Bamboo Bicycles, Part 1

Team in front of the new workshop, Khoma, DRC
Team in front of the new workshop, Khoma, DRC

We’ve written previously about the importance of bicycles to the Congolese people. Subsistence farm families use bicycles to transport items to market. For most rural people bicycles are the best way to deal with the poor road conditions in Congo. This gives them access to services, such as health care.

At Hope4Congo we are committed to keeping you informed about what other ministries are doing in Congo. The following excerpts are taken from the 2015 report on the Congo Transport to Market Bicycle Project. These excerpts have been edited for clarity on our website.

Project Goals
The bicycle project builds on lessons learned over the past five years of work.
• Supply their Congolese partner (UPDAP) with parts for up to 50 bamboo framed bicycles
• Provide training and instruction to establish quality production processes
• Develop a business model for small scale production in Congo

Project Leaders
Chuck Regier and Craig Calfee are the primary project leaders. They are supported by Harlan Bartel, John Schellenberg, Stan Graber, and Cliff Dick.

Report on the 2015 Congo Trip – Initial Observations
Chuck and Craig traveled to Congo in July 2015 to work at maintaining project momentum and direction. They arrived in Kinshasa and flew by MAF to Nyanga.

12234865_517769575059336_8476508910792774586_nAt Nyanga airport, four bamboo bicycles awaited the men to haul their luggage and supplies the seven kilometers to Khoma, DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo). This journey gave the men an introduction to the challenges of maintaining the bikes. It provided their first glimpse of the work ahead of them.

Upon arrival at Khoma, Chuck and Craig saw the nice workshop and new drying oven built by the team at Khoma. The workshop included a small office/reception area and a locked room for inventory supplies. The small oven for drying bamboo (built in 2013) had been replaced with a larger one, which included a good roof. It was pleasing to see this progress on the project.

On the negative side, it has been difficult to keep skilled craftsmen/frame builders on the team without regular work available.12227189_517772908392336_5724312494067694177_n

Reviewing frame assembly
Reviewing frame assembly


Chuck and Craig began their work with a team meeting to review the project since their visit in 2013. They discussed what worked, what the problems were, and how the bikes could be improved.

Things that worked:
• Tires and wheels.
• Overall bicycle design pleased the team
• Ability to push larger loads more easily in the sand and rough roads
• Riding bicycles, they made better time than the standard Chinese models
• Even while carrying 50-100 lb payload they made better time
• Travel longer distances, the bikes have brought merchandise back from Angola
• Overall the frames held up well
• Seats were still in good condition

We will continue the 2015 report from the team meeting here on our blog next Thursday. Please join us.

©2016 Hope4Congo

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