In Summary
  • I also know that street bikes with a long wheelbase offer very good high-speed stability especially north of 300km/h, but it compromises handling.
  • A single-cylinder (or even a twin) is one of the easiest motorised objects to repair and maintain, and it will provide a very good entry point into understanding how engines work.

Hello Baraza,

I am a great fan of your articles, and I read you from the Laikipia and Samburu border, where I reside. I am considering buying a motorcycle, a 150CC to be precise, to help me get to work on time. I write to request guidance on the following: Kindly recommend a high-performing bike for both off-road and on-road that can go for long distances without overheating. I need a fuel-efficient bike which is easy to maintain and durable. Its spare parts must be available and it must be a fast bike, since here the presence of wild animals is real. My first thought was a Bajaj boxer 150CC, but any other recommendation will be highly appreciated.

Robert

Hello Robert,

In case it escaped your notice, I don’t review motorbikes. I actively refuse to learn to ride one or get a licence for one; the main reason being they are noisy, nasty, uncomfortable, murderous little chainsaw-powered contraptions and now they have become a clear and present factor leading to the deterioration of road safety in this country. If I become transport minister I shall ban them.

I'm unlikely to become transport minister any time soon, so you can safely own a bicycle with a generator where the main sprocket should be, for now.

However, my knowledge of bikes is limited compared to that of cars, but I can tell them apart according to function: from the gnarly, skeletal off-roaders (dirt bikes); to the snazzy, high-revving street bikes on which the rider lies prone at speed; to the more common bike type on which one sits bolt upright regardless of speed, a deathtrap that was once the preserve of village pastors before being appropriated by boda-boda operators; to choppers with handlebars reaching skywards like the antennae on a grasshopper’s head such as what The Undertaker would ride to the ring back when I was still interested in wrestling; to bruiser-cruisers such as the Electra Glide and the Goldwing and the BMW R1100RS with engines and dashboards that wouldn’t be out of place on a motor vehicle, et cetera.

FUEL EFFICIENCY

Of course my mentioning the Goldwing and whatnot means my motorcycle knowledge extends to the ability to read the name brand emblazoned on the fuel tank, and this is the point where we approach the upper limit of this knowledge.

I also know that street bikes with a long wheelbase offer very good high-speed stability, especially north of 300km/h, but it compromises handling.

That may explain the Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa’s rather strange characteristics. I know KTMs are good off-road, but they are expensive.

I know in bikes, one operates the clutch by hand and selects gears by foot: the exact opposite of cars.

So, that is the entirety of my two-wheeled knowledge, summed up in two short paragraphs; none of which is particularly helpful. This is the much I can contribute to your query:

Fuel efficiency is a given for almost all motorcycles. The smaller and slower the bike, the more fuel efficient. We are looking at figures better than 30km/l for the 150ccs.

MAINTENANCE

Durability is heavily dependent on using the right type of bike for the tasks demanded, especially if we are talking off-road sojourns.

Just like motor vehicles, maintenance is key as well and just like motor vehicles, Japanese bikes tend to fare better in this.

There is a new bike on sale in the country called the Kibo that is not Japanese but sure looks promising.

I hope our resident bipedal correspondent gets his hands on one for thorough analysis.

Maintenance should not be a problem since you don't seem to require a street bike or a cruiser, which tend to be relatively complex in its multi-cylinder affairs.

A single-cylinder (or even a twin) is one of the easiest motorised objects to repair and maintain, and it will provide a very good entry point into understanding how engines work.

Strength could mean structural rigidity, in which case see Durability above, or it could be engine power/torque; in which case bigger engines have more, just like cars.

SPARE PARTS

There are details such as the use of reed valves, ECU tunes and fuel injection. But I won’t go into details because, again, these mostly apply to performance bikes and not the regular buzz boxes you may be interested in.

Page 1 of 2