The gleaming metal, subtle lines and quality craftmanship of the classic motorbike attracts the deserving attention of even the most unlikely biking admirers. This year, visitors to the South Coast Bike Fest, which will at the Margate Beachfront Boulevard from April 27 to 30, will get to see no less than 50 of the province’s best classic motorbikes at the Classic Open Stand.
The event is presented by Ugu South Coast Tourism with endorsement and support from Ugu District and Ray Nkonyeni Municipalities. The South Coast Motorcycle and Car Club has once again agreed to lend its support to the show.
“We are really excited to be a part of the South Coast Bike Fest for a second consecutive year. It provides our club with a great opportunity to showcase what we do, while also giving the public a chance to appreciate the beauty of these incredible machines,” says Rod Thomas, chairperson of the Classic Motorcycle Club of Natal.
Although the categories are fairly fluid and tend to differ from country to country, there are essentially three biking terminologies used:
- Veteran motorbike – built before 1915
- Vintage motorbike – built before 1975
- Classic motorbike – 20 years or older
The biker enthusiasts
Motorbike collector and one of the founding members of the Motorcycle Club of Natal, Hank Raatgever, will be featuring two of his classic bikes at this year’s show (from a collection of about 20), which are the 1931 Norton and either the 1929 AJS or 1961 Velocette.
“In 1965 I rode my Honda 150cc all the way from Rhodesia to Durban. I needed to have transport at university and I thought what better way to get the bike to Durban,” the Gillitts resident recalls.
A journey of just under 1 700 km on a motorbike sparked a love affair with the machines that has seen the electronics engineer acquire, fix and sell numerous classic bikes over the years.
“There is something about being in the open air, exposed to the elements with no visual restrictions that is just so freeing. It’s the closest thing I can get to flying,” says Raatgever, admitting colour blindness had preventing him from ever attaining his pilot’s licence.
“The South Coast Bike Fest is a great chance to expose the younger generations to the joys of the motorbike,” he adds. Raatgever’s Norton has been fixed up and ridden in several DJ Runs – the annual Durban to Johannesburg rallies – as has the AJS which he displayed last year. He acquired the Velocette a year ago and is hoping to have it in full working condition by April.
The biker legacies
Fellow club member, Andrew Mather, has selected two beauties from his 35-strong motorbike collection – the 1908 Triumph and the 1955 Sunbeam – to feature. Although he’s kept busy with a full-time job as a civil engineer, the Durban North resident manages to find time to work on his classic bikes, sourcing parts online or crafting those where he can.
“The Triumph 1908 has limited suspension, no gear box and can only go one speed – maxing out at 30 km/h. It’s not very practical to ride because you have to switch off the engine whenever you stop, and to start it again, you have to run alongside it until it fires,” Mather explains.
Despite the limitations, Mather managed to ride the Triumph 1908 in a Century Run – where the combined age of biker and bike must be at least 100 years – across 290 km. Mather also boasts the 1910, 1912 and 1914 Triumphs in his collection, but has selected his father’s old motorbike, the 1955 Sunbeam, to display.
“This was seen as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of motorbikes back in the day, but it was a bit of a disaster, because it was built with incompatible materials so most of them were scrapped,” he notes. This bike was one of three motorbikes Mather brought with him from Malawi in 1981 when his family emigrated to South Africa.
The event lineup
In addition to the incredible classic bike collection on display, the South Coast Bike Fest has an action-packed line-up of entertainment, tasty cuisine, coastal bars and brilliant biking displays. Some of the highlights include: Stunt shows and Powasol Enduro X in the Energy Zone Arena; top musical acts at the Jack Daniels Village Pier Rock Stage and Main Beach Stage; quality fashion shows and Miss South Coast Bike Fest; a range of food options in the pop-up food villages and a selection of seaside bars.
All bikers and pillions are urged to pre-register online for #freefunseeker tickets which gives free access to the entire event precinct, including the main stage featuring all the headline artist performances.
All non-biking pedestrians will be charged a nominal fee of R60 per day, which provides access to the event precinct, including the three main beach festival stages, beachfront boulevard themed bars, street entertainment, demo rides, trader and expo zones, stunt shows, food courts, EnduroX staging arenas and all associated motorcycle enthusiast festival activations.
For another R150, #fuelyourfun ticket holders can access the Main Beach Stage Golden Circle. Pre-registration for the biking community and limited pedestrian ticket sales are available at www.southcoastbikefest.co.za.