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Last week the African Bicycle Design Project came to an end for us, with a final presentation at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at the Delft University of Technology we completed the whole trajectory of the bicycle design. In September of last year we started with the search for a target group that would benefit from a new bicycle, and now, in January of 2010 we ended with the design of a new multi purpose transport bicycle for small African entrepreneurs.

Together with the design we delivered two prototypes, one in Kisumu Kenya for the workshop and the education of the employees, and one in the Netherlands for publicity purposes. Next to that we developed a production and assembly manual that should make the manufacturing of the bicycle easier.

We like to thank all the organisations and individuals that helped us in their own way. There are so many that will not try to mention them all because we are sure we would forget somebody. We just want to tell how great full we are for all the support we got during the past 6 months, and that without it the project couldn’t have been this successful.

We wish CooP, Uvumbuzi and the Victoria Boda Boda SACCO all the luck with the workshop that has just been opened in Kisumu, and we hope that the CooP-Bike will help them in reaching their goals.

Ero Kamanu,

Joep, Anne, Floor and Rick

The improved version of the CooP bicycle has finally reached the streets of Kisumu. After 5 days of sawing, filing and sweating it has made its appearance outside the workshop. See the movie for more.

Today we started working on the second prototype at the Kisumu Polytechnica. This prototype will be made with the production methods, materials and parts available in Kisumu and Nairobi. The Polytechnica provides us with great facilities, space and labour assistance.

Rick and assistents

The Polytechnica gives us the change to finally use the tools we never use in Holland at the University, such as the iron saw, the file and the human eye.

Over the past few days we’ve been all over Kisumu to test our prototype. We’ve been testing different kinds of cargo on different kinds of surfaces. The pictures give a small overview of the things we’ve been hauling around town. It’s fun to see that people don’t get the point of carrying around 100 kg of concrete blocks to test the bicycle, they thought we were fitnessing, which is a rare thing to see people doing around this city.

 Next to he cargo test we did the even more important user test. We showed and tried the bicycle with different venders around town. Steve the juice sales man was the most helpfull and wanted to test the prototype for a whole day. The movie gives you a small taste of a day of selling juices in Kisumu with our bicycle.

Apart from all this testing we’ve also been using the bicycle just to get around. We bought almost all of the parts we need for the building of our second and final design (the bicycle is very usefull for getting all these pipes, frames and wheels). We’ve also been making little modifications to the prototype with local jua kalis (metal workers) and teachers from politechnica, and of course we’ve been thinking about improvements for the next bicycle.

With the redesign alsmost finished we will be starting to built our next bicycle this friday at the Kisumu politechnica. The people from the mechanical engineering department were so kind to allow us to use all the facilities there.  

Just keep watching the blog, we’ll keep you up to date about our progress!

In the mean while we are allready back in Kisumu to test and implement our design. However we don’t want you to miss this clip on how we worked at the Delft University of Technology, when actually designing the product.  

After 3 days of carrying our beloved box, we arrive in Kisumu were we celebrate New Year’s Eve. Today, the first day in 2010 we were able to test the prototype in its future environment. To give a short impression of the first testing session here is a short clip.   

The 28th of December introduces the final part of our design project. After the context mapping in the first visit of Kenya, the conceptualization and prototyping in Holland, the first prototype goes to Kenya. In this last phase in Kenya the bicycle will be tested and improved. After this a second prototype will be built with the people in the workshop, so they also know the ins and outs of the product and its production process.

Excited as we are to make our 2nd visit, we leave with a hell of box. And when finally arrived at Schiphol airport we already know that this was the easy part of the journey.

Schiphol airport

After a decent 8 hour flight we arrive in Nairobi at 07.00, we arrange a hotel and taxi and of we go. At least that would be the ideal scenario of course. Luckily we are not the ideal scenario, because we have a small sized sea container with us. But what would be a better Kenyan solution for this problem than just using a safari van?

safari van

The prototype is safely in Nairobi where we postpone further logistical challenges to the 31st of December when we travel along to Kisumu. Our 2 day stay in Nairobi is to find some wholesalers with the needed parts and materials for prototype 2.0.

At the hotel

Finally, after 2 weeks of hard work, the 1st prototype is finished. In the next clip the different assembly steps are shown, which make a bare frame into a real multipurpose bicycle.

Also the very first test drives were made and luckily we have our fantastic prop, Floor de Bruijn, acting as cargo. The bicycle feels good and steering is easy. Next to this we are all happy that we created a working model, which we can use for testing and improvement in our 2nd visit of Kisumu, which will begin the 28th of December.

So tomorrow the last day of preparations, christmas celebration and then.. up to Kisumu again.

Prototype 1

with box

The building of the prototype is in it’s final stages, just a spray of paint and then all the parts have to be assembled. Next weeek we can finally make the first test-drive on the new African bicycle. In this post we can finally present the design to the world. After a meeting with all the involved partners from the TU Delft and Cycling out of Poverty we got the “green light” to share the design with everybody that’s interested.

During the design phase we built a virtual prototype to make sure everything we wanted was actually possible. We used it for strength calculations, prototyping drawings, design try-outs and as a presentation tool. In the next gallery one can find a small overview of the bicycle that we prototyped for testing in Kisumu.

As one can see in the final image, we used an existing frame produced by Indian manufacturers and we modified it to be stronger and be more versatile. By adding three main tubes to the front of the bicycle we created a large enough cargo space for the user to carry around whatever he or she may like, up to a maximum of 80 kg. The rack that is place on front is just one of the many possibilities of cargo carrying that this bicycle is capable of. One could remove the rack and mount a box or basket instead, if that suites the user better.  The placement of the front wheel right underneath the cargo will give it good support and the rest of the frame will suffer less stress.

This bicycle should enable the Kisumian, and other African, entrepreneurs to carry around more products for longer distances in such a way that they can reach more people and generate a better income for themselves and their family.

It’s been a while that we have written a post. But lots of time is now spend on prototyping, finishing the design and modeling in solidworks. Since a few days we are working in the workshop of Industrial Design on our prototype. Special tubes are ordered and step by step it looks more like a bicycle. We have decided to use an original frame of a bicycle. The big advantage is that the tubes are aligned which is very important. The head tube of the original frame had to be removed. It was difficult to find a way to do it properly but in the end we managed. During prototyping lots of pictures are made (some of them can be seen in this post). These pictures will be used for the production manual. In this way the people in Kisumu know exactly how to make the bicycle. Still lots of work has to be done before Rick and Joep return the 28th of December to Kisumu.

removing the coating of the frame

grinding the removed head tube

protecting the frame from rust with oil.