The newest accessory in the high-end bike market isn't new tires or gears. It's a "peace of mind guarantee" that assures riders their pricey purchase won't be wasted. VanMoof, a Dutch bike brand, says if its new smart bike gets stolen, it will find it for you, or else ship a completely new machine.
VanMoof co-founder Taco Carlier thinks the offer is crucial for getting people to buy more expensive bikes. "Everyone is afraid to get their bike stolen, so they cycle around on old or cheap bikes. If we can solve that, people will invest in better bikes," he says.
We first wrote about the guarantee when VanMoof appeared at the Fast Company Innovation Festival last year. The bike recently became available on pre-order starting at $1,098. It will go on full sale in December beginning at $1,798.
The commuter bike comes with an integrated keyless lock that links to an app. If customers can't find the bike, they can contact VanMoof's 24-hour call center and report it missing. The company then has two weeks to find the bike using its internal GPS tracker. The guarantee is good for two years, after which you have to pay about $10 per month for peace of mind.
The lock, GPS and lights are powered by a three watt dynamo, which offers about three weeks of power after you ride for about one hour. VanMoof considered powering the bike from an external source, but concluded that customers won't do it regularly enough, rendering the anti-theft features useless.
Carlier isn't sure how many bikes VanMoof will have to replace. In Amsterdam, the standard rate of theft is 10%-15%. But, together with the police, he reckons he will able to track down at least 60% of those. If so, the cost will be outweighed by the benefit of selling more bikes.
"We believe it's an important shift in the risk and responsibility from the user to the brand," Carlier says. "In the current model, bike shops and brands actually profit from thefts. We want to develop more of a service model for this industry."