It is said that “dual-sport” or “adventure” bikes make up the largest segment within the motorbike industry in terms of sales. This growth captured Glyn’s interest, and he decided to investigate.
We all love the freedom a bike can give, even if it means accepting the risk of riding in the mayhem of our South African roads. But the news that adventure biking is so popular that it delivers the highest sales in the motorbike industry was a surprise to me.
I asked my friend, Heine Engelbrecht, who runs a bike training academy, to enlighten me. His reply was simple: Adventure biking is a life-changing experience that puts you in touch with the real world, he says. “You see new places and meet new people who become your friends.”
I was involved in some of the logistics for the trip, “Long Way Down”, in which Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman rode from London to Cape Town through Africa. I received an autographed copy of the book and DVD that were published afterwards. This in itself stimulated my interest in these machines.
Heine says adventure motorcycling has a broad appeal and allows enthusiasts to do that ”bucket list” of road trips over time. ”It’s good for the soul,” he says.
However, the first thing one needs to do is complete a recognised training course as these machines are large and one needs to learn their intricacies. That’s the area where Heine and people like Jan du Toit are specialists.
The next step is to get some experience by going on a few short trips. This exposes you to the sport without it being too taxing. A few simple weekend outrides will allow you to test your newfound skills and your attitude, as well as your bike and equipment.
Remember that if you are travelling alone you will have to concentrate and cope with the isolation for long spells. Will you be up to it? Good planning ensures that you have an end goal for each day, to make the trip worthwhile. (Better still – have a companion!)
It’s important that friends and family know your itinerary, with contact details, in case of an emergency. Research your route – be it short or long – so you will know what to expect and where to find areas of interest along the way.
Since much of an adventure trip will be on gravel or sand roads, you should factor this into your route planning, as your speed will obviously be reduced compared with highway riding.
Then you need to have an open mind about the trip.Your plans may not always work out and you need to be able to adapt.
According to Heine, fitness is of paramount importance. A loaded bike is heavy and you need to be able to manoeuvre it as well as pick it up if you fall. Fitness also helps when it comes to sitting for long distances, which can put a strain on one’s back and legs. It’s also important to take regular rests, and do some stretching exercises.
Back to the issue of travelling alone or with a companion. If you have a friend with similar interests, then it’s best to go together. The obvious benefits are that the trip becomes less monotonous, it is safer and you can help each other if something goes wrong. You will share the good moments and the possible hardships that such a trip may hold.
It is important that you have the correct insurance cover for your bike as you will be off-road much of the time. Ensure that repatriation and medical expenses are covered, especially if you plan to travel into neighbouring countries.
For further information, Heine can be contacted on 083 226 1494 or via www.adasa.co.za