Tuesday March 26, 2014. It is the day I flew with baby Satrin Osinya from Mombasa on his way to Nairobi to remove a terrorist’s bullet lodged in his brain.
It is also the day my love affair with motorcycles began.
See, the call from the charity flight came early morning, and they said that I had to be at Wilson Airport in an hour. This would be a herculean task, seeing as I was in Kikuyu.
Jumping into a matatu, we were met with a traffic gridlock. The calls from Wilson were incessant and time was running out. Thinking quickly, I called a friend who had had enough of Kenyan traffic jams and bought a motorcycle. As luck would have it, he had just left his home in Uthiru.
He found me sweltering and nervous in a matatu at around Kangemi. I alighted and hopped onto his motorcycle. “I will get you there in time, pal, he said.”
I was a bit apprehensive. What with the stories we have heard of bike accidents, especially involving boda bodas. But my pal seemed to be in control and though he weaved in between vehicles, he obeyed the road rules, used the side mirrors and always made other motorists aware of his intentions.
Another remarkable thing is that he did not have to follow the traffic. He took James Gichuru Road off Waiyaki Way, onto Mzima Springs where traffic was less dense. Before long, we were on State House Road, and somehow he hit Mbagathi Road on to Lang’ata Road. I had spent over 40 minutes stuck on traffic from Mountain View to around Sodom, Kangemi. This ideally would be a two-minutes drive.
And though taking longer routes, in about 30 minutes, the pilot was literary dragging me to the waiting aircraft saying I had made history for making him wait for me! “Now you know why you need to invest in a bike,” my friend waved me off.
What it will cost you
Many motorcycle enthusiasts are strict on safety. They have invested heavily in biker’s gear. So when buying a motorcycle, you need to factor in the cost of the gear. First off, the type of the bike matters. There are three categories, street bikes, those with a low CC of say 150; off road, over 200cc, and speed bikes which can go up to 1000cc.
Safety gear prices depend on your pocket. And quality. Michelle Morgan’s helmet cost Sh13,000. You also need an armoured jacket, better if it’s leather. Samuel Ramtu says you can get one for Sh3,000 if not padded, and padded one for Sh5,000. The cheapest listed jacket goes for Sh20,000. You also need knee and elbow guards, at a cost of Sh5,000 upwards.
And then there are boots. You will be lucky to get second-hand pair at about Sh8,000, but I sported a new one selling at Sh24,000. For off road you need goggles. Good ones will go for about Sh5,000. Take your pick.