Buffalo S2 Utility is a rugged two-chain bicycle for tough terrain

World Bicycle Relief Buffalo S2 Utility Two-chain Bike
The Buffalo Bicycle S2 Utility's innovative dual-chain drive offers enhanced durability and easy gear switching for navigating rugged terrain. Images courtesy World Bicycle Relief

Chicago-based nonprofit World Bicycle Relief (WBR) is known for distributing bicycles designed to traverse the unimproved roads and rough terrains of developing nations. Their mission is to empower people by providing reliable transportation to access healthcare, education, and economic opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible. WBR’s latest innovation, the Buffalo S2 Utility bike, represents a significant evolution in their lineup, featuring a unique two-chain drivetrain system designed for durability and simplicity in some of the world’s harshest environments.

Purpose-built for tough terrain

WBR’s original Buffalo Bicycle has long been touted as one of the strongest bicycles available for navigating rural terrain. However, the Buffalo S2 Utility takes this design a step further. The introduction of a two-chain drivetrain is a notable departure from traditional bicycle designs, aimed at addressing the specific needs of riders in developing countries. This innovative approach helps maintain the bike’s durability while providing a practical solution for varied terrain.

The Buffalo S2 Utility’s two-chain system might initially seem like an overcomplication. For urban commuters in industrialized countries, such a design might appear unnecessary, adding extra weight and potential points of failure. However, this view overlooks the unique challenges faced by riders in rural areas of developing nations, where access to bicycle shops and spare parts is limited.

The two-chain drivetrain: Function over form

The Buffalo S2 Utility’s two-chain drivetrain is a practical solution for providing a high/low gear system with minimal breakable components. The bike features a high chainring connected to a rear cog via one chain, and a low chainring connected to a second rear cog on the same hub via another chain. This setup allows riders to switch between gears by simply backpedaling half a revolution, engaging a switchable freewheel mechanism. All components are mounted on the right side of the bike for simplicity and ease of maintenance.

WBR Buffalo S2 Utility Drivetrain
The Buffalo S2 Utility’s drivetrain features a switchable freewheel with two cogs, each connected to its own chainring by separate single-speed chains.

While chains can break, they are relatively easy to field-repair using a chain tool and spare links. The Buffalo S2 Utility’s design, with two independent chains, ensures that if one chain fails beyond immediate repair, the bike can still be ridden using the other chain. This redundancy is crucial for riders who rely on their bikes for daily transportation over long distances and rough terrain.

Built to last

The Buffalo S2 Utility is constructed with a TIG-welded carbon steel frame, known for its strength and durability. The bike features heavy-duty “deep box section” aluminum rims and puncture-resistant Kenda Buffalo tires, designed to withstand the rigors of rural riding. The dual-pivot caliper brakes are chosen for their ease of operation and adjustment, ensuring reliable stopping power even under heavy loads.

WBR Buffalo S2 Utility Load Capacity
The Buffalo Bicycle S2 Utility boasts a robust load capacity of up to 220 pounds, making it ideal for transporting heavy cargo over rugged terrain.

One of the standout features of the Buffalo S2 Utility is its tubular rear rack, capable of carrying up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms) of cargo. This makes the bike an invaluable tool for transporting goods, whether for personal use or small-scale commercial activities.

Tested in the field

Before its debut at Eurobike 2024, the Buffalo S2 Utility underwent two years of rigorous testing in Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. This testing phase, conducted in collaboration with global bicycle and component manufacturers, ensured the bike met the needs of its end users. The bike’s robust design and practical features earned it a Eurobike Award, recognizing its innovative approach to addressing the transportation challenges in developing nations.

WBR Buffalo S2 Utility Eurobike Award
The Buffalo Bicycle S2 Utility won the Eurobike Award 2024 for its innovative and durable design tailored for rugged terrain.

Since its founding in 2005, WBR has delivered over 800,000 bicycles to communities around the world, with a goal of reaching 1 million bikes. The Buffalo S2 Utility is set to play a significant role in achieving this milestone, offering a reliable and durable transportation solution to those who need it most.

Conclusion

The Buffalo S2 Utility bike represents a thoughtful and practical evolution in WBR’s mission to provide durable and reliable transportation to the world’s most underserved communities. Its innovative two-chain drivetrain, rugged construction, and practical design features make it an ideal solution for the unique challenges faced by riders in developing nations. As WBR continues to distribute these bikes, the Buffalo S2 Utility stands out as a testament to the power of thoughtful design and global collaboration in addressing real-world problems.

WBR Buffalo S2 Utility Terrain
World Bicycle Relief delivers bicycles to regions where transportation options are scarce and mobility challenges are significant.

Source: World Bicycle Relief