Does the world need another bicycle brand? No, but Omaruru does

Retired professional Dan Craven announced a new world-class steel bicycle brand called Onguza out of his hometown in Namibia.

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On Monday Dan Craven, a retired professional cyclist who competed at the 2016 Olympic Games, quietly announced a new steel frame bicycle company on his social media; Onguza. The information is limited but what we do know is that Onguza frames will be handbuilt in Omaruru, “where Namibians are building world-class, steel bikes.”

According to the website, the name ‘Onguza’ comes from the Namibian word ‘okuti-onguza’, meaning ‘the great expanse of desert out there’ in the Himba and Herero languages.

The idea of creating a world-class bicycle brand in Namibia has been a dream of Craven’s for 12 years but has only been able to come together in the last couple of years.

“It would be easy for me not to use my privilege, influence, and visibility for good,” Dan Craven said in a Twitter post. “But if I don’t, why did I gain these things in the first place? Back in 2010, I had an idea. It has taken 12 years to realize, but it is finally happening and it’s time to share it with you.”

Craven had intended to launch the brand in July of 2021 at the Tokyo Games but was sidelined due to COVID-19. The soft launch was postponed to Monday, March 21, Namibian Independence Day. The frame he was supposed to ride is the bike pictured in his social media post.

“Does the world really need another bicycle brand? No. But my hometown, Omaruru, does,” Craven said. “Namibia is a country of talented makers stuck in low-value jobs. Many struggle to find work aside from farm labour. Building world-class steel bicycles is a high-value trade that matches the quality of their workmanship.”

Onguza’s bikes, built by Petrus Mufenge and Sakaria Nkolo, are world-class steel bikes made in small batches and shipped worldwide. Both Mufenge and Nkolo are shareholders in Onguza alongside Craven. The brand itself is meant to be so much more than just another small-batch bike brand. It’s important to Craven and his partners that Onguza changes the way people see products coming out of Africa.

“What do you picture when you hear ‘African bikes’? There’s a good chance you’re not thinking of a luxury, world-class bike,” Craven said. “And you’re not alone. We need to change the way people think about goods made in Namibia – and from Africa as a whole. Name a luxury brand from the African continent…? We have our work cut out for us.”

Onguza isn’t a custom bike brand but instead will make runs of between five and 25 unique steel frames that can be reserved with a materials deposit. The first drop will be sometime in April of 2022, and the best way to find out about it is to sign up for Onguza’s newsletter via their website.

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