When life throws you a curve…
Dr David Karuri Maina, general surgeon
2008 Honda CBR 1000 RR
Why did you go for this particular bike?
I’ve been riding motorcycles for over 20 years and I wanted something that was both powerful and reliable.
Honda, be it a car or bike, is reliable. This particular bike is powerful and yet quite forgiving to ride. It has a wonderful power to weight ratio, which will blast you off the line while at the same time, the power delivery from the engine to the tarmac is controlled.
For a sports bike, it is a user-friendly machine and even someone not used to riding big bikes can start on this one easily.
What do you love about it?
I bought this bike in 2015 and was the undefeated champion in Super-Bike Racing for some time. Because it’s controlled and easy to corner in, I find it to be easier to push harder than other bikes.
I also find that we gel really well. When riding, I can tell how it wants to be ridden and it can tell what I need adrenaline wise. I would go as far as to say that it gets me.
I actually call it Angel Gabriel, so in a sense when I’m on it, I feel as safe as riding on my guardian angel’s back.
Sentiment aside, it’s also quite practical in my career. Because I’m a surgeon, I’m able to rush anywhere faster than any car in case of an emergency, enabling me to save more lives than I would if I used a car.
It’s made me the preferred surgeon in quite a number of hospitals because I can get there in a short time.
Not with the bike, but I would say bikers have a long way to go in this country. The number of big powerful bikes making their way into the country particularly troubles me.
There seems to be a surge in the influx and most of them end up in young inexperienced hands. Young riders need the training to get the skills to handle such bikes.
Again, unfortunately, our colleagues on boda bodas seem to be on a mission to tarnish the reputation of riders and take us all down with them.
Mercie Carmy, customer experience consultant
Kawasaki Ninja 250r
When did you start biking?
I started around 2009 but I first rode on the highway in 2013.
What or who inspired your decision to start biking?
The inspiration came from my awesome uncle Mutua. He was and still is a living legend in the biking fraternity.
How has it been so far?
It’s been great, though some time back I was involved in a major accident. I was just 200 meters away from home when I was hit by an overlapping matatu.
I remember seeing my bike crash as I clenched under a Land Cruiser. Things happened so fast. I was in the hospital for a good number of days.
Guys’ reactions when they find out you are a biker?
They are intrigued. They tend to look at me twice.
Your family may be proud of you, but they are constantly worried about you.
Through biking, I have met some very amazing people, had amazing opportunities, toured magical places in Kenya, understood brotherhood, loved, laughed and made lots of friends. It has been an awesome experience.
DJ Moh, deejay and CEO Moh Spice Entertainment
Why this particular bike?
As a deejay, my schedule is normally packed, especially during weekends, and movement around entertainment joints needs to be convenient.
A bike can save you a lot of time, especially with the crazy Nairobi traffic, so that was the number one reason. Again, I love its speed and the features it has because I can also quickly move about while running errands.
What else do you love it for?
It is comfortable and light. The GSXR-750 model is what bikers crave for; the speed, its lightweight and great handling.
It has maintained its popularity over the years because of the experience it gives. It can go head-to-head with other superbikes and actually, outperform them. Heavy braking and its stability are the cherries on top.
What about the downsides?
Apart from the maintenance expenses, which are a bit on the higher side, the bike is not as modified as the modern ones, which have a lot of buttons and fancy features.
Ciku, biking enthusiast
Tell us about the bike?
Darlin’ P is my ‘pension baby’. She’s a hot pink and purple bike. The ZMRs are mainly regarded as street bikes, but lately, she and I have had quite a number of offroad adventures.
She handles like a dream; responsive and easy to manoeuvre since she’s fairly light. She always draws attention because of her colour scheme.
What drew you to buy it?
After asking around, I was advised that ZMRs are good starter bikes for someone new to motorcycling, which proved to be true. Also, the fairings give it a sporty look that appealed to me.
What makes it stand out?
The colour! I had her custom painted to my specifications and loved the result.
Does your bike tell you “Hi Ciku… Bye Ciku”? Mine does! The best part, of course, is that consumption is amazingly low.
Safety on the roads. “Cagers” (people driving cars) don’t really see bikers (many being selfish enough to text while driving!).
Others don’t realise or accept the fact that we have a right to the road as much as they do, and so will tend to push you off the road, or want to compete speed-wise.
How are you perceived by male bikers?
In one word; family! I get a lot of support from our biker brothers, both in terms of technical and physical assistance. Male bikers understand that we ladies don’t ride because we’re rebels (as most non-bikers assume).
They understand that it’s the love of the two-wheeled machine and the feel of the wind in my hair on open roads. There’s a great camaraderie in the biker's family.
I have been riding since 2014, not as seasoned as some, but definitely not a ‘newbie’, and I love it so far.
