Kickstarter: Vanhawks Valour, The Worlds First “Smart” Bike

Forget Di2, this new Vanhawks bike seeks to integrate electronics at a much more core level of the cycling experience than just gear shifts. With more sensors than a late model Camry, the Valor uses Bluetooth to relay information from it’s on-board gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, speed sensor, GPS receiver, and blind spot detectors, to your smart phone.

The interplay between cellphone and bicycle has generated some industry firsts, including built in turn by turn directions. The bicycle is built with city commuters in mind and is capable of suggesting preferred routes and learning from your riding experience, e.g. if the roads are too pot hole ridden for comfort, etc… This information turns each bike into a valuable resource for regional planners and bicycle advocates, but it tangibly translates into improved directions for anyone using the Vanhawks system. In addition to the handlebars having built in LED indicators for navigation, they also have an integrated haptic feed back system to warn you of oncoming objects in your blind spot.Vanhawks Vaolor Smart BikeNot only is the bike packed to the hilt with more electronic sensors than your previous generation cellphone, it’s made from carbon, yet the team has managed to price the bike in the just slightly over a thousand dollar range. Prices very whether you order a fixie, single speed, or internally geared bike, but the dollar amount remains fairly close.

In addition to the reasonable pricing, the team has managed to also build bikes with very low claimed weights. The Kickstarter team has posted the following weights for each model

  • 15.8 pounds fixie
  • 16.3 pounds single speed
  • 19.6 pounds internal hub

Not bad when you consider each model has dynamo front hub for charging, uses larger 28mm tires, and ergonomic saddle, pedals, and grips, from Ergon. There will be three sizes available at the launch – a 50, 53, and 56cm.

The original kickstarter goal of $100,000 was easily met and the campaign is now pushing the $235,000 mark with 23 days to go. If the orders continue to pour in, they may be able to meet their stretch goals of new rim colors (yay), Avid Disc Brakes, or a Gates Carbon Belt Drive model.

Via Kickstarter

Comments

MikeC - 05/07/14 - 3:44pm

Picky: Love the red paint on the interior of the rear triangle — would it kill them to do the fork the same way…?

BrandonTheGinger - 05/07/14 - 4:21pm

Just plain dumb

Gunnstein - 05/07/14 - 4:22pm

I was going to snark about yet another “commuter” bike not compatible with mudguards or racks, but hey, they actually support it! And they put a hub dynamo and quality Ergon bits on it! And it’s cheap and light. There has to be a flaw somewhere. Well, the tires are too thin, but it still looks like a very good deal.

Potential problems: Hard to swap to other parts since everything’s so integrated. Can I put a shorter stem on it for example? How about user privacy, given the mesh network system? Can you turn that off?

Chris - 05/07/14 - 4:23pm

Looks like whoever put that bike together has no idea how the lower bearing is supposed to sit in the frame. If the bike is designed to look hokey like that I’m sure it won’t sell.

Chris - 05/07/14 - 4:25pm

Oh, and what is with an single speed bike w/o lateral dropouts? Looks like a fixie thrown together for sale on Craigslist.

jimmy - 05/07/14 - 4:27pm

What is it about bikes that make them such a target for sophomore industrial design students? Ones that pedal with the arches of their feet and look like they’ve never ridden a bike before?…oh hey look there’s one in the promo video! An urban bike at the very least needs fender mounts and a logical place to attach lights. Better still, rack mounts. It looks like these are missing. Also, I wouldn’t mind the convenience of, say, oh….brakes perhaps. Those come in handy occasionally.

dorkdisk - 05/07/14 - 4:41pm

does that bottom bracket seem too high?

Gunnstein - 05/07/14 - 4:50pm

@jimmy Read the kickstarter faq. They say it will allow you to mount rack and fenders, and brakes and integrated lights will be included.

Bill - 05/07/14 - 5:34pm

All that work, and they cant get the seat height right.

John - 05/07/14 - 5:55pm

I wonder if the sensors will ever be available as a standalone package
For my own bike build.

Ron G. - 05/07/14 - 6:05pm

Here’s the full take-down:

http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2014/05/riding-connected-smart-phones-dumb.html

Jack - 05/07/14 - 6:05pm

Future hipster dust collector for back of the shed. Don’t demonstrate a commuter bike without brakes.

Topmounter - 05/07/14 - 6:29pm

Correction: It’s a lifestyle gadget impersonating a bicycle.

jimmy - 05/07/14 - 7:24pm

@Gunnstein good luck fitting a fender into the 1mm gap afforded you adjacent to the seatstay. My point above is that an urban bike needs to be versatile. These ‘designers’ are concerned about integration and propriety – exactly the opposite of what someone needs to maintain a proper commuter. I applaud the effort but seriously – it looks like they thumbed through a magazine, saw a Pinarello Dogma and said ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’. No, it’s not cool when I’m trying to fix a flat on my fixie and there’s no adjustable dropout and it’s raining and I have to get to work 15 minutes ago. When I have to plug my bike in just to get the lights to work, it sucks. Why the tight tolerances everywhere? I don’t get it.

