Lesotho Bicycle Project Overview January 2022



The Lesotho Bicycle Project launched in January 2011 when a group of passionate mountain bikers got together to cross Lesotho on bicycles, mostly off-road, from Morija in the Western Lowlands to the the famous Sani Pass in the East. The mission was successful and served as a recce for the first Lesotho Sky race in November of the same year. The event is divided into 6 individual stages, with approximately 50-60km of tough mountain bike routes every day. From the inaugural event, the race brought together some fo the best local (Basotho) and international riders from across the globe. From 2013 - 2018 the event was categorised as Class 1 MTB stage race and sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI). One of many obstacles was to provide adequate mechanical support. What started as a DIY project quickly evolved into the necessity of professional support from qualified bicycle mechanics from Lesotho's only neighbour country South Africa. Thanks to this assistance the Lesotho Sky Event was able to grow from 22 participants in 2011 to almost 100 participants in 2017. Despite the rising popularity of cycling in Lesotho, the cycling landscape most consisted of informal shops and self-trained mechanics. Until today a few supermarkets still offer bicycles and spares of poor quality and no mechanical support. There have been efforts of European and American based charitable initiatives to introduce 2nd hand bicycles as a means of transport. Even the Lesotho Mounted Police Service (LMPS) mobilised a significant number of officers with brand-new bicycles. These noble goals were hardly achieved before succumbing to the same problem of after-market service and support. A lack of know-how, skills and access to spare parts meant that bikes were only usable up to the point of basic repair, before ending up in the informal market as spare parts at best, or scrap metal at worst. The first reliable supply chain of bicycles, parts and equipment was introduced by the Mikes Bikes Foundation in 2011, closely followed by Bikes for Lesotho and lastly Bicycles for Humanity and other once-off donations. Despite a significant influx of mostly donated bicycles in the last decade, the cycle usually ended with drying up of stock to sell, lack of skill and ability to service as well as procurement of required spare parts and then ultimately the lack of income to sustain the workshop. This changed when the Lesotho Sky founders together with a skilled and experienced team received the first load of donated bicycles in 2014. Thanks to the generous permission from Lesotho's Royal Family to use a convenient and centrally located piece of land in the middle of the capital city Maseru, a new shop as well as Lesotho's first-ever dirt pump-track became a hotspot for cyclist from near and far. The growing Lesotho cycling scene attracted international attention and in 2017 the first asphalt pump-track was constructed by Velosolutions the university town of Roma. Meanwhile there are a total of 3 asphalt pump tracks in Lesotho and they have become an important part of children and youth activities in their respective communities. Subsequently the demand for bicycles, parts and services has skyrocketed and more shops have started to emerge across the country. The formula for success of the Lesotho Sky shop (formally known as Lesotho Bike Hangar) has been consistent professional training at Torqzone Academy in South Africa as well as formalisation of the shop's value chain (POS and inventory management system, investment in power tools for custom repair jobs, digital marketing efforts incl. e-mail communication infrastructure and more). The shop expanded twice to new locations and is currently situated in Maseru's Industrial Area (Ha Thetsane). It employs 2 full-time staff and offers internships to students and scholars during school holidays. The manager has also obtained a qualification as mechanic and is currently the first female bicycle technician in Lesotho. We are looking for strategic partners to further and advance our GOALS: 1) MOBILISE and empower communities through up-cycling affordable and quality bicycles 2) TRAIN and equip entrepreneurs with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools in preparation to run their own bicycle enterprise

3) DESIGN and build sustainable transport solutions to accelerate Lesotho's transition to a greener Economy

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square