Whether for its impressively diverse scenery, broadly hospitable population or favourable climate, South Africa is home to some of the best overland motorcycling routes in the world. Let’s explore how to best prepare to make the most of your time in the saddle.
One of the fastest-growing leisure-focused pastimes in the world, the appeal of has seen both the development and monthly sales of appropriate gear, from bikes to accessories evolving at a rapid rate. For various reasons, including rider safety, sales of performance-focused road-going motorcycles continue to be overshadowed by altogether more comfortable, off-road-focused adventure bikes – models from brands like BMW, KTM and Honda continuing to prove popular.
Whether tackling the Karoo-based Old Postal Route, the popular Cape Town to Mossel Bay detour or, indeed, heading into one of our neighbouring territories, the fundamentals around planning for your next off-roading adventure hold true. These include:
While the appeal of a “let’s just wing it” adventure has formed part of mankind’s makeup for centuries, the reality is that a certain level of pre-planning and loose scheduling ahead an overland ride is essential. This includes a thought-out plan for refueling, overnight sleeping arrangements and, indeed, what to do in the case of an emergency.
Fortunately, in modern times, this planning can include both a broad selection of content produced by those who have completed any number of routes ahead of you, as well the prevalence of Apps, websites and contemporary navigation equipment and software designed keep you headed in the right direction.
It’s generally accepted that a range of up to 400 km per tank of fuel is optimal when it comes to overlanding. Whether this is achieved via a single tank of fuel on the bike itself or by means of a supplementary carrying solution, this range should ensure that you’re able to safely make it to the next stop without any unwelcome breakdown drama.
It’s interesting to note that while most newbie riders assume that the larger the engine displacement associated with an overland motorcycle, the better, many seasoned adventurers will confirm that there’s arguably a better balance in terms of performance, manoeuverability, efficiency and, indeed, overall mass to be found in small capacity packages. That said, while a bike like the BMW R 1200 GS remains a popular choice, alternatives like the KTM 790 Adventure R and Honda CRF1100 Africa Twin certainly merit their respective places among the leading sellers.
When it comes to packing for an overland adventure, the general rule is to keep the inventory as lightweight as possible. This includes clothing, spare parts, tools, nutrition, liquids and camping gear. While many prefer the peace-of-mind afforded by lockable hard-luggage carriers, including top boxes and panier cases, there’s often greater levels of versatility, balance and weight-saving to be had with soft luggage. This can take the form of tanks bags, duffle bags and water- and dustproof trappings.
Considering the unpredictable nature of this pastime, recommendations in terms of safety equipment include a bash plate for the protection of your bike’s vitals – including its battery – as well as appropriate riding gear. This includes a modern helmet and gloves, a breathable all-weather jacket, hard-wearing pants and riding boots and the latest-generation neck protection in the event of a fall. The good news is that you can grab some of these items from AutoCycle Centre.
Already an all-encompassing discipline, the many intricacies involved in piloting a motorcycle over loose terrain are best not learnt during your first real world excursion. Rather it’s recommended that you complete some form of specific training and instruction in the art of off-road riding prior to leaving home. While falls are almost inevitable, it’s better to be prepared to try and avoid serious injury.