On Monday, Dan Craven, a retired professional cyclist who competed in the 2016 Olympics, quietly announced a new steel frame bicycle company on his social media; Onguza. Information is limited, but what we do know is that Onguza frames will be handcrafted in Omaruru, “where Namibians build world-class steel bikes.”
According to the website, the name “Onguza” comes from the Namibian word “okuti-onguza”, which means “the great expanse of the desert outside there’ in the Himba and Herero languages.
The idea of creating a world-class bicycle brand in Namibia has been Craven’s dream for 12 years, but has only been able to materialize in the last two 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 acquire these things in the first place?” In 2010, I had an idea. It took 12 years to realize, but it’s finally happening and it’s time to share it with you.
— Dan from Nam (@DanFromNam) March 21, 2022
Craven had intended to launch the brand in July 2021 at the Tokyo Games, but was sidelined due to COVID-19. The soft launch has been postponed to Monday, March 21, Namibia’s Independence Day. The frame he was supposed to ride is the bike pictured in his social media post.
“Does the world really need another brand of bicycle? No. But my hometown, Omaruru, yes,” Craven said. “Namibia is a country of talented creators stuck in low-value jobs. Many struggle to find work outside the agricultural labor force. Building world-class steel bikes is a high-value craft that matches the quality of their manufacture.
Onguza’s bikes, built by Petrus Mufenge and Sakaria Nkolo, are world-class steel bikes made in small batches and shipped around the world. Mufenge and Nkolo are both shareholders of 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 its partners that Onguza changes the way people view products from Africa.
“What do you imagine when you hear ‘African bicycles’? Chances are you weren’t thinking of a world-class luxury bike,” Craven said. “And you are not alone. We need to change the way people perceive products made in Namibia – and in Africa as a whole. Name a luxury brand from the African continent…? We have our work cut out for us.
Onguza is not a custom bike brand, but rather offers runs of five to 25 unique steel frames that can be reserved with a materials deposit. The first drop will be in April 2022, and the best way to find out is to sign up for Onguza’s newsletter through their website.