BIKE TALK: Diary of a Wannabe biker
Own a bike – and you own the freedom of the open road, I wasn’t keen on splashing out on the top of the range Shoei
own the right to be called a rebel and you have the ability to helmet only to realise that biking really isn’t for me. So I
easily scare old people, li�le children and drivers with their decided to purchase a reasonably priced helmet that �cked
windows opened. It is with this in mind that I set out to fulﬁl all of the safety boxes and dio for the gloves. The course
my dream of ownership of a bike. Perhaps it’s midlife crisis was immediately booked and I had to conﬁrm with Hein
se�ng in (I can’t aﬀord the Ferrari), perhaps I am clutching that jeans and a leather jacket would suﬃce for the course.
on to my bad boy image of yesteryear, or perhaps it is to Conﬁrmed.
distract people from my ever receding hairline. “You are
going bald” they will say and all I will hear is “You own a The next three weeks were wait, wait and wait with me
really nice bike”. The helmet also provides good cover for reading as much as I could on riding and s�ll looking for my
the hairline, you have to agree. bike. I walked around the house with my helmet and gloves
making sure I am used to my kit, much to the dismay of my
Having never ridden a bike and not knowing too many be�er half. I think that she was more annoyed by me making
bike owners, the whole process of learning to ride and motorcycle noises while using the kit. Using a helmet takes
purchasing your ﬁrst bike is a somewhat daunng task. a bit of ge�ng used to and I have realised that trying to do
Speaking to people gives you mixed opinions – “ My ﬁrst any intricate tasks with the gloves on are impossible.
bike was an R1 and I learnt to ride all by myself”, “My ﬁrst
bike is a CBR 1000 and all you have to do is control the The week of my training ﬁnally arrives and only my
thro�le”, “You should deﬁnitely go small, maybe a 125cc” nervousness outweighs my excitement. Three days to go
are all comments I got from people I chaed to that owned and my BBM status is updated to say the same, two days to
bikes. My over protec�ve family’s constant men�on of the go and the BBM status now includes a picture of a CBR 600.
word coﬃn didn’t help ma�ers much either. Then there is I check the weather forecast the day before the training
the choice available - from Aprillia to Zongshen and all of and ue�r exple�ves – 30% chance of rain. I wake early on
them have a number of models for varying needs. There the morning of the training and Durban is dull, dreary and
are bikes for delivery, high schoolers, touring, commu�ng, gloomy. Hein sends a message that he will train un�l it rains
oﬀ road, dual purpose, super sport superbikes and cruisers, out. “Good man”, I say to myself.
all in diﬀerent guises with diﬀerent types of performance.
Freedom of choice is supposed to be a good thing. A few drops of rain appear on the windscreen as I am
driving to the venue which I promptly scoﬀ at. I feel the
So, like I normally do things, I went about it the absolute anxiousness and nervousness building up as I get closer to
wrong way - ﬁguring out what bike I want to own before the venue. I ﬁnally arrive; let the training begin…
I even sat on one. I trolled Google, Gumtree, Bikeﬁnd and
any other site that I could for ﬁnding a bike to buy and in Under a dreary and threatening sky, Hein arrives on what
the process stumbled upon some interes�ng bike sites. looks to be a Honda CBF at the training venue and I am
Experienced riders on the sites were more than happy thinking, impressive bike for training. He sets up his table
sharing experiences and giving out advice. This made things asks us to have coﬀee, takes the gorgeous bike away and
even more confusing but a few themes were common. I returns with 2 Honda 150cc bikes.
needed training before doing anything. I need the correct
gear if I want to go on a bike. Up close and personal with the bike and I realise that I don’t
know anything about what the bu�ons are for and am
I kept vising bike shops and reading to try to learn more un�l wondering if the gloves will even allow me to operate them.
on one cloudy and overcast Saturday aernoon something Hein goes over some important items and I hope he can’t
spectacular happened ( No, I didn’t learn to control the hear me going brrrm, brrrm under my breath. The advice
throle of a CBR 1000). I visited a bike shop in Umhlanga on helmet purchase was interes�ng as it was pre�y much
and he handed me a copy of Biketalk magazine. “Speak to what I researched. I liked that he didn’t sell any parcular
Hein for training, he will sort you out.” I called Hein that brand, but spoke around the safety features. “Please check
a�ernoon, and the good news is that all I need for the for grooves on the inside of the helmet as that means the
training is a helmet and gloves. Oh happy days. helmet was designed with crumple zones.” My el cheapo
helmet has grooves – happiness. He went on to discuss
gloves, jackets, pants and boots poinng out all of the do’s
Now if you thought making the choice of which bike you and don’ts when purchasing. Years of riding and training all
want is diﬃcult, don’t even get me started on the kit. bundled into a 30 minute safety brief, I should have brought
Helmets range from R500 to R12 000 and gloves from a notebook.