Antony Blackbeard, machines and plant engineer
Gen 2 Suzuki Hayabusa 2011
Why did you go for this particular bike?
I have been riding since I was nine-years-old. It was a family affair back then and everyone I knew was riding a bike.
So, I naturally found myself on a motocross bike as a young boy. Motorcycling is like a virus, once it gets into you, it infects your mind and you don’t want to do anything else.
So, I really dove in and eventually went to Europe, where I was drag racing motorcycles using a Honda CBR 900RR SE28.
There is simply nothing like it, save for the Hayabusa. When I finally came back to Kenya, I decided to get this Hayabusa in 2015 for drag racing.
What do you love about it?
As an engineer, your mind is constantly spinning with many thoughts and calculations, and biking helps me relax and shut all that out.
To ride, you have to have your mind 100 per cent focused on it, which is somewhat therapeutic for me, and the faster the better. I love flying and riding, but riding this bike really does it for me.
It is an absurdly fast bike with the engine sending some 200 horsepower to the rear wheel. It can do a 0-100kph dash in 2.4 seconds. That’s hyper-car territory on two wheels, so you really have to know what you’re doing.
Since I work on customising motorcycles, the plan is to give it a bump in performance by fitting a turbocharger before the next drag races. That will make it the only turbocharged Hayabusa in the country.
The riding culture in Kenya is non-existent. Especially when it comes to matatu drivers. You have to look out for yourself and think ahead of what the driver is going to do and react accordingly.
You can easily get knocked down, as people generally don’t pay much attention to bikers. I have been pushed off the road a thousand times and I just have to accept it and be extra vigilant on the road.
With the bike specifically, I would say it’s not made for twists and curves. It’s heavy and long, which makes leaning into a turn difficult. However, when I get on the straights, it more than compensates for the time lost in slow corners.
Said Abdo Saleh, businessman
Why did you go for this bike?
I used to love motocross when I was young, and growing up, I loved super-moto bikes until 2007 when I decided to switch to sports bikes.
My first bike was a 2007 Kawasaki ZX6-36, which I had for a while before deciding that I needed a bit more power and went for this. It’s a special bike known as the “Busa killer” in sports bike circles.
This is what dethroned the Suzuki Hayabusa. It has a top speed of 335kph from the 1,400cc engine. Actually, it’s exactly 1,441cc.
What does it do for you?
I’m seriously attached to it. Like how some men are so devoted to their wives, that’s exactly the same way I am with it.
I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have such a bike. Any bike can do but once you get to power on this level, it’s euphoric.
Once in Masinga at a drag race, I decided to take the speedometer needle to the end. I achieved, but I have to admit, the thrill was real.
To this day, only God knows what happened because, at one point, I flew with both wheels about a metre off the ground. Somehow, we came back down safely. I was shaking and sweating.
But that said, it is a comfortable bike and because it’s essentially a sport touring, you can cover from 500-800 kilometres without breaking your back.
Not really, I just extend my life philosophy into biking. Everything in moderation. Just like how to live a good life you have to eat healthy, rest and work out, it is the same with the bike. Don’t overdo it.
Also, always go for original parts and you’ll avoid breakdowns. Above all else, ride safe, stick to road rules, and only race in a closed circuit.
Altaf Abdalla, Road Warriors 1,000cc champion, Race No. 44
2014 BMW HP4 – 998cc
When did you start riding?
I have been riding bikes for the past 22 years. My father introduced me to riding when I got my first bike, a 50cc, and we would ride behind him when he went to work on Saturday on his bike.
Why this bike?
This bike was launched sometime in 2012 and I was blown away by the technology. The rave reviews on blogs made it an instant legend.
The safety level and technology available put it at the top of my lust list, but at the time, it was beyond my budget, and I was only able to get one in 2014.
What does it do for you?
On a personal level, it gives me a sense of self-satisfaction, having gotten my dream bike, but it also gives me a sense of responsibility.
When you misbehave, if I can use that word, the bike will correct itself a little bit, giving you a chance to check yourself and not do something stupid again.
Because of that, it has improved my riding skills and I have surpassed my personal limits both on the racetrack and on the road.
Any memorable experiences?
There are many, but one stands out. When I was the unbeaten Superbike Champion for some time, and I used this bike to dethrone the then champion, make sure you get his name right, DJ Stylez, also known as Allan Muigai. The bet was Sh100,000, so that was a good day, earning the title and a wad of cash.
I can generalise when it comes to riding. We need to have more safety awareness, first for people who drive and then for boda bodas.
They are also road users like us, but they don’t have the discipline or awareness that helps make riding safe for everyone.
As for drivers, they tend to push riders off the road, while pedestrians underestimate the speed of an incoming bike and step into the road. Such matters need to be addressed, but apart from that, the bike has no drawbacks.