20 bikes (and dolls) donated today to kids in Koalabata

The first batch of donated bikes from the 2nd container of the "Jeff and Dave" project were delivered today.  20 kids in the small village of Koalabata, Lesotho were thrilled with the arrival of their new rides.  Also delivered were fabric dolls hand-sewn by ladies in a Chicago nursing home.  Jeff and Dave's Kiwanis club has sent these dolls to other countries too, along with pens and markers to decorate them.  Not our typical delivery, but hey, why not?

These bikes were donated by Working Bikes in Chicago, transportation covered by Jeff and Dave's fundraising efforts, logistics and backing provided by The Mike's Bikes Foundation, on-the-ground unpacking, refurbishing and distribution by Tumi's Cycles.  It takes a village to help a village!


"Where did my donated bike go?" To the UCI Worlds, of course!

In what may be the best example yet of used bikes getting a second life in Africa, this beautiful old Trek 930 was donated by one of our customers here in NorCal (was it you?), and later turned up at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, ridden by Lesotho rider Thuso Makatise.  (No joke!)  For Thuso, this was a lifetime dream come true! THANK YOU to whoever donated this bike - you've changed a life in a way you probably didn't intend.

Thuso Makatise representing Lesotho at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, with a bike donated through the Mike's Bikes Africa Bike Drive.

Thuso Makatise representing Lesotho at the 2013 UCI World MTB Championships in South Africa, with a bike donated through the Mike's Bikes Africa Bike Drive.

A new partnership with Kit Up Africa


Every time we introduce and promote bikes in African communities as a green and affordable transportation solution, we're always delighted to see that a certain group of folks immediately starts racing each other on the bikes.  Guess that's just human nature, no matter where you're from.  

As these racing groups start to develop and improve, they start wanting better and better riding gear - again, maybe just human nature.  

And on the other side of the world here in the States, every serious cyclist has a closet packed with bike clothing that's still in great shape but no longer in use.  That's where Adam Austin steps in.  

The opening message on his Facebook page says it all:


Hello, I'm Adam Austin.  Welcome to Kit Up Africa!  I am starting a non-profit organization that collects used cycling clothes (kits) and gives them to the growing cycling community in Africa.  With the help of Mike's Bike's Africa and Serious Cycling, we are launching our donation drive soon. 

Mike's Bike's Africa has been sending donated bikes to Africa since 2008.  CEO and Founder Ken Martin has offered to help in shipping the clothes with his bike containers and distributing them through their Sister Shops in Africa. They have shipped over 10,000 bikes to 7 countries in Africa. Check them out and donate at MikesBikesAfrica.com. 

Scott B. Johnson and Justin Shniderman are the owners of Serious Cycling in Agoura Hills CA.  I ride for their shop team.  They have joined in as avid supporters of the project and the central donation site.  In the coming weeks we will start collecting good condition cycling clothes - both men's and women's jerseys, bibs, shorts and shoes.  

Please start looking through your gear and setting aside your "hand me ups".  I soon will be contacting other shops to help as donation sites around the Los Angeles area (you know who you are!)

I can't tell you all how excited I am about what we all are about to embark on.  Just imagine someone riding in Africa wearing your kit. 

take care

Check out Kit Up Africa at www.facebook.com/KitUpAfrica

Jeff and Dave's 2nd container arrives in Lesotho

Our friends Jeff and Dave from Chicago have raised enough funds to cover transport and distribution of their 2nd container of bikes to Lesotho's orphans and other children in need.  These 600 bikes were donated by our customers here in NorCal, and will be distributed by Tumi to the areas around the capital city of Maseru.

The arrival of a container of used bikes in Africa is always an event, and this, our 24th shipment, was no different.  Many people turned out to help, and the local news crew even showed up.  Tumi has become known all around his country as "the bike guy", and this coverage will definitely help him further the cycling cause in Lesotho.

Stay tuned for more info as the bikes get refurbished and Tumi and helpers from the Lesotho Cycling Association ramp up the distribution.


