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Honda Quest 2021

11352 Views 57 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Africamike

I was looking for some info on wheels and came across your forum. I thought you might like to stay a little more up to date on the competition that will start 1st November.

Currently, the regionals have already been held and I am part of the crew on Day 2 of 3 of the Semi-finalists Bootcamp to select from 28 the 14 lucky adventurers that will take a brand new DCT 2021 Africa Twin through the seriously rugged and remote world of the Northern and Western Capes of South Africa. I was a finalist in 2017 and have been on the 2 subsequent ones. This will be my 4th Quest.

It’s a testament to the power of Honda Quest that in a world of restrictions to our freedoms as a result of Covid and the challenges of shrinking economies, that 28 adventurous souls have been invited to try out for the 14 seats to an adventure of a lifetime.

Not just any adventure, but a 10 day massive life changing ride aboard the latest version of the iconic Africa Twin through arguably the best riding in Southern Africa; the trails of the Northern and Western Cape.

This now is the 4th edition of Honda Quest, but first, there’s the little matter of Bootcamp; A formal testing of attitudes and general skills needed for such an event. Given that this year’s edition will be run through the Richtersveld in November, traditionally when the deserts become their most impressive yet challenging, only the best will do.

This year, the format was given a little additional boost with regional qualifiers. Quite a large percentage of those here had been at those 3 events.

This morning at 9 sharp, the gates to Kaleo Farm opened to welcome the semi-finalists. Riaan Fourie, Honda Motor Southern Africa welcomed all and officially opened Bootcamp. He spoke passionately of his own experience last year riding Quest and recognised that this year will be very challenging, adding “But most of all, I invite you really step into this adventure and have fun aboard our flagship adventure bike, The CRF 1100 Honda Africa Twin!”

Some have come from afar as Limpopo and Pietermaritzburg with a good number representing the Western & Eastern Cape. All have high degrees of anticipation, “I’ve not been sleeping well, and my wife is finally happy I am out of the house! I’ve been packing and re-packing for a week!”

This morning the bikes and livery to be used on Quest was revealed; All the bikes will be DCT, Honda’s outstanding Dual Clutch Transmission that has proven its worth on previous Quests. The livery is a nod to the Repsol Honda Motorsport colours.

Just a few have had any experience with the DCT, the rest will not only have to navigate the technical courses that have been laid out, but they will be doing it aboard an unfamiliar technology.

Hardy de Kock and his team from Specialised Adventures’ are once again the hosts of this magnificent event.

Fire questions if you have.

Will update more as we go along...

28 hopefuls
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The bikes will be 2021 CRF Honda Africa Twins all DCT's kitted with crash protection and rally tires.

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DAY 2 & 3 Honda Quest Bootcamp
This was the meat of the process of putting the contestants through their paces. For all but a handful, few had ever ridden a Dual Clutch Transmission bike. Though it has huge advantages to adventure riders, it does require some getting to know it more intimately. 2 ex-contestants from previous years had joined the group last night to help share hard won knowledge of just what the bike can do and how to extract the most from it.

The morning started before light getting familiar with the bike and then spending the day in rotations of equal measures of training and putting the bike and themselves though ever increasing levels of difficulty. Nothing competitive, more a thorough measure of what each persons strengths, and challenges are.

The point of a boot camp is to find adventurers at heart who are capable of handling themselves in ways more than just being able to ride a bike. Will they become the ingredients for everyone else’s memories of a wonderous time to little travelled places? Can they make the most of the times and be handy, helpful and supportive when things inevitably become spicy.

Even if they have all this, there is one challenge that all have to show above average ability; do they have what it takes to handle a big Adventure machine in long twisty thick sand? The remote deserts of the Richtersveld are not the place to be lacking in this skill.

Long after a great day and the sun had set, the contestants headed off to bed with just the final sting in the tail personal interview before they head off home on day 3.

It will be a short nervous wait before they know if they will be one of the few.
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And then, just like that, after the final interviews, the contestants handed their arm bands in to await if they've made it onto Quest..

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Serious stuff. Photography excellent.
Top notch photography - looks like a great event. Cheers!
Thanks for sharing, this looks epic and look forward to seeing and reading more on this. (y)
The bikes look awesome also!
I still have a wonderment about the utter fun and adventure that Honda are willing to put on. To put their money where their mouth is. Jeez, I get Goosebumps!

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I still have a wonderment about the utter fun and adventure that Honda are willing to put on. To put their money where their mouth is. Jeez, I get Goosebumps!

What better place than in Africa.

(it ain't the Canadian Twin!) :)
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One of the Boot camp semi-finalists posted his thoughts on receiving the quoted message from the organiser of Honda Quest, on a local forum...

"Final Countdown ... I'm sure there is 27 other riders out there sharing a sleepless night with me, I wish you all the best of luck.

