Taxis are not the most common thing to find in the smallish town of Segou (about 200km East of Bamako.) I assume that it’s due to the operating cost of them, but whatever the case, there are few. In their place is what I took to calling the “RickCycle” which has risen to supersede the hallowed ground that taxis are oft to haunt.
For some reason, it seems to me that I’ve seen these in a great many places, but here in Mali, they take your ordinary, cheap Chinese motorcycle of 250cc or what have you and they chop off/weld on a back carriage to it that has a solid axle from who knows what. The transmission is then tweaked to instead of having it attach to a sprocket to drive the chain to the back tire, it then has an articulating joint with a driveshaft going to the new rear axle.
The plus side is that suddenly a what was once a motorcycle is now a RickCycle that can carry up to six smallish or four normalish people. The down side is that the speedometer doesn’t work, it rides pretty rough, and has a maximum speed of maybe 15-20kph. Naturally they don’t re-gear the transmission so given all the new weight, it makes for some clunky, heavy clutch shifting.
Pretty cool though and damned cheap. To go 15km to a neighboring village was just 500 CFA ($1 USD). Obviously it wasn’t the fastest trip in the world, but the fact that I got the same driver two out of three rides made it an endearing trip if nothing else. Check out Aboubacar and his gleaming piece of machinery below. If you’re in Segou and see him, hop on. He’s a nice guy and really honest as I saw that the locals were paying the same as I did.
Segou is all about the RickCycle