Vanhawks Valour

What if your bike gave you turn-by-turn directions to your destination? What if your handlebar vibrated when there was a car in your blind spot? And what if your bike sent your phone a synopsis—distance, speed, route and time—of each ride?

Would you pay $1,249 for a bike like that?

That’s the question four entrepreneurs put to the test with the Vanhawks Valour.

Co-founder Ali Zahid said the Kickstarter results speak for themselves. “We went for $100,000 and reached $100,000 in 30 hours,” he said. “And then we went on to do $800,000, which was phenomenal.”

Eight hundred and two people supported their project to the tune of $820,083. Now Ali and his co-founders, which include Niv Yahel, Adil Aftab and Ali’s brother Sohaib—the bike’s designer—are busy getting ready to ship 750 to 800 Valour bikes this fall.

You can buy a Valour online—single speed, fixed gear or multi-gear—but it won’t arrive until March 2015.

The body of the bike

Ali says the bike’s frame is carbon fibre and is built for the urban commuter who wants a bike as smart as their phone. Why carbon fibre? It’s supposed to take pressure off your back, spine, and butt. It also weighs sixteen pounds. That makes it easy to carry up a third-floor walk up but sturdy enough to handle a city street’s bumps and ruts. And built into the bike is technology that Vanhawks says will alter your ride for good.

Making the connection

The Valour uses bluetooth technology to connect with its app, available on Android, iOS, and Pebble. And the technological emphasis with this bike is safety. Directions appear via LED arrows on the handlebars. It’s a smart move that keeps your smartphone in your pocket. The routes it suggests are intended to keep you away from streetcars and congested roads.

Blind-spot detection

One of the things that impressed me during a test drive of the BMW 750i was how the wheel would vibrate if you were about to turn with someone in your blind spot. Each Valour has sensors to achieve the same result.

But who needs this sort of bike?

Ali says the early adopter might be “someone who is an associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers or KPMG or is working in the financial district.” It’s for the guy who loves cool toys and craves the finer things. But he stresses that it’s also for people “who just want to get from point A to point B faster and safer and on a smarter route.” There’s no learning curve when it comes to the basics. “Anyone can just get on the bike and start riding.”

Michael Knight … meet KITT

The more I learn about the Valour the more it sounds like KITT, the talkative Trans Am from TV’s Knight Rider. And then I discover that if your Valour gets stolen it will talk with other Valour bikes and, hopefully, make it easier to hunt down.

All that’s missing is the pulsating red light, the chatty AI and turbo boost. Valour 2.0 maybe?

Pierre Hamilton is a freelance writer from Toronto, where some of his best friends describe him as an acquired taste. He enjoys bourbon and scotch, but craves craft beer, overproof Jamaican rum and great non-fiction. He has a very limited style knowledge but knows what he likes. He also produces a monthly music podcast called Sound Considerations. Follow him, but not too closely, on Twitter.

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