There was such a vast amount to see and experience at this year’s SA Bike Festival that I am not even sure where to begin. From the beginning I suppose, as one should.
What a great show the organizers put on at this year’s South Africa Bike festival, powered by Discovery Channel. Really though, I, and I know many others, thoroughly enjoyed every minute we spent at the festival. I arrived early Friday morning, and met with Rob in the press room. Rob had some important duties for the weekend, as he was to be one of the hosts and MC’s for the festival alongside Greg Moloney.
After a warm welcome from Lachlan Harris of AMID and Nicole Muller – show director from Carion Events – we were lead off down to the first stand in the pit garage, that of KTM.
KTM had a good size stand that displayed a wide range of their motorcycles, both off -road and on. They really are producing some of the world’s best looking machines, and one of them that I feel truly display’s that is the KTM Superduke. The one and only Joey Evans was hosted at the KTM pit garage – Joey was the only South African rider to complete the 2017 Dakar Rally. What an honor to see such a legend in the flesh! KTM went all out for this year’s bike fest. Along with their beautiful range of machines on display – including the launch of the KTM 85 SX and 300 EXC TPI – and the presence of Joey Evans, they had none other than Vin Deysel of 947 DJ’ing, impressive! That’s not all, the main event – well at least I thought so – was the unveiling of the KTM RC16 MotoGP machine. KTM managed to bring out Mika Kallio’s number 36 machine to put on display for all to drool at. It certainly took me awhile to walk away from it and carry on to the rest of the festival.
Eventually I did drag myself away from the stunning MotoGP machine, and next on the schedule was Husqvarna. Now we all know Husqvarna to be associated with high quality off-road machines, but they had a little surprise for us all. Rob quite accurately described it as ‘bike porn’, and I can’t really think of a better way to put it. The bike in question was the new Husqvarna Vitpilen 401 or “White Arrow”. The concept behind the Vitpilen is to be an urban-style motorcycle that will bring a fresh and simple approach to the motorcycle world. I can truly say, I think it is stunning. Striped down and naked – along with its name – it’s easy to start seeing why Rob’s description is so accurate. I want one, please!
Both Indian Motorcycles and Harley Davidson had two very special vintage bikes on display. The Harley being a 1903 “Serial Number One Bike” Crescent. It is so amazing to see these bikes, showing us how it all began in the world of motorcycles. From old to new, as also on display were the new Zontes motorcycles. Zontes is a new brand that has just landed in South Africa. The entry level Zonte Phantom S250 – the pick of the bunch – was available to test ride out on track.
Then it was time for another launch that I was really excited about. Yamaha launched the new R6 to the South African public, and my excitement was met with a gorgeous machine, that’s styling is so evidently taken from the Yamaha M1 MotoGP bike. It was also one of the bikes that was available to be ridden by visitors of the festival, and looked completely at home on track.
Honda had their new Honda Fireblades on display, which proved a popular option among festival goers to test out on track. The main attraction at Honda being the CBR1000RR Fireblade that stood proudly at the center. Honda also paying tribute to Nicky Hayden who sadly passed away recently following a bicycle accident in Italy. A large poster of Hayden displayed at the Honda pit garage, with a canvas to the side of it where all could write their messages of support for the Legend – The Kentucky Kid. You will never be forgotten legend!
Suzuki would not disappoint either as they had the all new GSX-R1000 on display. And from what I hear and have read in RideFast Magazine, it is truly one brilliant machine, and definitely looks the part.
Even with all that I had seen already, it was still just the beginning, and at that point it was already lunch time. Food was required if I had any hope of carrying myself through the massive selection of displays and attractions. Now, not only was there a massive selection of motorcycling displays and activities, but the food and drink selection was also something to be admired. It was certainly a difficult decision to make when it came to food, but I eventually settled on a delicious burger from Umbuzi Café. I would highly recommend giving them a try! Close to ‘Eat Street’ was the live music stage. The weekend saw a host of Gauteng’s best acts such as Boxer, State Society, Lost and Found, Strait Jackal, Crystal Park, Hell Cats and Gunshot Blue – to name just a few – take to the stage to entertain the crowds.
Just up the stairs from ‘Eat Street’ and the live music stage, the Le Richie Trail Bike Show amazed both young and old with their entertaining and highly impressive trail bike skills.
Among the non-motorcycle related entertainment for the weekend was the Monster Ramp Rodeo. Some of South Africa’s top BMX and Skate athletes showing us all how it’s done on the custom mini ramp setup. People were even getting tattoos at the festival.
Back to the motorcycles though. Ducati had an impressive line-up on display at the show, including 7 new bikes. The 950 Multistarda, Super Sport, 797 Monster, New Monster 1200S, Scrambler Desert Sled, Diaval Diesel and my personal favorite, the Scrambler Café Racer.
Not to be outdone, BMW had the stunning new Nine T Racer on display as well as the new BMW G 310 R. Other notable displays in the pit garage were Cab-Am, Polaris and Cayenne.
There was a lot to take in in terms of retail at the Indoor retail and shopping section above the pit garages, including of course the new official Brad Binder Merch that was launched at the show at the Full Throttle stand. Just outside of the retail section, there were some beautiful classic and custom machines on display that made for some really good photo opportunities.
As the sun went down, come 6 o’clock in the evening, the guys at Monster came out to play with a Freestyle Motocross display on the main pit straight. Some crazy, death defying stunts entertained the crowds that braved the cold evening.
Come Saturday, and all who attended the festival had the chance to see our local riders battle it out in the SuperGP, with the 1000cc machines racing at Kyalami for the first time since the tracks revamp. Race 1 took place on Saturday and Race 2 on Sunday. The grand stands were packed for the racing and that was great to see. I really do hope that the people who witnessed the racing realized just how talented our guys are, and how exciting the racing is. It must have been awesome for the riders to race in front of such a great crowed of people. Hopefully we will see more of this in the future!
Sunday also hosted the Dunlop Charity Ride, where thousands of motorcyclist’s rode to Kyalami, and then around the Kyalami Circuit in support of Ride for a Reason-Claw and Paws Charity.
The main attraction of the weekend for many was surely the Circuit Test Rides. ZABiker’s and the organizers doing an amazing job of coordinating the test rides in-between the practice, qualifying and races of the SuperGP. With some of the latest 2017 models available to test, including the Yamaha R6, Suzuki GSX-R1000, Honda Fireblade, BMW Nine T Racer and the KTM Superduke, it would have been a terrible shame to have missed out.
Now, I am just summarizing the weekends attractions at South Africa Bike Festival 2017. I could honestly keep on going if I had to really get in to it all. In fact, an extra weekend was probably needed to really experience everything to the fullest. All I can really suggest – and I honestly do suggest – that if you missed this amazing festival, that you be sure to look out for it next year. Last year’s event was spectacular and this year was even better. I can only imagine what the organizers of South Africa Bike Festival have planned for 2018, but it is surely going to be something not to be missed!
This is my word on the 2017 South Africa Bike Fest.