Onguza Bikes: a Namibian bike brand with a direct link to Catalonia
It does not happen too often: a collaboration between an African bike brand and a company in Girona. However, Onguza Bikes from Namibia and Taller Alcala in Girona work closely together to manufacture: In Omaruru they build the steel bikes, in Girona they custom paint them.
The relationship between the founder of Onguza Bikes, Dan Craven, and Taller Alcala, run by Manel Alcala, is an obvious one. Craven, who’s been a professional cyclist for many years, lived in Girona. Alcala owns the ‘taller’ in Girona where literally every cyclist goes. However, what Craven did not realize in the beginning was that Alcala also has a paint shop, as part of his car restoration business, and when Alcala said he also paints bikes, Craven did not have to think twice.
“Anyone who is trusted to paint and restore expensive cars like Ferrari’s immediately has my trust when it comes to painting bicycles”, the Namibian bike brand founder says.
Another bike brand?
And so a special collaboration between a Catalan and Namibian business started. Onguzu Bikes produces luxury steel bikes from Africa with qualified custom paint jobs. However, why would the world need another bike brand?
“I think the world does not need another bike brand”, Craven says, “but my hometown in Namibia, Omaruru, does need one”.
Craven, who moved to Catalonia in 2014, realizes that Africa is not particularly famous for its luxury brands, and he does feel it is an ‘uphill battle’ to show that also Namibia can produce quality products. “Can you name a luxury brand that is originally from Africa”, he says. “There is no Louis Vuitton or Dolce Gabbana that comes from our continent”.
The Namibian likes to emphasize that Onguza Bikes are of as good quality as any other luxurious steel bike brand. “We have ISO-tested all our frames, and we make sure the quality is right up there with the best. We have had three different master frame builders coming over to our workshop to make sure our building is top-class”.
Connection with Girona
Even though Craven lives in Namibia again, after many years spent in Girona, he still feels a special connection with the city, and not only because he got his first steel frames painted here. “It was in Girona that I hatched all of the plans for Onguza Bicycles, and it was in Girona that I spent days and nights talking to people and hearing their interest in my idea. We will now be spending most of our time in Namibia, to be in the workshop, but Girona will always be where I return to first in Europe. After all, I am in the bike business now, and where better to show my face than in Girona”.
This story is part of Nafent Magazine volume 3. Read the full story in our digital or paper magazine. Go to our webshop, or buy yours at one of our seventy partner places.