Vanhawks Valour smart bike can send out an SOS if it’s stolen

The Vanhawks Valour smart bike offers turn-by-turn directions via handlebar LEDs, and vibrates to let riders know about traffic in their blind spots. The Valour can also send out location updates if it's stolen.

The Vanhawks Valour bike can connect with other bikes in the area through a smart phone app, allowing it to share ride information and send location updates if it's lost or stolen.

Over the past half-decade, companies from Google to Audi have devoted an incredible amount of money and engineering talent to developing smart cars. Within a few years, most new cars will either be capable of driving themselves, or will include semi-autonomous features such as automatic parallel parking assistance or cruise control that matches the car’s speed to that of surrounding traffic.

But sensor-driven “smart” features aren’t just limited to vehicles with engines. Bikes are starting to get similar features, too, allowing cyclists – especially those living in big cities, where bike commuting is common – to stay safer on the roads and to get directions and other information during their trips. One smart bike can even alert other cyclists if it’s stolen.

The Vanhawks Valour connects to a rider’s smart phone, and the Valours in a particular city collectively make up a connected bike-to-bike network. If a Valour is stolen, its owner can set a “loss notification” on the companion smart phone app. Once that’s done, the bike will send out updates about its location not only to the owner, but also to other cyclists nearby, who may be able to help recover it. (A lost Valour is a big deal, since each bike costs up to $1,500.)

The bike-to-bike network also means Valour riders have access to up-to-date information about their commutes. The Valour uses LEDs embedded in the handlebars to tell you when to turn, and automatically takes into account factors such as potholes and closed roads or lanes. It’s a lot like the Waze app, which gathers information about car commutes so that maps and directions are up-to-date for everyone. After a ride, the Valour app will show you information such as how far you traveled, how fast you rode, and how many calories you burned along the way.

The Valour also has built-in sensors to help keep riders safer. Two sensors monitor your blind spots behind the bike, letting you know if a car is coming up behind you. The bike’s handlebars will also vibrate if you start to turn into traffic.

The Valour benefits from having a community of other cyclists on the road, but that won’t happen immediately: by the end of the summer, there will be a few hundred Valours on the road, mostly concentrated in Toronto (where Vanhawks is based) and San Francisco. Vanhawks has raised $1.6 million in seed funding from Real Ventures, Y Combinator, and other investors, which should allow the company to ramp up production later this year.

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