1. Total distance of route?
2. How long did it take to complete? Were you going fast or travelling leisurely?
We left at 07:30 and were home by 13:00. We rode at a leisurely pace, not exceeding the speed limit.
3. Why do you recommend this route?
It’s a quick taste of the Western Cape, and takes in some of the best mountain passes and roads in South Africa. Pillions are treated to magnificent views and the rider enjoys some of the best twisty roads within 40 minutes from the city.
4. Please tell us how the route runs.
Starting from the Engen Garage on the N1 north to Paarl, on to Franschhoek, then over the R45 towards Grabouw. Quick stop on the Theewaterskloof bridge (R321) for pictures, then back on the R45 to Grabouw (turning onto the R321). Turn right onto the N2, proceeding carefully along Sir Lowry’s Pass, down into Somerset West. If required, stop for fuel at Shell on the N2, just before the Macassar turn-off.
click here for the route on Google maps
5. What kind of motorcycle is the route suitable for?
The route is suitable for most bikes, and can be enjoyed by sports bikers, the cruiser crowd and the adventure bikers when not in the mood for gravel.
6. Significant points of interest along the way?
Franschhoek has many coffee shops, cafés and restaurants. Kalfi’s and Taki’s (on the main road) are firm favourites, serving decent “biker breakfasts”. The wine estates are certainly worth visiting. Road surfaces leading to these farms range from loose shale to hard-packed gravel and may not be suitable for all types of bikes. Approach with caution.
7. Are there petrol stations and motorcycle repair shops along the way?
There are plenty of filling stations along the way and most bikes will complete the entire route on a single tank. There is a Suzuki dealer in Grabouw (021 859 3132, 021 859 2905 or 021 859 5009), Helderberg Kawasaki in Somerset West (021 851 2202) and Donford BMW in Stellenbosch (021 888 4200).
8. Are there any dangers along the route?
The mountain pass (R45) to the Villiersdorp (R321) intersection is one of the most exhilarating roads in South Africa. Some of the corners are very tight, with one or two that have caught out unsuspecting riders. The road surface is quite good, but keep your eyes (not your bananas) peeled for baboons in this area. Another feature is running water over parts of the road, but it is nothing to be overly concerned about. There is one particularly tight corner on the R321 that must be mentioned, but apart from that, the roads are in a very rideable condition.
9. What did the trip cost in fuel, meals and accommodation?
A cheap breakfast costs R40 to R60. Lunch can be found for under R100. All-in-all a breakfast run out to Franschhoek should cost about R300 to R400 per person, including fuel. However, consider making this trip a culinary experience, as the area is renowned for its excellent restaurants, especially in and around Franschhoek.
10. Did you use any special gear?
The route is simple enough to complete without using a GPS. The roads are clearly marked, with signposts all over the place. For the more adventurous riders, there are gravel roads that also lead to the towns around Grabouw. (Beware: These roads are in daily use by farmers and foresters.)
Take regular breaks along the way and enjoy the breathtaking scenery that abounds in this valley. The weather can be quite hot in summer (not to mention unpredictable, year round), so check the weather conditions before you leave. Light and warm clothing is always recommended.
11. Do you have any other comments or advice about the route?
Leave early and give yourself enough time to enjoy the route. For born-again bikers, this route will remind you of what you have been missing for so long. Sports bikers, please err on the side of caution. Other road users do not have your superior skills and there might be a nasty surprise just around the next corner.
12. Emergency services
The route is accessible to emergency vehicles from Franschhoek, Paarl and Somerset West. Emergency services are available in Franschhoek and Grabouw, should they be required. Medicare EMR Emergency Medical Response – 021 876 4316 (Ambulance), 24-hour cellphone – 074 363 7744.