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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 11 Oct 2007
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learning to motorcycle in ghana

i might be going to west africa for a visit and would like to have some independence to travel alone whilst there. my exact desination is as yet undecided, but i am thinking buying a moped/scooter when i get there and then selling it afterwards. the only thing is, i've never ridden one before...

could any of you experts help me with any of the following:

bike - old or new?

i've heared that the honda c90 is a good choice for beginners. i've also seen a cT90 mentioned - is this an off-road version? i mostly want to be able to ride on dirt/gravel roads, and i only want to go slowly so as to admire the views mainly. something that will do 30 or 40 mph will be more than enough. so what do you think - the honda sound good, or something better to look out for? should i buy old or new, and how much should i budget to spend? any tips for reliable dealers in accra or banjul? are helmets available? how do prices compare to morocco?
[EDIT: are there any things i need to keep an eye out for when buying a motor - like common scams, spotting fakes, inferior/switched parts that you know of?]

learning

would you say that a few informal lessons when i'm there would be enough for riding slowly along quiet roads, or is it going to take too long to learn how to even operate the thing? i'm quite a practical person so think i might be OK with the controls providing I just practice loads. what's your opinon?

logistics

i think i'm right in saying i don't need a 'carnet' . what about any compulsory insurance i need? how easy is it to get through borders - am i in theory allowed to go through without paying anything?
will i ever be asked to show any kind of license - 'coz i won't have one! should a round west africa trip be pretty hassle free providing i'm cool and know when to grease palms?

all for now, thanks again, dave.

Last edited by panderingpeter; 11 Oct 2007 at 20:09.
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Old 16 Oct 2007
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Chinese Bike

Buying a crappy $600 Chinese bike is in my opinion an almost perfect way to travel in West Africa. These are the bikes they use everyday through all their terrible roads and thus the proliferation of cheap spare parts is easy.

You're going to have a great time because although the bikes are a bit rubbish, you'll always be able to get to where you want to go and there's is someone who can fix it on every street corner. Eventually you will be able to do it yourself.

You may aswell buy a new one, its cheap enough.

You will need a driving license because police/customs love to stop you. Do a driving test in West Africa, in Ghana it will only take 1 day or $10 bribe. You will only need to know how to start the bike and stop it again. Its a good idea to get an International Driving License, It took me about 1 day sitting around in Accra (Ghana) to get one.

Buying the bike in a West African ECOWAS country means you should never have issues with carnet, just get temporary permits all the way.

Insurance will be about £10 per year if you buy it in a Francophone country like Mali or Togo and that will give you a Brown card which means it is valid in all ECOWAS countries. Its not worth the paper its written on but at least that makes you legal.

Always wear a helmet, don't be lulled into a false sense of security just because everyone else doesn't bother. There are fatal motorcyclist head injuries every single day in Bamako.
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Old 16 Oct 2007
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Thanks timoto.

Yeah, it makes sense to have some 'official' lessons once in West Africa - afterall it's cheap enough. I'm sure I will work something out.

Yes, I will wear a helmet - hopefully I will find something white which may reflect the heat a little....

Your site looks great. Once I get my speakers up and running I will watch the movies properly.

Cheers

Dave
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Old 20 Oct 2007
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Just watch the traffic in Accra - where you will find motorbikes are given zero respect from other road users, and everything is pretty frantic. I personally would practise a lot in some quiet backstreets before hitting the road. Out of the towns you will probably be fine, just watch for obvious stuff:
- roaming animals (goats, sheep, cows etc)
- big potholes!

Oh and apart from the helmet I would recommend some gloves, cause when or if you fall over on a gravel road...

Honda cub: millions and millions and millions sold! They are popular. What you will find is that Ghana has much less of a moped culture than the francophone countries, but plenty available in Accra. Good way to travel I reckon!
Gil
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