Whenever I hear older people speak, the talk is mostly about the past and how wonderful it was. No doubt it must have been great in the 70s when girls wore very short skirts, having only two wives showed you lacked ambition and Lungula Transmitted Diseases (LTDs) were as harmless as a light headache. It all sounds wonderful until they get to the part of the story where they had to have a minor surgical procedure and the only pain relief that could be found in the whole country was a piece of wood to bite into.
It was horrible and this am afraid is how everything worked out in the past – a nice nostalgic story preceding chapter upon chapter of horror. I could go on giving examples, and so I shall. In the 90s, we were free to play anywhere with anyone because nobody had heard of child abduction. But then only Tv station in the country opened at 4pm. And when I say opened I actually mean opened, because it started with the national anthem and then a lady, standing in-front of some curtains, welcomed you to the television and asked that you enjoy the viewing and to remember to switch it off after the closing national anthem later at 11pm.
But things are different now and the quality of service is always improving. We used to send money using something called a money order, I queued for 7 hours when it was my time to get a PIN number, buses had no maximum capacity and as a result I used to stand all the way from Nairobi to Kericho.
Plainly right now, this very minute, is the best time possible to be alive.
And aren’t we entitled! This world of convenience that we live in has now led us to thinking that everything good exists by default. You cannot believe a human being does not have access to a mobile phone, and you ask people where their “offices” are as if not having or having only one office is the third worst thing after Ebola and the NTSA.
But I understand this entitlement. It is all the doing of big brands such as Samsung and Safaricom that have managed to bring everything right to your doorstep such that you no longer have to do anything whatsoever, apart from reach for your wallet. Jumia now insist on delivering shoes to your door and thanks to OLX, you no longer have to go house hunting.
For bikes though, this is not yet the case and it is a fact not understood by those of us new to bike ownership. You will be familiar with this kind of post in our forums:
“Hi. Which is the best option for a 1000cc bike with full features (ABS, traction control, power commander) that can do 0 – 100kph in 2 seconds, top speed above 250kph, fuel consumption 45 km/l, very sporty and can go off-road. Very important also is spare parts. I want a bike with spares and service dealership available all over the country. My budget is between 150 and 200K. Please contact me. Serious dealers only.”
You may laugh at this sort of entitled and insane demand but this the sort of questions fielded by bike sellers on a daily basis. It is a situation created by a world where the modern consumer (with full access to mobile money and insurance for their mobile phone) faces a motorcycle industry lacking variety, spare parts, mechanics and everything else.
The industry has not yet developed that much and if you’ve travelled to other countries, you will realise that it never quite develops to the same level of service as Safaricom and Samsung. You will for example find BMW dealerships in South Africa but you will be bitterly disappointed to note that none of them stocks the amazing K1300R. Yamaha Kenya will never stock the MT-09 and the Suzuki dealership in town still tries to sell you the Inazuma, a horrible, shapeless bike with unnecessary bulk.
So dear prospective buyer and consumer, understand that it takes a lot to bring in bikes, it takes a lot to maintain a stock of spare parts, it is nigh on impossible to have an entire range of helmets and riding jackets and you will not find a Service Centre with fully trained and pensionable personnel. A bike is not a laptop and if you find someone offering you laptop like services then they are most likely selling you a bike with as little personality and life expectancy as a laptop.
It is all about passion, building relationships and growing together
This article first appeared on www.onemanspanner.com.
The author, Bill Mike, is a motorcycle and classic car enthusiast. He often writes about his riding and amateur mechanic escapades, interlacing it with events from his seemingly unfortunate life.