If you're looking for a high-tech bike and aren't afraid of spending big bucks on Kickstarter, look no further than the Vanhawks Valour, a carbon fiber Bluetooth-connected bike that measures cycling stats and protects you from cars in your blind spot.
The bike was developed by four university students from Canada; two brothers and their two best friends. Between them, they have expertise in web development, carbon fiber technology, and product design. "We thought it would be awesome to create a bike," says Ali Zahid, the cofounder and COO of Vanhawks. .
Zahid showed me the Valour, which weighs about as much as a couple bags of groceries (15.8 pounds for the fixie version). I could easily carry it around with one hand. But even though carbon fiber technology has improved over the years, many cyclists are still concerned about its durability.
The Vanhawks team says they've come up with a fix. Unlike other carbon fiber frames, the Valour has an internal wall structure, ostensibly giving it an extra layer of durability. The technology comes from Adil Aftab, another cofounder, who first brought carbon fiber manufacturing to his family field hockey stick business. "It's like having bones inside the bike," Zahid says.
The bike also offers haptic feedback on the handlebars. When a car drives by your blind spot on the right side, the sonar sensors pick it up and your right hand feels a vibration. The same goes for a car cruising by your left side. A series of other sensors measure speed, distance, and calories burned. The data can be accessed on the Vanhawks app for Android, iPhone, and the Pebble watch.
All of the real-time data gathered by the Valour during a ride, including information about potholes, blocked streets, bumpy roads, and elevation, is collected anonymously and used in the Vanhawks app, which offers up information on the best bike routes based largely on data from other riders. It is, Zahid says, like a Waze app for biking. And if your bike happens to get stolen—and another Valour rider just happens to bike past it—the app will send a notification to your phone with a report on where the bike is located.
The network clearly gets stronger with more riders, just as Waze depends on large numbers of drivers for accuracy. So at least some of the Valour's features will become useful over time—if, of course, the Valour manages to reach a critical mass of popularity.
The Valour is available on Kickstarter starting at $999.