PODS of SF and Mike's Bikes Join to Collect 1000 Bikes for Africa Sister Shop Program


Moving and storage company lends support for donations to Bay Area retailer’s African sister shops

For four weeks starting Sept. 16, PODS® of San Francisco is joining forces with Mikes Bikes as the Bay Area bicycle retailer collects donations for their ongoing Africa Bike Drive program. PODS® containers have been placed at 7 Mike’s Bikes stores throughout Northern California. The public can help fill them by donating new or used bikes that will then be sent to Mike’s Bikes Sister Shops in Africa, improving everyday life for Africans one bike at a time.

“Our past partnerships with Mike’s Bikes have been very successful at delivering much-needed bicycles to Africans,” said Mark Foley, Western Regional Director of Operations for PODS Enterprises, Inc. “We are thrilled to again lend our support to Mike’s Bikes and hope that during this year’s bike drive, we can break all records and help collect more than 1,000 bikes.”

In 2011, a great collaboration was born when PODS teamed up for the first time with Mike’s Bikes, the largest independent bicycle retailer in the U.S., helping them to collect more than 500 donated bicycles to help improve everyday life for Africans one bike at a time.

Mike’s Bikes began the Africa Sister Shops to build a self-sustaining supply of transportation bikes in Africa and to promote economic growth by teaching African entrepreneurs how to run a bike business. Mike’s Bikes sends donated bikes and start-up funding to African countries as well as provides mentoring to the owners of its Africa Sister Shops with the goal of creating African job opportunities. Bicycles are often the only reliable form of transportation in Africa, where roads can be rugged (or non-existent) and automobiles and fuel are outside the reach of most residents.

During the four week bike drive, donated PODS® containers will serve as temporary bicycle donation centers. At the drive’s conclusion, PODS will transport the containers to a central staging area where volunteers and staff will prepare the bikes for shipment to Africa.

All tax-deductible Mikes Bikes donations will be accepted through October 13th at the following store locations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily:

2161 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

201 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030

3001 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

264 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma, CA 94952

836 Fourth St., San Rafael, CA 94901

No. 1 Gate 6 Rd., Sausalito, CA 94965

1180 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

2 young riders from Lesotho to the Youth Olympics

Lesotho's National Olympic Committee and the Lesotho Cycling Association held a junior road race to select the most promising young riders to represent Lesotho in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China.

The two riders below took the top spots, both on bikes donated through Mike's Bikes and in jerseys donated by Specialized.

The spectators were very excited to see road racing in Lesotho and to see the performance of these young riders.  We're thrilled to see cycling rising to higher levels of recognition and respect in Lesotho, and we can't wait to see these two representing their country in the Youth Olympics.


Introducing cycling to Mokolodi rangers

Mokolodi Nature Reserve, just outside of Gaborone, was established as a protected area to benefit Botswana youth and natural environment.  It is a non-profit charity organization that relies largely on income generation through tourism related activities and on donor support and sponsorship.

As part of an effort to increase the value of the Reserve to the local Gaborone community, Mokolodi introduced cycling to encourage greater use of the Reserve and to create interest amongst a wider spectrum of clientele.  Following on from this, the Reserve has also started to make use of mountain bikes to assist with various management activities, including fence patrols, rhino monitoring, facility inspections (pumps, water pipes and solar power installations etc).

In recent years, the reserve has been struggling financially.  Under the new dynamic leadership of Park Manager Ian Johnson, changes are happening and a huge effort is being made to introduce new revenue streams.  We see bikes as one of those, and we're proud to play a part.

With our partners Rob and Paul in Botswana, we have donated bikes to the park for use by rangers and support staff, and the Bike Shop Gabs is providing free weekly bike maintenance.

The park has begun to embrace cycling as a legitimate tourist attraction, and routes have been cut and built.  This has drawn new visitors and revenue to the reserve, it has provided employment, and it has helped to solidify the park's finances.

