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This article was published on August 1, 2019

Security expert claims he stole a ‘theft-proof’ bike in 60 seconds [Update: He didn’t]

Security expert claims he stole a ‘theft-proof’ bike in 60 seconds [Update: He didn’t]
Bryan Clark
Story by

Bryan Clark

Former Managing Editor, TNW

Bryan is a freelance journalist. Bryan is a freelance journalist.

[Update August 3, 2019: Significant portions of the original story, which was first published at Digital Trends, have now been called into question. As such, Digital Trends has issued a retraction, stating that it may have gotten the facts wrong. Since this story was reliant, in part, on their reporting, we’d caution anyone who continues reading to remember that these reported facts are no longer factually accurate.]

[Update August 5, 2019: We amended the update above in which we said that the facts ‘may no longer be factually accurate.’ This was not accurate, and we replaced that with ‘are no longer factually accurate,’ which is a better description of the accuracy of the facts in the original story.]

VanMoof makes some of the best electric bikes in the world — including this one, the S2, which we had to pry out of Callum’s hands when he was done reviewing it. But what truly sets the Dutch company apart is its focus on security.

The S2, for example, comes with a hidden wheel lock, an “earsplitting” alarm, and a headlight that flashes S-O-S in Morse code. If that weren’t enough, the company even employs a team of “bike hunters” that head out into the wild unknown in search of your bike using a SIM-enabled GSM tracking system. For a thief to disable it, they’d need to block the signal 24/7 for a year, or remove the SIM card, thus destroying the bike in the process — or at least the coolest functions of it.

According to VanMoof, the bike is functionally theft-proof. But Digital Trends found that claim to be false after teaming up with a digital security expert who put the $3,000 bike to the test.

Ultimately, the security expert was able to locate the hidden SIM and render it untraceable in about 60 seconds, with $12 worth of tools. The bike alarm never went off. The expert didn’t damage the bike in any way, nor was it destroyed by disabling the SIM, as VanMoof claimed.

A VanMoof spokesperson told the publication that the model it was using was experiencing a “malfunction,” claiming that its own tests revealed that the alarm and locking mechanism would have activated during the test.

You can view the video over at Digital Trends, but the whole process was relatively simple. After removing a few Torx screws, the expert removed the bike seat, and the the brain module housed inside the top tube. From there, he easily pulled out the SIM card.

VanMoof published a blog post refuting the claims.

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