Heels & Horsepower Magazine


Dads on Motorbikes: Bongi Nkosi

In celebration of Father’s Month we caught up with adventure biker – Bongi Nkosi and talked about his passion for motorcycles and what biking means to him.

– Vuyi mpofu, editor

Fantastic Father:  Bongi Nkosi (41)

Full time job:  Fantastic Father to Siyabonga (8)

Between 8 & 5:  Senior Engineering Technician

Brrrps around on a: BMW F 850 GSA

I convinced ubhut’ Boi to let me take his scooter for a spin when in reality I had never ridden a bike before!

– Bongi nkosi


1. H&H: What sparked your interest in motorcycling? 

BN: The honour of igniting my interest in motorcycles goes to my dad.  When I was about 8 years old, he gave me my first ride on his motorcycle which I surprisingly enjoyed. He rode a Honda CB750 at the time. I remember quite vividly how absolutely fearless I was, listening to his instructions on how to hold on to him prior to our departure.  My other motivation in becoming interested in motorbikes was that quite frankly, I was tired of peddling on my mountain bike.  I loved my bicycle but I didn’t enjoy trudging uphill.  After the first ride with my pops, I knew that motorcycles were in my future.  The introductory ride I been on with him had planted the motorcycling gene in me.

In my defence I had ridden a bike before, just not on my own!

– bongi nkosi

2. H&H: Who taught you how to ride and what was your first motorbike?

BN: I taught myself how to ride on a borrowed semi-automatic Honda scooter. I was 13 years old at the time.  Ordinarily I would have asked my father to teach me given that my first ride had been with him on his bike; but I am not sure he would have agreed especially as the bike he rode was too powerful and too tall for me at the time. 

Instead, I happened upon a family friend, ubhuti Boi Maduna, who owned the scooter.  It didn’t take much to convince him to let me take it for a spin.  Note that I didn’t know how to ride at all and chose my words carefully by asking if I could “take it for a spin”. I deliberately did not ask him to “teach me how to ride”.  As you can imagine the difference between the two would have resulted in him either letting me hop onto his precious scooter or throttling away and laughing at me in disbelief!

I found myself surveying a 2016 BMW GS 1200 on his showroom floor, which he emphatically claimed had my name written on it

– bongi nkosi

Before departure ubhut’ Boi asked if I had ever ridden a motorcycle before. I told him a little white lie – that of course I had.  In my defence I had ridden a bike before, just not on my own! As I was about to pull away on my first ever solo bike ride (on the scooter he relied upon as a means of transport I might add), I hurriedly asked him to show me the accelerator and the brakes.  Instinctively, he did so.  Relieved, I speedily zipped off before he could realise what I had just said!

Sadly ubhut Boi is no longer with us but I know he would been amazed and proud of the biker I have become. 

Image courtesy of Bongi Nkosi
3. H&H: What made you choose the BMW F 850 GSA over other adventure bikes on the market?

BN: This honour goes to a friend of mine – Leonard van Gruenen, a passionate BMW GS enthusiast and bike sales person.  Leonard noted my interest in adventure biking after reading about my rides to Lesotho and Coffee Bay in 2019.  Being the convincing sales man that he is, I found myself surveying a 2016 BMW GS 1200 on his showroom floor, which he emphatically claimed had my name  written on it; and me being a newbie adventure bike lover, I found myself believing him. Needless to say, it didn’t take much to convince me to purchase the bike.  As we began negotiations on the sale, Covid-19 put a spanner in the works. In hindsight this wasn’t a bad thing because coming out of lockdown, an F 850 GS Adventure with very low millage on the clock became available. The rest, as they say is history.

At 16, I couldn’t even spell the word logic let alone apply it to the circumstances. 

– bongi nkosi

4. H&H: What do you like most and least about your bike?

BN: I have more likes than dislikes to be honest. The  things I like most are:

  1. The TFT Dash. I think BMW makes one of the best TFT dashboards on the motorcycle market.  Not only does it display loads of rider and bike information, but it is coupled with a very user-friendly switch gear.
  2. Awesome looks. I’m in awe of the Bavarian style Rallye colour scheme and gold rims.
  3. Braking power.  The F 850 GSA comes standard with all-around Brembo braking system and ABS Pro feature.

