At a workshop in Uganda’s capital, Kampala Noordin Kasoma inspects handmade bicycles produced by his company.
The entrepreneur found a way to recycle damaged steel bikes, replacing frames with bamboo ones and selling them on the market.
Kasoma learnt to make bikes after training with American bike frame designer and manufacturer, Craig Calfee, and watching tutorials on the internet.
When it comes to the Bamboo bicycle in riding especially on the off-road, it's really comfortable
He says he wanted to make bikes that are cheaper and tougher than conventional brands available locally.
“When it comes to the Bamboo bicycle in riding especially on the off-road, it’s really comfortable. One, bamboo is flexible; due to that flexibility it gives that kind of shock absorbing property when you’re riding especially off-road. The bamboo itself tries to absorb the shocks that you are passing through other than steel or aluminium,” he said.
It takes Kasoma about seven days to assemble a bicycle. The bamboo must be dried for several months first and treated with insecticide before being used.
The bicycles cost between 350 to 450 dollars each, depending on the size and design.
He mostly sells his bikes in Uganda, parts of East Africa, Europe and America.
His business employs about 20 workers. Kasoma also has several young apprentices that he’s teaching the unique production specifications of his bicycles.
“We get geometrical diagrams of different types of bikes and different sizes. We normally make mountain bikes, city bikes, travel bikes and then we have the road bikes, the racing bikes. So every type of bicycle has different geometry and different sizes,” he said.
Kasoma says he chose to work with bamboo because it can be easily found in the country, grows fast and can be sustainably harvested.
The bikes are growing in popularity and have featured in various tournaments.
“I think it’s even a cheaper option because if you went through importing a carbon frame, the taxes and the like, you certainly may buy two of these in the frame,” said Amos Nuwagaba, a cyclist.
Kasoma is working on plans to expand his factory and promote bicycle tourism in the country, which is already a popular African tourist destination that boasts game parks and other attractions.