Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Quintessential Africa Bike??

I am so impressed with the quality of bikes that Victorians are donating. Many of them are “perfect” for Africa.
Sometimes people ask if they can donate cash to have us purchase a new bike for a person in Africa as opposed to sending them a used bike from Canada. The answer is that the villages our movement supports have no bike shops or vendors of bicycles nearby. Additionally, the bikes we collect are often better than those available in Africa.
At the Star Cinema film night on Wednesday June 1st you will have a chance to see bikes in action in Africa. Hoima Bicycle also features the Hero Bicycle- a bike made in India that is widely distributed in Africa. The Hero isn’t particularly well suited to the needs in Africa, but it is often the only bike available. In a nutshell it is heavy, geared too high, and too big for many people—including most women. I met a gentleman on a Hero at Bikefest on Sunday. While a novelty to ride at special events, he said he pitied the person that has to ride it daily for commuting or business.
The bikes we send are often smaller, lower geared, and of better quality than the Hero. We also ship quite a number of women’s bikes. Getting the women on bikes is huge- as they are the ones who often walk hours to get firewood or water.
The bike pictured here is perfect. Steel frame (in this case Chrome-Moly!) rigid fork, 18 speeds, and all ball bearing- as opposed to the cartridge bearings found on newer bikes. The ball bearing headset, wheels, and bottom bracket are very repairable without many special tools or parts.

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