Molaodi ‘Papa Stan’Ranko is a very jolly character. He owns a transport company. He is known in the biking community as Papa Stan. Motorcycles first piqued Papa Stan’s interest in 2003 through a friend who was riding regularly by then. This friend took him to watch the motocross around Block 8 and Gaborone Dam. Papa Stan’s first motorcycle was a 400 cc Yamaha former police bike. He bought this bike in 2005. Papa Stan laughs when he remembers this bike. “It was taking money from my pocket,” he says. “You would ride it for two weeks and then it would be dead.” Three years later, Papa Stan felt that it was time to graduate to a bigger engine with more power. He purchased what he then believed to be a 750 cc Kawasaki sport bike from a local rider. Knowing very little about motorcycles at the time, Papa Stan was impressed by the fairing of the bike and the Two Brothers exhaust system. He was very excited, believing that he was now riding with the big boys, as they say. To Papa Stan’s great shock, when he had now owned his pride and joy for some time, he was informed by those who were more knowledgeable that he had in fact bought another 400 cc motorcycle! In 2012, Papa Stan finally managed to get the long sought after 750cc motorcycle. He bought a Yamaha YZF 750. This was an import from the UK which had been parked for almost two years. According to Papa Stan, he experienced so many problems with this bike that it almost bankrupted him. Yet his passion for biking was so strong that he did not realise just how much he was spending at the time. From 2013, Papa Stan took a hiatus from biking as it was financially taxing, and he had to focus on other priorities in life.
In 2015, Papa Stan came back to riding in a big way. He bought his current bike – the Kawasaki ZX-14. He likes the big and powerful engine of the ZX-14. He feels that because of the large size of the bike, it is not disturbed by cross winds. He says that the bike has 177 horsepower which he humorously compares to “177 horses pulling a wagon”. He likes the road holding of the bike. When it comes to attending biking events, Papa Stan is one of the most enthusiastic bikers that I have ever met. The first biker rally that he ever attended was a local rally known as the Hornbill Rally in 2008. The first biker rally that Papa Stan attended across the border was the Poison Rally in Rustenburg. This was in 2009. He has also attended the Sapa Yopa Rally in Limpopo Province and the Rhino Rally in Harrismith, in the Free State Province amongst others. He also attends a lot of “day jols” and breakfast runs in places such as Rustenburg. Next month, he plans to attend the Swazi Rally in Swaziland. One of the reasons why Papa Stan has attended so many biker events is that he enjoys riding long distances more than short rides. Before Papa Stan ran his own business, getting time off to attend all these events took careful planning. He would work extra shifts so that his bosses would let him take time off. In other times, he would have to apply for leave. When attending events which are far away, he usually leaves Gaborone on Friday. The further away the destination, the earlier in the day he leaves. He likes to arrive early so that he can find decent accommodation. He sometimes camps, but admits that he does not do so regularly. He prefers the comfort of a lodge.
Papa Stan is a member of Rising Phoenix Motorcycle Club. He sometimes rides with his club on weekends. He also attends some of the aforementioned events with the club. Papa Stan would like his next motorcycle to be a Harley Davidson tourer with a stereo system. He says that he would like to own this in addition to the ZX-14. The Harley Davidson would be for “special occasions”. However, his dream bike is a BMW S1000RR. This is currently one of the best performing superbikes on the market. Papa Stan says that he enjoys the “spirit” of biking. He says that bikers lean on one another for support. Like many local bikers, he speaks of the late Norman Bingham with great admiration and credits him for the mentorship that he received.