You can have a conversation with your iPhone, your car can give you directions to the nearest sushi joint, and your fridge can send tweets — so why is your bike still stuck in the dark ages? In this world of smart everything, where everyone is racing to get every gadget, appliance, and vehicle connected and communicating, the Vanhawks Valour is the first totally smart bicycle.
I took this new-age bike for an actual test-ride — hopping on, pushing off, rolling over, around, under and through — to find out first-hand where rubber meets the road with this crafty new commuter-cycle concept. The bike's 20-year-old co-creator Ali Zahid also guided me to the future of biking. In its debut on Kickstarter, the Valour raked in nearly $700,000, (as of last check) well past its original goal of just $100,000. So what makes it so special?
For starters, it's absolutely loaded with sensors and smart bits that should make your ride more enjoyable and heck of a lot safer. It provides turn-by-turn directions via built-in LED lightup turn signals on the handlebars, blind spot detection so you don't get squished by a rampaging pizza truck, and it pairs with your smartphone to tell you how far you've ridden and how many calories you've scorched.
And don't worry about it running out of juice. There's no motor or external charging to speak of. Simply ride it at least an hour a week and the crafty cycle converts your pedaling into all the power it needs. Talk about green energy!
Even without all the cool "smart" stuff, it's a sturdy, smooth, easy handling mid-range carbon fiber bike, the kind a commuter could make an investment in. The cycle — which is available in either a fixed gear or internal gear hub setup — will actually get even smarter over time, learning to warn you of potholes and suggesting route changes to make your commute as smooth as possible.
The Valour and its app will feed information to a connected network, sharing what it learns with other riders and vice versa. If a Valour rider experiences a particularly treacherous trip down a particular route, your bike could tell you to avoid it, choosing a safer and slicker path to your destination. It's a ridiculously awesome idea that takes crowdsourced data to a whole new level.
The network can even help you hunt down your bike if it's stolen. If you flag your bike as stolen in the app, other Valour bikes will automatically keep a look out for your ride. If another Valour rider happens to cross paths with your stolen bike, the network will immediately notify you of its location, giving you a fighting chance at reclaiming your property. It's like "Find My iPhone" for your bike.
For carbon fiber, the frame weighs nearly 16 pounds, which is actually pretty heavy when you're talking about fancy bikes. My Cervelo road bike, for instance, weighs a whole lot less, but costs a great deal more ($4,500 versus $1,000). The Valour's added weight comes from the frame being one continuous mold, versus being several parts glued together. Zahid said being one mold keeps the costs down and is a better skeleton for the internal sensors.
The road for smart connected bikes is wide open, and the Valour is approaching its debut rapidly. It's expected to hit the streets this October and retail for around $1,000 depending on your taste in gears. Ride on!