Creative preneurs renting bikes to varsity students at 60 bob per ride


On a normal day, there are many cyclists in Juja town, Kiambu County. They are competing with boda boda motorcycle riders.

Apart from a few individuals, most of these bicycles are used by students of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), who hire them from individuals who lease the bikes to them.

The bike leasing and selling business is located at the gates of the university and is changing the lives of the students, who have found a cheaper way to move around. 

The bikes are also snatching clients from bodaboda operators.

City Biz spoke to Simon Wachira and Gibson Wanjau, two of the four investors behind the booming bike leasing venture, which the students said has made their lives easier.

The two cycling enthusiasts immersed themselves in the business after realising it could make them money.

They said they saw an opportunity after noticing that students would trek for two to three kilometres to their houses and lecture halls, instead of using boda bodas which are expensive.

“We found others in this business but since we came together and sought a strategic location near the university, we are succeeding,” said Wachira who ventured into the business in 2018. He now has 37 bikes.

The four operate separately. They cumulatively have 180 bicycles they hire out for Sh60 per hour.

Though the busy Juja town is populated, they decided to target the students. They operate hybrid bikes, which are a blend of road bikes and mountain bikes, which are preferred because of speed. They are also easy to ride.

“We have many students here and they make a huge part of our market. We came in to address one of their main problems at a reasonable fee. We established that dealing with students is easier. There is a structured process of tracking students in case they fail to return the bikes. It is not easy to track members of the public in case one wants to disappear with a bike,” said Wanjau, who started the business four years ago. He owns 70 bikes.

The learners leave behind the student identification cards when hiring a bike. Through the university portal, the operators can establish if the person is a student or not.

“Another person can sacrifice an ID and disappear with a bike worth Sh15,000. Someone can even use a fake ID to hire a bike and later steal it. In the case of a student using a fake ID, we can get them easily with the help of JKUAT’s security office. In some cases, we get their next of kin, which helps us to recover the item or make them pay for it,” Wanjau said noting that the business is paying his bills.

The bicycle owners do more business in the evenings, especially between Friday and Sunday, when the learners are going out to have fun after lessons. Freshers top the list of those hiring bicycles.

There are times when all bikes are hired out and other customers have to wait up to an hour. On a good day, a bike owner can take home up to Sh5,000 in a day.

During the weekdays, the students hire bikes to rush to the hostel or their rented houses to pick up books or laptops, run errands and be back before a lecture can start.

“There is a large number of students who live outside the university. Most of the students live at Kimbo, Kenyatta Road, Highpoint. Using a bodaboda would cost Sh150 or more, to go home and come back. A bicycle is much cheaper. I don’t even spend half of that amount,” Daniel Wanyama, a student, said.

Wanjau said they also face several challenges ranging from theft, and damages to servicing costs. He said it is possible to lose the bicycle in a split second if the workers are not careful.

“We operate at an open spot. If the workers are not keen, a passerby can pick one and pedal it away. We have lost bikes in that fashion,” he said.

Though the bike’s lifespan is about two years, they are wrecked and some lease them to go and exchange parts with old brands, it emerged.

“If the riders are those who love skidding, then maintenance costs us a great deal. One tyre goes for Sh1,000. Imagine replacing the two every month and other minor services! You have to find a way to deter such manoeuvres by adjusting brakes and they don’t like it,” Wanjau said.


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