Myself, I have been re-visiting the boot camp experience, reliving the highs and lows - Boot camp does not leave you untouched, the experience is intense and leads to self contemplation.

Gaining an inkling of the extent of the endeavor by the seriousness which the instructors took their job, not only to evaluate us as possible finalists but also to equip us for the journey ahead, sent shivers down my spine.
I have a tingling of delicious anticipation.

One can only imagine what the 10 day quest will be like, it is shaping to be so much more than a trip or a competition, it promises to be a life changing event.

I leave you with some words from Hardy, words I can only echo as every rider impressed me in an individual way.

Dear semi- finalists

Thank you all for attending this year’s Quest boot camp. I think I speak for every staff member when I say that even though I enjoy boot camp, I hate the arduous process of eliminating some of you.

Unfortunately it is something we have to do in order for us to get to the final 14. Some of you are going through and some of you will be left disappointed. Please do not make the mistake of second guessing yourself. If you were not selected, it simply means that it was not your time. One of our instructors only made it to boot camp after his third attempt. The secret is to never give up.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with each and every contestant we had this year, and I certainly learned a lot from you. Each and every one of you made an impression on me that will stay with me for a very long time.

Support the guys that goes through and please keep your phone close by, as Quest always delivers a curveball. Out of the last four Quest events we had to call in reserves three times. Out of these three times the reserves ended up in the winning team twice.

Enter again next year if you did not make it through.

You will never know what will happen if you don’t try.

Thank you again
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Thanks for sharing Andrew! Need to rearrange my 2022 diary so that I can get to the regionals!......Congrats to the finalists - looking forward to the warstories - Richtersveld in November!! (almost peak summertime in the desert).....
The lucky 14.

Can you imagine what conflicting thoughts the guy on reserve must be feeling?! (Historically, for the last 3 on two occasions the reserve guy won it!)
Honda Quest minus Day 1

For all, though the actual competition only starts this morning, the 14 finalists who made it through bootcamp met at Honda Tygerberg in Cape Town early yesterday on an uncharacteristically cold and blustery Monday morning. The competition starts in the iconic and remote deserts of the Northern Cape. What better way to introduce and transport themselves to this world, than to cruise north to the start line a cool 560km away on their CRF 1100l Quest Edition Honda Africa Twins?
South Africa is blessed with some epic Adventure Riding country that the bike was made to comfortably shrink the distances between.

Adventures and the unexpected often go hand in hand and the weather played its part in providing for this; The weather was foul with a biting sidewind and intermittent driving rain almost the entire way. This weather is very much standard fare for the Cape of Storms in winter, and though not unusual, not so expected in high summer. Lost in their thoughts of what’s to come and with much anticipation, there was much time to bond in collective solitude with their new steeds. The big twins effortlessly and safely bringing the 14 up to the gateway town that lays before the Desert Mountains of the Richtersveld.

With many soaked through having expected the searing heat of the deserts, yet in fine spirits, a hot shower soon had them all gathered for the Team Reveal. Great care has been taken to pair Honda Quest team mates so that they complement each other and afford them the best possible chance of being very competitive. This year’s pairs are particularly strong.

See the team selection at

This is a fine group of adventures, crew and contestants alike. They should prove to have some excellent stories to tell when we emerge tomorrow. Technology has yet to penetrate this remote world, we will be out of contact with the world till tomorrow evening.

Today will be the teams’ first taste of the Richtersveld proper. It’s iconic and searingly beautiful, however it remains off limits for many as it’s intimidating and a serious test of riding skills.

Besides getting to grips with this world, the teams will have to bond fast to work together, for this is competition after all. The first of many curveballs, is that navigation will play a key part and it’s back to basics. There are no GPS’s to be used, it’s old school maps, compasses and dead reckoning.

Which teams will rise to the occasion?
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PS.......The 4th Honda Quest started yesterday in the Western Cape with 7 teams of two riders taking on the challenges posed by the desolate Richtersveld in the heat of a sub-saharan summer. I will be posting on behalf of Andrew J (aka #Kamanya) - unapologetically copying his blogs (with his permission) for the benefit of the forum.
Update from the field (#kamanya; #hondaquest; #specialisedadventures)

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Honda Quest Day 1

Honda Quest is not a race, it’s a competition yes, but not in the obvious sense. It’s the rare opportunity to bring the everyday man and the very best Dual Sport Adventure Motorcycle on the planet together in challenging, yet truly adventurous and inspiring places that few will ever see. The actual competition is then be a part of something that enables your partner and the other 12 contestants have this be, deeply rewarding, fun and truly life changing.

That’s a bold goal and a measure of selfless competition.

Leaving the last of civilisation to strike out on this adventure, there’s something magical and transformative about setting off and leaving all the certainties and stresses of regular lives for this moment behind. Exchanging these for a helmet, some fine new friends, the promise of the unknown and newly washed, bright sun-baked desert trails. The anticipation was obvious!

