Long Distance Rides

The Thriving Adventure Bike Culture in Africa

In recent years, the Adventure Bike market has witnessed a remarkable surge in popularity worldwide, particularly in Africa. This shift is driven by the growing desire among bikers to break free from the confines of local circuits and explore the vast landscapes of their own continent. Sthembiso Mthembu, a member of the Durban NiteRiderz biker club, epitomizes this trend.

Mthembu’s journey began in 1997 when he first felt the call of the open road on his Honda CB400N. Little did he know that his exploration would extend beyond borders and inspire fellow bikers. Working in construction, Mthembu prioritized financial stability for his family, leading him to save diligently for the dream journey from KwaZulu-Natal to Kenya.

Transitioning from a Yamaha R1 superbike to a BMW R 1250 GS, Mthembu found the adventure bike’s more comfortable and relaxed riding style better suited for the long-haul journey. The decision to embark on such a significant adventure required meticulous financial planning, with Mthembu budgeting around R130,000 for the entire trip, covering fuel, visa documents, carbon fuel tax, and other expenses associated with cross-border travel.

Mthembu’s voyage spanned over 13,650 km, traversing multiple African countries, including Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and back to South Africa. Along the way, he encountered challenges, notably in Burundi, where locals helped him navigate muddy roads, showcasing the camaraderie among bikers and the support system that comes with being a member of a bikers club.

One of the standout features of Mthembu’s journey was the revelation of Rwanda’s impressive road infrastructure. Biking at controlled speeds and encountering regular surveillance cameras, he marveled at the cleanliness and absence of potholes, highlighting the allure of well-maintained roads for adventure bikers.

Mthembu’s story is not an isolated one; it resonates with a broader trend in Africa. Bikers, like Sammy Kiumbe from Kenya, are embracing adventure bikes, with the BMW 1250 GS gaining popularity as the vehicle of choice for these epic journeys. The interconnectedness of bikers through clubs facilitates easy connections at borders and within different countries, fostering a sense of community and shared passion for exploration.

In Uganda, the Bikers Association organizes bi-annual rides that take bikers through a transcontinental route, connecting Uganda to Southern Africa and back. These journeys extend beyond being a mode of transport; adventure bikes become tools for bikers to connect with the world, explore diverse cultures, and forge lasting bonds with fellow enthusiasts.

Sthembiso Mthembu’s adventure serves as a testament to the transformative power of adventure biking, motivating a new wave of bikers to choose the right kind of motorcycle for long-distance travel and inspiring them to embark on their own journeys of self-discovery across the vast and diverse landscapes of Africa.

Photocred: Sthembiso Mthembu

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