Milele Flat-Proof Inner Tube

Developed for African communities that rely on the bicycle to make a living, the Milele tube is the first product from Baisikeli Ugunduzi.

The company name means “innovative or modern bicycle” in Swahili, and Milele means “forever”. And the Milele tube looks to live up to that promise. Founders Ben and John have been testing it under riders in Kenya for months with zero flats. It’s a flexible, solid tube that replaces the standard inner tube. It can be cut to length to fit any size tire, and they say it’ll last longer than the tires it’s supporting.

Since bicycles are used for everything from commuting to taxis to carrying food, water and supplies, the Milele tube is available in three different firmness levels. A softer tube is for the front tire, where less of a load is needed and riders want a more compliant feel. A medium tube is for lighter loads on the rear and a heavy one can handle loads like passengers or huge sacks of food. They say one test rider used it to haul more than 200kg (440lbs) over 100km.

Their plan is to expand sales of the tube across Africa. They’re set up as a for-profit social business, selling tubes at a fair but effectively cheap price of less than $10. For locals, that can cost a quarter of what they typically spend per year in tubes anyway, and last them many times more. Ultimately, it helps them make more money per trip, which helps the local economy.

The tubes are in very limited production, and they’re looking to kick things off by putting the project on Indie Gogo. That campaign is pretty near the end, actually, so thanks to Stephen for giving us the heads up!

Comments

Slow Joe Crow - 11/09/12 - 5:27pm

This sounds like a rehash of the Bib-Mousse Michelin developed for dirtbikes in the 80s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bib-Mousse, which I’m sure had a bicycle size version at some point. What’s so special about these?

rpdupre - 11/09/12 - 6:41pm

Great idea, as long as it isn’t “stealing” money away from these people. Only if it is cost-effective. They say the tube will last longer than the tire it’s supporting, but then what? How many tires do these transporters go through in a year? Will the tube last 4 years from this type of use? All considerations to be made, but if all is as it sounds then it may be very promising.

bryant - 11/09/12 - 11:23pm

@rpdupre video says they last 5 years.

John - 11/11/12 - 5:28pm

Hi,
Thanks for the post Tyler. While the Indiegogo run is over, keep up with what we are doing at http://www.baisikeliugunduzi.com or Facebook.com/BaisikeliUgunduzi. There are lots more photos there. Baisikeli Ugunduzi is focused on those who depend on bicycles for their livelihood. Our tubes save our customers in Sub-Saharan Africa roughly a quarter of their income. For someone earning just over $2US per day, that is a big deal. Our tubes will last through several sets of tires, and longer than dozens of tubes. They use a person’s existing tire and wheel and are designed for the the “black mamba” style bike ridden by over 100 million people in the developing world. Feel free to contact us to find our more, we appreciate the input and we are always looking for great connections. The Milele Tube will hit stores in Kitale, Kenya in January!!
Thanks,
John Gershenson (john@baisikeliugunduzi.com)

Andrew - 11/12/12 - 9:59am

Brilliant! Best of luck to you, nice to see a product that really improves a situation.

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