Motorcycles are rad, but people are radder. And one place you’ll find fine examples of both, is at the Woodstock Moto Co., in beautiful Cape Town.
So, in cahoots with WMC proprietor and photographer Devin Paisley, I’ll be profiling some of the personalities and bikes that grace Cape Town’s streets—throwing the same twelve questions at them each time.
First up: Charl Neethling and Dan Walsh, aka the quarter-past-four boys.
What do you do for a living?
Dan: I’m a Director of Photography in the film industry.
Charl: I’m a high school teacher, which means I do about 23 different jobs.
What are you riding right now?
Dan: I ride a 2005 Suzuki DR-Z 400E. #dualsportlyfe
Charl: Right now (and for a long time to come) I’m riding an 81 Yamaha XT500 with who-knows-how-many kilometres on the clock.
Why did you pick that particular bike?
Charl: After the whole café racer scene got huge, I was very interested in getting one of them (a café racer) but after a few months of not finding something I liked in my price range, I started contemplating something else.
Although I didn’t know much about it, 80s thumpers have always been very appealing to me. And this one came in at the right price and a manageable (I thought) amount of work.
Dan: I come from a downhill mountain biking background, so naturally I took an interest in scramblers. I tried the café racer thing for a while, but it hardly entertained a sense of adventure.
Where did you find it?
Charl: The bike was advertised in Piketberg (a farm bike, obviously) but I managed to convince the seller to meet me in Malmesbury, from where I would ride it back to Cape Town. In the dark, with a visor-less helmet and only a 6V headlight, which is extremely dim at the best of times.
Dan: Gumtree. Always. I’m a big advocate for the platform, and an even bigger hustler when it comes to negotiating. I wouldn’t want to do that to my friends.
What do you love about it?
Dan: A scrambler allows you to go wherever you dare. What I love about this kinda bike in the city, is that no pavement, green belt or footpath goes unnoticed. On every ride I will try my best to hop off the tarmac and blast some dirt.
Charl: Firstly, the fact that almost every time it leaves the garage it puts a smile on someone’s face or coerces a thumbs-up from someone sitting in traffic. And if not, it certainly puts a smile on my face every single time. Secondly, the fact that it does absolutely everything I ask of it: blasting through peak traffic in town, cruising long gravel roads, burnouts for the boys, doing donuts in the mud and so much more. The only times it has let me down was because of mistakes that I made.
Lastly, I love this bike for the world that it has opened up to me. In the last year I have met incredible people, built lasting friendships, experienced beautiful places and acquired so much new knowledge and skills that would otherwise have never come into my life. What’s not to love?
Any mods done, or planned?
Dan: My bike was big-bored by a previous owner, making it a 434cc. It has a Leo Vince silencer, and hot cams. Then, minor tweaks, such as a 16l long range tank, high-wide bars, a Trail Tech speedo, LED indicators, header wrap and pannier racks.
Charl: I did a ghetto 6V to 12V conversion, LED lights all around, shortened the rear fender with a custom tail tidy, raised the rear suspension, wrapped the header and added some matte black paint here and there.
Do you work on your own bike?
Charl: Most definitely, the Woodstock Moto Co. is a co-op style DIY garage and coffee shop in Cape Town that offers all the tools and advice you need to go from a complete noob to someone with enough skills and knowledge to do pretty much anything that needs to be done on a motorbike. Working on my bike is half the fun of owning it and as corny as it sounds, it feels like it has created a bond between man and machine.
Dan: Yes! For the most part, I’ve done all services myself at Woodstock Moto Co. Except big problems, such as my stator being replaced—then I use Tim’s in Waterkant.
What do enjoy most about doing your own wrenching?
Dan: Servicing your own bike makes you aware of any current or future issues, teaches you skills that you might need when on the road, and gives you a sense of pride in your machine. Also, at somewhere like WMC, there’s a strong sense of camaraderie and eagerness for learning. That is invaluable.
Charl: Two terms that define my bike and the work I do on it are ‘good enough’ and ‘in theory,’ and my favourite part of doing all the work myself is when I do something and it works perfectly—even more so when the peanut gallery was expecting it to fail.
What’s your favourite road or route?
Charl: We recently discovered a great route between Bainskloof and Durbanville with awesome stretches of smooth gravel, and not too long for my old XT to handle. I also like the roads around Grabouw as they offer incredible scenery and always manage to challenge my abilities on the bike
Dan: Where the tar ends, and adventure begins. #lol. Nah, Pretty much any twisty road with a mate, really.
You’ve got your bike, a long weekend and a full wallet—where do you go?
Dan: Charl and I actually did this last weekend (except the full wallet part). We left WMC after an excellent cuppa, took every dirt road on offer to the Bainskloof area, spent the night, and did the same home. There’s something about taking a risk of the road untraveled and seeing where it gets you. I’m not a fan of the straight-open-tarmac, so if there’s a farm road, mountain pass, or trail on offer, I’ll take it.
Charl: I’ve never been to the Cederberg before so I’d love to go see what all the fuss is about. I like the idea of seeing something new almost every time.
What is it that you love most about motorcycling?
Charl: NO TRAFFIC, but really though, the idea of freedom, freedom from traffic and parking hassles, the idea that even just a 20 minute ride can give you freedom from cares and worries, at least for a little while. In my situation it has also become a major social part of my life so with all of these things combined, it makes it hard not to love motorcycling.
Dan: Motorcycling for me is a sense of freedom, exploration and a good excuse to get out with friends.
Cape Town’s the best city in the world, right?
Charl: This city has something to offer absolutely everyone, we’ve got incredible riding roads and it is breathtakingly beautiful in every direction.
Dan: Cape Town has it all, one moment you’re doing a mountain twisty, the next, you’re alongside a beautiful beach. For a place that has so much, you can experience it all without having to go far. Cape Town asks: “What do you feel like?” and provides it.