World of Motorcycles rocks the Bike Fest SA – Colesberg 2022 – the gathering of the clans

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

What I’ve learnt as I’ve got to know Ducati supremo Jos Matthysen well, is that he does things one of two ways. Not at all or absolutely flat out. Flat out it was, as a sponsor supporting the Bike Fest SA event held over the past weekend in Colesberg. I rode my Suzuki V-Strom DL650 down to the Northern Cape to see how it all went down. Friday was sunny, hot and humid as I cruised through the Free State, where nothing is free and it’s in a hell of a state! Jokes aside, the countryside is looking spectacular after the copious amounts of rain that the country has been blessed with recently. Farm dams are full and the Free State is more of a grassland than I have ever seen it. The endless green vistas under a blue sky dotted with the odd candy floss cloud, made for sweet cruising.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

I rolled into Colesburg around 4 pm feeling somewhat parched. It was properly hot! The venue for the Bike Festival was a cordoned-off area in ‘Bo Dorp’, just below the old church which dominates the Colesberg landscape. I navigated by following the sound of music from the Festival. The Ducati presence at the Festival was immediately apparent with tear banners, numerous gazebos and the Ducati truck brightening up the site with a sea of Ducati red.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Allied to this was 300+, the purveyors of amazing goodies like Rizoma and SC Projects, to name a couple, with which to pimp your ride, also well represented. Another exciting addition was that of the world-famous premier sunglass brand Carrera, who have strong international ties with Ducati, represented by their local boss man, Garth. Garth and his wife Tammy were getting their first taste of the SA bike scene.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The organisers set up a large Bedouin-style tent for the live music stage, with tables and chairs and an avenue of local pubs and eateries incorporated into the Festival venue, with umbrellas covering straw bales as seats. Under a shaded area dominated by Ducati gazebos, the festival food stalls plied their trade. The Crusaders bike club, together with other patch wearers made up the majority of the attendees. As per usual, there was much catching up and general revelry on the go. The hot weather, no doubt contributed to the sale of cold ‘bevvies’.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

I chilled with the Ducati crew, sucking on a cold one, ogling the stunning array of beasts from Bologna on display and drooling over the 300+ bling. Surveying the crowd I marvelled at this biking common denominator that welds people from all walks of life together. Speaking of crowd, the attendance was down on what I think the organisers were hoping for. Covid, the fuel price and the general state of the economy possibly contributing factors, not to mention folks still reeling from an expensive festive season. Be that as it may, the peeps that made the effort were having a blast. The Ducati crew are a tight familia. Jos has built an enviable lifestyle around Ducati, with fierce loyalty exhibited by all those in any way connected to the brand. The sense of belonging is palpable and infectious.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

World of Motorcycles also had a Suzuki display, with a new Hayabusa and a pimped out 1050 V–Strom, together with some cool Suzuki merchandise. Across the way was a BMW stand, next to Trevor from Easy Rider, with his customised Harleys. Man, bikes are just so damn cool! We soaked up the atmosphere, enjoying the camaraderie that is so common to bikers. The music got louder, the sunset lower and the welcome cool of the evening enveloped us. Old friendships were rekindled and new ones formed. With Clint, from Clint and Co, rocking the crowd, I sipped on a last cold chap before easing along to my B+B, pleasantly weary and content.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Saturday dawned with the promise of another molten day. I was up and at it early. I wanted to experience the crisp Karoo air before the sun really made its presence felt. I idled out of town on the road to Cape Town, then stopped for photos and to savour the vast stillness of our magnificent country. Cruising back to town I went to the Festival site to see the Ducati crew setting up shop for the day. Jos asked if I would like to ride the Scrambler Ducati Desert Sled….what a question. We kitted up and rode out of town heading north to Gariep dam. Jos was on a V4 Streetfighter, I was on the Sled, and a buddy Johan was on his new 950 Monster. The air was still crisp and fresh.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

The Streetfighter had a full system Akrapovič and the Monster, a black twin-pipe Termignoni slip-on. Listening to the Italian symphony was intoxicating, to say the least. I enjoyed the old school cool of the Desert Sled. The balance of the bike is spot on, with the 900cc air-cooled V–Twin perfectly powered for the bike’s application.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

We cruised to below the dam wall, watching the water spill over and fuel the river flowing past us. Johan kindly let me ride his Monster on the return ride. Flip, what a bike! It is a simple recipe that works incredibly well. Monsteristi may bemoan the loss of the signature trellis frame, but functionally the new 950 is a vastly better bike. The road back was a bit bumpy but the Monster shrugged it off and performed superbly. The fun factor of the bike is off the charts. For me, the 950 Testastretta V-Twin is the sweetest of the lot. Torquey and oh so punchy. Oh no, the dreaded bike lust strikes again!

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

As if that was not enough, Jos pulled over and told me to hop on the Streetfighter. Mind-boggling is all I can say! Way over 200 hp in a light and taut chassis that begs to be thrashed, unleashing a V-4 wail that raises the hair on the back of your neck. To be frank, I am not even vaguely talented enough to wring the best from the beast. For those select few who can, it will be mind-blowing. The front wheel begs to go airborne at almost any speed or gear. Yikes! There was a time when I would have revelled in that power and ability, but that ship has sailed.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

Back at the Festival, we enjoyed a slap-up breakfast, then settled down to a day of biking brotherhood. The afternoon saw a brief shower of rain which did nothing to dampen the spirits of festival-goers. It actually just helped to ramp up the humidity. Earlier in the day a fellow had ridden the V-4 Multistrada and returned somewhat star-struck, but it was the Streetfighter that totally blew him away. A deal was done there and then, after which you could not even surgically remove the smile from his face! Jos just shook his head as yet another of his personal favourite bikes was sold out from under him. What a place to buy a bike like that. All the Ducatisti gathered round a trifle enviously, congratulating the proud new owner as he took his new pride and joy for a spin.

Photo credit: Dave Cilliers / ZA Bikers

And so another Bike Fest SA event drew to a close. For me anyway. I would miss the mass ride planned for the next day as I needed to get home early. At 5 am the following morning I rode out of a still dark and silent Colesberg. The chilly morning air had the ‘Strom’s motor singing a sweet tune as I rode towards Bloemfontein, reflecting on the ‘Gathering of the Clans’. Till next time… A big thanks to Jos and his team for making me feel part of the family. It is much appreciated!

For more information on upcoming Bike Fest SA events, click here.

My name is Dave Cilliers. I consider cars as four wheeled shopping baskets and only worth using as a last resort! For years bikes have been my primary transport. Racing, touring, commuting or just kicking up dust on African tracks, I have owned over 270 motorcycles and ridden millions of kilometres. I am happiest when sharing my passion for motorcycles with like minded people whilst traversing Africa in search of adventure.