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Bike Hunters

VanMoof Bike Hunt Report: September

VanMoof Bike Hunters are famous for never giving up. But this month the Berlin team went above and beyond the call of duty in an epic four-day bike hunt. Abandoned buildings, spooky basements, last-minute discoveries – this hunt has it all, and took our team to the four corners of the German capital.

It started like any other Bike Hunt, with Daniel and Daisy-May tipped off about a missing 2016 Smart Bike. Noticing a conveniently timed listing on an online bike sales platform, the Hunters knew they had to act fast before the bike disappeared for good.

Luckily the bike was still sending out strong tracking data, with a clear overlap of coordinates broadcast from the other side of town. The team wasted no time in getting to the center of the signal rings, and found themselves on the doorstep of a giant community-run building. With dozens of apartments and studio spaces inside, the Hunters knew they had their work cut out for them. But in an enclosed space, it was only a matter of time before they zeroed in on their prize.

Or so they thought. The vast building proved itself to be a veritable haystack, and the Smart Bike the elusive needle. By the mid afternoon, the team had scoured all available rooms which meant only one thing: it was time to tackle the basement. The Bike Hunters aren’t easily spooked, but this particular basement was verging on horror movie territory – all cobwebbed ceilings and just-dark-enough-to-hide-in corners. Blinking the dust from the eyes, the team returned to the surface bikeless.

The Bluetooth scanner was still pinging, but with the building cleared, the Hunters had to look further afield. The night was quickly closing in, and there was only limited time to check the adjacent apartment complex. This time however, it was much more straightforward. The tracker led Daniel and Daisy-May to a particular locked door – with a particular botanical smell leaking out into the corridor.

Confident they’d found the bike, the Bike Hunters called the police. Berlin’s finest were soon on the scene, but with nothing to go on beyond a blinking Bluetooth signal and a contact high, they were reluctant to enter the property. Accepting the temporary setback, the Bike Hunters called it a day and returned to base.

Refreshed and re-determined, the Hunters returned in the morning. But their confidence was cut short when they fired up the Bluetooth scanner… and found absolutely nothing. Likewise, the bike’s tracking signal was suddenly offline. It had clearly been moved overnight – but where? With their optimism dashed, the Bike Hunters spent a fruitless day patrolling the neighbourhood, hoping for a lucky Bluetooth signal to light up the scanner. But luck was not on their side, and they rounded off day two as empty-handed as they were frustrated.

With time tighter than ever, day three brought another surprise. The bike was now sending out location data again, but now far south of Berlin. Temperatures were pushing the mid-thirties, but the team kept their cool as they e-biked their way to the city perimeter. Their scenic surroundings soon transitioned to that familiar Bike Hunt location – the out-of-town construction site.

The bemused construction workers were more than happy to help Daniel and Daisy-May search their work place. There were plenty of abandoned bikes around the site perimeter, but none with the familiar VanMoof geometry. As the search continued, the Hunters could see the signal drawing them to one location in particular. It had to be in the garbage dump.

Clambering up the sides of the steel container, Daniel had his worst fears confirmed. The bike was buried in the scrap heap. Or at least some of it was. The Smart Bike was almost sawn in two, with both wheels torn into their individual spokes. There was no way this VanMoof was being ridden home, but it was still cause for some celebration, and the Hunters shared a victory beer with the construction team.

All that was left to do was reunite the bike with its owner. Given the bike’s condition, he was in surprisingly good spirits, and impressed that the Smart Bike was still trackable. The fact that he’d long-ago upgraded to an Electrified S2 must’ve helped his mood, but he still had a sentimental attachment to his older bike. To commemorate the bike’s journey he even suggested donating it to a new institution – “The Museum of Recovered Bikes from Assholes in Berlin.”

We’ll get working on that one.

Does the thought of someone stealing the VanMoof S3 & X3 send you into a cold sweat? Peace of Mind: Theft to the rescue! It’s our ironclad guarantee that we’ll recover your bike in the event it gets stolen.

How does Peace of Mind: Theft work? Simple. When you report your bike stolen in the VanMoof app, we alert our ruthless Bike Hunter team to track it down. If we can’t recover it for you within two weeks, we'll replace it with a bike of the same (or better) age and condition.

Peter Gigg

About this author

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