Midrand - The South Africa Bike Festival, back at Kyalami this year from 26-28 May, is one of the very few motorcycle shows worldwide where visitors actually get the opportunity to ride the new models, and that alone makes it special.
Booking for test rides on 50 different models from seven manufacturers has already opened online - but only for riders who’ve already booked their tickets for the festival. Once you’ve got your show ticket, you’ll be sent a unique password for the secure test-ride website, giving you access to 2500 time slots over the three days.
Bikes on display in the pits at Kyalami will include BMW, Can-Am (new this year), Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Husqvarna, KTM, Suzuki, Yamaha and Zontes - a new Chinese motorcycle brand, launching in South Africa at the show with its entry-level Phantom S250.
Ducati will be launching eight new models at the festival, and Honda will reveal the new CBR1000 RR Fireblade; there will be one available for test rides, but you’d better get in early.
Harley-Davidson will have wide selection of bikes for test rides, including the new XG750A Street Rod; the new Road King Special will also be on show, as well as several of the finalists in the international Battle of the Kings custom competition.
Harley technicians will be working on bikes in a ‘naked workshop’ as part of the Harley display, along with live music, prize giveaways and the opportunity for non-riders to get the feel of riding on the Jump Start rig - not a simulator but a real motorcycle on a ‘rolling road’ trailer.
Husqvarna will give you an early preview of the all-new Vitpilen 401 ‘White Arrow’ cafe racer-styled citybike, due in showrooms in February 2018.
Indian will have five models available for test rides at the circuit, including the new Scout 60, and will launch the Indian Motorcycle Riders Group (Indian’s answer to HOG) at the Festival. It will also have a dozen demo and used Victory motorcycles available to buy in the Auto Trader Nearly-New Motorcycle Shop, in the wake of parent company Polaris’ decision to discontinue its Victory brand, as well as a raffle for a Victory Custom Judge worth R246 000, with the proceeds to benefit the Reach for a Dream Foundation.
KTM will feature the 1290 Super Duke R, the Super Duke 390 and a range of new adventure bikes. Dakar hero Joey Evans will also be a guest on the KTM stand. Left paraplegic less than 10 years ago, Evans became the only South African to finish the 2017 Dakar Rally on a bike. He’s become a cult hero and his slogan “I did not come this far to come only this far” has become a catchphrase among enduro riders.
Suzuki has said nothing officially as yet but, with the 2017 GSX-R1000 making its SA debut in Cape Town on 23 March, it’s a safe bet this twice-delayed and much hyped new superbike will be front and centre on the Suzuki stand at Kyalami.
The star of the Yamaha display will be the brand-new R6, while works SuperGP team Anassis Racing will be bringing along an R1 to give away to one lucky show visitor.
Get down and dirty
Dirtbike riders will be able to try out adventure bikes from Can-Am, Honda, KTM, Linhai, Polaris, Suzuki and Yamaha on a two-kilometre dirt track at the back of the circuit.
Taking pride of place on the first-floor viewing deck will be the custom bike championship; international judge Frank ‘Thunder’ Sander from Germany, and local custom bike builders Grant Mc Nicol and Malcolm Powrie from Ink&Iron will award trophies to the top bikes in 14 categories, with a BikeJet stand worth more than R6500 for the overall winner.
But possibly the most difficult choices will be faced by the committee members of the Classic Motorcycle Club Johannesburg and the Two-Stroke Smokers, who will have to select just 30 classic machines to represent 132 years of motorcycling heritage from the hundreds of eligible bikes made before 1996. See the chosen few in the Pride of Ownership display at the top of the stairs leading into the VIP Pit Roof.
Test rides won’t be the only excitement on the circuit itself; the Festival will also host the Monster Energy Flight Night freestyle motocross demonstration and a round of the of the SuperGP national superbike championship, with three practice sessions and qualifying on Friday, and the two main races at 2pm on Saturday and the same time on Sunday.
Also on Sunday will be a charity ride, leaving from Fairlands shopping centre at 8am and culminating with two laps of the circuit in formation. The cost to take part will be a R40 ‘top-up’ on your Festival ticket - and every cent of that R40 will go to the Ride for a Reason-Claw and Paws Charity organisations.
The bottom line
The 2017 South Africa Bike Festival will be open from 11am to 5pm on Friday 26 May, from 9am to 9pm on Saturday 27 May and from 9am to 6pm on Sunday 28 May. Day tickets cost R200 per person for any of the three days; children under 10 years old will also need a ticket, but ‘sprog’ tickets are free.
New for 2017 is the Sumting’s Upgrade at R495 per person, which includes priority parking, fast track entry, access to the pit roof viewing area and a meal voucher for award winning food truck, Sumting Fresh.
And back again is the VIP Sky Lounge package at R995 per person - which gets you a 24 hour advance first option on the test rides, as well as access to the pit roof and a complimentary pop up-style restaurant serving lunch throughout the day including beer, wine and soft drinks.
For more information visit the SA Bike Festival website at www.southafricabikefestival.com.