Racing in SA

Max Biaggi on a Suzuki. Image by Robvonk

Looking for a comfortable and safe Mercedes Benz A class for sale, or perhaps interested in something a little more adrenaline inducing? If you like living dangerously, a superbike may just be for you…

The superbike is a modified motorcycle; but the only modifications that are allowed on the bike for it still to be eligible for Superbike tournaments include alterations made to its suspension, swingarm, brakes, and size of wheels. The frame, profile and roadgoing components must remain the standardised parts of the production motorcycles.

Comparing it to cars, the superbike would be like a formula racing car while the motorcycle is the touring race car. Superbike racing is very popular in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Japan, and it is fast catching on as a popular sport and recreation in South Africa. One advantage to owning a superbike is that the engine is itself a better sound system than ones you’ll find in most cars…

The main specifications on a motorcycle modified to be a superbike for racing are:

  • 4 stroke engine, 850 to 1200 cc
  • 4 cylinder, 750 to 1000 cc
  • It should be very similar to the standard motorcycle

The History of Superbike in South Africa

Separate from MX (and therefore from MX gear), superbike racing began way back in the 1970s in Australia, and the Superbike World Championship began in 1988. However, it was only in 1998 that superbike racing began in South Africa on a formal level. The races took place at the famous Kyalami track in Johannesburg. The superbike races were stopped after 2002 because of problems with the fast track.

It was only in 2009 that the superbike racing resumed at the Kyalami circuit through the Superbike World Championship. There are 7 top choices in superbike brands available on the market today. They are Ducati, Kawasaki, Honda, BMW, Yamaha, Aprilia, and Suzuki.

The Superbike World Championship

The South African leg of the circuit falls under Race 6 of the Superbike World Championship with the other 9 races taking place in other countries like the U.S., Japan, and Australia. In South Africa, Motorsport South Africa (MSA) is the organization in charge, not just for the superbike racing but all motorcycle racing. Their goal is to produce the first black champion in the Superbike World Championship, as well as to professionalise the industry and increase support and awareness for the sport.

The fact is that South Africa has produced champions in motorcycle racing like Sheridan Morais, in the Superstock category, and Ronan Quarmby for the Supersport series – both of which fall under superbike races. Also making headlines is Themba Khumalo who is only 15 years old but has done impressively well in the world races and Brad Binder who won a rookie race.

The Difference between Superbike World Championship and the MotoGP are:

  • Superbike competitors have 2 qualifying rounds
  • The 16 fastest times qualify for Superpole which is a race for starting position. Other racers who fall behind the 16th place are positioned based on their fastest time

Kyalami Race Track

The venue for motorcycle and car races is Kyalami. It’s a 4.2 km track with 10 turns. It has undergone renovation and changes to make the track safer and world class. The interest in Kyalami was born out of a fluke when one of the venues for the Formula 1 races became a problem. South Africa was one of the countries that applied to be considered as a replacement, and the rest, they say, is history. After the Formula 1, other races were scheduled and the Superbike races are just one of the many activities that take place at this race track.

Although Superbikes (and motorbiking in general) are exhilarating and appeal to those who love an adrenaline rush, they can also be dangerous. It is very important to bear this latter fact in mind, especially when looking for high quality motorcycle helmets: the expense is a necessity, and a simple good choice at the beginning of your riding career can save your life later on down the line.