The Kibo 150 offers an affordable solution to couriers and medical professionals in Kenya.
Like most developing countries with little public transport, Kenya has thousands of unregulated motorcycles on the mostly bad roads, many operated by untrained riders. A story by Meg Miller on fastcodesign.com outlines a solution proposed by Huib van de Grijspaard of the Dutch company Kibo, which was launched to build safer motorcycles in Kenya. The Kibo K150 was released last week.
The bike was developed to both provide a safer device for the conditions and educate people about motorcyle safety. Kenya’s traffic laws are widely unenforced, and few riders can afford helmets. Adrian Caddy of the design studio Greenspace notes that the Kibo team designed the motorcycle for the boda-boda drivers–the unofficial taxis of cities like Nairobi, driven mostly by young people earning money after school.
“The transportation situation there is roads that are choked with traffic and no regulated transport services,” says Caddy. “ have not been properly trained. It’s not regulated. . . . It’s a major concern.”
But in Kenya the team found that at $3,000, the motorcycles were still beyond the reach of their target market. In looking for other applications they found need in the medical community, the NGOs, and in couriers of companies like DHL and Western Union. They served areas requiring quick and stout vehicles that could carry heavy loads safely.
The Kibo K150 is design to carry more than 500 pounds, and includes a suspension system for cargo, and the durable, inflexible frame also makes it safer. The frame has a built-in crash bar in the front, designed to disperse the force of impact in a crash. The dual headlights that provide enough light to navigate roads at night, which Caddy notes is a big factor in the crash rates in developing countries.
Kibo can offer high-quality equipment at lower than typical costs because the pieces are sourced directly from manufacturers and assembled in Nairobi at local manufacturing plants. At $3,000, the K150 is cheaper than most new motorcycles made by common brands like Kawasaki and Honda, which will cost around $4,000 to $12,000 respectively.
“One of the things you notice if you go to a market like this is there is a huge amount of poverty, but also companies that are making huge technological leaps,” says Caddy. “Everywhere you go in , there is a strong 4G mobile network. Not everyone has a smartphone but pretty much everyone has access to one. The biggest and most beloved brands in the country are Facebook and other social platforms. We thought if we can combine a startup ethical mobility company like Kibo with the social media startup ethics.”
Soon the company will also offer affordable safety equipment like jackets, helmets, and extra lights, and starting to offer training on the K150 to those interested in purchasing one.