With its groundbreaking sensor integration, GPS navigation, and Wi-Fi connectivity, the Vanhawks Valour bicycle is revolutionizing the urban commute. Vanhawks wants to “change personal urban transportation by solving the everyday problems that commuters face.” After securing approximately $820K CAD in Kickstarter funding to launch its fully connected commuter bicycle, the Toronto-based hardware and tech company is well on its way to changing the industry.
Equipped with Blind Spot Detector Sensors
The popular misconception is that Vanhawks’ Valour is an electric commuter bike. That is not the case. It’s a pure pedal-powered bicycle. But make no mistake: this is no ordinary bike. The Valour comes with a full ensemble of tech gadgets that include a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, speed sensor, GPS receiver, LED’s, and blind spot detector sensors. Vanhawks’ proprietary blind spot detector sensors have the tech “wow-factor” and is considered the key feature of its commuter bike.
So how do these sensors work? The Valour tracks objects in a “safe zone” using these ultrasonic sensors. While riding, if an object comes too close for comfort (like a car door opening), your handlebars start vibrating, alerting you of the danger. Similar to a car’s backup cam alerting the driver of an object in the way, Valour sensors have a “safe zone” of 10 feet (3 meters) behind the bike and 4 feet (1.2 meters) wide. It’s a much-needed extra set of eyes, especially when riding through city streets.
Rider Smart App
Vanhawks has truly thought of everything when designing its commuter bike. The Valour’s built-in-companion is a smartphone app keeping cyclists up-to-date with ride metrics and road conditions. The app provides real-time information on route difficulty and traffic conditions – suggesting alternative routes for your morning commute. The app even protects your bike from theft. Using Valour’s unique built-in signature, the network will be on the lookout (similar to Apple’s ‘findmyiphone’ application). As soon as the bike is located, the owner is alerted to contact the local police. With location and time stamp information, the police can then retrieve your Valour. Vanhawks is currently designing a feature to send police notifications as soon as a stolen Valour is located – even better!
There is a sense of rider community with the App. As with most navigation applications, during a commute, trip information is being gathered to alert other riders. The Valour app works in the same way. It is constantly recording data during the owner’s commute and services other riders with that information. For example, the Valour’s on-board 9-axi accelerometer tracks potholes that you ride over and uses this information to calculate route quality. The more the Valour is ridden, according to Vanhawks, the better and easier the system will be able to suggest routes for your everyday commute.
The Valour Bike Studio
Vanhawks could not have made the buying process any easier. The company’s online “Bike Studio” allows for a fully customizable shopping experience. Whether it’s choosing between the bike’s four different carbon-fiber frame sizes (small – extra large) or the two gearing (single-speed or variable-speed) options, Vanhawks made sure the bike fits each person’s riding style and their commuting environment. If someone lives in a flat part of the city and has a straight shot to work, the single-speed model is not only cheaper but approximately 6 lbs lighter (20 to 22 lbs) than the variable-speed option. If you’re a commuter living in San Francisco and the morning trek to work resembles a Tour du France mission through the Pyrenees, then the variable-speed Valour (26.5 to 28.5 lbs), equipped with infinite gear range, is a much better option.
To satisfy the bike aficionados, the Valour comes fully equipped with:
• Carbon Fiber frame and fork
• Gates carbon belt drive
• Variable-speed uses a Novinci n360 continuously variable transmission.
• Two mechanical disc break options: Avid BB5 and Avid BB7
• Vittoria Randonneur 700 x 32c tires
• Ergon saddle, grips, pedals
Just a Few Drawbacks
Vanhawks’ Valour has only a few drawbacks that are worth mentioning. First off, the bike is sold out and its availability date has yet to be determined. I’m assuming that the company is satisfying the orders from its Kickstarter campaign. So who knows how long it will be before it’s available for purchase. Secondly, customizing the bike with new handlebars or forks is not an option. Since the handlebar and stem houses the brains of Valour’s technology, a rider cannot customize the bike’s frame. That’s a no-go on the Rockshox suspension. Finally, the bike, due to the complexity of its components, requires a professional bike shop for both initial assembly (comes 85% assembled) and for any service issues. That may be an inconvenience for those living in remote locations without a nearby bike shop.
Outside of the before mentioned drawbacks, the Valour is a truly innovative commuter bike. I like that the company stayed away from engineering an electric bike. They certainly had the technology to do so. The designers value the rider experience and created a fully connected commuter bike that is not only safe but enjoyable to ride.