Making the most of the southern African country’s bamboo plants, two Zambians and two Americans have set up a company that is crafting high-end, lightweight bicycles with frames made out of the locally grown bamboo.
Dubbed Zambikes, the company is putting its custom-built Zambian bikes on roads around the world, offering pedal enthusiasts a unique ride while helping to empower local communities back home.
“It’s a plus to have a product that is grown in Africa, made in Africa and exported to everywhere else in the world,” says Zambikes co-founder Mwewa Chikamba. “It’s rare that we have such incentives coming through - mostly we are importing stuff from the rest of the world.”
Eye-catching, super light and extremely durable, bamboo bicycles have gained traction in recent years, becoming a popular alternative to traditional steel or aluminum bikes. The material, one of nature’s fastest growing resources, has great shock absorbing abilities that contribute to a smooth and eco-friendly ride.
So far, the company, which employs some 40 people, has produced about 500 hand-made bamboo frames, and this year alone it expects to crank out another 450.
In addition to bamboo bikes, Zambikes is also making steel bicycles to cater to the local market’s needs for inexpensive transport, having so far produced about 10,000 of them. It is also producing cargo carts and bicycle ambulances that are designed to easily transport patients to a health center.