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‘Smart Bike’ Gives Directions, Tracks Rides

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Do you really need turn signals in your handlebars to navigate a city landscape? Well, if the initial popularity of this “smart” bike is any indication, there are a lot of directionally challenged cyclists in the world.

The Valour model bike by Toronto-based Vanhawks raised more than $200,000 in just a few days on Kickstarter, doubling the fund-raising goal of $100,000 with 25 days remaining in the campaign.

Lights on handlebars indicate an upcoming turn

The high-tech fixie (it’s available in single speed and geared models, too) has some unique capabilities.

Using ultrasonic blind-spot detection sensors, it warns the rider with vibrating handlebars when a car gets too close (10 feet from behind, 4 feet from the side).

For navigation, ride tracking and theft-deterrence, the bike is outfitted with a GPS receiver. Used in concert with a smart-phone app (the phone GPS is used for turn-by-turn navigation), the bike will provide directions to the rider, who see upcoming turns indicated by flashing lights on the handlebars.

The bike tracks ride data like speed and calories burned. Even if you don’t bring your phone with, the bike can sync later to upload the data.

It even “learns” the locations of rough road and potholes using an onboard accelerometer and, with help of the phone app, builds routes that avoid rough patches of road.

And if it’s stolen? The bike can interact with an interconnected “mesh-network” to locate the missing bike.

All that technology takes power, which is generated by an onboard Supernova infinity S dynamo hub charger as you ride and stored in a battery.

This carbon fiber-frame bike weighs less than 16 pounds for a fixie and rings in just above the $1000-mark. A few options (at slightly different prices) are available now on the Kickstarter, including a model with a Nuvinci N360 internal gear hub, which ups the weight to 19.6 pounds and cost to $1300.

While we haven’t seen this bike in person yet, it’s already proven popular, and with success comes imitation. I won’t be surprised to see this kind of tech applied liberally to a new generation of “smart bikes” soon. —Sean McCoy

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