The Biking Bandits bring cycling back to the hood with Homies Night Rides

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Member of the Biking Bandits.
Member of the Biking Bandits.
  • Three cycling enthusiasts and friends from Soweto have started their own cycling movement.
  • The trio started the Homies Night Rides with the aim of bringing cycling back in the hood.
  • They speak to TRUELOVE about the inception, growth and purpose of the Biking Bandits.

A cycling crew of three friends call themselves the Biking Bandits and are here to make cycling in Soweto great again.

Founded in 2020 by Tebogo Galagala, Tsatsi Rantsatsi and Tiyiselani Mashele, the trio has not only grown in numbers but they have also managed to grow their offering by having two brick-and-mortar stores in Johannesburg that provide bike-related services.

Speaking to TRUELOVE, one of the founders Tiyiselani Mashele tells us about where it all began and how an old movie poster inspired their name.

“I came across some old movie poster - they were called BMX Bandits - and I just thought of having biking bandits in front, and it was literally three kids, and we were also three kids. I was like 'yo, let’s use Biking Bandits' and it just stuck,” he explains.

With the crew’s inception being in the hood, Tiyiselani explains where the love for cycling came from.

He says, “Just growing up, riding BMXs when we were young in the hood, you know. That’s where it came from. Seeing guys like Dynamite Diepkloof Dudes on TV, seeing your older cousins and friends with BMXs.

“Cycling is like second nature when you’re a child, that’s the one thing you have to grow up doing, you know. We all have a cycling or biking story,” says the cycling enthusiast.

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On the importance of starting their cycling movement and riding events, the Soweto native says it was the scarcity of leisurely cycling that prompted them to bring it back.

“We weren’t seeing people cycling in the hood for fun anymore, you know, it died down. We thought like let’s bring it back - let’s bring urban cycling back, especially in the hood where we’re from, and resuscitate that part of our lives and that lifestyle because it was big in like 2014/2015,” says Tiyiselani.

“We were like 'yo let’s bring this stuff back and let’s do it for this generation',” he adds.

biking bandits
The Biking Bandits founded Homies Night Rides.
biking bandits
The Biking Bandits founded Homies Night Rides.
biking bandits
The Biking Bandits founded Homies Night Rides.

Every fortnight, the Biking Bandits host their flagship cycling event called the Homies Night Ride where they gather with fellow cycling enthusiasts in the hood and find different routes to ride. They’ve taken the movement to other townships such as Kagiso and Alex and also frequent the city centre with the sole purpose of bringing back the pleasure that comes with night riding.

According to the co-founder, “there’s a different thrill, the adrenaline ... There’s just something about cycling at night, the roads are quieter, and it feels better”.

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On how to join, Tiyiselani says, “Just come with your bike and let’s have a good ride - and look cool. Looking cool is like the biggest thing.”

The trio has gone on to open two stores in Maboneng and Bryanston where they service, sell, make, as well as customize bicycles. According to Tiyiselani, this was always part of the plan, however, they did not expect it to happen so soon.

Because urban cycling is different from road cycling, mountain biking and other forms of cycling, Tiyiselani says you don’t need much to be an urban cyclist.

“You need a really cool bike, helmet and whatever clothes you’ve got on - you dress for the destination, not the activity,” he says.

On what’s next for the Biking Bandits, Tiyiselani says people should keep an eye out for a commercial they shot in partnership with an alcohol brand, which forms part of an ongoing campaign.

“We also have an event coming up on the 30th of July 2022 at Native Rebels in Soweto. They can check out @BikingBandits social media pages for all communication around the event, as well as if they want to join us on other rides. So, yeah, come with your bike and join us for our cool campaign that we just shot,” he concludes.

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