Bicycle Portraits

162 Portraits

Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler have published the best 162 portraits and stories of the over 500 portraits of cyclists they’ve photographed during their two-year journey around South Africa. Divided over three books, each contains 54 stories, and also two essays each by local South African and major international cycling figures, including pieces by Noble prize-winning author JM Coetzee, and the godfather of mountain biking, Gary Fisher.

Hand-Painted Maps

The books are designed by Gabrielle Guy and include hand-painted watercolor maps, based on Google Maps, to indicate the location of each of the portraits, from celebrated South African artist Gabrielle Raaff.


Commuter Culture

When they started the project, Bicycle Portraits aimed to be a study of South African commuter culture, and Engelbrecht and Grobler wanted to find out who rides bicycles, why they ride bicycles, if and why they love their bicycles, and, of course, why so few South Africans choose bicycles as a transport option.


Portrait of a Nation

But Bicycle Portraits has turned into a portrait of a nation through the bicycles that they own and ride every day—revealing all manner of social, class, historical and cultural nuances never imagined.


Wilma Plaatjies & Rico Syster

Wilma: "My name in Wilma, I'm 12 years old, I live on Jonkersriver and we really enjoy riding the bicycle. We don't have strong tires and we don't have things to pedal on." Rico: "My name is Rico, I'm six years old, me and Wilma are cousins. My mother works in the vineyards. The mountains are beautiful here."


Peter Abrahams

"People don't cycle because there is no cycling culture outside the sport of cycling. I don't cycle for fitness, I cycle because I feel this makes more sense. But it is also because I stay in an area which is the city center and it is easy for me to get to places. It is also the thing with cycling, you must not forget about apartheid, like how apartheid has caused people to like live in places outside the city center."


Nkosilathi Mpofu

Helen St., Sandton, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.


Molefe & Ntsakani Fanose

Namune St., Scrapyard, Centurion, Pretoria, South Africa.


Marco Milford

"I cycle to get to town faster. Because we don't have money for things like cars, so bicycles are more affordable and so on. We just cycle from the location to the town to do some shopping and things. Like now I'm heading to the petrol pumps to buy some petrol and with the bicycle it is more comfortable for me to get back home —as opposed to carrying a heavy load. The petrol is for the ocean."


Betinho Cuambe

Avenida Kwame Nkrumah, Maputo, Mozambique.


Momade Yassin Ambasse

Avenida Kwame Nkrumah, Maputo, Mozambique.


Mario Wetman

Commissioner St., Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa.


Kleinbooi Kabinde

Kirschner Road, Boksburg, Gauteng, South Africa.


Ian Willow

Stanley Road, Millpark, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.


Alfas Matonsela

Jan Van Riebeeck St., Ermelo, South Africa.


Santismo Lastella Mapule

Jan Van Riebeeck St., Ermelo, South Africa.


Junior Stander

Lanyon St., Amsterdam, Mpumalanga, South Africa.


Paulo Almeida

Avenida 25 de Setembro, Maputo, Mozambique.


Isac 'Biopace' Cossa

Avenida Kwame Nkrumah, Maputo, Mozambique.


Peter John Heneke

N2 outside Heidelberg, South Africa.


Catherine Blignaut

Hibernia St., George, South Africa.


Buti Mashilwane

Unknown road to Leandra, outside Delmas, South Africa.


Esau Ngwenya

Eeufees St., Bethal, South Africa.


Advocate Ngwenya & Jim Herps

Eeufees St., Bethal, South Africa.


Sean O'Toole

Milnerton Market parking lot, Marine Dr., Metro Industrial Township, Cape Town, South Africa.


Eben Jones

Bicycle lane through Metro Industrial Township, Cape Town, South Africa.


Sarel Strydom

Bicycle lane through Paarden Island, Cape Town, South Africa.


Ray Williams

Slipway, end of Harbour Road, Kleinmond, South Africa.


Charl Oettle

"It’s far and above the most rational way of riding around Worcester—Worcester is flat. It is a good system on the roads. If there is a busy road you can just go one block up and you miss all of the busyness. The distances are very short, the furthest distance that anybody lives here is about five kilometers, which is eminently suitable for bicycle riding."


Teboho Nyama

Motsi St., Chris Hani Park, Phuthaditjhaba, Free State, South Africa.

Filed To: Adventure / Media / Books / Photography / Travel
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