I have recently sold my loyal old Revolution Cuillin Sport ‘08 mountain bike to a friend. The reason behind this was that since I got the Yuba Mundo I have been enjoying its relaxed upright riding position and swept back bars, the mountain bike was starting to feel less comfortable (but also faster). I decided I wanted the comfort of the Yuba Mundo but the size of a regular bike so I could pop out easily on it, and take it on a train. Enter the Kona Africa Bike One.
As you may tell from the link above, the Africa Bike One has been discontinued in favour of its bigger brother, the Africa Bike Three. Three gears is what I wanted however at £350 compared to £200 for the One, I have decided I will do the three-speed conversion myself at a later date. One of the best things about the Africa Bike is Kona’s 2-for-1 deal whereby for every 2 Africa Bikes sold here in the UK (and probably the rest of the EU and North America, Australia etc) they will donate one to aid workers in Africa and recently Afghanistan. Aside from its philanthropic value, this also makes the bike practical and sturdy (being designed for use in places where maintenance and repair could be quite difficult). The bike is cromoly steel with a front V-brake and a rear coaster brake, single-speed and comes complete with mudguards, a chain guard, a rear rack integrated into the frame, a rear-wheel “Nurse’s lock,” and a folding front basket. For the price it is a hell of a lot of bike, just imagine the price of all of those accessories separately.
The bike rides extremely well; the swept back almost- moustache handlebars deliver an extremely comfortable riding position. The step through frame makes it easy to hop off and into a shop for a moment (as does the Nurse’s lock) and the basket is particularly useful for everything. I have never had a basket on my bike before and now I am thinking about one for the Mundo. I can finally see why Urban Simplicity’s Joe George loves front racks so much. The single gear is well suited to urban riding, hills and setting off are not too bad and you can cruise at 25 km.h-1 at a comfortable cadence. I’m still going to replace it with a Shimano Nexus 3-speed gear hub though, mainly to increase the versatility of the bike. The stock Continental Town Ride tyres are good on roads and paths, but I might swap them for Fat Franks in the future to make the bike more towpath-worthy (plus they look good too). The stock seat was also surprisingly ok and the Kona bell is lever-operated to produce a satisfying long ring when pushed. I found the choice of a rear coaster brake quite unusual but I imagine it is due to the reliability and low-maintenance requirements of hub brakes in general. I am generally a proponent of front-brake only braking most of the time (thanks to the late, great Sheldon Brown) but the coaster brake is surprisingly effective and quite useful to slow you down gently.
The bike has a pleasing “uncool” quality; I can’t see many Manchester scallies being interested in stealing it. Riding the Africa Bike has been thoroughly enjoyable and has given me a better understanding of the appeal of single-speed bikes. I am happy to add it to the stable. Stay tuned for my Shimano Nexus 3 upgrading guide soon.