The Kibo K150 is a brand new dual-sport motorcycle purpose-built for riders in Africa and their unique demands in terms of load carrying and terrain. It’s produced to safely carry weights reaching 250 kg, on pavement or off-road. The Kibo K150 is designed in Amsterdam, Netherlands, manufactured and tested out of a facility in Nairobi, Kenya, and is sold with training courses offered for either professional or lifestyle riders.
The young brand Kibo is developed by Dutch company Koneksie, founded by development economist and motorcycle enthusiast Huib van de Grijspaarde; the enterprise is dedicated to formulating commercial solutions to social problems in developing countries, focusing on mobility. Koneksie saw a need for a bike created with the African market in mind, but also distributed with responsibility and extra consideration apart from profit. The name Kibo was chosen to resonate with locals; “Kibo" is a peak found on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and is also a shortened version of the Swahili word for hippopotamus, “kiboko”.
Common in developing countries, small displacement motorcycles are cheaper compared to four-wheeled vehicles and handy in traffic congestion. Their small size and versatility also afford easy access to harder-to-reach areas. Unfortunately, these commuter bikes are largely unregulated and piloted by untrained riders — due to accessibly low costs and inadequate law enforcement. Meanwhile, they are used to deliver goods and transport passengers. In Kenya, unofficial two-wheeled taxis called “boda-boda” are usually driven by young people looking to earn some money after school.
Motorcycle-related deaths are a significant concern in Kenya. Studies in 2015 attributed a majority of Kenyan motorcycle injuries to reckless negligence, slippery roads, speeding, and the lack of protective gear. In spite of the African region being the least motorized, the continent has the highest road fatality rate in the world. In Kenya, motorcycles are estimated to make up 70% of registered vehicles.
The Dutch-African brand has taken all the data analysis to heart. Kibo is no ordinary manufacturer, but more importantly it is a social development project. Not only do they provide opportunities by employing local Africans for all levels — from factory workers and mechanics to test riders and marketing officers — Kibo is also built around a safety awareness campaign for the unique African landscape.
The Kibo K150 is powered by an air-cooled 150cc single-cylinder engine mated to a 5-speed constant mesh transmission. Its hybrid backbone cradle frame also serves as an external exoskeleton for added protection, front crash bars act as shields in the event of a collision, and the engine is mounted using vibration reduction methods.
The bike features knobby tires for off-road use, and a 21-inch front wheel larger than an 18-inch rear for clearing obstacles. Hydraulic braking is handled by a 266 mm front disc and a 220 mm rear disc. The K150 uses an electric starter with a backup kick-starter — while seat height is measured at 800 mm, ground clearance at 200 mm, and fuel capacity at 6.8L.
The K150’s vertically-stacked dual headlights offer powerful illumination for night riding, since Kenyans were found to be 5 times more likely to sustain injuries riding at night than during the day. An instrument panel combines both an analogue speedometer with a digital display.
The Kibo K150 is more robust than the budget bikes from India and China mainly used by Kenyans. However, currently priced at $3300 USD or KSh342,200 KES, the K150 is still beyond the means of Kibo’s intended market even if it’s cheaper than many of its Japanese counterparts. The brand looked for other applications and is now also targeting NGOs, courier companies, and medical communities requiring quick fleet vehicles that can handle heavy loads and reach challenging areas.
Rider training is emphasized by Kibo, and the brand also purveys safety gear like helmets and gloves. The K150 is available in Kenya and is already being ridden by male and female couriers, commuters, and adventure tourers alike. Kibo plans to eventually roll out distribution to Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and South Africa.