Tubeless tyre innovation: African bicycle operators to save billions
July 12, 2012 – A tubeless tyre innovation by an American company in Kenya is expected to extremely cut down on bicycle operating expenses. Baisikeli Ugunduzi CEO, Professor John Gershenson said the company will set up a manufacturing plant for the tyres dubbed milele tubes in Trans Nzoia County, a region with high number of bicycle taxis locally referred to as bodaboda.
The tubes, he said, are resistant to pricks by thorns and nails thus avoiding expenses incurred in repairing flat tyres.
‘The tubes are durable and can last up to five years since they do not get punctures as a result of pricks from nails and thorns,’ explained Professor Gershenson.
Prof Gershenson estimated that a single bicycle operator spends up to Ksh. 15,000 annually in repairing flat tyres which translates to over Ksh. 40 billion for the wider Sub Saharan Africa. The company’s marketing coordinator, Ben Mitchel pointed out that they targeted Sub Saharan Africa for market of the milele tubes noting that Africa should reverse its trend of importing bicycle parts from overseas.
Mr. Mitchel disclosed that bicycles exported to Africa by Western and Asian countries were sub standard and not designed for the African market where people use them to generate income through bodaboda.
He observed that such bicycles were meant for leisure use pointing out that the company would as well venture in the manufacture of other bicycle parts at a later stage.
However, he noted that the market price for the tubes would be communicated to the public at a later period to allow the company to assess customer needs and potential.
‘We shall state the price for a single tube later, meanwhile let us look into customer needs and their purchasing power,’ said Mr. Mitchel. [John and Mitchel display the milele tube.] A market survey in Kitale municipality, 300km from Kenya’s capital – Nairobi, bodaboda operators applauded the move bound to reduce expenses from their meager earning averaging at Ksh. 300 a day.
The three East African countries; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania lead in the number of bodaboda operators in Africa and establishing the plant within the region could be a boost to the East African Community. [A bicycle repairer, Joseph Likhali, fixes a milele tube.]
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