Posted January 30, 2024

London to Cape Town on a Lexmoto ZSB

Read Chris Allsop's legendary account of how he, a 72 year old retired banker, rode his trusty ZSB from North to South Africa:

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I have just ridden from London to Cape Town (and beyond) on a very small motorbike. Alone. At the age of 72. I didn't expect to succeed. Many people shared that opinion.

If you want to see the whole long story, click either link below:

Lexmoto_Award_icon_hoverLondon to Casablanca

Lexmoto_Award_icon_hoverCasablanca to Cape Town


The bike did most of the work. Faultlessly thank God - it could have been very different. I just did the admin and kept my fingers crossed.


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I went down the West Coast (the longest route, with the most border crossings). Over a period of 14 weeks, the little bike and I crossed 16 borders, and covered 18,000 kilometres. Some of the border crossings, road blocks and the required documentation were as difficult as you might imagine - not just because of wildly different visa regulations, but also different and sometimes complex temporary importation rules for the motorbike, road taxes, domestic and local registrations, and insurance requirements for both me and the bike.

In addition to Consular, Immigration and Customs officials, there were also interactions with police (different branches thereof), gendarmerie (not the same), health officials, revenue officials, port authorities, soldiers, naval patrols (really), environmental and wildlife protection people, a deputy mayor, and (on one occasion) the Nigerian Secret Service.

Keeping them all on-side made demands on my diplomatic skills and occasionally on my wallet.

And fending off hustlers, thieves, con-artists, fixers, pickpockets, bent money-changers, beggars, fake officials, and (on two other occasions) actual raving lunatics, all at the same, time added to the enjoyment.

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Food, petrol, places to sleep, hydration and personal hygiene were often a challenge. Not to mention some of the driving standards, the state of some of the so-called roads, and the varying climatic conditions. Details of the effect the latter had on parts of my anatomy are available on application (not recommended).

But the whole experience has been unbelievably rewarding and almost everybody I met was kind, generous, respectful and hospitable. Those with the least to give are the most ready to share what little they have.

And the Nigerian biker community who took me under their wing were just wonderful.

I slept in 81 different beds. And I am hoping to claim two world records for the solo trip:

Lexmoto_Award_icon_hoverSmallest bike

Lexmoto_Award_icon_hoverOldest rider


I always intended to use the venture as an excuse for soliciting contributions for a couple of charities, both of which are run entirely by volunteers, and which do wonderful work with very vulnerable people. I delayed doing so: partly to avoid tempting fate, and partly to avoid the risk of having to report that I had abandoned the trip before the end.

But I succeeded. Sorry about that.


The Charities

Both charities have no overhead costs. Every penny they receive goes straight to meet the needs of the people who desperately need their support.

1. Refugees Welcome Hounslow:

For anybody who doesn't understand what a refugee is (or who uncritically reads the Daily Mail), and how poorly supported they are by and within the UK - in the sight of the whole world - I would be happy to explain. For now I will just say that RWH is a small multi-award winning charity that supports desperately-needy and traumatised people in a part of London which has taken much more than its share of the burden. A burden which should lie heavily on the conscience of all us fortunate enough to have never faced serious and immediate danger to the lives of ourselves or our families. My wife Shelagh is a key contributor to its creation and ongoing management.

Donate here


2. The Susan Aitchison Scholarship Fund:

Susan is a retired Scottish schoolteacher, and one of the most inspiring people I know. In her retirement she has founded several projects in the Ethiopian town of Lalibela, which have already changed the lives of numerous destitute children and their communities. SASF is one of them: it enables local children who otherwise could not complete school to do so and/or to graduate from University in significant numbers. Not only for their benefit, but that of the whole country. It has produced medical professionals, teachers, scientists, engineers, lawyers, software engineers, agronomists and nation-builders generally - and continues to do so year after year.

Donate here.


Please give generously. You might encourage me to do something even more stupid. All suggestions welcome.

- Chris




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