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How to buy a classic motorcycle in SA?

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Hey, why not get on yer’ bike!

2013-09-08 19:32

YELLOW MEANIE: A motorcycle is cheaper to run than a family car. With sanctions possible in the Middle East we need to be mobile if only to get to work. Good time to buy a motorcycle. Image: DAVE FALL


In case you’ve been living under a rock this past couple of weeks the prospect of a fresh Middle East conflict – this time in Syria – is disturbingly possible and an rise in the price of oil will be inevitable. Thought of buying a motorcycle?

Strife in Syria could well lead to oil shortages, apart from the needless loss of life in a war, and that could mean way more expensive - even rationed - vehicle fuel.

So what’s that got to do with Wheels24, you may well ask. Without putting too fine a point on it we may all need to consider alternative transport soon – especially if you drive a gas-guzzler (large sedan/SUV/or at worst a 4x4.


I’m not talking about a bicycle – mountain or otherwise - for commuting. The type of bike I’m suggesting has at the very least a single-cylinder engine – or even a scooter (new prices start at around R8000), 125cc motorcycle or anything up to a 650cc bike, or so – perfect for those two-up trips, short or long and preferably with a top box or panniers (a rucksack will most certainly suffice, if need be) to carry enough groceries for the family to get by should the going get tough.

I mean it, the oil barrel situation is critical – Syria has lots of friends quite capable of scuttling oil fields across the entire Middle East –it’s been attempted before. There just aren’t enough oil-well firefighters such as Paul Neal (aka “Red” Adair) on the planet to deal with such a dire scenario.

A motorcycle may not be the perfect answer to everybody’s traffic problems, but generally they come close. Whatever happens, we all need to get to our workstations –assuming you’ve not retired!


Ease of parking, five litres or less/100km; they’re cheap to run – perhaps not so much superbikes – but they can be, if driven carefully. Those with long memories will remember the mid-1970’s when fuel restrictions in South Africa followed a global oil upheaval. Up and down the country speed limits were strictly enforced; fuel stations were open for limited hours each day and not at all over weekends.

There’s a real spin-off to riding a motorcycle today, though: your daily commute will feel refreshingly different; you’ll observe your surroundings and spatial awareness like never before.

Ask anybody who regularly rides a motorcycle or commutes on one. Your favourite ( less busy) road, stunning mountain pass or winding dual carriageway can be a game-changer for those used to a car/SUV or, heaven forbid – a large, thirsty and mostly quite impractical 4x4.


Of course there are also high-end models from the East, cruisers from the West and of course, BMW, Ducati, Aprilia, KTM and Triumph offerings from Europe – that all have their place.

Hedonists are surely spoiled for choice by Yankee motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Its 2014 cruiser range defies description with eight additional models.

Honda, on the other hand, claims to have a bike for every taste: a few years ago its advertising slogan was “You meet the nicest people on a Honda”. Suzuki, Kawasaki and Yamaha have a great range of bikes – just in time for spring.

I’m never sure of the most popular brand – maybe it’s BMW at the moment, a company that has been making motorcycles for close on 90 years. Although their range starts with a fairly large 650cc, it’s a manageable, cheap-to-run, single-cylinder machine, quite capable of taking a pillion rider should herself need to get to work and the family car is out of fuel – and none available should the Middle East play “tough guy”’.

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