You may have read about the mass genocide in the African country of Rwanda. 800,000 people killed in 100 days during tribal warfare or ethnic cleansing. Anyhow there are a number of programs to help the country recover. This bicycle was designed by Tom Ritchey of mountain bike fame. Thousands have been produced and sent to Rwanda as a 'hand up, not a hand out'. The local coffee farmers in the hills sign micro loan agreements where they will pay off the manufacturing costs of the bikes. The bikes will help the farmers get their coffee beans to market faster so they will earn a higher price. You can help. has a store where you can order one of these bikes for yourself. your cost $750 plus shipping. You get the bike and a $525 tax write off because they will send 2 more to Rwanda.

The bike. Sturdy tig welded steel construction with heavy duty wheels. Aluminum rims with 48 spokes in the rear. basic grip shift with 8 speed mega range cog in the back and a dual chain ring guard on the single front sprocket. V-brakes for strong stopping power. Rated at 400 pounds of load capacity. The bike also came with bmx stunt pegs or 'buddy pegs' as my sister called them 30 years ago when she picked up a pair for me in Mexico. That makes giving passengers a ride easier. The bicycle frame has numerous mounting points welded to the frame so no frame modification are needed to add your own cargo carrying options.

My bike: The cedar rear deck came with my bike. I sanded, stained and varnished it and bolted it to the frame. I used rubber bushings under the deck for a slight amount of padding and nylock nuts so it won't rattle off. I added solid brass side rails to hang standard panniers on. They look far better than plain threaded rod and cost the same at my local home box mart. I threaded the ends and put chrome acorn nuts on. The supports are straight threaded eye bolts, about 2.5 inches long threaded into the wood. No tap needed, just drill the right size hole and the eye bolts threaded in. I made the side panels from 1/4" plywood. Sanded, stained and varnished to help endure the weather. The panels were cut to the correct height to accommodate the bottom hooks on the shopping paniers. I used nylon washers and collars between the wood and frame to help protect the paint which seems to be very durable.

Use: mostly runs to the grocery store. The 4 shopping panniers can each take a normal paper grocery bag plus there is room on the deck for bags of cat litter & cases of soda.

The ride: The bike rides quite well. The first thing you notice is you don't seem to accelerate but you do keep going faster and faster and shifting in to higher gears. The seat seems rather high up like the bike has a high bottom bracket height. I think for townie use the stock knobs could be replaced with a street tire for a smoother and faster ride. The seat is okay for the first 40 miles or so (my longest ride to date). My only issue is heal clearance, I'm rather duck footed and my shoes catch on the side panels where the forward most side frame bracket is.

Compared to pretty much all other lwb cargo bikes on the market, this is a real bargain. I would recommend the bike for anyone needing lots of carrying capacity and willing to help out a country that needs help.

Rick Paulos

Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Project Rwanda Bicycle - non-driveside view


Project Rwanda Bicycle - driveside with four panniers rigged

Project Rwanda Bicycle - with live cargo
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