Valour smart bike offers turn-by-turn navigation
By Nick Lavars
May 1, 2014
A connected bike with no trace of an electric motor is something of a rarity amid a trend of high-tech two-wheelers. Looking to integrate modern-day connectivity while retaining the century-old tradition of pure pedal-powered motion is the team behind the Vanhawks Valour, a sensor-laden smart bike designed with safety in mind.
The Valour's 16 lbs (7.25 kg) carbon fiber frame incorporates Bluetooth 4.0 to connect to the companion app, compatible with iOS, Android and Pebble. Users enter their destination on the app and are then delivered turn-by-turn navigation in the form LED indicators built into the handlebars.
Among the sensors built into the Valour are an accelerometer, magnetometer and a speed sensor that work with the application to track calories burned, speed and distance traveled. The system also monitors the route taken and can suggest alternatives to avoid those steep, painful hills.
Most cyclists on the road, using a dedicated bike lane or not, will have had that anxious moment as a passing car comes that little bit too close. With this in mind, Vanhawks has built in what it calls "blindspot detection sensors" that create a safezone 10 feet (3 m) long and four feet (1.2 m) wide from the rear wheel axle of the bike. If it senses an oncoming vehicle, it delivers haptic feedback, or a vibration, through the handlebar grips. While this won't do much to stop a ton of moving steel, it may just offer a last-second chance to tuck in those elbows.
Vanhawks is hoping to get enough Valours on the road to form a mesh network of users. Through this online community, users will be able to tap into data on potholes, closed roads, blocked lanes collected by other Valours to choose safer and smarter routes. In addition, if one's Valour is stolen and another user happens to pass it by, a notification is sent via the application to alert the original owner of its whereabouts.
The Valour is self-charging, with all the onboard electronics powered through a Supernova Infinity S Front Dynamo Hub in the front wheel. The company claims a one hour bike ride will provide a full charge. It uses standard 700c 28 mm tires, Shimano caliper brakes and is available as either a fixed gear, single speed or multi-gear hub model.
Vanhawks is aiming to raise CAD$100,000 (US$91,000) on Kickstarter to take Valour to market. At the time of writing, it's about halfway there, having attracted just under $50,000, with pledges of $999 still available for a single speed or fixed-gear version. It hopes to begin shipping the connected bike in October if all goes to plan.
You can see the team's pitch video below.