June 17, 2024
Cowboy launches all-road electric bike to attract riders beyond European city centers | TechCrunch


Cowboy is better known for its sleek electric bikes that you can see in many major cities across Europe. And if you look at the persons riding those Cowboy bikes, most of the time, you’ll see a young adult heading to an office with a laptop in a backpack.

That’s why the company is launching a brand-new bike called Cowboy Cross. It’s an all-road model that aims for comfort and long-distance trips.

I had the opportunity to see the new Cowboy Cross last week and take it for a test ride for a few minutes. When it comes to design, it definitely looks like a Cowboy bike with its pill-shaped front light, angular design and soft matte colors.

Similarly, Cowboy is betting on a fully integrated design with as little maintenance as possible. There’s no (physical) gear, braking cables are hidden as much as possible and the company uses carbon fiber belts.

What’s new with the Cowboy Cross are the tires. The wheels are slightly smaller (26.5 inches), but the custom-designed tires are much larger.

At the front of the bike, you’ll see front fork suspension. But unlike most road bikes, the front fork is inverted with the suspension near the wheel. In addition to a better design, that’s how Cowboy manages to hide the front brake cable in the frame.

There’s also a seat post suspension for navigating rough terrain. For both the front fork and the seat post, the suspensions can be adjusted with a screwdriver.

And if you’re a small person who just can’t ride a Cowboy bike due to your height, the saddle can go a bit lower on the new bike. The handlebar is a bit larger as well. Again, everything has been designed to make the Cowboy Cross more comfortable than existing Cowboy bikes.

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

There are two designs for the aluminum frame as the Cowboy Cross is available in step-over and step-through variants. The bike is available in three different colors — light gray, dark gray and green. You’ll also find a rear rack that can support a child seat or various bags.

The battery is a bit larger with a 50% increase in capacity. The company claims that you should be able to ride for 60 to 120 km on (37 to 75 miles) on a single charge.

That’s about it for specifications. However, potential customers expect to keep their new bike for years to come. So it’s going to be important to make sure that the Cowboy Cross can easily be maintained over the long haul. But it’s hard to tell how it will fare on launch day. In addition to this hardware release, Cowboy is also announcing a new “Check My Bike” diagnostic tool.

Preorders start today with an early-bird price of €3,499 (that’s $3,800 at today’s exchange rate). Eventually, Cowboy expects to sell the Cowboy Cross for €3,999 ($4,350).

As a reminder, Cowboy’s “classic” bike models cost €2,699 ($2,940), but there are two software upgrades that cost €199 and €299 each. The €199 Cowboy Connect pack is included with the Cowboy Cross models.

“According to our studies, this will double our total addressable market,” Cowboy co-founder and CEO Adrien Roose told me. “I think it’s a different customer overall. It’s a customer who’s looking for more comfort. So they’re usually a little bit older and have a bit more budget.”

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch

In my test ride, I also played with Cowboy’s mobile app. This app hosts all the smart features of the electric bike. You can turn on the lights, switch between Eco mode and AdaptivePower, get turn-by-turn directions and see historical data. AdaptivePower is the feature that automatically adjusts the power of the motor depending on the current slope and weather conditions — and that was under the spotlight following a patent suit with eBikeLabs.

The company also added some minigames that should encourage you to push harder without distracting you too much. For instance, the app will tell you to push as much as possible during 30 seconds. Or the app might say that you’ve entered a popular segment and tell you if you’re faster than your friends.

These Strava-like features won’t replace Strava just yet — they can even be disabled in case you find them too distracting. But it’s interesting to see the company going down that road and making software a first-class citizen.

Different models for different needs

Cowboy mostly sells its bikes to customers living in Belgium (its home country), Germany, France, the Netherlands and the U.K. Instead of launching in new markets, the company has decided to expand its product range with more form factors.

“We mostly spent the first two years of the company prototyping. During the next five years, we refined our platform. Now we want to offer our product in different form factors to meet different needs,” Roose said. So you can expect other models in the coming months and years.

In July 2023, Cowboy’s main competitor VanMoof filed for bankruptcy. This led to a difficult summer for Cowboy, too, as many potential customers dismissed Cowboy’s products. “There was a big overlap of customers considering both VanMoof and Cowboy bikes,” Roose said.

But he now believes that Cowboy can move forward, as the company is in a different position than VanMoof. “There are about 100 employees at Cowboy. The figure I saw when they closed shop was that 700 people were working for VanMoof,” Roose said.

With a gross margin of 40% on each bike sold directly to consumer, Cowboy expects to become breakeven on an EBITDA basis this year and generate a net profit next year.

Image Credits: Romain Dillet / TechCrunch



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