Photography by Thomas Kinzer
My most recent winner of attention is the Ducati Multistrada that was recently assigned to me as a long-term test bike. I’ve been reading up on history, looking up possible modifications, and always have my eyes and ears out for cultural uses of the Multi. Halfway around the world, and three years ago, When Ziggy Marley set out to explore South Africa in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the bike he and his brothers (Zohan and Robbie) chose was Ducati’s Multistrada.
And there you have it; yet another example of how motorcycles bring people together. A (very) white kid from Vermont sitting across a table from Ziggy Marley, all because of the Multistrada.
Last Friday, the DVD documenting the Marley Brothers’ journey was released in fine style by a Ducati event near Los Angeles. Marley Africa Road Trip shows the expedition from planning stage to completion as the three brothers, each astride a Multistrada, reconnect with their father’s legacy by traveling Africa.
Ducati’s event included a short, 25-mile group ride that concluded at the famous motorcycle hangout, Newcomb’s Ranch, on Angeles Crest Highway. First though, we were invited to spend a little time with Ziggy, Robbie, and the movie’s director, David Alexanian (of “Long Way Down” fame), and check out Ziggy’s personal Multi that survived the South African adventure. Motorcycles, as it turns out, are more than a hobby for Ziggy. He credits the motorcycle as a much more personal way to travel in Africa. “The whole idea with us was to try to speak about African unity”, says Ziggy, “but being on a bike gives me an opportunity to easily access people.”
As we learned more about the Marleys’ trip into Africa, Ziggy seemed content to drink in motorcycle culture, while watching his back for suspicious characters. “I’ve never been around a group of bikers,” Ziggy laughed, “I’m just trying to experience this vibe.” A gaggle of journalists and friends gently sipping espresso and browsing a parking lot full of Ducatis isn’t exactly a rough crew, but hey, baby steps. Later, at the top of the hill, Ziggy spread vibes of his own with a short set of his, and his father’s songs.
There’s a lot of elitism in motorcycling. Cruiser guys not waving to sportbike guys (or vice versa), ADV riders thinking you need aluminum bags and a camp-stove to be a true motorcyclist, or one group thinking they’re better than another because of what country their bikes are manufactured in. An event like this, though, always portrays motorcycling as I picture it in my head: Kawasaki KLR650s parked next to Panigales and Harley choppers, metal flake and chrome in harmony with LED lights and carbon fiber. We’re all in this together, after all.