The man & his bike: Tunku Motsumi

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 11 April 2017   |   By B. Double
The man & his bike:  Tunku Motsumi

Tunku Motsumi – one of the pioneers of biking in Botswana – is a true institution within the local biking scene. Tunku is a Director of Government & Fleet Sales for Barloworld Motors. His responsibility is to look after vehicle sales for the Central and Local Government, local being District Councils, Parastatals and Mines. Tunku’s first bike was bought for him by his father in 1973, when he was just a standard 7 pupil. It was a Peugeot 105 moped. This had a 49 cc engine capacity. It had to be pedalled like a bicycle to get started. How is that for old school? Later on his father’s friend “Uncle Sharp” came to Ramotswa from Mogobane and got Tunku to ride his Honda CT90. This had an engine capacity of 90cc. Later again, when Tunku was doing Form 1, his father bought him a Suzuki TS50. This had a 50cc engine capacity. Since then, as one can imagine, Tunku has owned many bikes, including off road bikes. He actually used to race off road, and has many trophies to attest to that. Currently, Tunku’s main bike is a Kawasaki ZX14. He likes the fact that the ZX14 is comfortable while still being capable of high speed. At his age, he does not want to go back to superbikes because they have a very cramped riding position. “I have always been a Kawasaki fan,” he says, adding “I once owned a ZX6-R”. For Tunku, “it was a choice between the ZX14 and the (Suzuki) Hayabusa”. The ZX14 won out because he liked the shape more. He was also impressed by the reviews of the ZX14 which he read in bike magazines. Tunku enjoys doing breakfast runs. He does not mind doing occasional long rides of 600 kilometres or so. In addition to the ZX14, Tunku has four other bikes. He has a 1958 Triumph Thunderbird, which he is restoring.  He also has a BSA 250 Gold Star. He does not remember the year but points out that it is “a pretty old bike”.  He has a 1981 Moto Guzzi 850 Le Mans II and a 1998 Honda VFR 800. Tunku used to give riding lessons almost every Sunday. Many local riders are his former students. He was even involved in setting up the testing centre at the Department of Road Transport and Safety in Gaborone. He trained the examiners at the Department.

Tunku was a founding member of the Botswana Braves Motorcycle Club in 1998. He reckons that, at the time, the Braves were one of only two motorcycle clubs in Botswana. The first biker rally which Tunku ever attended was the Impala Rally in 1998 in South Africa. He attended the rally by himself. “Compared to what we used to do in Botswana, it was an eye opener for me…to find 5-6000 bikers there!” he exclaims. He had never seen so many bikers in one place before. Since then, he has attended many rallies and “day jols”, both locally and across the border. “I really enjoy going to the racetrack more than going to rallies,” he points out. Tunku is a founding member of Ulysses Botswana Motor Cycle Club, which is a local chapter of an international club. “The most difficult part of establishing Ulysses was the age factor,” he recalls. One of the requirements to become a member of Ulysses is that one must be 40 years old. At that time there were few riders of that age group. Tunku knew a few riders over 40 who eventually introduced him to others. Tunku’s next bike will likely be a Honda Africa Twin, which is an adventure bike. He says that the Africa Twin is light, compared to most other adventure bikes. The height of the Africa twin is also not as extreme as other adventure bikes. This makes it well suited to Tunku as he is not a tall person. Tunku’s “ultimate bike” is the Honda Goldwing 1800, which is a touring bike. He has now ridden many different kinds of bikes and the Goldwing would be a well deserved luxury bike of sorts. Few would say that he doesn’t deserve it. Tunku wants the comfort of the Goldwing because, as he says, “I have banged this body of mine over the years”. He wants the Goldwing “with all the bells and whistles” he says with the enthusiasm of a teenager. Amongst touring bikes, Tunku refers to the Goldwing as “the benchmark”. Tunku would like to see bikers portray a good image for biking in general. He is totally against riders who are fond of revving their motorcycles and disturbing people at shopping malls. This practice is childish and very annoying, he says. He would like to start the practice of taking six riders at a time and teaching them the finer points of riding. In his opinion, holding a riding license does not mean that one really knows how to ride. He would teach them what he calls “the dos and don’ts”. He encourages beginners to start off with smaller bikes and work their way up to bigger and more powerful bikes.