Get On Your Bike

Written By: The Lowdown - Nov• 30•12

With the flick of the starter motor, a bit of rev on the throttle, and you’re off. It might take a while to get used to turning corners, fighting the sensation that you’ll crash to the floor with the handlebars. I have to admit I wasn’t convinced. I almost joined the crowd who couldn’t ride a bicycle, observing from a safe, grounded distance.


But in a couple of hours you’ll be whizzing round a car park off Cairo Road, imagining yourself as the ultimate biker with the wind in your hair, despite the helmet, on the open road.


Welcome to the Best of Bikes Academy. The brainchild of Richard Sheppard, a keen biker himself since the age of eight, you could say he has biking in his genes. Back in the UK, his stepfather was a professional motorbike racer and his nephew is an under 21 biking champion. Sheppard is also responsible for introducing a motorbike shop in Zimbabwe and has biked across India, testing his abilities to the maximum.


With biking firmly under his belt, he’s turned his attention to bringing the phenomenon toZambia- in a big way. In partnership with Jo and Robin Pope, whose efforts in the tourism industry make them successful entrepreneurs in their own right, the Best of Bikes Academy is the first motorbike training school of its kind in the country.


It has a training centre, a service centre, and it offers intense training workshops. And they mean intense, so be prepared! You’ll start off wobbling around the course, trying to hit the right buttons and get the concept of the clutch without doing a wheelie and ending up on your rump. Hence the term “crash course”. But don’t worry, you’re in good hands and the instructors are very patient and friendly.


The concept of the Academy is demand-driven. With Lusaka’s road networks becoming more and more congested, riding a motorbike to skip the traffic on the way to work is definitely appealing. It’s also increasingly an option for couriers – Sheppard says the courier industry has “massively increased” in the last few years.


But is it affordable? The Best of Bikes Academy increasingly targets those who want to avoid the meaningless morning “rush hour” traffic, and stocks bikes starting at K 6,995,000, which it claims are the cheapest inZambia, including a warranty. The Jailing Enduro is ideal for the daily commute – and incredibly low cost to run.


The average saloon does about 12-15 kilometres to the litre. The Jailing, with a 125CC engine, does about 100 kilometres to the litre. If you’re worried about safety and the thought of jumping on a bike and winding amidstLusaka’s road mayhem turns your stomach, Sheppard has a good point. Speed is not really a problem “For the most part people are not moving at all. The trouble is that traffic is travelling pretty slowly,” he notes. The academy presents one solution to training off-road, until you feel confident and safe. Then, while the lines of traffic are stacked up on either side, you could glide effortlessly past the morning traffic – of course mindful not to hit your co-habiting middle-of-the-roaders – like newspaper and talk time sellers.


Best of Bikes will also help with advice on financing and can explore credit options. “It’s really the relationship between us and the financer: we work with them to get the finance,” says Sheppard. Overall, riding a motorbike should work out a much cheaper option for your commute.


The Academy trains other organisations and businesses in riding and competency, as well as providing fleets of stock, and plans to increase this business platform. It has also seen a rise in people coming to train so they can apply for jobs as couriers. The academy does a basic competency test and a road competency test, intended to ease bikers onto the open road with more confidence.


After a few rings round the course, you’ll be dodging in and out of the red and white cones, feeling like a pro. Whatever happens, you’ll be trained by some of the best, including Alan Zaloumis, former local motorbike champion, who heard about the Academy and is now on the team.


If you’ve ever thought about it but never quite made it into the driver’s seat, maybe now’s the chance to give riding a motorbike a try. It’s a good start to practice at the weekend academy with some pretty friendly staff who can give you all the advice you want to ride safely.  Who knows? You might even walk away with your own motorbike.


Contact Best of Bikes House, Tel: 0211 236-912, 0211 236-913;Mobile: 0964 584-778,  0973 584-778 Email:




You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.