Throughout the glitz and bling at Interbike, World Bicycle Relief‘s booth had one white number on black: 87,265 – that’s the number of bikes distributed in the field since the organization was founded in 2005 by SRAM.
World Bicycle Relief’s mission is simply stated: to provide access to independence and livelihood through The Power Of Bicycles.
Grassroots fundraising coordinator Rebecca Much was excited to show us the new model, a mountain-bike style bike. “Throughout the years we’ve worked on improving the bike as much as possible, we’re excited about these bikes.”
“We have two models now.” The new model joins the men’s model already available. As always, the bikes are designed for compatibility with locally available parts.
The new mountain-bike model is key to the school program, the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment program or BEEP.
“We partnered with the Ministry of Education in Zambia, we’re working on a program to provide 50,000 bikes to students overall in Zambia so that’s where all our donations are going to right now. This is going to be the new bike that we give to kids.”
The bike is made to last. “We used to have lug frames, these are all the tig welding now which is quite a bit sturdier.” Much said about the bike. “Same carrying capacity of 220 pounds. The rear wheel for instance has 40 spokes versus the typical 32 or 36 to accommodate that weight and it’s all 13-gauge steel.”
Weighing around 50 pounds, the bike also includes high impact pedals with forged axles, durable weather-proof coaster brake and puncture resistant long-wear tires. “There’s a reason for that weight, it’s all about durability. Our bikes are made to last essentially.”
Much added, “One neat tidbit of information is that Zambia specifically there are 72 different local languages and of all of those local languages, there is no word for maintenance. That’s key.”
Part of the efforts of the organization includes training local mechanics in maintenance and repair.
World Bicycle Relief also sells bikes through social enterprises and Non-governmental organizations (NGO), such as AfricAid, UNICEF, World Food Fund and WellShare International.
“Last year our number was 71,461 now we’re at 87,265 bikes distributed.” concluded Much. “Selling our bikes to NGO is also a huge part of our program. Bikes are needed everywhere. “
Want to learn more about World Bicycle Relief? Want to help? More info here