Kareem Abdullah and Dirk Wanrooij's Ain Bicycles could well be the only custom bike shop in Egypt, and the pair hope their work will encourage more cyclists to take to the streets in Cairo.
In Britain us cyclists can often be heard complaining about the potholes, but spare a thought for intrepid riders in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where a donkey blocking the road is not an uncommon sight.
But Kareem Abdullah and Dirk Wanrooij are hoping to spark a cycling revolution in a city where, as Abdullah explains, bikes are seen as ‘nothing more than a toy.”
So a bespoke bike shop and mechanics may not be seen as the most sensible business plan, but the pair say that business has been steady, as they create a host of custom machines.
“In order to get people on a bike, they need to look good,” Wanrooij told The Guardian. “So we’ve basically combined the practicality of the bicycles with good-looking design, in order to get people to ride their bikes more often.”
Abdullah felt that repairs in bike shops in the city were not of a good enough standard, so he took a mechanics course in order to make and fix bikes himself.
And Wanrooij, a Dutchman who has lived in Cairo of more than five years, admits cycling in the city is not often the safest option, but sometimes it can be the quickest.
“The challenges of cycling in Cairo are many fold,” he continued. “It’s very busy, very chaotic, a lot of noise and people honk their horns for every little thing. There’s cars, there’s motorbikes, the occasional donkey, parked cars and people selling stuff on the side of the road.
“I think the only solution for these challenges is to dive right into them.”