Bicycles have been around for well over a century, and while we've seen a multitude of clever connected accessories for them pop up recently, the bike itself hasn't really changed that much. But a new Kickstarter project is now trying to make some big improvements to it by updating the bike for the age of smartphones, GPS, and fitness tracking, effectively building in many of the smartest bike accessories out there. The project is looking for CAD$100,000 (a little over USD$91,000) to fund Valour, a bike that can track your rides, give you directions, and even alert you to passing cars.
Lights on its handlebars signal when riders should turn
Most of the bike's abilities require that it's connected to a smartphone. A paired app stores its riding data and allows cyclists to set up a route so that the bike can display directions. The way it gives directions is simple and clever, lighting up small LEDs on the left or right handlebar when approaching a turn to signal which direction a rider needs to go — much like the Hammerhead clip that launched last year. The bike also senses when cars are getting too close to either side of its rear wheel and will vibrate the corresponding handlebar to make its rider aware. The bike's sensors are apparently all able to stay powered just through energy built up from cycling too.
Vanhawks, the bike's manufacturer, says that multiple bikes will also begin to form a mesh network, allowing them to connect and share information with each other, like pot holes or bumpy roads that they've detected (though, it's unclear why this couldn't be done better by reporting and collecting the information through the cloud, rather than relying on every city having a sizable infrastructure of Valours). Should there be plenty of Valours in an area, the hope is that the mesh network can serve one other important purpose too: automatically detecting bikes that have been reported as missing.
Whether it's a good idea to build so much tech inside of a vehicle that's often in need of repair is something riders may have to contend with, but at the least, Vanhawks says the bike parts themselves should be serviceable at a normal repair shop. And for all the potential trouble, it's likely that Valour's riders will get an early look at features that may well be offered on bicycles more widely in the future.
The Valour is available as a single speed, a fixie, or with a gear hub, with prices ranging from CAD$999 to CAD$1,249. They're only being made available in the US and Canada for now, and Vanhawks is expecting the first bikes to be ready come October — a little late in the season, so buyers may not actually get riding on them until this time next year.