John couillard - 05/07/14 - 8:00pm

This is a real city bike

http://vimeo.com/93664921

Andy - 05/08/14 - 12:38am

Oh man, it’s always hilarious reading the complaining remarks of you old farts when faced with something new and different.

Darryn - 05/08/14 - 12:52am

Ignoring everything else, why does the crown race appear to be halfway up the steerer tube? Did they forget to taper the headtube along with the steerer and decide to just run with it?

ginsu - 05/08/14 - 1:15am

the designer is obviously not a cyclist, its a ‘hip’ commuter Wal-mart quality bike.

Andrew - 05/08/14 - 4:38am

Here’s a close up of the prototype: http://i.imgur.com/wqFw1FY.jpg

Dat craftmanship. Notice the unique flourishes:

– Lacing of the rear wheel
– Rear brake (Walmart?) calipers sitting inside the wheel.
– Spacers on the steerer

I’m calling it now. This is a scam.

Gunnstein - 05/08/14 - 7:02am

@jimmy “good luck fitting a fender into the 1mm gap afforded you adjacent to the seatstay” Dunno where you’re looking, but I see a 2-3 cm gap between the top of the tire and where the seat stays meet. The space on the side of the tire may be much much less but that’s hardly relevant. Does indeed look like at least racing/touring fenders will fit.

Since they say fenders and rack will be supported, I assume eyelets will be provided, even if they’re not in these pictures. (I would double check that if I were to buy this, of course.)

“When I have to plug my bike in just to get the lights to work” Again, reading the text tends to explain things. It has a hub dynamo, powering the gadgets and the lights. Perhaps the battery won’t last through a winter in the shed, but even on a flat battery you get lights as soon as you start rolling faster than walking speed, if their electronics are sensible. Nothing technical stops them from achieving that, anyway.

zohurap - 05/08/14 - 8:03am

carbon + commute = does not compute

Darryn - 05/08/14 - 9:27am

@Andrew
In the picture you linked, I’m not sure what you’re saying the issue with the spacers on the steerer is. Is it:

a) The excessive amount of spacers.
b) The apparent lack of a spacer between the top of the stem and the top cap (and the apparently bare steerer tube there – artistically reflecting the bare steerer tube just above the fork crown?)
c) The fact that (what appears to be) the cover/dustcap for the upper headset bearing being on an entirely different angle to the headset itself.
d) Oh God it’s all of the above please kill me.

As for the rear brake, I’m sure that having the pads grab the space between spokes provides far greater “bite”. Let’s just ignore the fact that it the mounting hardware itself seems to need 15 or so mm more thread before it actually does anything whatsoever.

And seeing as I’m feeling so generous, I’m going to assume that the seat tube design around the seat clamp is intentionally trying to teach people not to exceed the minimum extension recommendations of their seatposts.

Topmounter - 05/08/14 - 10:39am

If the bike design and assembly is this obviously poor, then it is hard to imagine that the wiring and electronics are any better.

The truly sad reality is that this isn’t simply a copy-n-pasted press release, someone at BikeRumors actually “wrote” this drivel, ignoring some glaring issues that should be obvious to any person with even a modicum of bicycle-savvy.

Gunnstein - 05/08/14 - 10:46am

@John couillard: La Machine has some nice points. I like the fat tires, the front rack being fixed to the frame, and the anti-theft solutions. OTOH the brakes should be disks or drums. Fenders curved around the tire are better than these flat ones. The tiny blinkie lights are useless in the dark, and there are no reflectors. Nobody’s perfect :)

tikidope - 05/08/14 - 11:21am

Where are the brakes? :/

dorkdisk - 05/08/14 - 11:37am

I think I figured out the slammed seat in the above photos – it has no seat clamp. In the photo linked above you can see a piece of tube with a clamp on it – that is the seatclamp. Also, note the clearance around the BB. I hope the electronics rock because the bike part looks pretty atrotcious

MeroMasta - 05/08/14 - 12:36pm

The idea is interesting and could be pretty cool, but the execution (so far) is so piss poor it’s surprising that they’ve met their initial funding goals.

They might be better off just selling a conversion kit. Less overhead and a bigger market.

Slow Joe Crow - 05/08/14 - 12:57pm

@Andy novelty for the sake of novelty is pointless. What design students tend to lose sight of is that bicycles are very refined devices and tend to be built the way they are for sound engineering reasons. While this crew avoids such obvious faux pas as hubless wheels, single sided forks and frames made out plywood slabs they still miss a lot of functionality and basic bicycle mechanics while building a what is basically a hipster fixie with electronics.
Honestly you could get a better commuter by buying a Novara Gotham or its local equivalent and putting a Minoura smartphone mount on the handle bars.
I’m all for well thought out innovations like GPS bike computers, LED lights, good suspension, hydraulic brakes, tubeless tires and good cargo systems. My commuter has Flashiness and poor research and execution are just going to get slagged.

