For these three cyclists, owning a motorcycle has its advantages. They not only save you fuel compared to a car, you also don’t have to get stuck in traffic jam. However, their spare parts are not as readily available as car parts, writes Joan Salmon.
Kezaala owns a Honda XL 1997 model, which he bought in 2004. Speaking profoundly of the machine that has become part and parcel of his life, Kezaala says he loves his motorcycle for convenience and affordable maintenance in terms of fuel and servicing, as well as easy mobility.
“I prefer a motorcycle to a car due to the nature of my job that requires frequent movement, at anytime. It also makes movement easy because I never get stuck in traffic jam,” he says.
Opting for a motorcycle on any day, Kezaala is thrilled when riding as he gets to enjoy the open air and there is a smile as he rides through heavy traffic. “However, the narrative is different when it rains. Nonetheless, I am always equipped with my rain gear,” he adds.
Nicknamed “sports bike”, Kezaala’s machine is so good at negotiating corners, while the big tyres make it easy to ride through roads filled with potholes. “It is also long and the exhaust pipe is high. This way, it can easily go through floods and over the pavements, if need be,” he says.
Bought at Shs2.7m, Kezaala has kept his motorcycle running flawlessly with spare parts mostly bought from Nabugabo-Kisekka market, Kibuye, Wandegeya and Ndeeba, all in Kampala.
“They are affordable but being an old model, the parts are not as cheap as those of newer models. Nonetheless, maintenance is affordable, and I ensure it is serviced regularly and on time to avoid unnecessary breakdowns,” he adds.
After such a long time with his motorcycle, Kezaala has surely made memories. “I used to love speed when I had just bought it, I would ride to any destination for assignment and pleasure. The longest was to Masindi and when I arrived, my hands vibrated for another 10 minutes.” Sadly, during one of his adventures, he was knocked by a car. “I almost injured my kidney and spent more than Shs4m on treatment.
All in all, Kezaala says it is an affordable and easy means of transport, although it could cause harm in case of an accident. “With a motorcycle, you are part of the body, when it crushes so do you. This is why even if you have the freedom to drive fast, never ri recklessly,” he advises.
Even as a 10-year-old, Mushoborozi always dreamt of riding a motorcycle. “I must have had the same dream more than 30 times in a period of three years that I had to buy a motorcycle the moment I started working and earning some money,” he says.
The owner of a 1995 Honda CB1000 Super Four, says it is big, powerful and secure. He loves it even more because he can do a lot of servicing himself without messing it up. “It has minimal electric wiring and automatic systems. So, if something starts acting up, I fix it myself and in one way or another, we are back on the road,” he says.
As a rule of thumb, Mushoborozi oils the drive chain every week, changes the engine oil after about 5000km, and checks the radiator as often as possible to make sure the water levels are correct.
However, while most spare parts are available in Kampala, the issue that arises is access to tyres.
“There is barely a supplier that is as serious as those that deal in car parts. At one time, I had to wait for a part for six months to arrive from Japan. That aside, my major issue is finding tyres. Most big motorcycles have 17-inch rims, making the tyres easily available. However, mine are 18-inch and I sometimes have to wait for four months to get a replacement,” he says.
Looking at its cost, Mushoborozi says in 2014, when he bought it, the price could have afforded him a nice car. “But it was a nice bargain.”
He loves speed and with 140 horsepower, he can easily travel at 220km/hr. “That is akin to skydiving and I love it. Nonetheless, there is something about the ever-present danger of riding a motorcycle that keeps you on the edge and focused,” he adds.
While riding to various destinations such as Kapchorwa, Lira, Rukungiri, and Kasese are memorable, the day that tops it all was when he rode to Bundibugyo. “Crossing the Mountains of the Moon from Fort Portal towards Bundibugyo is something I will never forget. There is this 13km-stretch (my approximation) of corners on a steep slope that makes riding there worth it,” he says.
Mushoborozi says the best thing about his Super Four is its suspension.
“The hind ones are fitted with nitrogen-charged monotube designs, which explains the attached canisters. They are simply a work of art and make the ride very smooth. Good suspension also greatly helps when negotiating corners, with the right amount of braking, of course.”
However, he hates its high centre of gravity and says at low speeds, you are likely to cause an accident.
Unlike the two above, Bwambale has a Kawasaki Eliminator 250cc Cruiser and he believes anything that gets your blood rushing is worth doing. “Besides that, riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom as you are in total control of the moment. I just love the sheer enjoyment of being on a motorcycle.”
Minus the thrill, Twambale says a motorcycle is way more cost-effective compared to a car. “We are currently living in tough economic times and every penny counts. For example, when I use my car, I spend about Shs150,000 on fuel per week, but I spend about Shs20,000 per week on the same commute with the motorcycle. This is because with the motorcycle, my usual one and half hours from home to office is cut to just 25 minutes,” he says.
Bought in June, the second hand motorcycle cost him Shs8m.
Twambale adds that compared to the cost of maintaining a car, maintaining a motorcycle is only a tenth. But this also as a direct link with how good your mechanic is.
As such, he mostly relies on his mechanic based in Ndeeba, Kampala, the market centre for all bike-related spare parts and dealerships. “Other times I use AliExpress.com for any parts I cannot get locally,” he says.
Twambale also adores his motorcycle for its driving experience.
“When hunting for a motorcycle, a biker friend told me the rideabilty of a motorbike is a crucial aspect as it also compliments your riding style and mood. Cruiser motorcycles have a unique look, a recognisable upright riding position with feet facing forward, which makes navigating in the streets enjoyable at all turns and in traffic. It is also very comfortable and steady on the road owing to its big rear tyre,” he says.
Twambale loves adventure and just a week after the purchase, on a calm Sunday afternoon, he decided to take it out for a spin.
“My preferred riding route was the Entebbe express highway and back to Kampala, which was more of test drive to check the engine power and the top speeds. It was a smooth ride, shifting gears in a matter of seconds, engine roaring with the cold breeze dashing off my face. It was beautiful,” he shares.