands off it. After all, it is a tuning app that comes with many risks.
The better alternative: the PowUnity app
Are you looking for an e-bike app that efficiently protects your expensive e-bike from theft, reliably records all your routes and can also do a lot more?
With the PowUnity app and the GPS tracker BikeTrax, you stay flexible. Whether Bosch, Shimano, Yamaha or Brose – as a manufacturer-independent solution, both are compatible with e-bikes and drives of different brands.
How it works:
- The GPS tracker is invisibly installed inside your e-bike motor.
- As soon as someone tries to tamper with your e-bike without permission, the PowUnity app alerts you on your smartphone.
- If you arrive too late to prevent the theft, the chances are great that you will still get your e-bike back. This is because with the help of the GPS tracker and the PowUnity app, you can track its location in real time and send it directly to the police.
- In addition, the PowUnity app automatically records all your routes without you having to do anything.
In 2023, our app will be even more advanced and will have even more features. The incoming features geared towards viewing speed and performance data and scheduling maintenance service directly via the app will enable using the PowUnity app as an e-bike display.
For e-bike manufacturers who cooperate with PowUnity, we offer a white label solution of the PowUnity app.
Conclusion on the VanMoof app – good solution with minor weaknesses
As a pioneer in the field of connected biking, VanMoof was quick to focus on apps as an important part of the e-bike experience.
Accordingly, the VanMoof app scores with its many configuration options. Whether changing from automatic to manual gear shifting or adjusting the motor assistance, individual settings increase the riding pleasure. On the other hand, the keyless unlocking and locking of the bike is practical, but cannot be compared with efficient theft protection. The same applies to the option to locate your e-bike with Apple’s Find My network.
All in all, the VanMoof app is a solid e-bike app that can make the VanMoof riding experience better. However, it does not represent a groundbreaking solution, as some might expect from VanMoof. If you want to get more out of your e-bike, you can turn to Moofer. However, we advise you to be cautious when it comes to the Moofer app.
Professional theft protection and complete route tracking is made possible thanks to the PowUnity app and the BikeTrax GPS tracker – and not only when you ride an e-bike from VanMoof.
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