Start ‘barking’ to beat C19

Zane Crawford with the Africa Twin, the adventure bike he prefers to sell.

KZN 16 Honda Zane Crawford

The first thing overseas entrants in the Roof of Africa race discover is that South Africans don’t ride bikes. They are told: “In S’afrika, we raad barks, bru.”

And it turns out “raading a bark” in sunny South Africa is also an excellent way to keep the Sars-Cov2 virus at bay. In April 2020, COVID-19 researchers at three universities in the U.S. — California, Davis and Oregon — found lots of air flow and sunlight help to dilute the viral load in a room.

At Honda Wing in Pietermaritzburg, Zane Crawford points out that light does not get more natural, or the air more flowing, than when riding a motorbike with an open face helmet. You don’t even need to ride as fast as South Africa’s first MotoGP winner, Brad Binder. Cruising slowly while admiring the scenery will disperse air-borne viruses as efficiently.

Crawford told Dealerfloor he loves nothing better than to arrange such slow cruises to market new Honda motorbikes to clients. He explains he sells bikes to three different types of riders — those who just want working wheels like a delivery scooter or a farm bike; those who want superbikes that go very fast; and the mid-range or lifestyle bikes.

“The best way to sell lifestyle bikes is through experiential marketing, or as they say in the Cowboy movies: We ride.”

This approach works, as Crawford was one of Honda’s award-winning sales executives for 2018-2019. Crawford said mid-range adventure bikes are increasingly popular, and he hopes local demand will be sufficient to homologate the new 2020 year-model CRF 450R, which looks to be even better than the legendary 2008 model. But if the CRF 450 doesn’t pan out for South Africa’s tiny market, there is always its bigger boet — the CRF 1000 cc Africa Twin.

Crawford said from his perspective as a “bark seller” there is only one problem with selling Honda motorbikes. “Chris Scott, author of the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook summed it up best when he wrote the Africa Twin is the adventure bike chosen for its “mind numbing reliability”. This applies to all our models. Unless you go drop your bike hard every weekend, we don’t get to charge you for constant repairs. You buy a Honda, you buy pure reliability and we only see you on rides, or for services,” says Crawford.

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