This month, a new sleekly designed high tech smart bike was released in the US and Canada. Meet the Vanhawks Valour, the first Bluetooth connected bike built from carbon fiber. Reinventing urban transportation, this groundbreaking bike could completely change the way city cyclers ride in our digitally connected age.
The first archetype of the bicycle was introduced by a German 1817, but it hasn’t seen much innovation since the late 19th century. Four university friends from Toronto, Canada saw the need to reimagine inner-city bicycling, and with the help of Kickstarter, FundersClub, a venture capital firm for startups, and other angel investors, Vanhawks secured 1.6 million dollars in seed money to get their idea off the ground. Having secured an endorsement from Olympic triathlon gold medalist Simon Whitfield, and being named 2014’s Accelerator Graduate of the Year at the Canadian Startup Awards, the cycling innovation of the Valour was off to an auspicious start.
More urban dwellers are taking to the streets on bikes as a healthy and environmentally friendly alternative to car commuting. Popular U.S. city sponsored bike sharing programs were established in major cities like the Twin Cities, Anaheim and New York, which just launched their CitiBikes program in 2012. Los Angeles is also planning to roll out a pilot bike share program next spring. With more bikes sharing the road and thousands of bike lanes being added across North America, the time seems right for an innovator to revolutionize the biking industry.
In this age of digital connectivity and online social media, more people are relying on technology to manage their everyday lives. The increased use of smartphones is claiming a significant part of the digital landscape. According to PewResearch, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone, up 35% since in the spring of 2011.
The Valour smart bike, weighing less than 16 pounds, has a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, speed sensor, and GPS receiver built into the frame, and senses your surrounding physical environment as you ride. It gathers real-time data regarding route, distance, and speed, learning more about your riding patterns to serve up recommendations for safer or faster routes. Sensor-driven handlebars alert through haptic feedback, vibrating if a car happens to be in your blind side, and LED lights connect to your smart phone’s GPS navigation system and blink to designate the direction you should turn.
These features are a boon for the city-dwelling commuter having to navigate through the harried commotion of traffic-congested streets. Another smart aspect built into the electronic network is an anti-theft feature that broadcasts a signal to other Valour owners when a bike is stolen. A companion app can also track your fitness activity through your ride metrics.
The Vanhawks Valour is currently only available through the company in custom orders but they are working to bring demos to major cities in North America with the goal of eventually expanding their ridership through outside vendors.
“The concept of finding the perfect ride for the city is constantly unwrapping. We’re taking the first step towards the future of personal urban transportation,” states the company CEO. “This humble bicycle might one day help us build cities around people.”
Newsmagazine and Black Lamb in Portland, Oregon; PragueOne in the
The Czech Republic; and for Penguin Group in New York City. He recently relocated to Boise, Idaho from New York and lives with his wife and three kids.