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How 'boda boda' inspired American citizen to launch electric bicycle

One of the electric bikes costs Sh385,000

PHOTOGRAPH: YUBA

The introduction of boda bodas in East African countries two decades ago revolutionised the transport industry. It appears the name boda boda not only became synonymous with transportation in the East African Community (EAC) but also the United States of America (USA).

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Benjamin Sarrazin, a native of France but now an American citizen while on a trip around East Africa was mesmerised when he stumbled on traders using bodas bodas to transport their goods.

What inspired him, was the fact that many small scale traders relied heavily on the specific means of transport as not only was it easier but also cheaper. Inspired by the convenience of boda bodas as well as his love for bicycles, Sarrazin decided to start his own transport company, focused fully on electric bicycles.

At first, he only wanted to use the bicycles as a mode of transport for he and his family and friends. He relied particularly on the bicycles that he initially named Yuba Bicycles to travel from home to the California river where he would kayak and connect with the natural world.

What started as a means to use when going for a kayak excursion slowly but surely turned into a small company in 2006 that specialised solely in cargo bikes with their headquarters in Cotati, California, a two-hour drive from another town in California known as Yuba.

Fully inspired by the motorcycle industry in East Africa, Sarrazin decided to name one of his bicycles; Yuba Boda Boda.

The system of the motor has been designed to provide power only when the rider requires it therefore the bike can be used without needing a recharge for close to 150 kilometres or about six hours.

"The electric bike has an e6000 Shimano Steps motor, an intelligent and weatherproof electric system with an integrated computer that has the ability to assist the owner while walking or riding," states Adrienne So, senior associate reviews editor for WIRED.

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