Want a brand new bike from the early 1900s?
It is ironic that the modern motorcycle manufacturer is looking ever further back in time for inspiration for new motorcycles.
Manufacturers such as Triumph, BMW, Ducati, and Kawasaki, to name but a few, have released extremely popular bikes that hark back to a particularly successful period in their history in order to attract new customers to the fold and, as time marches on, they are looking further and further back through the years.
First there was the cafe racer craze aping the home-built race replicas of the 1960’s. Now we are in a ‘bobber’ phase, copying the stripped down bikes from the immediate post-second world war period. But how far back can we go? Well, how about to the very dawn of motorcycling; the early 1900’s? And forget having to look to Europe or Japan; it’s happening right here in South Africa.
Travel to the bustling metropolis that is Fishershill, near Primrose, east of Johannesburg, and you will find a small, unassuming, but tastefully retro shop that is the home to the latest South African motorcycle manufacturer; the Soekoe Moto Bicycle Company.
Stepping inside is like stepping back in time and there is a mouth-watering display of ‘flat-tank’ and board-track racers, some looking as if they’ve just come off the production line and others as if they’ve just been pulled out of a barn after spending the last 100 years under a bale of hay.
They may look old but they are, in fact, brand new. More importantly, they look utterly fantastic. The frames and accessories are sourced locally - built to Soekoe’s specification - and all assembly and finishing is done in-house to an extremely high standard.
The single-cylinder, 66cc, two-stroke engine is installed in the frame in such a way that it looks completely authentic. There’s a stark simplicity to the machines that is a refreshing change to the massive complexity of the modern motorcycle; nothing is there that doesn’t need to be.
And, time seems to slow down when riding these bikes. Beauty on the move and beauty at standstill; it’s a rare thing that blends simplicity with beauty.
To ride one yourself or for more information: