About 12000 motorbikes from all over South Africa are about to roar into East London for the R10-million Harley-Davidson Africa Bike Week tomorrow.
The rally, starting at the Esplanade, is partially sponsored by Buffalo City Metro (BCM), and it is the first time the major biking extravaganza will be hosted by the city.
BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi said the rally fitted in with the metro positioning itself as the events capital of the province.
“It gives the city exposure and is good for the business community. We want the public to come out in large numbers.”
Event project manager Carl Frayne said yesterday that BCM was putting in R5.8-million.
Touted as the biggest free motorcycle event in Africa, the family-friendly event, which runs to Sunday, is expected to draw up to 35000 people to the beachfront to see the latest Harley bikes, buy biking merchandise, watch eye-popping stunt shows and a fashion show, cool off at three bars and take in an impressive entertainment line-up on the massive stage.
The event includes Super GP racing at the East London Grand Prix circuit on Saturday morning and a mass ride of up to 3000 bikes from the Esplanade to the Gonubie Hotel on Sunday at 10am.
“There is going to be a huge carnival atmosphere,” said Frayne, who showed the Dispatch around Court Crescent, which has been transformed into a fenced-off bikers’ Mecca.
The event was held in Margate for eight years before relocating to East London, in what has been hailed as an economic coup for the city.
“In Margate, the economic impact was in excess of R60-million per year to the local economy and here we will be happy to reach R40-million for the first event.”
Frayne said hotels on the Esplanade strip were 90% full and 10000 people had registered online, giving them free access to the entertainment area, which will feature music acts including the Parlotones, DJ Mobi Dixon, The Muffinz, Desmond and the Tutus, Majozi, Taxi Violence and Jack Parow.
For those who had not registered by Monday, a one-off R200 fee will secure access to shows across three nights.
Frayne said the cut-off for concerts would be midnight and the bar would close at 2am.
“There will be noise but we are asking for tolerance and for understanding that this will be an economic boost for the people,” Frayne said. Roads surrounding Court Crescent including Longfellow Street, part of the Esplanade road and part of Moore Street will be closed to motor vehicles. The lower end of John Bailie Road will also be closed to cars but motorbikes will be able to access the site in a circular one-way route.
Frayne said groups of bikers were already making their way to the city. The biggest of these is a group of 38 black bikers from Gauteng and Mpumalanga, led by Harley ambassador Dr Moji Mogari.
“The slogan for the event is ‘live the legend’ which means people should pimp their ride and be who they are because tomorrow may never come.”
- For more information and the programme see africabikeweek.com