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Chief of Design, at Vanhawks

As the Chief of Design (physical product) at Vanhawks Inc. I lead our team with product direction and design process that has helped our company achieve its goal of delivering the world’s first 'smart' connected bicycle.


In a matter of a year and a half, our team put developed and shipped over 750 innovative, complex, one of a kind bicycles.


In the same time period we built the company itself, as it had not existed prior to our Kickstarter campaign. As one of four heads of the company, I was responsible for developing the product, as well as managing the new product development team of four designers and engineers.

Vanhawks review video created independently by Ash Tailor

The Vanhawks Valour became the world’s first true IoT bicycle, intended to serve users as the best commute "partner" a cyclist could ask for.

From the ground up, we designed Valour to be as smart and connected as possible, with the aim to bring the humble bicycle up to speed, with the twenty first century tech. The Valour got a number of integrated electronics such as headlight and tail lights, GPS navigation, as well as a sonar based rear detection system to warn the user of objects in their blind spot. The on-board Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas mean that the bike can communicate wirelessly with your mobile device as well as Wi-Fi connections around the city. On top of that there is a large variety of sensors to help record your ride telemetry which will later be used to improve your ride quality.

Because of our belief in providing a fully integrated experience, we went as far as providing users with a custom bike-tool, with most tools required to service their bike.

Valour's User Driven Design

After the Kickstarter campaign which got the ball rolling on the “bike of the future”, our tiny team set out to bring the project to reality. What we started with can be seen here, in the original Kickstarter Video. It was little more than hacked together electronics strapped to a rough prototype frame, which looked like a bicycle, but certainly didn't ride like one.

Through my experience in the bicycle industry, and my training in Design Thinking, Human Centered Design and User Driven Innovation we were able to refine the Valour into a well considered and well rounded product. From the lens of a commuting cyclist needs, our team considered some of the following aspects:

  1. Optimized bicycle geometry for comfort and safety

  2. UI with reduced distraction - simple animations with LED indicators, and haptic feedback

  3. Cleanliness - reduced greasy and dirt accumulating components to prevent dirtying cloths, hidden shift & brake cables to reduce catch-points

  4. Theft resistance - GPS and WiFi for locating a stolen bike, plus theft proofing of wheels and handle bar

  5. Visibility for safety - strategically positioned integrated lighting that is always ON, and reflective tires

  6. Minimal maintenance - spec'd components which require minimal to no maintenance, so the users could "simply commute"

Our commitment to addressing these user needs pushed us to come up with a number of in-house inventions.

It took about a year and a half of refining the geometry, styling, material selection, ergonomic consideration, component selection, design for manufacture, setting up manufacturing partnerships, electronic hardware development, firmware development and surprisingly challenging waterproofing! But we did it - we shipped the Valour to every Kickstarter backer, and to paying customers!

Field Testing the Valour
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