The Vanhawks Valour connected bicycle aims to smooth-out the ride for commuters via handlebars that vibrate as a danger warning. The high-tech bike also features on-board Bluetooth connection that maps bike-friendly routes, acts as a LoJack for recovering a stolen bike, and interfaces with your smart phone to provide fitness data on your efforts.
This bike started as a Kickstarter project last May, which exceeded it’s $100,000 goal eight times over.
This is not a series of bulky add-ons to your bike. All the electronics and sensors are built seamlessly into the sleek frame and handle bars. Information is routed to the rider through the handlebars via either LED lights or vibrations.
Also, Valour doesn’t just give bike riders motor vehicle driving routes, but bike-friendly navigation. If one Valour rider hits a pothole that information is transmitted to the entire Valour mapping system so that other riders may avoid the hazard.
This is not a Tour de France bike by any means, but in many ways, it surpasses the tech-forward communications arrays built into the bikes used there.
Imagine how differently the race to Paris would have been had bikes instantly warned them of potholes, encroaching cyclists, crazy fans darting into their blind spots, and road hazards experienced by other cyclists ahead of the peloton.
That kind of moment-to-moment technology is where Vanhawks is taking cycling technology with the Valour.
While we probably won’t see 2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali piloting one of these in next year’s competition, he might want one for hitting the Italian roads back home in the off season.
The bike is light at 16-pounds of carbon fiber, with a carbon belt drive instead of a chain, and disc brakes more similar to a car than a traditional bike. With all these features, the Valour is priced very competitively at $1,249. By comparison, a basic non-carbon fiber Trek fitness bike, such as the CrossRip fitness model, sells for $1,099. Searching various bike sites, it appears the majority of carbon fiber bikes start at around $1,400 and that’s for a bike without any of the technology built into the Valour.
The Vanhawks’ bike helps the commuting cyclist avoid heavy traffic and gives turn-by-turn bike-specific directions. When it’s time to turn left or right, a green LED light blinks on the appropriate side of the handlebars.
Some cyclists with short commutes and those not doing Tour de France distances might not find the GPS feature necessary or exciting. However, any cyclist may be interested in the blind-spot protection and LoJack features as well as the heart-rate, caloric-burn, and other fitness information the bike gathers.
If your attention wanders and you begin to drift too close to traffic or a vehicle is approaching in your blind spot, the handlebars begin to vibrate a warning.
If the bike goes missing, the owner can trigger the “loss notification system,” which then triggers the bike to ping its location. The ping can be picked up by other Valour riders’ bikes. If any Valor rider is in range of the signal, the lost bike emits an alert and the GPS location of the missing bike is sent to the owner.
Fitness information is also gathered and stored. The Valour is always tracking the rider’s commute times, distance, speed, and more.
Even if you don’t have a Pebble smart watch on or left your Android phone at home, the Valour bike will store the ride information and interface with these devices later.
It’s easy to envision the Valour becoming popular in big cities, where fleets of bike messengers fly over the asphalt as well as in the suburbs where eco-conscious commuters would rather get to work on two fewer wheels.