Battery powered bicycles a hit in Kezi, Maphisa

10 Jan, 2016 - 00:01 0 Views
Battery powered bicycles a hit in Kezi, Maphisa

The Sunday News

battery bike

Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
MANY if not all homesteads in Kezi, Maphisa and surrounding areas in Matabeleland South province have had a bicycle mostly the black horse (mbombela) and this has been a symbol of status to the families that have them.

Being at close proximity to South Africa and Botswana many men migrated to the neighbouring country to seek better fortunes and one of the first assets that they sent back home was the black horse.

This was used by the wife to go to neighbouring villages, attend meetings and do some shopping at growth points.

Homesteads that had the black horse parked in their yards were considered “well up” and they too would pride themselves in their asset.

Over the years things have changed and technology having made a huge impact on communities, the black horse is being overtaken by a more advanced means of transport.

There is a battery powered bicycle that has invaded Kezi and Maphisa that is much smaller and sophisticated than the black horse.

It is fitted with a rechargeable battery and allows one the luxury to sit and relax while it propels itself just like a motorbike.

Sunday News traced one villager only referred to as Brighton from Kezi center who owns one of the bicycles in a bid to find out more about this development.

“My brother from South Africa sent it home, it’s a good bicycle that we use to go from place to place and people are always looking at it and they seem to be interested in it,” he said.

Brighton however, said he does not know the cost of the bicycle.

A shopkeeper at the center said he noticed that the community is fast changing and was interested in the new gadget.

“People are very much interested in the bicycle and say they would not mind if they had easier access to them. If brought in large quantities they said they will buy them because they are very convenient and fashionable,” he said.

Mrs Alice Mdlongwa from Maphisa said she has informed her South Africa-based husband a picture of the bicycle so that he sends one home.

“I sent my husband a picture of my neighbour’s bicycle so that he can send one too as they are very nice and easy to use as you sometimes just ride and do not peddle so for us as ladies it is very good,” she said.

She said she can use the bicycle to ferry her child to school as it is better than walking or using an ox drawn cart.

Several households in Maphisa are said to be in possession of the bicycles and many more are promising to purchase them.

With the increased cost of fuel and a desire for a greener environment, the battery powered bicycle will become the best mode of transport for the rural and even urban folk.

You ride it like an ordinary bike if you do pedalling only. By simply turning on the battery power, it can quietly drive you up within seconds. Amazingly it even provides cruise speed control.

Cycling will be redefined with such creative e-bikes as it creates incredible experiences for riders.

Online research shows that there are a great variety of e-bikes available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider’s pedal-power to somewhat more powerful e-bikes.

E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter varieties can travel up to 32 kilometers per hour, depending on the laws of the country in which they are sold, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45km per hour.

In some markets, such as Germany, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles.

The people of Kezi said the other joy with the new discovery is that there is no need to pay any fees to have it on the country’s road.

“We are rural people and have very low disposable income so if we had to pay for the bikes like we do with motorcycles we would not manage at all but we are happy that this bike will take us wherever we want without paying anything,” said a villager.

The battery on the bicycle only provides assistance most notably when the rider would otherwise struggle against a headwind or when going uphill. The bicycles are therefore especially useful for people living in hilly or mountainous areas where riding a bike would prove too strenuous for many to consider taking up cycling as a daily means of transport.

They are also helpful for riders who generally need some assistance when riding, like elderly people.

It is estimated that there were roughly 120 million bicycles of the same kind found in China in early 2010, and sales are expanding rapidly in India, the United States of America, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Today, China is the world’s leading producer of the same bicycles.

The bicycles are not just used for transportation but research shows that they can be a useful part of cardiac rehabilitation programmes, since health professionals will often recommend a stationary bike be used in the early stages of these.

The battery powered bicycles can also provide a source of exercise for individuals who have trouble exercising for an extended time (due to injury or excessive weight, for example) the bike can allow the rider to take short breaks from pedalling and also provide confidence to the rider that they’ll be able to complete the selected path without becoming too fatigued.

The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be minimised. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike makes them very good candidates for charging via or other renewable energy resources.

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