Mokolodi is also deploying bikes as an effective new anti-poaching tool.  Rangers follow game paths, checking for snares and traps.  Bike are slower and closer to nature than cars, so rangers can spot traps more effectively, and they can reach areas that a vehicle can not.  Poachers are used to running off or lying low when they hear vehicles approaching, so bikes are much more effective at actually catching them.


Lesotho National Cycling Championships

When the Lesotho Cycling Association's funding ran out for the National Road Race Championships, Mike's Bikes and Tumi's Cycles stepped up.  It was very important to the Association's goals of local rider development that this event happen.  According to Mark West, Secretary General, "This is a chance for cyclists from all per the country and all walks of like to come and pit their talent against their fellow countrymen for the title of National Champion."

This UCI-accredited event was a great success, and the winner of the 110km road race (the National Champion) works at Tumi's shop and was trained by Tumi.

The National Champion, trained by Tumi himself.

The National Champion, trained by Tumi himself.

The medalists and officials.

The medalists and officials.

A field made up mostly of bikes from our customers in NorCal.  Who knew these bikes would someday be raced in a National Championship??

A field made up mostly of bikes from our customers in NorCal.  Who knew these bikes would someday be raced in a National Championship??

The officials of the Lesotho Cycling Association, ready with the results, the medals and the jerseys.

The officials of the Lesotho Cycling Association, ready with the results, the medals and the jerseys.

A check-in from Tumi


Just received the latest report from Tumi, along with some new pictures.  When he has proper supply of bikes, Tumi's business is absolutely cooking.  But between container arrivals, the shortage of bikes really puts a strain on the operation.  Overall, the business is healthy and continues to employ Tumi, his wife, his mother, and two mechanics.  Please help us spread the word about the Africa Bike Drive - keeping up with the demand for bikes in Africa continues to be a challenge.

This customer of Tumi's is using his bike to transport a very heavy bag of maize.


Tumi visits regularly with his competition across town.  This shop just popped up last year, and to see that demand is so great that the community can support a second bike shop is a validation of all the hard work that's gone into developing a bike culture in Maseru.

Songo to the rescue!

20 bikes for Cape Argus

20 bikes for Cape Argus

The next batch of 20 bikes (all donated by Mike's Bikes customers in California) for the kids at Our Fertile Ground were all prepped, packed and ready for the journey from our facility in Gaborone down to Cape Town.  We should have had plenty of time to spare before the big event, but alas, in Africa, that often doesn't mean much.

True to form, the bikes sat on a truck waiting for border clearance for more than a week.  The kids from the Our Fertile Ground youth program were so excited to raise funds for their camp by riding the Cape Argus.  But the border delays cost so much time that the bikes were not going to arrive there before the event - finding a solution was necessary.  Paul and Robert turned to Songo, a very well known bike organization near Stellenbosch, for help.  Songo's group committed to loan 20 bikes for the kids to ride the Cape Argus.  It was a very stressful situation for all involved, but it seems to finally worked out in the end.

We're all looking forward to seeing how the 25 Fertile Ground riders do at the Argus - So very proud of all of them!

First 5 bikes arrive at Our Fertile Ground in South Africa

Our friends at Our Fertile Ground in Cape Town can start training for the upcoming Cape Argus ride, where they'll be raising funds for their great project, centered around a youth program for kids with HIV and AIDS.  The kids who want to do the ride have no bikes, so camp founder Robert Shea requested 5 bikes from our Foundation.  Naturally, we obliged, and the first 5 bikes just arrived in Cape Town and have been assembled and tuned.  Training can now begin for the Argus, which is fast approaching on March 10.

The response and support from the other kids in the program has been so overwhelming that Robert quickly requested another bikes, which we now have en route from our most recent container of donated bikes in Botswana.

Robert and his family have such an amazing and selfless program at Our Fertile Ground, and we're honored to be a part of it.


