The end of May saw the first ever South Africa Bike Festival, powered by Discovery Channel, at the newly rejuvenated Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in Johannesburg. Reuben van Niekerk reports.
Kyalami opened its doors to the public for the first time since the extensive refurbishments, which started in early 2015 for three days of jam-packed family fun, live music and all things engine, petrol and motorcycling.
Festival director, Nicole Muller, has just announced the record attendance figures, for the motorcycle industry, with over 24 000 visitors, 124 industry related exhibitors, 16 motorcycle manufacturers, 20 of Joburg’s finest food trucks and 13 of South Africa’s favourite bands. All had the unique opportunity to experience the brand new circuit facilities at the newly refurbished and much anticipated re-opening of Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.
The South Africa Bike Festival welcomed the ticket holders with the combined intention to ensure the festival becomes the must attend annual motorcycle show in Southern Africa for years to come. More than 50% of exhibitors have already rebooked their place for next year and the 2017 festival dates will be announced before the end of this year.
The first time I ever lapped Kyalami was at one of the original AMID (Association of Motorcycle Importers and Distributors), events and it was great to relive this and get my first taste of the newly improved Kyalami from the seat of a motorcycle.
The highlight for 2016 was undoubtedly the Michelin Superbike School Circuit Test Rides on offer from participating manufacturers BMW, Triumph, Kawasaki, Polaris, Linhai, Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, SYM, KTM, Can-Am, Husqvarna, Victory, Indian, Ducati, and Harley Davidson showcasing their latest models throughout the weekend. Those with a motorcycle license had the opportunity to test the new circuit on a total of 74 models to choose from. More than 2500 visitor test rides took place over the three days, from cruisers to cutting-edge sports bikes and more – visitors were able to experience the weight, throttle and thrills of 2016’s stunning new machines.
The National director of AMID, Lachlan Harris, said; “The first tip when buying a motorcycle is to buy a bike that you feel comfortable on, and is not too big and intimidating. There are some very good mid-size bikes available that are ideal for learning on before you progress to something bigger if you choose to. The South Africa Bike Festival is the perfect opportunity for riders to try, test, ride and buy their next motorcycle and we look forward to the festival and the circuit test ride feature growing in leaps and bounds in the years to come.”
The festival also hosted a variety of stunts with International Stunt & Wheelie Champion, Julien Welsch entertaining viewers with his amazing freestyle tricks on a Triumph Street Triple R. Joining Julien for the stunt show that took place 5 times over the 3 days, was SA’s favourite trick trial biker, Brian Capper who, using a bakkie as a prop, showed the crowds something they had not ever seen before.
For those off-road and adventure enthusiasts, the BMW Motorrad Enduro Track was in action all weekend, where visitors could test new models around a short enduro circuit. As well as Enduro, Adventure Ride Outs were available over the surrounding lands for those who prefer an extended off-road and adventure experience. Visitors were able to test ride Honda, Suzuki, Husqvarna, KTM, Yamaha and Triumph motorcycles, to name a few, by venturing out with a technical instructor to show you exactly what these bikes were capable of.
Another great addition was the first ever Pride of Ownership Classic Motorcycle Viewing Deck. All those with motorcycles dating 1990 and older nominated their classic motorcycle to be one of thirty exclusively selected for the Pride of Ownership Classic Motorcycle display, hosted on the new viewing deck on the middle level of the new Kyalami Pit Building. Helping with the selection was the Classic Motorcycle Club of South Africa.
Visitors were then asked to vote for their favourite and the winner of the competition was Russell Taschner with his 1913 Clyno. In late 1913, there was a need for a light, simple and solo motorcycle, thus the 250cc single cylinder, two-stroke machine was designed. The Clyno was one of the first machines to be sold completely equipped with lamps, a horn and number plates, ready for the road.
Another highlight of the festival was the Custom Bike Show. All those who are passionate about motorbikes and pride themselves on breathing life back into the machines of the past and building unique machines, were encouraged to fine-tune their latest projects and enter them into the show.
Entries were judged by internationally known master-builder and show-judge, Mario Kyprianides. With fourteen different categories, each winner took home a Mars Helmet and a South Africa Bike Festival 2016 trophy, and the overall winner, L.J. Muller, with his custom “The Bone Shake” received a Custom BikeJet from Scytheworks worth over R6500.
On Sunday, 29 May, the Sunday Charity Motorcycle Ride saw a thousand South Africans finally being able to ride their own motorcycles around the newly refurbished Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit since the ride finished with two laps around the circuit. This is the first time the public was able to ride the track since the completion of the massive transformation of the circuit and surrounding facilities. All proceeds went towards CLAW (Community Lead Animal Welfare).
The event focused on safe biking, as the South Africa Bike Festival provided visitors with the opportunity to experience the benefits of biking in a safe and controlled environment, directly from the brands and experts. From young children on pocket bikes through to the retired on the cruisers, there was an opportunity to try, ride and buy motorcycles as well as see and be part of other motorcycle related pursuits.