GREAT SUCCESS: Wheels24's bike correspondent Dries van der Walt attended the inaugural SA Bike festival hosted at Kyalami race track. Image: Wheels24 / Dries van der Walt
Kyalami - Bike enthusiasts descending in droves upon the revamped Kyalami race track in Midrand to enjoy the inaugural South Africa Bike Festival during May 27-29.
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.
Great bike spectacle
With more than 150 exhibitors there was something for everyone, from accessories to riding schools to new bikes to custom and classic machines, ensuring that almost every taste is catered for. Kylami’s pit complex served as the exhibition area, with bike manufacturers taking over the lower floor and supporting exhibitions the upper floor.
Gallery: 2016 SA Bike Festival
The area behind the pits hosted a variety of food stands to cater for the hungry, while the sound stage saw some of the big names in the entertainment industry providing live shows for the visitors.
Acts from the likes of Kahn Morbee from the Parlotones, Gangs of Ballet, rapper Sizwe Moeketsi (aka Reason), Majozi and Cindy Alter ensured that those for whom the roar of bike engines isn’t the only music worth listening to, were also catered for.
The pitslane itself was home to what was arguably the highlight of the exhibition: demo rides offered by the main-stream manufacturers at a nominal price. If you ever dreamed of taking the hottest superbike or the sassiest cruiser for a spin around one of South Africa’s best race tracks, this was the opportunity to do so.
Having taken two bikes around the track myself, I can attest to the fact that Kyalami in its latest guise is as challenging and enjoyable to ride as it ever was. For those who would rather watch bikes than ride them, Julien 'RazorBack' Welsch, world stunt and wheelie champion, was joined by the local talents of Brian Cappel and brothers Brent and Bruce le Riche to wow the crowd with their displays of seemingly impossible stunts.
KTM and Yamaha launch new models
Two manufacturers chose the Festival as the venue to launch new models. KTM launched the 1290 Super Duke GT, the touring version of the bike which, in prototype form, earned the ominous nickname 'the Beast'. In it’s road going iteration, the Beast has been tamed somewhat, and with the addition of luggage and wind protection on the GT, the Super Duke is now a viable long-distance machine.
On the Yamaha stand, the highly-anticipated MT-10 was unveiled to public scrutiny. With a 998 cm³ cross-plane engine, aluminium Deltabox chassis, ultra-short wheelbase and aggressive mass-forward styling the MT-10 grabs immediate attention.
It’s R1-based suspension systems and top-notch specification promise that this new entry into the naked-bike market will be more than just eye candy. As always, we will try to bring you complete reviews of both these bikes as soon as possible.
I left the Festival with a distinct feeling of sensory overload – sights, sounds and experiences competed for attention every minute of the day and left me still trying to process everything the next day.
For the organisers, the Festival can surely be chalked down as a huge success, and for the public this tour de force by the local motorcycle industry must go down as a beacon of hope in a difficult economy. For myself – well, suffice it to say that no force of Nature will be able to keep me from attending the next one.