If you read my recent post All the way from Florida to show me Kenya you must be waiting to hear all about Africa the Continent. Well, am going to disappoint you. There will be no mention of Zinjanthropus, fossils or the tropical weather and the rain forests. This is all about a bike called Africa.
It’s hard to talk about Africa without talking about Dos. Dos owns Africa and has been riding for close to eight years now and qualifies for a “Seasoned Rider” title. Africa is not his first bike, there has been several before her. One of them being the unforgettable yellow Apache but Africa has managed to take the top position and secured herself a spot inside the house. Dos and Africa relationship begun in August, 2015 and since then she has been an awesome companion and great wanderlust. Together they conquered 16,000 kms and a total of 9 countries. They left Kenya and traveled for three months through Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Rwanda, Uganda before returning home. I asked him how he settled on this bike for such a long travel while there are many other options that would be considered better for a long adventure ride such as this? His answer, “budget was my main factor in choosing a bike for the trip but i also had a “love on the first sight kind of a feeling when i saw Africa”. I decide to leave it at that.
When they returned home to Kenya on 12th Dec, 2015. Africa was still in good shape for the road, but Dos felt she needed a change. More like being crowned in a special way. With her petite body frame and a 180 cc engine, she had matched the mighty BMW – GS’s, Yamaha’s and KTM’s. I mean, she could share a podium with them and emerge the winner. Dos’s love for mechanical modifications is in his DNA. Its inherited from his Dad. You pretty much get immersed in the stories of how his Dad disassembled and reassembled engines. One that is humorous and captivating at the same time is the one of the Volkswagen Kombi. He says his dad would drop him and his siblings to school and the next thing, the car’s engine would be in pieces in the entire living room. He would reassemble the engine and they would be riding in a car they thought would not get back on the road. He says it happened so many times that he learned how to help his dad reassemble the engines.This fascinated him as a little child. He fell in love with nuts, bolts and spanners. He has never looked back. I can tell you his most precious possession today is his tool box. Take that away and you will have injured this man terribly.
Back to Africa, the best part of Africa’s story in addition to her wanderlust, is how she has evolved through her life. She did not need Roland Sands of Bells Power Sports for the make over. The entire job was done by her master. He says it was a moment of “this far we have come, we have traveled and we have conquered”. At this point i have to disclose that i share a roof with Dos and Africa. I was therefore very fortunate to watch him work on Africa offering some help here and there. A bit playing the role of “doubting Thomas” but mostly positive and a perfect spanner girl passing the 12″‘s, 14″‘s, nuts and bolts. It all begun with the search for parts; the gear shift, handle bars, the clutch pedal, longer clutch cable and chopping of some parts. Several visits to junk yards and spare parts shops and we were ready to go.
It was a really an emotional job, at least from my judgement. At the end, Africa got a raised chrome handle bar. Her previous handle bar was lower and all matte black. She lost the side mirrors. I mean, don’t ask me how Dos rides without mirrors. I have no answer for you. The clutch moved from the handle bar and replaced the gear pedal. This means, its a foot clutch which is known as a “Suicide clutch”. Sends chills down my spine always. The gear pedal lost its use and was replaced by a “Jockey shift” to the left side of the bike.(see picture below). The exhaust was chopped off making Miss Africa so loud that she is the wake up call for our neighbors. She also go a new set of bigger off-road tyres. To ride this bike, your coordination skills need to be top notch. She lost her pillion seat. Not that i foresee anyone wanting to be a pillion on this bike but sometimes i think i would love to enjoy the thrill. I think Africa is a good fit to feature in custom motorcycle shows.
At some point, i was really worried that she will not move because, how do you ride it? I thought it would be impossible to. No amount of YouTube videos could convince me. Then, it started and moved and my fear became how dangerous it would be to have it on the main roads but it has proved me wrong, ooh Dos has.
Almost every Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, Africa will roar out of our compound with pride. Dos calls it the “manly moment” and am always there to flag him off. He loves to take her out on open roads with less traffic. She draws attention on the road and parking spots. During this years’ Kenya Biker’s prayers day which is an annual event, Africa was staring. Am told only two guys managed to ride her. Both seasoned riders with great experience with bikes.
Dos is now halfway on his second project modifying a 400 cc Chinese bike into a real “Badass” Caferacer. We shall bring you this news when its ready. In the meantime, these two can continue having their “manly moments”. She is the favourite among his bikes.