Overall, my F 850 GSA is a fresh and unique bike and very different from its siblings, the bigger R1250 GS Adventure and outgoing F 800 GS Adventure.

 The things I like least are:

  1. The bike seat height. I can’t stand flat footed when I’m in the saddle, but I’m sure this can be sorted out by dropping the suspension a bit. 
  2. Standard all plastic hand guards. A replacement of these hand guards with a more durable aftermarket set is quite imminent.
5. H&H: When you initially started out, how did you parents feel about you taking up on 2-wheels?

BN: I bought my first bike, a 1990 Kawasaki AR-50 when I was 16 years old.  My parents had mixed emotions upon seeing me roll up on 2-wheels.  The thing is, dad had been involved in a biking accident a few months prior to my entrance to the family home on my Kawasaki. 

I guess logic would have dictated that I be thoroughly deterred from biking given what he had been through but let’s be honest, boys will be boys.  At 16, I couldn’t even spell the word logic let alone apply it to the circumstances!

I like to think I am a responsible rider but when I ride with Bonga, he always reminds me about taking it easy on the throttle.

– bongi nkosi

It took a while to convince my father that I was serious about biking and that I respected all vehicles and the rules of the road.  I also had to ensure that I upskill myself just to gain some measure of trust from him and my mother.  

Fortunately, I was determined to become the best and safest motorcyclists I could be and gathered most of my early riding experience on the Kawasaki under the watchful eye of my father.  Almost a year to the day after ripping off on bhut’ Boi’s AR-50 and with my parents blessing, I upgraded to a slightly bigger and more powerful Suzuki SE-125 street scrambler.

6. H&H: How does Siyabonga feel about you being a biker?

BN: My son fully supports my biking hobby.  He thinks it’s really cool.  I once overheard him showing off to his friends that I own a motorcycle and that I occasionally take him for rides. The pride in his voice when saying that melted my heart. It also served to remind me yet again, that I should be ultra-careful on the road whenever I ride, with or without him. 

7. Do you ride with Siyabonga and if so, how often? 

BN: Occasionally, I have taken him on a few short bike rides on my former machines, a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 and a Yamaha MT09.  In as much as he likes the fact that I am a biker, I think he is still a little scared at the thought of riding with me.  He enjoys our ‘boys time’ but I notice that the height of any motorcycle and the sound of a revving engine frightens him.  I am cognisant not to impose my passion for bikes onto him and only ride with him when he indicates that he wants to do so.  

That said, whenever we come to a stop, the grin on his face is endless letting me know how much he really does enjoy it.  I like to think I am a responsible rider but when I ride with Bonga, he always reminds me about taking it easy on the throttle.  I hear his little voice whenever I am riding, even when he isn’t with me and for that I am abundantly thankful.

Image courtesy of Bongi Nkosi
8. H&H: Would you encourage Siyabonga to ride in the future if he wanted to? 

BN: Yes, I would. I guess I have already taken a leaf out of my father’s book and have introduced him to the world of biking. Should he show a definitive interest in biking however, I will invest in his biking lessons with a reputable riding school. I will have to start saving for the numerous pairs of boots, jackets and pants he will need as he grows and grows and grows!  Donations will be most welcome!

What made it an interesting trip was that my friend challenged me to ride as if on an economy run, meaning we had to use as little fuel as possible

– bongi nkosi

9. H&H: What have been the highlights / lowlights of your biking life? 

BN: Lowlight – being affected by bike theft. In 2016, I was unceremoniously relieved of my beloved Yamaha R1, 2003 model.  It was stolen from the complex I lived in while I was out visiting friends.  I can’t describe the pain I felt upon discovering the theft.  What made matters worse is that the bike was never recovered.  To date the perpetrators have never been never caught.

Highlight – I guess the spirit of ubuntu, brother and sisterhood that bikers portray. Along a way in my biking journey I have managed to forge new relationships with many people from different walks of life.

