Anyone who commutes on two wheels will know there's a world of gadgets that can be strapped to your bike to make life easier and safer. Problem is, add lights and a speedo, or power sensors and a heavy duty lock, and your slick lightweight bike isn't so slick or light anymore. Volata's new bike is designed to be the antidote, neatly integrating those various bits and pieces into one cohesive package.
At the core of this setup is a 7005 aluminum frame and carbon forks, designed to balance comfort and stiffness across pockmarked city streets. The front fork is wider than a regular road bike fork to house wider wheels, and there's a dual LED light system built in so there's no need to strap one onto the handlebars when riding at night.
To stop riders getting their hands dirty, power is put down through a belt drive and 11-speed Shimano Alfine internal-gear hub. Shifting is handled by the full electric Di2 system, which provides more precise shifts than a traditional mechanical system. It's also a neater solution, fully contained within the rear hub where the elements can't cause as much wear and tear.
Riders interact with the bike through a 2.4-inch LCD TFT display embedded in the aluminum stem. It's controlled by a joystick sitting atop the righthand handlebar grip to allow input while keeping hands on the handlebar and eyes on the road. When paired with a smartphone, the centrally-located screen can display information about weather, navigation, heart rate and music, as well as passing on any incoming notifications.
And riders don't have to worry about using that little screen to turn the lights on. Just like the Cyclotron, there's a sensor to handle that task.
The smartphone app that works in tandem with the little on-bike display is also designed to provide more in-depth information after a ride. It allows access to distance and energy measurements, information on the state of the inbuilt battery, and can flash the lights and honk the horn remotely. There's also GPS tracking built in if thieves manage to make off with your pricey new bike.
To reduce the chances on this, a motion-detecting alarm system sends a notification to the app when it detects someone trying to steal it. All these systems – the front and rear lights, trip computer, horn and GPS tracker – are powered by an integrated battery pack, charged through a dynamo on the front wheel.
At the moment, the bike can be configured in terms of color, size and saddle choice through the Volata website, where a US$299 deposit is all that's required to reserve a bike – although you'll be up for $3,499 when it's actually built.
That's more than most other smart bikes, but it looks like a far more cohesive package than those other offerings. Deliveries are set to start in July 2017, so those reservations are best left for patient early adopters who simply must be the first to have one.
Volata's introductory video is below.
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