R300 to R5000 and you pr�ey much have that sort of price
range for every piece of kit you require for biking. Google
was called upon again to help me make the decision and
I started buying bike magazines to learn more about the
South African bike market. As I had not ridden before, I
was unsure if I would like it. There are things that you really
really want to do deep inside, but when you try it you might
not like it all – skinny dipping in winter for example. As such
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BIKE TALK: Diary of a Wannabe biker
We huddle around the bike and all of the bu�ons are through the cones that were setup. Adriaan demonstrates
discussed together with the kickstand and the lights. Ok, and he makes it looks so easy. It does look challenging and
so lights are le�, start bu�on is right, indicators are le�, Hein gives us his best line yet “The mind controls the body
thro�le is right and clutch is le�, brakes are right and which controls the bike; look where you want to go with
kickstand is le�. And moving right along. How to get onto the bike.” HUH? I don’t understand the concept as I do
the bike. Very prac�cal and it makes sure that you don’t look where I go (or else I would be walking into walls), but
look like a complete fool when ge�ng on or oﬀ the bike. smile and nod anyway. Once on the bike and riding it struck
I managed to do 2 silly things, I have this hop when I jump home! You need to look where you want the bike to go as
oﬀ the bike and I don’t bend my right knee when jumping your body follows your head. Makes sense now.
on. This is promptly ﬁxed by Adriaan (Hein’s son and Junior
Instructor) who advised that the bike should be on the stand There is light rain now but we ride on and get to prac�ce
before I am fully oﬀ the bike. emergency stops. The last bit of the day ends with us all
discussing what our next steps are in our biker wannabe
Si�ng on the bike now and gears are discussed, we get to journeys with Hein advising what types of bikes we should
familiarise ourselves with the clutch and gears a bit and get and when we should a�end the other courses. We say
then the part that we were all waitng for. We get to ﬁre up our goodbyes and I s�ll have a buzz throughout the journey
our ﬁre breathing, tar ea�ng monsters. Walk the bike while home. I have new found respect for bikers and the skill
feathering the clutch, it doesn’t seem too hard and makes required for riding. One thing I am now sure about is that I
us look like ducks but I don’t care - I am on a bike (that’s want to get a bike, no - I need to get a bike, no – I HAVE to
started as well – woohoo). I think about how to approach get a bike.
the next bit as I know that we will be told to ride. I don’t DO’S
want to be too brave about things and if this goes badly then 1. Listen a�enitvely to Hein. He is a qualiﬁed instructor
the soccer ﬁeld (my be�er half’s fond name for my receding with years of experience. His instruc�ons are
hairline) becomes the topic of conversa�on at the dinner clear and concise and will make you enjoy the
table again. Listen to Hein carefully, follow instruc�ons and experience.
be sensible. 2. Follow the instrucons carefully. It is a lot to take in
and a lot to put into prac�ce.
“OK, so you are going to do the same thing, but let the 3. Focus – It taxes your a�en�on span and not focussing
clutch out completely and put your feet up” Hein cau�ously means you fall oﬀ or damage the bike.
advises. I listen and obey. I wobble as I try to let the clutch 4. Bring a notebook. You can write some of the
out, the clutch is out and the bike is more stable, I put my interes�ng stuﬀ down. I didn’t and wished I had.
feet up and I am riding!!! The cool wind seeps in through DON’TS
my slightly opened visor, my gloves feel at home on the 1. Don’t go too fast, it will just get you into problems
twist grip and clutch, my heart is pounding – I can’t believe and make Hein tug at his goa�e.
I am doing this. Exhilarang, thrilling, electrifying, scary all at
the same me and we are only riding in ﬁrst gear. I love this Bad Boy Wannabe Biker - Faizel
and can’t believe that I ever had doubts. Awesome seems
too mild a word for the experience, they grey sky looked
brighter, I could hear the birds chirping and I was smiling
like a Cheshire cat.
Take it easy I kept saying to myself and Hein must have
thought me such a sissy for pu�ering around all the �me. I
like this so much, I don’t really want to give myself a reason
not to. The course moved on with gear changes involved
and more riding.
I am sill having a problem with my take-oﬀ as I don’t give
enough thro�le when taking oﬀ and I somehow manage to
rev the bike when braking to a stop. Stopping and star�ng
seem to be the hardest bits and I am wobbly at both. I have
a close call when making an unnecessary change to third
and manage to recover without coming oﬀ. There is a lot
to take in and even more to remember when riding. I guess
experienced riders don’t need to worry about thinking
about gear changes and concentrate more on their planning
when they are on a journey.
A�er lunch, the exercises were demonstrated and we
needed to push on the grips a bit to manoeuvre the bikes
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