Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Motorcycle Riding in Nairobi- A Lifestyle or Craze?

The cheap Chinese and Indian bikes have revolutionized motorcycle riding in Kenyan. In every corner of this country, there are hordes of boda boda operators waiting at road junctions, town bus termini and every corner. Apart from boda boda operators, the motorcycle has changed the very essence of micro and SME set-ups. Farmers can now send milk and other produce to far-flung places, freelance service providers can serve large areas in a day and for leisure and social purposes many middle class rural families now have an affordable means of getting from point A to point B.

In the urban areas, there is a new revolution of motorcycle riding for lifestyle purposes. On any given weekend, you are likely to meet with a posse of bikers heading out to   Naivasha, Magadi, Thika and beyond. These bikers have the financial muscle to buy the most powerful and technology laden machines available anywhere in the world. These bikers do not ride for a living, but live for the ride. In their other lives, they are astute business men, lawyers, managers, doctors, creative, pastors, entertainers, high-end mechanics, expatriates with a sprinkling of the petrol heads, rich and spoilt kids who can afford the lifestyle. 

They are likely to be seen in the latest Harley Davidsons, Yamaha R1s, Suzuki Hayabusas, Honda CBRs, etc. The motorbikes they ride will set you back anything from half a million to 1.8million to acquire a second hand one from Japan, Britain, Dubai or US. 

Some of the better known bikers include Pastor Allan Kiuna, head of Jubilee Christian Centre, Moses Nderitu, an enteprenuer in the sanitation sector, Arthur Igeria, a city lawyer and Charles Kimenyi a music teacher, Oyunga Pala a renowned columnist and DJ Stylez of Code Red DJs. A few other die-hard enthusiast have formed themselves into groups with a view to propagating the biker lifestyle. They include Outriders Association of Kenya whose members are known to offer outrider services to major road events. They are also participants in the Friday night basketball events held in Nyayo Stadium. 

Another grouping with a following of about 1750 is Kenya Bikers who are active on Facebook. They organise rides to places like Narok for purposes of charity and recreation. If you put your ear on the ground and listen hard enough, you are bound to hear whispering about another mysterious community of kids who are into bikes for purposes of executing stunts and illegal road races. There is talk of large sums of money exchanging hands in outrageous bets. For instance the race record for Nairobi to Naivasha is 17 minutes while those who race further do Nakuru in 38 minutes. You hear of possible deaths caused in the chase for glory and fame within these circles. It is likely that relatives of the dead riders may not know the exact circumstances of their unfortunate deaths. 

There are many other riders who do it in singles without joining any groupings. Many expatriates fall within this category and will usually bring in their high-end motor bikes into the country and sell them at the end of their tours of duty. You will likely find them around Gigiri and such other neighbourhoods. The other class of bikers are the professional riders who have grown on motor-cross tracks. Most of the young ones start honing their skills at a very early age and graduate into higher age-sets with time. 

The one common thing with all these riders is that no expense is spared and the bikes are meant to make a huge a statement about who the rider is and their financial ability. They use the well-known brands in riding gear and accessories. Unlike the messenger and boda boda who wear helmets costing Kshs. 2,500, these class of bikers spend close to Kshs.120,000/= worth of in boots, helmets, riding jackets with full body armour, pants and a few other stylish gadgets meant to make the ride enjoyable like bluetooth communication sets and mounted miniature cameras to record every moment for purposes of sharing with friends and posting on Youtube.

So next time you look down on your rear view mirror and see a robot-like rider bearing on you at the speed of lightening and looking more like a lost MotoGP racer, make sure you give him the way; he could be part of a big posse out to beat a record.  


Andy said...

There's also a sizable missionary community who commute on motorcycles because of the awful traffic in Nairobi. We aren't spending big bucks on bikes or gear or trying to make a statement. But we're not riding chinese bikes either :)

A few of us also make videos:
World's craziest motorcycle commute through urban Africa

Long Way Down - to Maasailand

Anonymous said...

Dude, you cant possibly do Nairobi to Nakuru, a distance of 165km in 17 minutes...U would have to be doing over 300Kms the whole way, kinda very impossible.

Administrator One said...

Dear Anonymous, Its " Nairobi to Naivasha is 17 minutes while those who race further do Nakuru in 38 minutes." and not 165kms in 17 mins. I cannot verify this figures and I have not met anyone who has done it, but you hear people close to the biking fraternity say things. I am equally curious to meet anyone who can verify.

Mama Meals on Wheels said...

I am starting motorcycle riding lessons and I am looking around for protective gear. I reside in Nairobi. I can be reached on: if anyone can direct me to someone or some place.


Administrator One said...

Dear Mama Meals on Wheels. Please see Bikers Garage at Warwick Centre. Contact them on Facebook too. They have a comprehensive compliment of safety gear for racing and leisure riding.

Anonymous said...

Can you please tell me the name of some Chinese motorcycles and their costs if possible,thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Waaaat mad stuff.........lukin forward to hookin up with you guyz.........DAMN!!!!

Administrator One said...

There are quite a number of dealers in new motorcycles. I recommend you visit the following facebook pages where discussions and news on bikes and prices are available:- African Motorcycle Diaries, Tiptop Bikes Ltd, Car & General, Spectrum Bikes, OFFROAD BIKES KENYA, Bikers Garage. Happy riding!

Administrator One said...

Most welcome!!