Thousands of bike riders descended on a coastal town of Margate, KZN on the Freedom Day weekend. It was wall-to-wall motorcycles for four days and the nights rang to the roar of Harley-Davidson® motorcycles!
Africa's biggest free motorcycle rally, now in its 7th successful year, is hosted by Harley-Davidson and is open to any vehicle with two or three wheels, an engine and handlebars.
The heart of the rally was on Marine Drive, where the main stage, refreshment tents, dealer displays and dozens of stalls kept bikers and non-riders alike entertained all day and late into the night.
As always, the road was completely closed to four-wheeled vehicles but this year for the first time, rally organisers instituted a registration fee for riders wanting to bring their bikes on to Marine Drive, in a bid to make the area more family-friendly and secure by reducing the number of rally-goers riding through the crowd of pedestrians who constantly thronged the area.
The result was fewer machines pushing through the crowds and fewer harassed parents rescuing small fry from having their legs scorched by too-close encounters with overheated exhaust pipes.
Country manager at Harley-Davidson Africa Paul de Jongh said "as a father myself, I wanted to make the 'biker village' a place where parents would be happy to take their children to soak up a little two-wheeled lifestyle and a whole lot of top South African music - free of charge - on the main stage.
On Saturday afternoon SA trials champion Brian Capper's astonishing stunt show pulled off incredible jumps, mid-air turns and bunny hops, including a one-shot finale ramp-jump straight up to the top level, a platform not quite as long as the bike itself.
That set the pace for the evening, as Main Road became an all-night party zone and we were entertained by Bike Week favourite Dilana, Taxi Violence, Jack Parrow – among others. Headline act Just Jinger blew the roof off the main stage.
On the roof of the Shelly Centre on Sunday morning, Hibiscus Coast mayor Nomusa Mqwebu yelled, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!” and cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the mass ride.
Hundreds of bikes, led by the mayor herself on the pillion of a Harley-Davidson Trike and escorted by a grinning contingent of local law enforcement, and waved on by thousands of spectators, wound their way through Shelly Beach, Ramsgate and back to Margate, where the end point at Main and Marine became an event in itself.
But that soon had to make way for the Ride-in Bike Show, as superbly customised machines in a variety of genres rolled in, each under its own steam (it's a condition of entry) to compete for 'best in show' in a number of categories judged by industry experts as well as the people's choice, by popular vote.
As a tribute to the motorcycle themselves - far more than just machines to their riders - and the artists who create them, it was a fitting close to Africa Bike Week™ 2015, which is after all, about the bikes.