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Healthworker riding motorcycle, The Gambia

Why Motorcycles?

People often ask us why we support programmes that use motorcycles. Find out more about why they are uniquely suited to the job.

The programmes we support are run by Riders for Health (Riders), who run large fleets of motorcycles for health workers in seven African countries. The motorcycles are used by community nurses to reach villages and by sample transporters to collect and return test results.

 The Yamaha AG100 and AG200 are some of the most popular, but Honda and Suzuki motorcycles are also used. The motorbikes used were originally designed for agricultural work and so are designed to work well on unsurfaced roads, steep gradients and in any weather, they are perfect for the job. Costing approximately £2000 (or US$), they are economical on fuel use and parts are inexpensive.

Jogob Gassama - community health worker on motorcycle, The Gambia

A health worker in the Gambia travelling between villages. The bike is idea for off road all year round. Come the rainy season dirt tracks like this will be unsurpassable by most forms of transport.

But why bikes, what about the alternatives?

Donkeys and bicycles are cheap, but they don’t offer the speed or comfort that a motorcycle can. And cars are comfortable and fast but they are expensive to buy and run. Even 4x4s don’t cope well with much of the terrain that health workers must pass to reach communities in many of the African countries.

Jogob with her motorcycle that she uses to cover 10 villages assessing the health of children and the elderly

Community health workers often have 10 villages to look after at a time. And travelling by foot wastes valuable time. Any time spent travelling is time that isn’t spent caring in the community. Sample transporters need to get biological samples (like blood and urine tests etc) to labs speedily. The faster the diagnosis the sooner treatment can begin. The better chance the patient has and in the case of some illnesses, the less chance there is that the disease will spread.

Riders do use other vehicles. For instance,  larger 4×4 vehicles are needed to transport many health staff to run an outreach clinic, or an ambulance is required for emergency referrals. But for single health workers, when speed and cost of the essence. It’s the motorcycle that’s the right tool for the job.

Why are motorcycles the right vehicle?


    Cheap to buy and to run

    Much less expensive than a car or truck motorcycles cost approximately £2000 (or US$). They use less fuel and parts are cheaper.

  • FIT

    Well suited to the conditions

    Agricultural motorbikes originally designed for farm work are ideal for unsurfaced tracks and steep gradients.

  • FAST

    Get care delivered quickly

    For community health workers, time taken travelling is time not spent with the community and speedy diagnosis of test results is essential to beginning treatment.


Why Bikes are Best for Healthcare Delivery in Africa

Sal has been working with Riders for Health, whose programmes we support, since he was sixteen. Now he is head motorcycle technician at Riders for Health in the Gambia, Riders and a motorcycle rider himself.

Find out why Sal thinks bikes are best

The plague that won’t give up, and why motorcycles are the solution

Malaria. Such a pretty word. But of course there is nothing pretty about this ruthless killer disease. So what’s the problem? Well, it's transport. There are wonderfully effective drugs and nets but they don't spontaneously fly through the air and deliver themselves.