Bikes + Innovation: Bike Tech, and Finding Your Balance

The Bikes + Innovation series will find and share interesting developments and innovations that could attract more people to riding bikes through smart design and technology.

Welcome to the first post in a new series that tracks innovations in everyday bicycling. It’s about bikes, riding, bike culture, and innovation with a technology angle. Each month this series will find and share interesting developments and innovations that could attract more people to riding bikes through smart design and technology.

The tech community is buzzing about the emergence and proliferation of the “Internet of Things”. This concept is that objects in the world will be connected to and will share data and instructions with each other and the people and systems that interact with them. In Toronto, ON, Vanhawks have produced the world’s first connected bike, the Valour.

The Valour features a number of integrated features including performance tracking, security sensors, and interactive feedback. Using LED indicators, the bike comes with turn-by-turn navigation, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road and your hands on your handlebars. The handlebar grips also alert you to nearby objects by vibrating while on-board sensors measure your calories burned, distance traveled, speed, best times, and much more, allowing you track your performance and stay informed at all times. Beyond this, Vanhawks has manufactured the Valour entirely with carbon fiber and the minimalist design is very appealing. Clearly the demand is there as Vanhawks smashed past their fundraising target of $100,000 to put the bike into production and raised over $820,000 in total on Kickstarter.

From high-tech to high-design, the Hubless Foldable Sada Bike by Italian designer Sada Gianluca is seriously stylish, cool, and compact. Designers compare its folded size to an umbrella and that really is quite a feat of design. While still in prototype stage, it will be interesting to see if this design will also be durable. If successful, I imagine unobtrusive bike stands that better resemble umbrella stands and custom carrying bags made by Gucci and Luis Vuitton.

Taking many of us back to our childhood, learning to ride a bike was a big moment in our life. It changes you forever, connects us through experience and sparks the passion for cycling. Recently, smart engineers in the UK developed a product called Jyrobike that they say can teach children 3 to 8 years old how to ride a bike in an afternoon. This bike contains a patented control hub in the front wheel that uses gyroscopic technology to keep riders upright, even when they tip, falter, or wobble. Another Kickstarter funded product, the developers were helped along by mainstream coverage from the BBC and other media outlets. While this product could eliminate the trail-by-error learning many of us went through, it could have an amazing effect on boosting confidence for riding in children that have learning difficulties, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Apraxia (amongst other conditions).

And finally, this last idea may not go further due to lack of funding. Students in Long beach, CA, see communication of a bicyclist’s intentions, increased visibility both day and night, and proper allocation of space when sharing the road as being huge issues. To better understand how to communicate in a non-traditional sense, they looked at nature to find a solution. They see VibriSee is more than just a solution. They think that it has the potential to transform the world of commuting by empowering the average cyclist with solutions straight from nature.

We live in interesting times and many people are trying to innovate to help more people get on bikes and ride safely. Until next month.

Nikolas Badminton is a British transplant that lives in Vancouver, BC. He loves innovation and design and speaks internationally on human behavior in relation to technology, mobile, digital, and social influences. He bikes to work at and owns a single-speed and a road bike but feels that maybe that’s not enough quite yet.


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