How VanMoof created the world's smartest electric bike

VanMoof Electrified S

The connected bike

Beyond looks, the design firm increased the processing power with an ARM Cortex-M3 chip and added a 3G module that pushes GPS information to your smartphone. The final model also adds a second onboard module closer to the seat that lets you open the Bluetooth-controlled lock by waving your phone near the bike's screen.

While the older model's computer could only control the electric motor and tell users how fast they were going, VanMoof expanded its capabilities by adding the ability to track the bike in the event it's stolen.

"We don't do anything with your information or use it for promotional things." Assen assures. "Instead, we use it for anti-theft, so we can track your bike when it has been stolen with the app.

VanMoof Electrified S

"We can't lock up the bike, but we can turn it on and turn the power of the engine backwards for instance – but we don't actually do that of course," he says jokingly. "We had all these crazy ideas where if it got stolen the tires would lose their air or something."

Down the line, Assen says users can update the bike through a microUSB cable and potentially add even more smart functionality to the Electrified S.

VanMoof Electrified S

Modernized mechanics

Almost every aspect of the Electrified S combines computer technology with mechanical engineering. The front wheel is fitted with the electronic assist motor, and other than there being an unusually large block in the center of the wheel, you can't really see what it actually is.

Thanks to the chain cover, I almost thought the Electrified S was a single speed bike, but Assen quickly corrected me and said it was a two-speed affair with an automatic gear built into the rear.

"It switches between a lighter and heavier gear when the hub feels it's above a certain amount of torque," Assen explains. "When you stop in front of a traffic light, it automatically shifts down"

VanMoof Electrified S

Despite all the smarts behind this bike you can barely even see the brake cables, and this stems from VanMoof's original mission to make better looking and working bikes.

"The owners of the company were living in Amsterdam and they saw this intense problem where the lights on their bike are falling off and cables keep breaking around the frame," he says.

"It happens a lot in the city because you're putting your bike up against a pole and it falls over, and everything bends."

VanMoof Electrified S

Most bikes at the time had a problem in which the front fork would turn 360-degrees or more and end up breaking the brake and power cables. To counter this, companies came up with the idea to use steel pins to stop the front wheel from overextending itself.

However, VanMoof goes one step further and integrates the same steel pins inside the frame, while also hiding the cables to prevent them from breaking off and protecting them from pressure that would cause them to fail.

VanMoof Electrified S

You can really see the level of care and thought that went into designing and making the Electrified S. The bike frame features an anodized finish, which Assen claims to be the thinnest and most durable layer you can put on metal. And even the seat is made with two different textures so that the center doesn't chafe away at your pants while the sides are durable enough to stand up to scrapes on the pavement.

"We care about the quality of the bike and that's why we spend a lot of money, time, and effort in designing the maximum capacity battery, smart features and still a beautiful frame," Assen says. "If we had to make way for the battery or computers with an ugly solution or a non-practical way, then it would be against what we do."

Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.