VanMoof E-Bike Bankruptcy: The Risks Of Cloud-Connected Transport

When the bankruptcy of VanMoof, the company behind a series of e-bikes, was announced recently, many probably shrugged at this news. After all, what is an e-bike but a regular bicycle that has some electronics and a battery strapped to it to assist with cycling? Unfortunately for owners of a VanMoof e-bike, their fancy wheels come with a Bluetooth-connected smartphone app that somehow involves storing a special encryption key on the VanMoof servers, as detailed by [Gergely Orosz] at the Pragmatic Engineer. Without this key that is connected to your VanMoof account, your VanMoof app cannot communicate with your VanMoof e-bike.

Although basic functionality of the e-bike will be retained, features such as setting the gear modes, changing assistance mode, locking the bicycle and other features not exposed on the bicycle itself will be lost. Essentially this is the equivalent of losing the remote control to a modern-day TV and getting locked out of 90% of the device’s features.

Fortunately, as [Gergely] and others are (urgently) pointing out to VanMoof e-bike owners, this special key can be downloaded with a Key Exporter project on GitHub, as well as obtained and used with an alternative app by Cowboy Bikes, which is a competitor of VanMoof. The unfortunate reality remains, however, that should you lose this special key, you are going to be in a world of pain as your expensive e-bike now is mostly an e-brick.

(Thanks to [Jan Praegert] for the tip)