In­dian was a big chief

OF THE FOUR ON THE LIST, THIS WAS THE LEADER OF THE PACK This cruiser’s bulk cer­tainly be­lied its as­sured han­dling.

The Citizen (KZN) - - SPORT - Greg Bax­ter

Non-bik­ers look at us two-wheel fa­nat­ics some­times as though we are peo­ple from an­other planet. You guys who sit in your tin boxes won­der why we would ex­pose our­selves to the el­e­ments as we do.

There are times, I must ad­mit, when I won­der that my­self, as I did ear­lier this year when rid­ing a bike back to Jo­han­nes­burg from the Free State just at the start of win­ter. Even with my pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, hel­met and gloves on, the cold cut right through me. When I stopped, I was amazed at how long it took my frozen fin­gers to re­turn to the rest of my body...

Then again, there are those times when na­ture can be right there with you when you’re rid­ing. Like the sights, and smells, par­tic­u­larly, of the coun­try­side. That fresh smell from the soil af­ter the rains, the aroma of things like the cos­mos flow­ers – all of which you peo­ple miss out on.

Re­cently, out on a leisurely ride, the pun­gent smell of an­i­mal ma­nure was un­mis­take­able!

Be­ing a biker of, shall we say, mid­dle age, I have cer­tainly had the rid­ing like your hair is on fire mo­ments from my youth. And every now and again, when I get the chance to ride re­ally high per­for­mance ma­chin­ery, I sel­dom turn it down. But, mind­ful of the old say­ing that “there are old bik­ers and there are bold bik­ers, but there are no old, bold bik­ers”; these days I much pre­fer com­fort­able cruis­ers to head-down blasting machines.

And those were the machines I made a bee­line for at the re­cent SA Bike Fes­ti­val held at Kyalami race­track. My son Doug and I headed out to the cir­cuit on the Fri­day, which was the me­dia day. This was to avoid the crowds that were ex­pected. What a plea­sure! Short queues and height­ened an­tic­i­pa­tion just added to the ex­cite­ment. The pre­vi­ous year, I had stood in the long queues wait­ing to book rides. One could avoid it by book­ing on­line, but we de­cided to take a chance and it was fine.

Of course, it is al­ways COOL to be among like-minded bik­ers, our kind of mu­sic, lots of pretty things to look at, both hu­man and metal, happy, friendly folk, and the glo­ri­ous sound of our favourite bikes roar­ing past.

Be­ing con­firmed bik­ers, our ex­press pur­pose was to ride the new bikes on of­fer, only re­al­is­ing later that I didn’t see any of the stalls on the first floor.

Ah well, I saw them all last year! The bikes I chose to ride were the Honda NC750 X Auto, the Honda Africa Twin Auto, the BMW R NINE T and the In­dian Dark Horse. Quite a mix! A com­muter, an ad­ven­ture bike, a naked street bike, and a cruiser.

I chose them be­cause these are the kind of bikes I en­joy rid­ing, es­pe­cially the In­dian, which is great on the open road. The other three would be just as ca­pa­ble, but man, that Dark Horse re­ally makes a state­ment. You have ar­rived!

The In­dian Dark Horse was, for me, the most com­fort­able of the quar­tet. Its bulk be­lied its as­sured han­dling. Be­ing a cruiser, one takes one’s time in cor­ners and makes nice slow gear changes and en­joys the supreme com­fort while be­ing more aware of coun­try life as you ride by.

The two auto Hon­das were a touch of class as all Hon­das are but, sur­pris­ingly, the cheaper NC 750X’s gear­box was much smoother than that of the Africa Twin. I have the ear­lier NC 700X man­ual, which is a great bike, although its one short­com­ing is that the rev lim­iter kicks in at 6 000rpm. (just as I am half­way past the pesky M3 that thinks it’s faster than bikes). Also, the auto has longer gear­ing, which is a bonus.

The BMW shook a bit too much for my lik­ing. As I was rid­ing around the cir­cuit, the speedo and rev counter were do­ing a merry dance, keep­ing time with the pis­ton thuds. Still, a very ca­pa­ble mo­tor­cy­cle with lots of grunt.

So, of the four, rid­den in cruiser style, the Dark Horse was my favourite. Noth­ing beats a 1811cc, 357 kg ,138 Nm V-Twin.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.