We are living in an era where everything is becoming connected. As Robert Ouellette describes it in Mesh Cities, "wireless feedback and information management systems make big cities as responsive to real-time, individual needs as the towns our grandparents grew up in. The 21st Century city is complex and dynamic."
The Vanhawks Valour may be the perfect bike for the mesh city. This carbon fibre gem "is the ultimate combination of safety, connectivity, design, and simplicity. It introduces the practical integration of technology into the daily commute." it has "performance tracking, security sensors & interactive feedback to radically change the way you ride." It talks to your smart phone so that it knows where you are going and picks the best routes.
It has totally blown through its Kickstarter target with days to go, which is not surprising if they can deliver on its promise:
It has "haptic feedback in the handlebar grips" to warn you of any object enters your blind spots, although "The safe-zone is 10 feet behind the bike, and 4 feet wide." Seems like a tight zone to me, but where I ride my handlebars are always vibrating anyway.
It talks to other Valours, exchanging information about traffic and potholes, and helping to find a missing bike. "On-board sensors measure your calories burned, distance traveled, speed, best times, and much more."
It is really light, starting at 15.8 pounds in fixie mode, 16.3 in single speed, and 19.6 with internal hub.
It's surprisingly cheap, given the carbon fibre and the technology, starting at CAN $1049, which is pocket change in US$ these days. (Well, US$ 949 is not quite pocket change)
It is claimed to be biophilic:
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 allowing it to withstand extreme three-dimensional stress.
They claim it is so inexpensive (relatively) because "Our proprietary carbon fibre manufacturing process let us create the Valour at a very low cost." This is concerning; while co-founder Adil Aftab "invented a novel manufacturing process along with [cofounder] Sohaib to reinforce carbon fibre structures in linear cylindrical shape with carbon nanotubes", there is no patent application that I can find under his name, and this sounds like complicated stuff to be doing in China or Pakistan. On the other hand, "Adil has been working in composite engineering for last 12 years. Sohaib has worked in ergonomic design for 3 years."
It's one of the risks with Kickstarter, and given how it has blown through its target so quickly, it's clearly not a concern that is shared by others.
In Copenhagen last year I tried a bike that guided me around the city on a tour; it was wonderful but primitive compared to the systems built into the Valour. I have written about how in the world of self-driving cars, it will be important to know where the pedestrians and bikes are, and the Valour could just drop into the mesh, announcing its presence to everyone around it. This is the future of all our stuff, to be part of the Mesh City where everything is connected.
I just worry that the timelines for the Valour are a bit too fast and that the cost is a bit too low. These guys have bitten off a lot here and I wish them luck. More on Kickstarter