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Inside VanMoof

Building the Future: Putting the Brains in Your Bike

Building the Future | Putting the Brains in Your Bike

How do you keep yourself grounded when the sky’s the limit? As Senior Engineer, Waychi Tang makes VanMoof’s wildest dreams a rideable reality. He explains how the design classics of yesterday can inspire the icons of tomorrow.

The Smart Cartridge is the most important part of the bike by far. It’s really the brain of the bike – it connects all of the bike’s systems and links them to the rider’s smartphone, as well as providing an access point for our own backoffice if we need to service anything.

I come from a background in communications tech, so bikes were a completely new landscape for me. I definitely had to learn a lot very quickly. But there’s a real advantage to that lack of category experience – you see everything with fresh eyes, and keep discovering new ways to innovate.

I’ve been aware of VanMoof for a long time before I got this job. I always thought the bikes were super-cool. To me, that means a kind of simplicity – everything is designed and built with a sense of purpose, nothing is wasted. A lot of products are so over-engineered, but we’re really the opposite of that.

I used to work at Nokia, and they had a similar philosophy with their phones in the ‘90s. It was all about connecting people, and everything in their design was optimized towards that. That kind of purity has been lost with the advent of smartphones, but for a while they had a near-perfect product.

I think the Electrified can have the same kind of impact, and redefine what an e-bike means to people. It really transforms the way people experience cities. Suddenly you don’t have to think about public transport timetables, or where you’re going to park your car. You just decide where you want to go – and go there.

It’s the Smart Cartridge’s job to make everything feel effortless. The cartridge manages thousands of unique processes, and simplifies them for the rider. You only have two buttons, but, with the cartridge working in tandem with the rider’s phone, there’s a huge amount of functionality.

There’s a lot of crossover with the design team – a lot of collaboration, and a fair amount of tension. We have to work out how to make their designs possible, and how to make them work in real life. But we’re all so passionate about making the best bike possible, we really challenge each other to reach further.

Peter Gigg

About this author

Peter Gigg is VanMoof's resident Brit. He enjoys writing, running, and remaining in the EU.