Living a two-wheeler dream – at 73
LOGAN Markandan is not your typical grandfather.
At 73, he loves nothing more than to hop on his shiny new Harley Davidson Sportster, clutching the low-rise, drag-style handlebars, and to take to the road with the wind in his face.
“I’m as free as a bird, at one with nature,” Markandan of Chatsworth says, describing the joys of being a lone rider.
The Iron 883, a gift from his daughter, is the latest addition to his collection of classics. It took three trips to Johannesburg and several to a Durban dealer to get what he wanted.
“In the 1960s, I was on a road trip to Cape Town with my 1952 500cc Matchless, which had no oil leaks and was spotless. After admiring its condition, my friend, Mannie Malgas, said, ‘Logan, if you haven’t ridden a Harley Davidson, you haven’t ridden a motorcycle.’ That thought stuck with me for years and now I own and ride the American dream,” he quipped.
His penchant for big toys with noise began when he was just six years old.
Formerly from Kings Rest on the Bluff, he recalls having another agenda when he went shopping with his mother to Clairwood. “I would refuse to go in and
instead stand outside and wait for the men with leather jackets and boots riding motorcycles to stop at a shop nearby.
“I would watch in awe until I could no longer hear the roar of the engines. I knew then that when I grew up I would buy a motorbike. It’s all I’ve ever wanted,” he said.
Despite growing up poor , Markandan saved as much as he could, and, at 20, bought his first motorcycle, a 1947 350cc Matchless for R300.
Being injured a few times – including a right leg fracture – and getting traffic fines did not stop him from riding.
“I used to be fearless. I felt like the king of the road. I could jump on the bike and head off any time of day or night and nobody could stop me. Of course my mother used to get upset, but I was too stubborn to listen. It always had to be my way. My friends called me the leader of the pack because I influenced a lot of people to ride bikes,” he said.
But those daredevil antics have now taken a back seat. Markandan says, “I have great respect for all road users and for nature. We have such a beautiful country and you get the best views from a motorbike and you become one with nature. Other benefits include battling less with congested roads, more parking space and economy. More people should ride bikes, irrespective of sex or age.”
Asked how his friends and family reacted to his Harley, he said they were as thrilled as he was.