It was to be a reasonably short stage of 130km, but with just enough of what’s to come to settle the nerves, find the natural rhythms of riding with partners in small groups and still be testing. So too was growing the understanding of what the bike can do and tweaking it to be just right. Because, in the next days, all will be severely put to the test.

The goal for the day was a fly camping space alongside the Orange River, nestled amongst the many shaded mountains besides an ancient, old Melkboom tree.
For many, this is their first experience of extreme desert adventuring on big dual sports. The Richtersveld with its stark, sharp contrasts was at it’s very best this year. Its rugged and formidable landscape was in fine form having benefited from the recent cold fronts. The tricky sandy and sometimes silty trails were firm and not so treacherous. Today there few tumbles of no consequence to man or machine.

Some serious competitive juices came to the fore once at camp with a late afternoon bisley with catapult and short game of cricket on the river bank. Team #7’s Ruan Ueckermann found it hard hide his provincial cricketing pedigree! The Specialised crew were not immune to the games either. It may be that for many, the stiff muscles for tomorrow will have nothing to do with the days riding?

Honda Quest is certainly not just about the riding, it’s a time to be enriched. To this end, one of the exercises is to present on topics home prepared that relate in ways to the world we will be travelling through.

First up, Murray Campbell, a lifelong Honda fan, spoke enthusiastically on the life and times of Soichiro Honda, the man for whom without which, we wouldn’t be doing this!

Andrew de Bruin, Murray’s partner was next with an insight into just what lay around us, his topic was The Richtersveld.

This evening, we were blessed with no wind to speak of and no moon either, the perfect combination to fall asleep under a magnificent carpet of stars.

Tomorrow, the Richtersveld Eco Trail proper, the very finest off-road desert trail in Southern Africa.
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Honda Quest Day 2

All the teams and the crew took turns to stand guard during the evening for an hour. Sitting in the quiet hours with a few relative strangers before a small fire has a powerful effect. For many, it’s quite a novel and yet formative exercise, vastly more intended for bonding than safety. Relative strangers were fast becoming, if not great teammates, deep friends.

On the menu today was the heart of the Richtersveld Eco Trail. A winding track that comes and goes from the river to the mountains and back and, starts innocently enough, but then threads its way through such challenges as Hell’s Cradle; a scorching canyon of river sand. Also, Split Pass; a double option climb, all the while whilst being surrounded by iconic post card vistas. It really is hard to take in.

The teams set off in small co-horts of 2 or 3 pairs, taking turns to navigate, make key decisions and decide the pace. It’s quite daunting doing something so very obviously adventurous and fun and knowing that you are being minutely observed by the instructors and crew. To have any chance of winning, you’ve got to have fun, learn and help and make it your job to help others do so too.

The temperatures started to soar along with the sweat. As with any serious off-roading, the groups experienced a few punctures and tumbles that slowed the pace, such that when the teams all joined up at Hells Cradle it was just past midday.

Hells Cradle is a high sided, 3km long canyon with seriously deep sand. The heat gets reflected off the steep walls. As if this wasn’t intimidating enough, into this fun challenge a competitive element is added. A snaking route is plotted that all have to navigate for points awarded for the riding of it. It’s not at all easy and, made all the more challenging by the fact that each successive rider leaves a deeper mark more difficult for next. The competitors drew their start order out of a hat. The cheers for those with low numbers, turned to groans when the starting order was reversed!

When asked, most teams admitted that the strategy at the moment was more focused on making themselves better team mates and not making too many mistakes. They were not at the moment too focused on what others were doing, other than to also acknowledge that they were up against some great fellow adventurers. Despite this being a competition, it was obvious that everyone really enjoyed each other’s company. Kind of the whole point of Honda Quest.

Split pass is one such place that faults are easy to make. It has two routes; the more direct, rutted out, seemingly more dangerous and tougher. The other snakes up the side of the mountain in a less direct fashion. Though often called the “chicken run”, it is arguably the tougher, with sharp switchbacks of loose deep rutted shale.
This is where the CRF 1100L DCT shines. The dual clutch transmission and traction aids make something that for many would be near impossible, much more manageable.

With the sun low just off the mountains, we rolled into Oewerbos River Camp to sort out the day’s adventures. It had been a staunch, full, tough fun day. Along with the previous evenings interrupted sleep, there was no late-night banter, at all!

Tomorrow, we head into the western trails of the Richtersveld. Another round of sun, rocks, sand and more unexpected tasks.

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It looks like lots of fun! Too bad the videos are very short :( . It feels a little like the Dakar-Rally last year. 2-3 minute videos of motorcycle related content, and that's it. I hope longer videos are being published for the next couple of days. I just don't have the guts nor time nor money nor strength to do the quest myself, otherwise I wouldn't be typing this ;) .
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