The man & his bike: Francis Gleason

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 29 August 2017   |   By B. Double
The man & his bike: Francis Gleason

Francis Mothabi Gleason is a graphic designer and owner of OP Advertising. Francis has wanted to be a biker for as long as he can remember. He grew up admiring an older cousin from Ireland who was the stereotypical “big, leather-clad, long-haired biker”. Francis’ first motorcycle was a Honda CBX 750, which he purchased in 2003. This was a former police bike which had been damaged in an accident. He bought this bike from a friend and had to repair it before he could ride it. By this time, Francis had already learned the basics of how to ride on friends’ bikes, which had been of smaller engine capacity. He had no formal training. His story is similar to that of many old school riders. “I more or less taught myself,” he recalls. “When I did go to a riding school, I realised that a lot of what I had taught myself was cr*p,” he concedes. He saw that he had taught himself a lot of bad habits which he had to change. His next bike was another accident damaged bike which had to be rebuilt. This was a Yamaha Virago 535. He could not get this bike registered because it was from South Africa and the registration documents were not in order; therefore, he decided to sell it. After this Francis moved on to – you guessed it – yet another accident damaged bike which needed repair work. This was a Yamaha DragStar 650 which had been used by the messenger from one of the prominent law firms in Gaborone.  He bought this bike in 2007. The DragStar was a very cool looking cruiser with lots of shiny chrome.

Breaking the pattern of buying accident damaged bikes, Francis bought his first brand new bike in 2009, This was a Suzuki 650 Bandit. As Francis explains, there is a “thing” in biking about wanting to upgrade to bigger bikes. When he was riding the 650 Bandit, people would always ask the engine capacity. When he told them that it was 650 cubic centimetres, they would respond by saying “It’s not a bad bike…so when are you moving up?” No doubt Francis felt the pressure to get a bigger bike. He liked the Bandit brand, so he decided to stick with it when “moving up”.  In 2012, he made the upgrade to a Suzuki 1250 Bandit. This is his current bike. The bigger Bandit has an engine capacity of 1250 cubic centimetres. In addition to riding around town, the 1250 Bandit is good for touring. It has removable panniers which allow Francis to carry luggage. Francis has often used the 1250 Bandit to commute to work in Gaborone from his home in Metsimotlhabe. In fact, for much of this year his car has not been available, so he has been using the Bandit to get to work daily. Francis has been a member of Live to Ride Motorcycle Club since 2008. He used to attend 4 rallies every year: the Impala Rally at Hartebeesport Dam, the Eland Rally at Swartruggens, the Poison Rally, and a local rally called the Hornbill Rally. However, he has not attended a rally in almost two years.

Francis was one of the first local riders to attend the Mafikeng blanket run. A biker friend of his from Molepolole moved to Mafikeng and invited him to attend the event. This was in 2008. He attended the event by himself. He used to ride a lot on weekends, but has not done so lately because after commuting all week on the bike, he feels that he needs a break from riding on weekends. However, now that his car is back, he hopes to resume weekend rides. Francis prefers that his next bike be a Suzuki GSX-R 750. This is 750 cc super sport motorcycle. He had initially wanted to make his next bike a cruiser, but when he rode a friend’s new Suzuki GSX-R 750, he told himself “one more fast bike…”. Francis’ dream bike is a Bimota although he has no specific model in mind. Bimota is a small Italian manufacturer of exotic motorcycles. Owning a Bimota would make him part of a very exclusive club. So far, no Bimota has been spotted on our roads. Francis says that a lot of new riders seem to feel invincible. He feels that this is the cause of many motorcycle accidents. He says that when it comes to bikers “there are those who have fallen and those who are going to fall”. He urges riders to be more careful.