Proud new owners of Sister Shop bikes


The owner of a horse farm in rural Botswana recently purchased bikes for 6 of his workers. These workers were previously faced with up to a 6 mile walk to and from their jobs every day.  The bikes have made a huge difference by speeding up their daily commute, allowing them to spend less time away from their families.  The bikes are also very helpful for their necessary trips to the local supply store, which is now much more accessible.  These new riders are delighted with their bikes and there is a huge demand for more by their friends and relatives working on the other farms and cattle posts in the area.

Your donated bikes are making a big difference in the lives of everyday Africans!

New partnership with an inspiring HIV youth camp in SA

Robert and Jawaya
1st bikes for Cape Argus camp riders

1st bikes for Cape Argus camp riders

Robert Shea is one incredible guy (from right here in NorCal no less), and he has embarked on one incredible journey - to improve the lives and ease the burden of South African children living in the townships with HIV and AIDS.  As Robert's wife puts it so clearly:  "Being poor is bad - being poor and ill is worse - being poor with HIV is really unpleasant."  So through their own nonprofit, "Our Fertile Ground", they provide supportive community environments where HIV-positive kids can thrive.  They've been operating free residential and day camps on rented land for years, and their ultimate goal is to purchase a piece of property near Cape Town where they will set up a permanent camp for the youth programs.  It's the kind of selfless energy and generosity that truly inspires, and when Robert reached out to us for bikes for the camp kids to raise money by riding the Cape Argus, we agreed immediately.  Cape Argus is the largest timed cycling event in the world, and the project is currently seeking financial sponsors for their riders to help fund the purchase of the new camp land.

Our first donation was 5 bikes, but by their gratitude, you'd have thought we gave them 500.  They've since recruited another 5 riders, so our partners in Botswana are sorting out how to get 5 more bikes down to Cape Town.

Once their new permanent camp is secured, Robert intends to open a Mike's Bikes Sister Shop where the kids will learn valuable skills like entrepreneurship, accounting, customer service, and bike mechanics - training that is completely unavailable from their schools and their family situations.  The proceeds of the Sister Shop will provide jobs and fulfillment for the kids, and will benefit the greater Fertile Ground camp project.  It's an interesting twist on the Sister Shop program, and one that we're very excited about.

We're proud to be partnering with Robert and his family and his organization, and we hope to report soon on the establishment of this new Sister Shop in South Africa.

Check out these videos for more information:

Our Fertile Ground

Interview with camp counselor

November 2012 visit to Maun and Caprivi

Shortly after our trip to the Caprivi strip in northern Namibia to get Erasmus back on track, Paul and Sparks returned to pay a followup visit, also stopping to drop bikes at Bike Shop Maun.  Paul's post-visit report:

Hi Ken,
I have just returned from Maketo/Caprivi... was absolutely brilliant to breath life into Erasmus's Meketo store.. Note the name change from Makveto to Maketo..... The "V" was for Ludwig...so obviously Erasmus wishes to remove any/all reference.

It was really good to have Sparks with me. He did a very good skills transfer/handover eg. Mukena/Erasmus had never done a tubeless conversion so that will be implemented in Caprivi shortly.

Ken, I am positive that Meketo will be a success! I am back in Gabs now and urgently preparing Tumi's next load of Bicycles and parts.Cheers


Touching message from Bike Drive donor

Ananda D posted this touching story on our Facebook page after donating a bike to our Africa Bike Drive:

"When my brother Todd died in December 1996, I inherited his mountain bike. It's actually too small for me and I only rode it for about two years. Since then, it's been sitting in my garage. Thanks to Mike's Bikes, Todd's bike is going to be spruced up and refurbished (as needed); then it'll be shipped to Africa in a cargo container with a whole lotta other bikes. Someone in Africa who doesn't have any other mode of transportation than their own feet will be getting Todd's bike. And it will change their life. 

I don't need a physical object to remember my brother. Todd is always in my heart. And his incredible generosity that was such a part of his spirit will continue to exist. It's time for me to let go of a "thing" and let it help someone else."

Ananda, we're honored to accept Todd's bike, to pass it along to change a life in Africa, and to have shared in your memory of your brother.