Forward Progress

July 24, 2009

Hoima Bike MkIWith the successful fabrication of our first Hoima-Bike, we have moved into testing, production, and marketing for the idea. The first bike taught us a great deal about design and the processes it takes to not only build the bike, but build it right. It has highlighted our biggest issue: how much money do we put into the bicycle? This is important because while we do not want to compromise in quality, the more money we put into the bicycle the further away from a low sale price we drift. If we cannot make this bicycle to compete with the extremely cheap Asian imports (sale price no higher than $110), then we are missing the very target group for whom the bicycle was designed.MkII Weld
Another large issue is that of components to fit out the frame. Standard western bicycle components are not available here in large quantities. The only other option is to turn to the Indian importers who produce and provide repair parts for the current bottom self bicycles here in Uganda. I believe the only answer is to find a way to import boxes of the parts from western companies like Ritchey and Shimano so we have not only steady supply, but a standard of components with which to design the bicycle around.
On the marketing side of things, we are in the middle of the 17th Annual Agriculture and Trade show here in Jinja. Among all the other services and products BSPW provides, we have a Hoima bike display and demonstration of welding.Hoima Bike Display The public has responded to the bicycle very well and it draws large crowds. We get constructive criticisms, commitments to purchasing the finished product, and lots of thumbs up! I have also made good connections with academics who I plan to set up meetings to pursue collaboration with university students here in Uganda who can help with structural testing and design input. This is extremely attractive to me as it encourages greater Ugandan participation in the design and implementation of a bicycle factory. It is my hope that they can take it over and make it their own.


East Africa Watersports

July 24, 2009

I have been occupying my free time here in Uganda between 4th of July barbeques, canoe and kayak outings on the Nile and Lake Victoria, and playing with the two little devils who lives with us known as Diana and Rafiki.Heavy D
We organized a American independence day party here at my house on Muvule Crescent. I hired my friend (and favorite chicken man) Collin to come to my house a bbq-cater for the party. The afternoon was complete with a mixed crowd of Ugandans, Europeans, Americans, and even a homemade badminton set!

I have found one of the best ways to enjoy the environment here in East Africa at a low cost is to rent a fisherman’s canoe for the day and go exploring. All you have to do is meet their income for the day (around 10,000 or $5) and the canoe is yours.Nile Dock While I have enjoyed this in Lake Bunyonyi in the south and Lake Kivu in Rwanda, it is something I can find myself doing on a lazy Sunday right here in Jinja. We go to just above the dam where we get a dugout or handmade canoe and paddle it up the Nile, past the source, and out into Victoria. Sometimes we even manage to catch a few fish!Lake Bunyonyi Island View

As many of you know, I am an aspiring whitewater kayaker. Last Saturday I got my chance to test myself on the Nile. The stretch of whitewater that runs 40 km north from where the Owen Falls Dam blocks the Nile is reputed as one of the great grade 5+ whitewater gems in the world. With rapids boasting such names as Rib Cage, Silverback, and The Bad Place, this stretch of water is even more sought after as they begin construction of a second dam 30 km down that will essentially flood out some of the best water.
I was able to secure a kayak to accompany one of the raft groups that my friends were in. We put in early on Saturday and I quickly realized I had not been in a kayak for over a year as we immediately dropped into one of the grade 5 pour-overs.Uganda 004 One good thing to remember about Nile whitewater is a big river moving fast. This means things are over relatively quickly. I ended up reminding myself of this fact several times throughout the day as I was being thrown around like a rag doll on a roller coaster. Does anyone have any Ibuprofen?