Yes, a bicycle is smarter than you

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By Julia Knope

Smartphones, smart refrigerators and smart watches are not where it ends – the smart bike has joined the list of things that are more intelligent than you.

Vanhawks, a Toronto startup, introduced the Vanhawks Valour, a bicycle made from carbon fibre that connects with the rider’s phone.

The 16-pound Valour syncs with the Vanhawks app to navigate the rider, detect danger, track metrics and link riders together in an area.

“We were all bike commuters. We were riding our bikes in university. We thought there was a need for a smart bike out there. We went out to create something for ourselves [and] we thought other people would like it too,” said Ali Zahid, co-founder of Vanhawks and a Ryerson Digital Media Zone advisor.

The bike’s built-in navigation system signals the rider turn-byturn where to go by using LED indicators in the handlebars. The handlebars also vibrate when the bike senses close traffic in the rider’s blind spot.

“I ride my bike everywhere and my biggest worry is having my cellphone right in front of my face trying to navigate [my route],” Zahid said. “That could get me in an accident.”

When the app connects riders in the area, it suggests safer and more efficient routes – based on factors like time, traffic and road conditions.

But Amelia Hankins, a secondyear journalism student and cycle commuter thinks the best caution isn’t within a bike function.

“I think we need smarter cyclists before smarter bikes. It comes down to the fact that there isn’t enough space on the road,” Hankins said.

“Because of the lack of space, [the handlebars] would be vibrating all the time because bikers are the blind spot.”

Vanhawks raised more than $800,000 in one month through a Kickstarter campaign last spring.

The company also received $1.6 million from Real Ventures – a network of investors that support startups – to help them start shipping and selling their product.

The bikes are customizable in sizing and style, starting at a price of $1,249.

But the company had to work through some troubles in order to get to the point they are at now.

“We put our own tuition fees into the business to make it run until we found our first investor. Of course every company goes through troubles,” Zahid said, The Valour will be shipped starting Spring 2015.

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