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Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, 2024

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

It would be fair to say that the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR) has become one of the favourite motorcycling events on the calendar; the fact that it attracts over 600 participants is a testament to that.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

It’s not hard to see why it is so popular; the opportunity to dress in your finest clothes and ride in a huge group, a party atmosphere, some really interesting bikes, lots of friends and, not least, doing good while enjoying yourself. The only downside is the sad fact that some people take part without contributing financially to the health causes that are at the heart of the event, but that is for their own conscience to wrestle with.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

For the second year, Triumph Motorcycles South Africa were the organisers of the event, after long-time organiser Marnitz Venter handed over the reins. Marnitz had done an amazing job, growing the event from a handful of participants in the early years to several hundred ten years later but he felt he had done all he could and, as Triumph Motorcycles is a global partner of the event, it made good sense for the local representative of brand to step in and take over the running.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

If, for some reason, you have no idea what the DGR is about, it is a global initiative aimed at raising both awareness and funds for prostate cancer research and men’s mental health. With rides now taking place in over 120 countries around the world every year, over $50 million has been raised.

Photo credit: Meredith Potgieter / ZA Bikers

While the riders are encouraged to dress dapper, there are also rules for the motorcycles; modern motorcycle designs are out, classic and ‘modern classic’ bikes are in (which is why Triumph is such a good fit). It doesn’t matter what it is – café racer, chopper, scooter, bobber, flat tracker, scrambler, sidecar – as long as it has style, then it’s all right.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

A couple of years ago, I was privileged enough to ride a stunning recreation of the Easy Rider chopper, Captain America, built by Pat Draper of V-Customs and so generously lent to me for the weekend by its owner. Now, that was an experience!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

When it came time to arrange a ride for this year’s event, it was again Pat to whom I turned and, yet again, he came up trumps. One phone call to his friend and customer Roland Egger and an equally stunning Harley-Davidson chopper was mine for the weekend. I am constantly humbled by the generosity and trust shown by the owners of these beautiful works of art and engineering and my eternal thanks go to Roland and to Pat.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Riding away from V-Custom’s premises in Centurion, it took all of a few hundred metres to get used to the ape hanger ‘bars and feet-forward riding position, while revelling in a Harley-Davidson’s bottomless torque and glorious soundtrack through the twin straight-through pipes.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

One thing that struck me again was how Pat and his team built a really good-riding custom chopper. The handling might be vastly different to a standard production bike but there are no vices and all it needs is a bit of time to get used to it before you’re comfortable in any situation. Oh, and it’s endlessly cool, as well!

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

There has been a notable improvement in the organisation of the DGR in the last two years. That’s no reflection on Marnitz’ efforts; it probably has more to do with participants becoming more familiar with the event and behaving themselves on the ride itself. However, the huge amount of organisational work Triumph South Africa puts in must be acknowledged and it was good to see that, in Triumph’s second year of running the event, lessons had been learned and improvements implemented so that 2024 was likely the best one yet.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

Getting 600+ motorcycles safely from start to finish of a roughly 60-minute ride, from Mall of Africa to Prison Break Market via Sandton, is no mean feat but it was achieved perfectly, thanks to the assistance of JMPD and the many marshalls Triumph had employed for the day. In previous years, the ride has got a little unruly at times but everyone was on their best behaviour this year.

Photo credit: Meredith Potgieter / ZA Bikers

One of the joys of the DGR, quite apart from the fundraising aspect, the way everyone really gets into the mood by dressing up and the meeting of many old friends, is the mouth-watering array of machinery on display. It’s pretty certain that, whatever you are riding, there will always be something much cooler riding alongside you.

Photo credit: Bjorn Moreira / ZA Bikers

I can’t think of any other event where a loud Harley-Davidson chopper, with ape hanger ‘bars, flame paint job and a loud exhaust could be upstaged, but it happens on the DGR.

Photo credit: Meredith Potgieter / ZA Bikers

And that’s the great thing about the event; egos are left at home and the motorcycling community joins together to raise money for an important cause, wrapping it up in a really fun day out for everyone. Long may it continue.

If you missed out on this year’s ride and haven’t had a chance to donate, donations can still be made via the DGR website, we entice you to make your mark today.

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
From an early age, Harry was obsessed with anything that moved under its own steam, particularly cars and motorcycles. For reasons of a financial nature, his stable of fine automobiles failed to materialise, at which point he realised that motorcycles were far more affordable and so he started his two wheel career, owning, riding, building and fixing many classic bikes. Then came the day when he converted his love of bikes into a living, writing, filming and talking about them endlessly. The passion for four wheels never left him, however, and he has now converted his writing skills into singing the praises of cars in all their infinite variety. Bikes are still his favourite means of getting around but the car in its modern form is reaching a level of perfection that is hard to resist. And they're warmer in winter....
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