New book explores South African bike culture in pictures

Kickstarter-funded Bicycle Portraits nearing publication target

A book investigating South Africa’s bike culture and the use of them as integral tools in day-to-day life is nearing its fund-raising target for publication.


Bicycle Portraits is being funded by Kickstarter, a platform used to help creative projects off the ground, and is approaching the $35,000 its authors need to get it onto bookshelves. It chronicles the story of a 6,000km journey around South Africa by bike through images, stories and essays. It initially started as a photographic exploration of the nation’s commuter culture, looking at who rides bikes, why they ride them and why they are apparently part of a minority that do. As they travelled, it’s morphed into what its makers call a “portrait of a nation through the bicycles they own and ride every day that reveals all manner of social, class, historical and cultural nuances never imagined”.

Its authors Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler are hoping to publish the best 165 portraits and stories from over 500 they gathered on their two year journey. They’ll be spread over three books, each containing 55 stories with a watercolour map of where each photo was taken, painted by South African artist Gabrielle Raaff and based on the Google Maps image. Each book will also contain two essays by prominent cycling figures.


The pair currently find themselves in the final leg of fundraising – $15,000 to get 3,000 copies of the book printed and bounded. Depending on how much you pledge depends on what you get in return, but for $40 you will receive one of the three Bicycle Portraits books. Check out the gallery for a collection of some of photographs.