2016 HIGHLIGHTS: 2016 saw a number of biking highlights. Image: Dries van der Walt
Cape Town - Despite an unfavourable economy, 2016 was another rich year for bike fanatics.
We saw several new bike launches in the local market, as well as a host of bike events. Arguably the best news of the year, though, was local hero Brad Binder’s Moto3 world championship title.
Early indications of a magic 2016 would hold for the 21-year-old rider showed in four podium finishes in the 2015 season, and seven consecutive podiums, including three wins, in the first half of this year’s season.
This was marred somewhat by less than stellar finishes at Assen and Sachsenring and a retirement in Brno, but Binder was soon up to speed again.
READ: Wheels24 EXCLUSIVE - Brad Binder chats bikes, MotoGP and leaving South Africa
From his fourth victory for the year at Silverstone Binder seemed unstoppable and two races later, at Aragon in Spain, he clinched the title to become the first South African to claim a motorcycle world title in 36 years. Binder came home to a hero’s welcome in November, a fitting finale for a fantastic year for South African bike fans.
Almost as exciting as Binder’s championship was the number of new bikes launched into the local market.
Here’s a list of 2016 SA Bike of the Year nominees to show how varied the newly-launched models were:
Honda NC750X. Image: Dries van der Walt
• Tiger Explorer XCA
• Bonneville Street Twin 900
• Bonneville T120
• Thruxton R
Triumph Thruxton S. Image: Dries van der Walt
• 1290 Super Duke GT
• 690 Duke
• Panigale 959
• XDiavel S
• Monster R
• Hypermotard SP 939
• Multistrada 1200 Enduro
• Scrambler Sixty2 400cc
• Slim S
• Dyna S
Victory Magnum. Image: Dries van der Walt
• 701 Enduro
• 701 Supermoto
Yamaha MT-10. Image: Dries van der Walt
Year of highlights
One of the big surprises of the year was the fact that Triumph’s Thruxton R was crowned the Pirelli SA Bike of the Year, beating several more likely contenders.
While the choice was not without controversy, the panel’s decision got a tacit nod of approval when the respected online publication Motorcycle.com selected the Bonneville range (which the Thruxton is part of) as their bike of the year.
They said: “It deserved our recognition as the most important addition to the world of motorcycles in 2016.”
Another highlight of the year was the inaugural SA Bike Festival, held at the newly-revamped Kyalami Circuit in Gauteng from May 27 to 29. Apart from being well-supported by just about everybody in the local motorcycle industry, it was also a display of international confidence in our market - the show was organised by UK-based Clarion Events, with Discovery Channel as the headline sponsor.
With more than 150 exhibitors the Bike Festival offered something for everyone, from accessories to riding schools to new bikes to custom and classic machines. Kyalami’s pit complex served as the exhibition area, with bike manufacturers taking over the lower floor and supporting exhibitions the upper floor.
The exhibition also served as a launch platform for some of the manufacturers, with the media being given the opportunity to ride several of the bikes on the track (the resurfacing of which was only finished the previous day).
In addition to these highlights, a myriad of other events, such as organised rides, rider training and manufacturers’ breakfast runs cropped up just about every weekend. All of these combined to make 2016 a memorable year on the biking front. And if Intermot and EICMA are anything to go by, 2017 is shaping up to be another bumper year for the biking community.