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Mon Dec 18 2017: Our African Motorcycles

Freshly armed with our TRNs, we drive straight back to the motorcycle store where Neda has been eyeing that silver F650GS. It's a 2011 model, just a year older than the yellow F650GS that she's been riding around the world. The same one that she's stored back in her grandmother's garage. Hopefully the thieves that stole all our stuff won't come back and finish the job...


Geoff, the salesman explains every single feature on the bike that Neda already owns.
She responds politely: "Yes, I know. Yep, I knew that. Uh huh. Yep... Can I ride it now?"

Although it's over six years old, the moto is in great condition. And only 2,500 kms on the clock! Whoever owned it had farkled it up with a ton of extra goodies; it was well-armored, like it was planning on going on an extended tour. However, the mileage indicated otherwise.

An exact twin of this bike in Burnt Orange sat next to it on the showroom floor, and we were also going to scoop that one up for me, but unfortunately it had already been sold. Geoff explained that these two F650GSes had originally been bought by two women who planned to ride around Africa with them. But after a short time just riding around Cape Town, they traded them in and got Harleys instead... Perhaps too tall for them? *shrug* It was basically a brand new motorcycle and we picked it up at half the original MSRP! Sweet!

Well now Neda owns two motorcycles and I have none. WTH? She's totally winning...!


You might have noticed the new RideDOT.com T-shirt Neda was sporting above, emblazoned with
the new logo that I've been putting on all our recent videos! These are our African uniforms!

We've been keeping an eye on all the online classifieds for my new bike. I really want another R1200GS, but since we might be traversing a lot more gnarlier terrain through Africa, I've resigned myself to getting a F650GS twin as well, since we'll probably be picking these bikes up over and over again.

I considered looking for a F800GS because it offered a better suspension, but ultimately, the cast-wheels + tubeless tires won out over the spoked wheels. I hate spooning out tires on the side of the road, and this way all we'd need to carry is a small patch kit.

A few days later, we found an ad on Gumtree, the South African Craigslist. A Candy-Apple Red 2013 F700GS! It's the updated model of Neda's F650GS, only difference is that it has a slightly larger engine. Only 7,500 kms on the odo and it was priced exactly the same as Neda's bike. Wow, great deals in South Africa!


It was a private sale, so the seller wanted e-transfer or cash... Since we didn't have a South African bank account we had to do a cash sale

Unfortunately the ATM around the corner from our house only dispensed 100 Rand bills, the equivalent of $10 CDN. And since my daily withdrawal limit was lower than the purchase price of the bike, we had to hit the ATM a few days in succession. Our neighbourhood in Cape Town didn't seem particularly safe, so we were very paranoid sprinting back and forth between the bank and our apartment every day, with our pockets stuffed full of R100/$10 bills. What a nerve-wracking experience!

We finally amassed enough of these tiny bills and stuffed them inside a small satchel and made the trip to see the bike. Ever try to buy a motorcycle with a bunch of $10 bills? The bag of money I was nervously clutching made me feel like we were headed to a drug deal! :o


OMG, the guy we're buying the bike from is super-rich!

The seller lived in a swanky part of Cape Town called Constantia Heights, on the other side of Table Mountain. Huge gated estates line the hills up here. We buzzed the gate and were let into the grounds by a young South African guy. He introduced himself as the butler. The butler! We walked passed a helicopter pad in the back yard. Holy Smokes.

We were led into the garage and shown the motorcycle. The steward didn't know anything about bikes, so he just gave us the key and let us take it out for a spin around the expansive driveway. It was in great condition. When the help came back, we told him we'd buy it.

As we were finishing up the sale, the butler said his boss wanted to speak with us. He led us to another part of the estate where a casually dressed middle-aged man sat sipping a mixed drink on a deck chair. He motioned for us to sit down. He was very interested in our travels and listened intently as we outlined our plans for his (old) motorcycle. After having heard enough, he nodded to his man-servant and we were whisked away, no longer objects of interest any longer.

I felt like we just had a meeting with the pope or something...

Because I had the name of the seller on the document, I Googled him. Turns out I just bought a motorcycle from the richest man in Lithuania. Neat.

But more importantly, after many months of non-ownership, I'm finally a rider again! Whohoo!!!


