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Bike Week hits Hibiscus Coast

2013-04-30 10:29

MEET THE BOSS: Wheels24 was at the 2013 Africa Bike Week and, apart from taking a lot of pix, chatted to Harley-Davidson boss Bill Davidson. Images: DAVE FALL


Margate, Hibiscus Coast - About 7500 motorcyclists from all over South Africa converged on Margate in kwaZulu-Natal during April 2013 for the annual Africa Bike Week  under the auspices of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.

The brand was celebrating its 110th anniversary along with Hibiscus Coast local municipalities.

The event seems to get bigger and better every year; this was the fifth running. In glorious weather this might well have been summer and not the onset of winter.


For the first time a member of the eponymous Davidson family paid a visit to SA – his first – and a big welcome went out to William “Bill” Davidson, great-grandson of the founder of the American motorcycle company.

Wheels24 spoke to him and put some pertinent questions his way – his responses proved heartwarming and sincere…

Q: Vocationally, what was your major business achievement or most proud moment.

A: I've had a wonderful lifelong affiliation with the Harley-Davidson Company down the years, being a 'Davidson' has been my life. When I was small the family conversation nearly always revolved around H-D matters come mealtimes and that always intrigued me.

I worked my way through school working part-time in a Harley dealer for three years before I graduated, joining the company in 1984, eventually moving into management.

Q: What are your hobbies, apart from motorcycling?

A: My current hobbies include snowboarding and downhill skiing but usually come back to motorcycling in some form or other! I also have a passion for dirt-bike riding: for this I ride a KTM 450 when time permits.

Q: What was your first bike and which is your favourite model now. And why?

A: My first bike was a Harley, of course, an Easy Rider type of bike. These days I have a stable of bikes, many found within the brand.

For a while I ran the H-D Motorcycle team and I even have a couple of race bikes from that era among the mix. I don't really have a stand-out favourite - they are diverse in application and style – they are all my favourites!

Q: Based on what you've seen thus far in Margate, here on the Hibiscus Coast, is this event comparable to events back in the US, and how?

A: This event is most definitely comparable to those found back home in the States – Sturgis is one of the biggest motorcycle rallies in the world but is a dedicated, three-day H-D event.


Q: Are you surprised (we hope pleasantly) by the levels of customisation seen here – African style?

A: I never cease to be amazed at H-D products after the customer has 'personalised' his/her machine. It really is a lifestyle bike when you think about it that way. Some of the paint jobs I've seen so far here in Margate have been nothing short of sensational and definitely rank among the very best I have seen anywhere else in the world.

Q: Do you, as director of the H-D Motorcycle Museum in Milwaukee, still manage to come across those 'barn finds' we occasionally hear about and do any of them really stand out?

A: My job at the H-D Museum certainly does turn up some surprises! The latest is a 'cinder' track bike from the 1930’s and is being painstakingly restored by experts at the museum.

Q: H-D expects to shift about 260 000 bikes globally through 2013. Will this be one of the best years yet for the company?

A: 2013, is proving to be a cracker for us – and we're even able to pay a dividend to our shareholders [laughs], definitely one of our better years. Interestingly, the South African market is particularly strong for us and we hope to use SA as a gateway to even better things – export-wise – with expansion opportunities into countries further north in Africa uppermost in my mind.
Read more on:    harley-davidson  |  margate

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