Fantastic Father: Mnoneleli Ntshauzana (34)
Full time job: Fantastic Father to Aziza (2)
Between 8 & 5: Works as a Transmission Controller
Brrrps around on a: BMW R 1200 GSA
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse the heavens opened up and spat on me…
– Mnoneleli Ntshauzana
1. H&H: What sparked your interest in motorcycling?
MN: My uncle, a traffic police officer, rode a Kawasaki to and from work. I was fascinated and began pestering him to take me riding. That soon escalated to sweetly requesting if I could start the bike for him when he left for work in the mornings. The sound of the bike’s engine was very different from that of any car I had ever heard. I was smitten and that’s how my love for the two-wheeled machine was born. When I was about 13 years old, I remember promising myself that I would buy a motorcycle before I bought a car. That’s exactly how things have turned out. I believe I was born to ride. I’m a biker through and through.
2. H&H: Who taught you how to ride and what was your first motorbike?
MN: My colleague taught me how to ride. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I can’t remember what model the bike was but if memory serves me correctly it was a scrambler. During our lunch break, we would take his motorbike to a park close to our workplace. He showed me all I needed to know, from correctly starting the bike to safely pushing off. It took me 3 days to get comfortable on it and my early childhood resolve to get a motorbike was strongly rekindled. At the time, I got around using public transport but the queues at the taxi ranks were not my cup of tea. Fortunately I had saved up a bit. When I learnt that a colleague was emigrating to the USA and selling his Big Boy Voyager 250cc, I jumped at the opportunity. I felt like the king of the road on that scooter!
3. H&H: What made you choose the BMW R 1200 GSA over other adventure bikes on the market?
MN: I was already a staunch believer of the BMW Motorrad products as I was on a BMW R 1200 GS at the time. The 1200 GS had served me well for just under a year but as my riding experience and lifestyle evolved so too did my motorcycle needs. The GSA was therefore a natural progression for me. I was immediately attracted to the 1200 GSA as it came standard with many features. These included crash bars, wide foot peg, wide wind shield, spot lights, pannier brackets and cruise control. It also had a bigger fuel tank and slightly more comfy seat than the 1200 GS. Also, I had already determined, through owning the 1200 GS, that maintenance and running costs were within my affordability.
Later though, the dreaded – “aren’t you afraid of dying?” question came up.
– MNONELELI NTSHAUZANA
4. H&H: When you initially started out, how did your family feel about you taking up on 2-wheels?
MN: I think most bikers encounter the same negative reaction when we bring up the topic of becoming a biker. No-one really gives you the thumbs-up or fully supports you. When you start showing an active interest in motorcycles, you find that you are basically on your own. It wasn’t any different in my case. In an attempt to avoid the pre-explosion, I simply bought the bike and showed up. All I got was “your bike is beautiful”. Later though, the dreaded “aren’t you afraid of dying?” question came up. At that point, it was too late. I had made my choice.
5. Would you encourage Aziza to ride in the future if she wanted to?
MN: If I could start her off at this early age I would definitely ride with her so she can get used to it. As she grows older and should she show interest, I will absolutely encourage her to ride. Motorcycling is an expression of freedom and I’d want her to experience the same sense of liberation which I enjoy when I saddle up.
6. H&H: Motorcycling is an enjoyable lifestyle. Share with us some unforgettable memories of your biking journey thus far.
MN: Riding home to Maclear in the Eastern Cape earlier this year easily comes to mind. I had previously made the journey on a Honda NC750x but doing so on my GSA changed the nature of the excursion completely. It was a far more comfortable, smoother and rider friendly trip. The cruise control element came in handy and the bike’s 30-litre fuel tank made the ride more fuel efficient.
I engaged my front brake and dismounted rather disgracefully from my saddle.
– mnoneleli ntshauzana
My 1200 GSA has seen more than its fair share of gravel! Some of my happiest memories include attending off-road rider training courses. These came in handy when I optimistically decided to ride solo through Naude’s Nek Pass in the Eastern Cape. Physically, I was more than prepared for the adventure but nothing could have primed me mentally. The Pass turned out to be endless. It snaked through varying degrees of gradient, offering nothing but dust, rocks and shadeless trees. Sheer vertical drops, seemingly into perpetual depths of nothingness on either side of my motorcycle made my heart beat more than I can articulate in printable English. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse the heavens opened up and spat relentlessly at me for the remainder of the ride. It was torture but I enjoyed it. That’s the love hate relationship bikers have with the elements.
7. H&H: It can be said that riding a motorcycle is quite dangerous. What is your scariest biker memory?
I can best describe my scariest moment in 3 vivid parts.
Part 1: It all began when I dropped my bike in Swaziland, resulting in a fractured ankle. My friends and I had been riding on a sandy gravel road when I decided to change from the line I was riding in and take the line of the lead rider who was on my left-hand side. Forgetting that there would be a column of sand between the two riding lines, I attempted to cross to the left and that’s when the drama began. Immediately my from tyre bit the sand, my bike unsurprisingly started to slide out of control. What ensued over a 2-second time frame felt like 2-minutes of slow motion terror. The sand, coupled with my riding speed, was a recipe for a fall. All the rider training I knew came to play but nothing proved effective. Although I had the presence of mind to acknowledge that I was losing control of the situation I simultaneously made a rookie mistake. I engaged my front brake and dismounted rather disgracefully from my saddle.
I have learnt not to dwell on crappy situations and negative people
– MNONELELI NTSHAUZANA
Part 2: You would think that the scary part would have been the fall but you’d be wrong. Falling is not unusual however looking down at the shattered bones which just 3-minutes prior had formed my healthy ankle all but freaked me out. The pain was excruciating and I wondered if I wasn’t dying.
8. 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?
I’ve learnt that there is so much more to appreciate in life than what culture and society conditions us to believe. There isn’t a template for living your life. You make your own life in your own way. BMW Motorrad’s tag #MakeLifeARide truly embodies how I live and my attitude towards every day that I am blessed with.
Part 3: I don’t know why I didn’t just pass out and wake up in a hospital bed like in the movies. If that had happened I might have been spared the third part of my scare which was mental. Thoughts of being never being able to ride or walk again, (yes in that order) hounded my mind mercilessly. Fortunately my injury wasn’t that severe. Several medical procedures later I am fully healed and have been happily riding once again.
Hanging up my helmet at someone else’s request is simply not an option.
– mnonoleli ntshauzana
Biking has also taught me that time is a gift and as such I have learnt not to dwell on crappy situations and negative people. With the understanding that my life could change in a heartbeat, it is in my best interest to be as happy as possible, as often as possible.
Of equal importance, joining the biker community has taught me about the value of friendship, brotherhood and the love that people on bikes have for on another and people as a whole. We are a misunderstood group of people, often branded as rebels, misfits, yet bikers are some of the warmest people I have ever met with a heart for other people. I don’t think the non-biking public is aware of the amazing things bikers do for communities i.e. charity work.
9. H&H: How often do you ride and what are some of the places you have ventured to?
I ride often because I use my bike to commute to work. I make it a point to ride off-road twice a month or just ride in search of roads not commonly travelled. Riding is a form of therapy for me and whenever I feel off-centre, I ride to re-balance my emotional and mental energy.
I have been privileged to visit extraordinary places in and around South Africa. My favorite destinations include off-the-beaten-trail hide-aways in Mpumalanga, the Free State and the North West. Lesotho and Swaziland also offer some world-class tourist sights and have roads which seem to have been designed with bikers in mind. As soon as it is permissible I will look to traveling to countries such as Namibia and Botswana.
If if were possible, I’d be the guy who would upgrade his bike each time there was a new one on the market!
– mnoneleli ntshauzana
10. If asked to hang up your helmet forever would you do so?
I hope never to be asked such a horrible question! Hanging up my helmet at someone else’s request is simply not an option. I would probably distance myself from that person because they would have demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of who I am and what makes me happy. In short, don’t ask me to do that.
11. 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?)
Let me start by saying that if if were possible, I’d be the guy who would upgrade his bike each time there was a new one on the market! But to answer your question, I’d get three completely different types of bikes. A city run-around, an adventure bike and a street bike. These would be:
- BMW R 1250 GS: This would be my adventure bike. It looks good and has incredible technology.
- BMW R Nine T: I just love this lifestyle bike. I would use it for casual riding around town, you know coffee dates and the like.
- Ducati Superleggeria V4: I’m not particularly crazy about speed but I would make an exception for this monster and use it on the track.
You can follow Mnoneleli’s adventure on Instagram: @guyonbikesa