10. H&H: How often do you ride and what are some of the places have you have been to?

BN: I dedicate two weekends a month to ride either on my own or with a group of friends. I am not terribly particular about who I ride with just as long as they are good company and are up for an adventure.

Through biking, I have travelled to many incredible places. The most interesting trips have been in the past 18 months. A trip to Lesotho on a Honda Africa TwinDCT, which also happened to be my first road trip to the mountainous kingdom proved to be fun in spite of the fact that it rained the entire journey. A few weeks later I joined friends on a trip to Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape. This trip was memorable largely because very few of our best laid plans materialized and a lot of decisions were made on the fly. This was also the first time I had been to the breath taking tourist destination, Hole-In-The-Wall. For this trip I rode a Honda Africa Twin Manual.


Another biking adventure I went on was to Durban. What made it an interesting trip was that my friend challenged me to ride as if on an economy run, meaning we had to use as little fuel as possible. The winning biker would be the one who used the least fuel. For someone with a love for a fast paced ride this was indeed a big ask. In order for me to better my chances at winning, I swopped motorcycles with him and used his Honda NC750x on the journey down and my own bike, a Suzuki GXS-R 1000 on the trip back to Jozi. Needless to say I won the first leg of the challenge only because I used his more fuel efficient bike and made a complete hash of things once I was in the saddle of my monster!

Being on a motorbike has also emphasised the need to appreciate the little things in life on a daily basis

– bongi nkosi

11. H&H: Biking is not just about the machine; its a life skill. What, if anything, have you learnt since taking up on 2-wheels?

BN: Biking has taught me to be more open minded than I knew I could be.  I have learnt that we live on borrowed time and must make the most of it while we can – to live in the moment. Everyone I’ve met through my biking journey has played some sort of role in my life and has touched my life in one way or another.  Biking with family, complete strangers and strangers that have become family has served me well.  I have ventured to places I might never have been to and have been exposed to certain life lessons I might not have learnt had I not been on 2-wheels.  I am also happy to share that had I not been on a bike I may not have been in a position to meet people from so many different circles of life. 


Being on a motorbike has also emphasised the need to appreciate the little things in life on a daily basis.  Spending quiet time away with my family or going for an afternoon run with my loved ones, be it on a motorbike or in a car are to me the types of moments I truly enjoy. 

12. H&H: If asked to hang up your helmet forever would you do so?

BN: To put it politely, I don’t think so. Asking me to do that would be similar to asking me to stop breathing and expecting me to survive.

The Goldwing would be great for an unhurried ride with my partner to Cape Town

– bongi nkosi

13.  H&H: You win the lottery and immediately start swiping your platinum card. Which bikes does the neighborhood see being delivered to your house (on a trailer of course?)

BN: There’d probably be 4 2020-year model bikes on that trailer.

  1. Ducati V4R: I would get this bike for the Italian flair! I mean what would be the point in having all the money in the world and not getting a piece of Italian spirit!  But because this bike is an incredibly beautiful machine, I don’t know if I would ride it or just sit and stare at it!
  2. BMW 2020 S1000RR – this is a masterfully created machine.  I especially love it in its motorsport colours. 
  3. BMW R1250 GS Adventure – The BMW GS range is legendary and I think BMW outdid themselves in the production of the 1250 GS derivative.  In my humble opinion, the 1250 GS is hands down the most comfortable and most biker friendly adventure bikes on the market.  Of course it comes with the reliability of the Boxer engine.  All in all it is a terrific all-rounder and I would hope not to have to wait to win the Lotto to get it.  
  4. Honda Goldwing. I would get this bike just to be a tad different because not many people my age truly appreciate what it is all about!  The Goldwing would be great for an unhurried ride with my partner to Cape Town. It has loads of storage capacity but best off all I would love to be a disrupter and pump up the volume on it, just to see the surprised looks of other motorists upon hearing music from a motorbike! 

Follow Bongi Nkosi’s biking travels on Insta: @will_i_am_sa

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