First things first, we gotta mod the snot outta these bikes! Taking it into the local shop for some surgery

Okay, I gotta point out this very silly thing that South Africans do to their motorcycles: orange headlamps. WTF?

I'm on a number of South African Facebook groups and forums, and nearly all South Africans riders put these orange lenses over their headlamps. They claim that it makes them more visible at night. It all sounds very dubious, but I'm not one to dismiss these things so easily. So one evening, we put the theory to the test and rode with them on and off. It was blindingly (pun intended) obvious that the unobstructed white light was brighter and more noticeable. What a ridiculous thing to do, to put an orange piece of plastic over your headlight...!

There are over 190 countries in the world and only this one has "discovered"/convinced themselves that orange headlights are more visible than the white lights that the rest of the world uses. And it's not even designated street-legal by the government, yet almost every South African will swear this is a valid safety modification!

Although we eventually took the orange lenses off, we stored them away because we knew that if we ever wanted to sell these bikes back to a South African rider, this would be a selling feature... SMH ;)


Neda's bike came well-equipped, we just added panniers and an aftermarket seat

It already came decked out with crash bars, headlamp protector, touring windscreen and laminar lip, wider, grippier footpegs, enlarged sidestand, beefy skid-plate. All the stuff we would have added ourselves.

Neda had some Touratech Zega Pro cases on her old F650GS, and she's not too happy with it. The lip around the top deforms very easily when the bike fal... er, gets sleepy and takes a dirt nap. Then it quickly loses its watertight seal around the lid. So this time round, she opted for some SW Motech/TRAX ADV panniers. They look very sturdy and are much less expensive than the Touratech cases. We'll see how they hold up through Africa.

The topcase is actually made by a South African company called MotoRadical, well constructed and is much cheaper than anything from out of the country. Turns out a lot of motorcycle gear is super-expensive here because of the huge tariffs they have on imported goods. Seems like South Africa has trade agreements with nobody!


My bike was a bit more spartan. Just came with crash bars, a plastic topcase and an aftermarket windscreen

That plastic topcase is tiny, but I'm torn about whether to replace it with a larger, metal one. I do need panniers as well, and I thought about getting the SW Motechs too, but I wanted to shop around a bit more. I did pick up a tankbag, sidestand enlarger and installed a GPS. We also installed cigarette lighter outlets to run a compressor and any other electrical devices.

In addition, we got voltage sensors put in because of the infamous F650GS stator problem that Neda experienced in Hungary. You see, we do learn from our mistakes!


Almost all kitted out, only one major thing to do...

Back to the BMW dealership: "Ah'll be bahck for tires"

We got the dealership to install more dirt-oriented rubber: Mitas E-07

We've been running K60s for most of our trip now, but lately we've been hearing a lot of good things about the E-07s. Not as long-life as the Heidenaus, but the dirt performance is better and it doesn't slide out on wet asphalt like the K60s do.

Curious to see how they'll do in Africa.


While we were at the BMW dealership, I priced out these F800GS Adventure panniers
(which are actually manufactured by Touratech).

Apparently, the panniers are made entirely of pure silver. Or at least they are priced as if they are made of pure silver. I just about keeled over when I heard the price.


Because we bought my bike privately, I had to do a lot more running around to get it transferred over to my name

Normally the motorcycle store will do all this government paperwork, but at least I'm getting familiar with the vehicle registration process in South Africa. The first thing I need to do a vehicle roadworthy test (basically a safety/emissions certification). There's a Roadworthy Station just down the street from us.


My bike is getting inspectorized! It's basically still brand-new, so it passed safety and emissions no problem.
I got a temporary license plate pasted on my windshield

We go back to the Department of Motor Vehicle Registration and Licensing building to complete the transfer and there's a small problem:


Apparently the richest man in Lithuania "forgot" to renew his annual vehicle license

This is a bit of a problem because I can't just pay the license fee. He either needs to do it himself in person, or he needs to sign an affidavit authorizing me to pay it on his behalf. The lapsed registration isn't even that expensive - less than $20. This is so stupid. I have the friggin' money right here in my hand and the government won't take it? When did they ever care who gave them money?!?

Gaaah. We're itching to get out of Cape Town and start our African motorcycle adventure, and I can't get the bike transferred to my name because of a $20 registration fee that I'm unable to pay myself.

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