Inside VanMoof

Riding Into The Deep End With Seb Van Amstel

Riding Into The Deep End With Seb Van Amstel

“If I moved to Zimbabwe tomorrow, I’d make it work,” Sebastiaan Ploos van Amstel says with a cheeky grin.

He starts rattling off all the places he’s lived — Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, the USA, Switzerland, the Netherlands — and suddenly this off-the-wall statement makes sense. If you’re trying to find a label for Seb, “international citizen” is probably your safest bet.

Seb uses that flexibility to stay on his feet at VanMoof’s Amsterdam HQ, where he’s worked his way from wrangling stolen bikes as a Bike Hunter intern to wrangling VanMoof’s EU operations….and very long rides.

“Guys, I caught an epic sunrise on my way to work this morning!” he whoops, pulling out his phone to show us a snap as proof. This, of course, is a dead giveaway that Seb doesn’t live around the corner. Most days he bikes the 50 minutes from Haarlem to our Amsterdam office, neck-to-neck with a cutthroat commuting buddy.

If you’re wondering how Seb can make a two-hour there-and-back commute sound like a picturesque walk in the park, here’s a little hint from his childhood: a competitive swimmer from the age of seven, he trained three hours a day for 10 years. Until the cycling bug bit him at university, that is. It literally went downhill from there (he got into downhill mountain biking in Switzerland).

“I’d been following VanMoof for a few years, but things really clicked for me when Bike Hunters came into the picture. Around that time my mountain bike had been stolen, and I couldn’t find it back. Seeing VanMoof working with trackers in their bikes blew my mind,” he says.

So when a Bike Hunter internship opened at VanMoof, Seb dropped everything in Switzerland. I winged it! I wanted a door into the bike world, and I thought moving to Amsterdam would be a cool adventure.”

Here’s the thing, though: VanMoof isn’t really “the bike world.”

In fact, we’re probably the only bike company that goes out of its way NOT to hire experienced cyclists — they know too many of the rules that we want to break. We design VanMoof bikes for normal city-dwellers, not hardcore cyclists, and we make darn well sure our team reflects that. Seb’s our wild-card exception.

Now, Seb laughs thinking back to his first interview at VanMoof. “We just did laps and laps and laps riding in the park — it was a great way to get to know each other. But my interviewer had forgotten to turn on the power on my Electrified, and I didn’t dare say anything. So I spent the whole interview biking hard to keep up!”

When he arrived in Amsterdam two years ago, there weren’t a whole lot of mountains to speed down, so he joined a riding club to meet new people. “All my friends are more or less in the cycling scene now,” Seb says.

Which brings us to the racing bike vs. VanMoof bike thing. Is it a thing?

“It doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be both,” he assures us. “It’s funny, but a lot of people who race with me have a VanMoof bike too. And this crew is very specific about what they want in a bike.”

Electric bikes are seen as something that’s not done, but every time I’ve brought the Electrified S to my cycling club, everyone who tests it comes up to me afterward and says, ‘This is absolutely the greatest bike ever.’”

Okay, enough flattery, Seb, we’ll let you off the hook.

“I’m serious,” he says. “People really love VanMoof design — that’s one thing that brings them together. How it looks. How it rides.” After a pause, he adds dreamily, “I absolutely love how it rides.”

Speaking of bringing people together, Seb’s #1 favorite thing to do after a ride is cook up a spontaneous feast for friends. “Everything happens around food in my family. It’s the same thing at my house.”

He’s a foodie who’s famous for his bacon-avocado burger (including made-from-scratch brioche buns) and for hosting an authentic Thanksgiving dinner every year. “I’m not even American, but I like the culture of it. It’s all about getting together, enjoying food, enjoying what we have.”

After six adrenaline-pumping months as a Bike Hunter, Seb jumped into the deep end again — this time into the complicated world of purchasing, product databases, and stock levels. And, no surprise, this flexible chameleon is now making himself invaluable in VanMoof’s Operations team. “I’m learning a lot from the team just by doing,” he says modestly.

Whatever, Seb. We all know you’ve got game. ⬤

Images by Roos Lomans

Valerie Lewis

About this author

Valerie Lewis helps VanMoof speak human, makes a mean piña colada and loves getting caught in the Dutch rain.