This Is Why You Should Be Excited for the 'Internet of Bikes'
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
Bikes generally haven’t changed that much since they first rolled, apart from getting lighter and sleeker and being outfitted with mini motors. For about 120 years, the humble, spoked two-wheeler has helped people get where they’re going.
But it’s never been smart enough to tell people where to go. Not until now.
Enter the Vanhawks Valour, a GPS-enabled Bluetooth smart bike that delivers turn-by-turn directions to riders using LED indicator lights embedded in its handlebars.
Its Canadian creators are calling the sleek, matte black and ruby red pedal pusher the “world’s first connected bike for the urban commuter.” And, though we’re typically extremely skeptical of often inflated “first-ever” claims, we don’t think these guys are exaggerating.
California engineering undergrad Kenny Gibbs came close last year when he invented a set of standalone GPS-enabled Helios handlebars for bikes. The Yuba City, Calif.-based designer’s aluminium bars help users geolocate their bikes when lost or stolen, indicate estimated speed and light up on either side to tell riders which way to go when they roll up to their next turn.
Cool as Gibbs’ handlebars may be, they’re hardware you have to add to your bike. Not a bike itself. That’s where he lost his edge.
The Toronto-based Vanhawks crew went whole hog and put all of the “connected” functionality that the Helios bars have into a badass, heck of a good-looking bike. And they took “the internet of bikes” theme quite a bit further than Gibbs did, though he still has one thing on them -- his Helios bars have blinking directional lights, a safety feature we’re surprised the Valour doesn’t seem to have.
Designed to make urban bike commuting safer, the Valour does, however, warn riders of dangers lurking in their blind spots. The bike’s mesh network, ultrasonic haptic feedback sensors detect nearby vehicles. When riders veer too close to traffic, the sensors trigger the handlebars to vibrate, another industry “first” the bike’s designers claim they boast the bragging rights to.
The multi sensor-loaded Valour also works like a Fitbit with wheels, tallying stats like riders’ calories burned, speed, distance traveled, best times and more. Ride data is delivered via Valour’s companion smartphone app, which is slated to be available for iOS and Android devices and Pebble smart watches upon product launch.
The durable, ultra-light carbon fiber bodied bike went live on Kickstarter 16 days ago and has already more than quadrupled its $91,962 funding goal. With 16 more days to go, additional pledges are icing. The extra cash will fund the addition of a few fun, tricked-out features, including additional rim and frame colors, along with disc brake and carbon belt drive options.
A pledge of $900 (plus shipping) would have gotten you a limited edition, production number engraved single-speed fixie Valour. Too bad they’re all sold out. Luckily, you can still put your money on a variety of other Valour rides, for fixie lovers and gear heads. About 225 were still up for grabs as of 3 p.m. ET.
See the Vanhawks Valour in action in its official Kickstarter video below: