Luxury Bikes

Handcrafted bicycles from Namibia: Onguza Bicycles – mountain bike press release

IIn January 2024, photographer Ben Ingham joined the ONGUZA creative team in Namibia to capture the brand as it embarks on its third year of operations. When ONGUZA launched in 2022, it made global headlines for its unconventional photography, style and story, winning a Bronze Loerie in the process.

The company was founded in 2020 by two-time Namibian Olympic road cyclist and professional rider Dan Craven (better known as). @danfromnam), but the story began long before that. ONGUZA framers Sakaria Nkolo and Petrus Mufenge had worked as laborers for the Craven family for over 25 years. As Craven says “Her talent was always obvious to me. Peter and Sakaria could build and repair anything. But Namibia offers people like them almost no opportunities. So I knew my job would be to make sure they had a craft that actually matched their talent.”

BI Onguza 01 24 Day 2 Map 4 3572 web.jpg?VersionId=D xaFN.jKHHxFRUIZVvQVdPE

Over the last seven years, Craven has brought experienced frame builders such as Robin Mather, Andrew Denham, Tomi Salmon and Andres Arregui Velasquez to Namibia to hone Nkolo and Mufenge’s skills in the art of fine steel frame building.

Even the seventh motorcycle from the factory wins races against the best in the world. Alex Miller, Namibia’s 2022 Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in MTB, has beaten two-time Cape Epic winner Matt Beers (Specialized) in the 2023 Race to the Sun in South Africa on the #7 ONGUZA bike. Namibian Martin Freyer won the Munga 2022 on ONGUZA bike number 36. ONGUZA have just completed their 70th frameset.

Like most world-class steel bikes, ONGUZA uses Columbus tubes made in Milan. But unlike many full-time farmers, the ONGUZA team builds entirely by hand. Craven explains: “We miter all of our pipes by hand using a hacksaw and a file. The builders have always been world class when it comes to the use of their hands – and we are now happy to show that with our precise and consistent work! That’s why we fillet it too. It’s not the fastest method – but in our opinion it’s definitely the nicest and cleanest. And when you know how much work goes into these smooth connections, you appreciate it even more!”

And it’s not just the quality that stands out. Builders Nkolo and Mufenge are partners in the company with Craven. “Property is important. Our team builds its own thing. It’s not for me. I don’t know of any other bike company that has a model like ours and, most importantly, that black Africans actually have an equity stake in the industry.” explains Craven.

While the cycling industry is currently facing some daunting challenges, ONGUZA has thrived, although it also faces its own obstacles. “People often don’t know anything about Namibia: we are a young country with a population of 2.5 million people. When people think of Namibia they think of landscapes and animals, but we are not famous for our craftsmanship. If you are an Italian frame builder, you benefit from what it means to be from Italy. But since we come from Namibia, we have to be so good that the ride speaks for itself.” says Craven.

As Craven says “Our Goliath is the way the world sees African craftsmanship.” Name a single, globally recognized luxury brand from Africa? It’s hard to do! But why? The quality is there.”

Creative Director Collyn Ahart says of the campaign process: “What is the real benefit of riding a bike made in Namibia? Namibia may not have much to offer, but if you want a bike made by people who know what a bike can really do, you’d rather have a bike made in a nameless, faceless factory in the East. or a bike handcrafted in the toughest place on earth. Namibia knows it hard. Namibia knows what happens when your bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere. We have lions!”

BI Onguza 01 24 day 5 map 3 11622 web

The campaign with Ingham takes a deep look at the dynamics of Namibian culture and how it influences the ONGUZA brand, including motorsport, horse riding, dance, spirituality and living in a powerful landscape.

ONGUZA brings a bold statement about where the brand is headed with photographer Ben Ingham. Ingham has an extensive portfolio of work for luxury brands such as Rapha, Dunhill and Stella McCartney. As Ahart says “The best brands make you feel something. We need people to see and feel what it means to be made out here, both in the sense of a person on a bike and in the toughest place on earth.” Made Out Here introduces the brand’s new work as a line. “I have always believed that we need to focus on what makes us different rather than playing by the rules of our category. Cycling can be painfully self-centered, but we are unique in that we actually have our own story. We just have to capture it. I don’t know many photographers who can capture that kind of truth in one place like Ben can.” Both Ahart and Craven worked with Ingham while he worked for Rapha. “Ben is an outsider in Namibia, but sometimes you need an outsider to help him reveal his inner strength.”

ONGUZA releases updates to its gravel model “The Goat” and road-plus model “The Holy Fire” and introduces a hardtail MTB design: “The Rooster”, each with four different color options and upgrades including ENVE- , ZIPP and South Industries models. Custom framesets start at $4,100 and shipping is free worldwide.

More information at

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button