Friday, 24 April 2015

My Qhubeka Buffalo bike

Inspired by Colin, the thrifty cyclist, and his daughter Bianca, I bought a Qhubeka Buffalo bike. Colin and Bianca are currently doing the 9 Peaks Challenge (cycling to and then hiking the highest peak in each of South Africa's 9 Provinces) - they have a super blog at Heavy Metal Bikes. They're on their way to their 9th peak.

In its favour the Buffalo has the following stats:

  • one size fits all
  • rear carrier can support 100kg
  • single speed
  • low maintenance
  • puncture-resistant, long-wearing tyres
  • heavy gauge steel tubing for the frame
  • back-pedal braking 'system'
  • comes with a pump, helmet, multi-tool and metal tyre levers
  • bike weighs about 25kg
  • lovely bright yellow
It is very unlikely that I'll be hijacked for this bike! 

This bike is made for Africa. It is made for children to ride to school - or for a parent to lift a child. Adults can use it to transport goods to market. It is made to be near indestructible. Qhubeka is an amazing project where bikes are donated and spread into rural communities; and people in the communities are trained to be mechanics - to maintain the bikes. 

I think that this is the perfect commuta-bike. My mom has been riding the Qhukeba a bit on our run-ride outings (I run, she rides). She has a seven-speed cruiser and without hesitation I can say that she rides the Qhubeka better than her bike, especially on the hills. I know! She says that the single gear of the Qhubeka is "just perfect". She has been rocking it. 

Last weekend we did a ride together with me on the Qhubeka and mom on her cruiser. It was such fun.

It is also fun lifting people on the Qhubeka. Mom and I have taken turns lifting each other on our run-ride outings. It's a hoot!

Celliers lifting Ruben and Kyla - two children fit perfectly
On the bike with Ruben.
My neighbour Judy joining in
I bought the Qhubeka to get into commuting by bicycle in my local neighbourhood. The challenge is not as much biking as having places to chain the bike up (and feeling ok walking away from it!). Bicycle racks are very few and far between. It is quite something to make the transition from using a bike for recreation to using it for transport. I'm not quite there yet but I aim to be.

I also bought it (Celliers bought one too) to ride at Afrikaburn, which happens next week. I've made ribbon streamers for the handlebars and he has made metal boxes to go on the rear carriers, which I'll cover in bright fabric.

Colin and Bianca have pimped their bikes slightly. They removed the heavy-duty bicycle stand, the chain protector and mud guards to reduce weight. And they added straight mountain bike handlebars and grips for long-distance comfort. I'll probably change the handlebars too; for local commuting I'm fine with the weight.

I love my 29er for real mountain biking but I'm getting a real kick out of this beast for urban biking. Next week my Qhubeka is going to sink its wheels into the Karoo as a fun-play-commuting bike.


Cobus Greyling said...

Hi, this looks great! I need a bike, but can't afford much.

Just one question, I am 1.87 m; will this be a reasonable comfy ride for me?

Thanks for the great review.


adventurelisa said...

Heya Cobus,

Yes, for sure. I think Celliers (in the pictures) is around 175cm and the seat can still go up.

It's a solid bike and both the seat and handlebars can be raised.

If you're in Jo'burg, you're welcome to give my bike a try. At the moment it is in Parys but I can get it back here next week.