Lifestyle

The Nairobi Biker’s Starter Pack

How and where to cycle in Kenya’s capital

How and where to cycle in Kenya’s capital
Photo Credit:
Spin Kings Kenya

Cycling in Nairobi isn’t easy. Potholes and muddy puddles are often the least of your worries. The lack of dedicated infrastructure and careless motorists can present very real risks.

But daily bodaboda rides eventually get expensive. And any car-owner can testify to the soul-crushing pain of sitting paralyzed for hours in rush hour traffic while your dreams of a two-for-one cocktail special evaporate into thin air like exhaust fumes at a gridlocked roundabout. 

It’s times like these that greasing up that old bicycle starts to sound like a tempting proposition. The truth is that pedal power is a wonderful way to navigate this beloved city of ours. This guide will tell you where and how to do so safely and with swagger. 

Getting Started

The first step to mounting up is finding a suitable set of wheels. 

Elite Bike Shop on Wood Avenue in Kilimani is more than just a place for equipment and a tune-up. Run by a tight-knit band of bike bros, whose wares spill out from their small workshop space and into the courtyard beyond, this emporium is deeply rooted in Nairobi’s cycling community. 

The fundis here are genuine enthusiasts, who will be eager to answer any questions you may have as an aspiring saddle-soldier. If repairs or maintenance are what you need, they’ll happily patch your puncture (KES100) or grease your gears to the sounds of reggae music bubbling from the shop’s small speaker-set, all for a fair price. Basic tune-ups cost KES700 and full service is KES1,500.

Buying Used

In addition to advice on routes or tip-offs about community events, Elite Bike Shop is also a fine place to start your search for a used bicycle. Buying from these skilled technicians means you can be sure your battle-tested machine is well maintained. And any mechanical issues you experience on the road can be addressed by the very people who know your bike best.

Buying New

If buying new is your jam, Decathlon remains a good bet, if the long trek to Karen turns you off, you can order online for delivery our buy at closer locations at shopping mall sports stores in Sarit Centre, Yaya and Junction. A basic commuter bike for short trips on city streets will cost you around KES25,000, while a higher performance machine capable of long jaunts and occasional trail-play will set you back KES30,000-50,000. Decathlon also offers biking gear at affordable prices.

Decathlon Kenya Web Page

It’s a bad idea to brave the road without head protection. This is not the place to skimp and helmets should always be bought new to ensure that their skull-protecting properties have not been used up in previous collisions. A serviceable brain-bucket won’t cost you more than KES1,700 — a small price to pay for an intact frontal lobe.

Regardless of budget, unless you only plan to go as far as your local supermarket, you should aim to get something with basic shock absorption for the front wheel fork and a modest selection of gear-speeds. Without these, the city’s crudely paved streets and frequent hills will quickly take their toll. So spring for the suspension. Your butt will thank you. 

Staying visible is essential to avoiding getting knocked, especially when riding at night. Bright clothing and reflective strips go a long way, as does avoiding lorries’ blind spots. But a simple rechargeable bike light is a straight-up gamechanger. KES700 is enough for a battery-powered LED blinker, while a bit more dough can buy you a two-in-one light/horn system to make you seen and heard. Bike lights and small add-ons can be bought online easily at Jumia.com.

1 comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: