Getting into adventure riding as a novice. Gugu Masuku shares his story.
The world of motorcycles is vast and exciting in more ways than one often sees. It took about a decade for me to realise this. You see, many riders enter the lifestyle with the sole intention of putting a bike on the road and enjoying the joys of open-air freedom. There's nothing wrong with this approach but if you peer a little further down the road, you'll discover a completely different genre called adventure riding, and you may just acquire a new addiction.
Having recently attended the launch of the new Triumph Tiger 1200 range, which included riding off the beaten path, yours truly returned with the adventure riding bug. With experience on bikes since since adolescence, this aspect of riding had never been an area of interest until June 2022. When presented with the prospect of putting the Triumph Tiger 1200 through gravel, a river and over mountains, I gracefully declined. But with gentle nudging from fellow riders and instructors, I conceded and life hasn't been the same since.
Following that grand introduction to the world of adventure riding, my daily routine now includes scouring the internet for motocross bikes. Any ambitions I had to own a litre road missile were replaced by a yearning for something with off-roading ability. Careful not to place the cart before the horse, I enrolled in an adventure riding course with Triumph Motorcycles South Africa and iRide Adventure. The aim was to gain some much-needed off-road skills before making any significant financial commitments.
The course on offer is geared towards two groups of people; those who have never been off-road and those looking to up their skills and tackle more advanced off-road trails. These were the two group splits on the day. An encouraging aspect of this course is the instructor's emphasis on meeting every rider where they are, with the aim of sending them off a better adventure rider than they came in. Should you be considering doing a local or cross-border adventure riding trip and need to up or fine-tune your dirt riding, you stand to benefit greatly from this type of course.
With a single notch of experience on my belt (thanks to that maiden run on the Triumph Tiger 1200), I was placed in the "experienced" group on the day, although this time I was on the marginally smaller but equally capable Triumph Tiger 900.
Having done numerous riding courses over the years, a common thread is how they are crafted to give you just enough to keep you coming back. Back for the next level, or a "part two and three" before you're granted your wings. Refreshingly, the iRide course turned out to be honest and about the business. It's a full-day of adventure rider training and there's a great emphasis on doing as much riding, to enable you to put what you've learned into practical use. The theory isn't taught in a classroom, but with you geared up and standing next to your bike. After which, it's time to put everything into practice in the real world. Hennops River 4x4 venue is the training ground for this class, and no obstacle course is out of bounds.
Within the first half of the day, I was confidently riding with the Tiger 900 in Off-road Pro mode. This settting disengages both the traction control and the ABS, allowing for wheel spin and locking of the rear brake. Such skills are transferable to road riding as slippery conditions can be found anywhere. It also equips you for having safe fun on a bike and letting the rear wheel loose should you be in the mood. Deposited into my arsenal of skills was the ability to tackle steep off-road trails, which isn't as intimidating as appears when you have the competency to back it up. An exhilerating but nail-biting part of the course was taking on the Hennops forest trail at a reasonable pace. It's a tight trail with turns to match. Applying the lessons you've learned in balance, control and spatial awareness is crucial to avoiding coming off the bike or clipping a tree with your handlebars.
Overall, the course is intense and a great hands-on learning experience. I found it to be exceptional value for money at R1400 per person, with refreshments available freely throughout the day and a hearty lunch. In the end, we had done so much riding that the option to tow the Tiger 900 home was as enticing as a hot shower and comfy bed. An indication of a day well spent. This is the start of my adventure/off-road riding journey, and you'll be kept in the loop as I go along. For now, the search for the perfect motocross bike continues. You too can find your next mototcycle on our CHANGECARS platform.
Words: Gugu Masuku