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Bike at Bedtime: check out World Bicycle Relief’s Buffalo Bicycle

It's not lightweight or aero but the rugged Buffalo Bike does help with education, health care and commerce in many developing countries

This evening’s Bike at Bedtime is a bit different – it’s World Bicycle Relief’s Buffalo Bicycle which was developed to provide a mobility option for people in rural regions of developing countries. It’s not lightweight, it’s not aero and it’s not laterally stiff/vertically compliant, but it can help children get to school, health workers get to patients, and farmers get to market, and, you know, in the overall scheme of things that’s just a touch more important.

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If you don’t know about World Bicycle Relief, it’s a charity that “mobilises people through the power of bicycles”.

“We’ve developed an efficient, innovative, and scalable model to empower students, health workers, and entrepreneurs in rural developing regions with life-changing mobility,” says World Bicycle Relief.

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In plain English, the organisation delivers rugged bicycles for people who need them in developing countries. Over 600,000 bikes have been sent so far, allowing people to ride when they’d previously have had to walk. This saves time and allows them to cover much greater distances, which can mean access to things like better education and healthcare. 

Buffalo Bike design - 1

World Bicycle Relief’s Buffalo Bicycle is all about practicality and durability. It features a heavy-duty steel frame designed for carrying weighty loads and travelling long distances across rough terrain. 

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The rear rack has a 220lb (100kg) capacity. The idea is that this makes it easy for farmers to carry their goods to market. 

The wheels are built with heavy-duty rims and spokes, and they’re fitted with puncture-resistant tyres.

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The Buffalo Bicycle is fitted with a rear coaster brake that is designed to be powerful in all-weathers.

The bike is designed to be simple to maintain and repair, local shops offering spare parts and the service riders need to keep moving.

World Bicycle Relief says that a donation of £50 provides one mechanic’s toolkit while £120 is enough to provide one Buffalo Bicycle, although a donation of any size is hugely welcome.

Trek is matching customer donations up to a total of $500,000 (around £378,000) until the end of the year, hoping to raise $1 million (£756,000) for World Bicycle Relief.

In other words, if you’re able to put in £60, Trek will put in £60, making the £120 required for one bike. You can also boost your donation by 25% by claiming Gift Aid which allows World Bicycle Relief to reclaim the tax.

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If you’re stuck for Christmas gift ideas, donating to World Bicycle Relief could be a winner.

To learn more about World Bicycle Relief’s efforts, visit

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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chrisonabike | 2 years ago

I think the "creating / supporting ongoing opportunities for local maintenance, creativity and enterprise" is a really important feature so props for choosing technology which supports this aspect. (In the face of occasional sniping about "hand-me-down" aid or "patronising" people). But without that element it's really boomerang aid where most of the benefits remain where it came from (building the machines, sending out experts).

Other bike-related lower tech / local solutions of note:

Mayapedal - Bicimaquinas! Fancy a pedal powered blender or even washing machine?

Practical Action - much broader focus but emphasis on supporting transfer of knowledge between the partner countries rather than "Warwick will send you the solutions". If you want some DIY projects they've a library including various trailers, bikes as water pumps and even bicycle ambulances.

ejocs | 2 years ago
1 like

I'll be donating too. Thanks for sharing.

pmurden | 2 years ago

This is such an amzing idea. I'll be donating to help such a good cause.

marmotte27 | 2 years ago
1 like

Laterally stiff/vertically compliant is BS anyway.

ktache | 2 years ago


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