Gunnstein - 05/08/14 - 1:44pm

So much hate due to that imgur picture. Where did you find it anyway? Consider that it might have been discarded from their campaign for a reason – such as that bike obviously isn’t set up nicely for promo. To imply that they don’t understand that the brake pads shouldn’t go into the spokes, seriously guys. No one THAT clueless has ever designed a carbon frame.

The BikeSnob is sometimes funny. Here he’s just a Luddite making fart jokes. It should not be necessary to point out that tech advancements are a good thing, and that they’re usually not perfect on the first try. These guys have some good ideas though. Congrats on tripling their campaign goal in 8 days, that’s pretty damn good.

Disclaimer: I’m not buying it, though I might be interested in some of the tech as retrofit parts.

I do wonder how they’re planning to tension the chain, though…

MeroMasta - 05/08/14 - 2:00pm

@Gunnstein – if you look closely at their video, you notice that it’s the same bike as the one shared via link here. The only difference is the lack of brakes and the lower steerer in the video version.

You can even see the seat clamp that someone commented about on both the pic and the video.

I do agree that tech advancements are good, but you have to question whether in fact they’re clueless because, besides the nifty tube shapes of the frame, the quality of the bike build is crap.

If you came to me asking for investment on a new bike and you can’t get the basics right, I would probably laugh and say no.

Gunnstein - 05/08/14 - 2:40pm

@MeroMasta: The imgur one doesn’t have the red rear triangle interior which is in the video. Maybe the same frame with different paint, maybe not.

I can’t rule out that they’re clueless about bike building to some degree, but it could also be a simple matter of priorities – making a working proof of concept of all the techy bits first, and then polishing the conventional stuff later. If so, you can criticise those priorities of course, but it seems to be working out pretty well for them, given their kickstarter success.

MeroMasta - 05/08/14 - 4:20pm

@Gunnstein: They are having success, which is a head scratcher for me, but you’re right on that.

My “gripe” is if they were selling the technology itself I would say “wow”, but they’re not. They’re selling a complete bike. Ok, I understand that the tech stuff was top priority since it’s what separates it from other bikes, but at the very least they should make sure the steerer/fork fits inside the head tube! It just screams laziness and lack of attention to details. You’re pitching a project that could make or break your company and you don’t even get a basic thing like that taken care of? Ok, you don’t know much about bike parts and such. Wouldn’t you at the very least run it by someone who does know about bicycles?

Maybe people are betting that the extra funding will fix these problems, but from what I’ve read and seen, it seems that this IS the frame.

Hopefully they’ve patented their tech stuff because I can see a big brand taking the idea and running with it. If that happens, good bye idea.

In the end, it’s just my opinion. Cheers.

Gunnstein - 05/08/14 - 5:29pm

@MeroMasta: Agreed, there are strange things about the frame/fork. And the way I read them it seems to be the final shape we’re seeing, so I’m with you there. Time will tell, and hopefully there will be an independent review at some point.

Andrew - 05/08/14 - 9:09pm

@Gunnstein I’d be surprised if they’ve actually designed that frame. Looks like an open mould alibaba/ebay aero frame. They seem to have taken out the aero seat post and just jammed a regular seat post in there.

Gunnstein - 05/09/14 - 7:18am

@Andrew: I know nothing about carbon tech – can you do the internal ribs in such moulds? “Unlike traditional carbon fibre monocoque frames, Valour is constructed with an internal wall structure. Valour is constructed with carbon fibre and the internal tube design is inspired by nature. Using our carbon fibre manufacturing technology, each bike is individually molded as a unibody frame. Valour’s internal wall structure is inspired by the same principles that strengthen our bones (…)”

dorkdisk - 05/09/14 - 8:49am

I dont think that is an off the rack frame – it´s too poorly designed. That BB height, tire clearance, and rear brake routing bear signs of being designed by a non-bike person.

Gunnstein - 05/10/14 - 5:14am

@dorkdisk A high BB makes sense for an urban fixie (as far as “urban fixie” makes sense at all). Avoids pedal strike crashes.

Guy - 05/12/14 - 10:38pm

So it’s a carbon bike with a fancy handlebar?

Ripnshread - 05/13/14 - 8:03pm

Awsome idea. Horrid form execution.

Gerd - 05/31/14 - 1:55pm

They made all their goals with a total backing of 820000 CAD… so those who were willing to risk it will get an all carbon frame, internal nuvi gearing, carbon belt drive and disk brakes on top of the electronics, and all this for 1249 CAD + shipping …

Post a comment:

Comment sections can be a beautiful source of knowledge, conversation and comedy. They can also get pretty ugly, which is why we've updated our Comments Policy. If your comment isn't showing up or suddenly disappears, you might want to check it out.