Smarter bikes everyday, Vanhawks Valour leads the way & watches your back

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There looks to be no slowing down of the trend to more and more connected bikes on the roads, and the VanHawks Valour is the most recent to hit the streets. We had a quick look at the bike a year and a half ago when it was just a Kickstarter in its designers eyes, but just before the holidays the first shipment of bikes was making  its way out to US customers, so now it’s time for a closer look. Touted as the first smart bike, the Valour is packed full of all kinds of sensors and pairs with your smartphone to help navigate through the city streets, log all sorts of ride data, and keep both its rider and itself safe. Roll past the break for a closer look at all of its tech…

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What sets the Valour apart are two main features: its integrated navigation setup and its wealth of sensors. The Navigation works with a series of subtle LEDs integrated into the bar. They simply flash in the direction of the necessary turn, in a manner similar to the SmartHalo we’ve featured recently. It is meant to be fairly intuitive but not intrusive, and can even signal a u-turn as in the .gif above.

As for the sensors, it includes: a gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, speed sensor, GPS receiver, and blindspot detection sensors. Power all of that with a dynamo front hub and pair via Bluetooth to a smartphone and you also have access to, of course routing, but also Vanhawks’ mesh-network of other connected bikes. The whole system build on collection and integration of data. The rear proximity sensors for example scan behind you up to 3m/10′ and signal the bar with a haptic feedback alert that vibrates the bar under your grips if something enters your blindspot.

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The Valour bike itself is built around a fairly straight-forward carbon fiber frame and fork, setup for city riding with a Gates belt drive and sliding rear dropouts. The bikes are intended for city riding and come spec’ed with 32mm Vittoria Randonneur tires and premium Ergon contact points. Base bikes come with a singlespeed hub for $1250, but a internally geared Nuvinci N360 setup adds just $250. All bikes get Avid disc brakes, BB5 standard and BB7s as an upgrade.

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The Valour collects a lot of data, but it is your smartphone and the Vanhawks companion app that do all of the crunching. Their Smart Routes learns your favorite routes and even detects which ones have the smoothest surface, least traffic, and fastest times to suggest new routes, plus it adds in the data collected by other Valour riders.  The Ride Metrics tracks all of your basic ride performance data for use in training and fitness. No word yet if or how it will mesh with popular sites like Strava. Lastly the Mesh Network works to keep your bike safe. Its crowd tracking system keeps an eye out for other Valours with the idea that it can track down your bike if it ever happens to be stolen.

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The first production bikes were actually being delivered a little behind schedule. But looking back at it, that was actually a smart move on the part of Vanhawks. In the switch from small batch prototype numbers (white) to full production (black), they uncovered a reduction of the waterproofness of the all-important handlebar with its integrated electronics. Instead of shipping out an untested production part, Vanhawks had spent the time and effort to retest their sealing system and it didn’t live up to their desires. So they communicated the issue directly with their early backers, went back to the factory, and figured out a revised solution to deliver the performance they wanted. While that is something we can expect from a big brand, it’s a good indicator for a young start-up or their quality and attention to detail.

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The first limited run of 52 bikes was delivered to early backers a few weeks ago, with the next run of around 500 still limited to crowdfunders expected to ship anytime now. But even if you buy now, Vanhawks expects to deliver current orders to North American and European customers as soon as February 2016.

Vanhawks.com

Comments

13 thoughts on “Smarter bikes everyday, Vanhawks Valour leads the way & watches your back

  1. I’d rather not ride along with another rider sporting all the new electronic gadgets.
    I am sorry but, it only take a moment of not being 100% aware of your surrounding for an accident to happen. You are not protected by a metal box like a car, to afford distractions…

  2. It is still a bike, even if the electronics failed.

    That’s my hope when mine turns up. It’s been a bit of a wait to be honest.

  3. Dear BR,

    Please reintroduce the “previous post” and “next post” buttons on the bottom of the stories.

    Thanks for your consideration.

  4. This crap of connected everything is getting really annoying. I don’t want anyone but the people I care about to know about my commuting/bike riding.

    Excessive “social” interaction (or what some people want to pass as “social interaction”) is the trade mark of a hollow life.

  5. Electronics aside, nice to see they fixed their zero BB drop issue since their Kickstarter. Now it looks reasonable, and considering the number of cables routed, the frame still looks fairly clean. Rear lights need to be mounted higher than the axle, but I can see why they did it.

  6. From an Industrial Design point of view, the frame looks great – some really nice work there. As for the rest, I don’t get why people may ‘think’ they need all this stuff on a bike, let alone feel the need to track, be tracked or feel the need to be reminded which roads were the best to ride on.

    The increasing perceived need to ‘be connected’ to everything and everyone sort of totally defeats most of the simple joys of riding a bike. But that’s just me.

  7. Even if you ignore the electronics, for a carbon framed, gates belt drive / disc brake equipped city bike, it’s still priced pretty well. Not my cup of tea but I think the carbon Trek District (which this reminds me of a lot) was quite a bit more expensive.

  8. I’d rather spend $400 on a craigslist special that i don’t need to worry about getting chipped or banged up going up and down stairs than $1400 on a bike that although super connected, you’d have to treat like its made out of glass that none of the bakeshops will repair and probably have it stollen within the year.

  9. I agree with some of the other comments here against all this “connected world” BS. Does anyone still actually believe this stuff anymore?

    All that is sensible about the bicycle: simplicity, has been done away with on this “bicycle”.
    Cycling is not digital nonsense telling some creep in an office all your information. People who do that need help as it is basically the same as stalking.

    Come to think of it,..it is barely even a bicycle IMO…I don’t see anything “smart” about it aside from having 2 wheels and being human powered.

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