Biker Culture in Egypt
As part of our Eclectic Egypt series, our guide Mohamed El Babi shows us the lesser known sides of Egypt.
Motorcycles… that marvellous machine that takes your breath away and frees your soul, heart and mind. A lot of people won’t understand what a motorcycle can do to your soul. They just don’t get it why a biker is so attached to their motorcycle, sometimes even more than their lover. People are even more amazed when they get a glimpse of this passion contrasted with the risks of riding a motorcycle in a country like Egypt.
Egypt is a beautiful country with a lot of vibes and huge diversity in its people, in terms of social standard, educational, cultural,..etc. and that doesn’t exclude the motorcycle scene in Egypt.
In Egypt, you will find the full range of motorcycles; from the small engine ones of 150 CCs to the huge engines up to 2000 CCs. Different brands and types; Harley Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Bajaj, BMW, scooters, dirt bikes, racing bikes, touring, cruisers; simply everything. Motorcycles have been heree in Egypt for a long time , maybe the fifties or sixties, yet the motorcycle scene really grew rapidly in the past couple of years; let us say since late 2012-early 2013. So many motorcycle groups and clubs emerged. Before that it was more of a group of friends who own motorcycles would just hit the road together. Now it is more official. Motorcycle groups and clubs would have their own page or website, their own vests with their own logos and flag on the bike. They would even have ranks within the group/MC; president, vice president, road captain,…etc. and of course, along comes a set of rules that varies from one group/MC to another. There are some things that are common among all of them like the riding rules, safety gear and formations. Some groups are only for a certain type of motorcycles like racing bikes only or cruisers only and some are mixed. Some groups even would require a minimum engine capacity to join them. Some are even more specific to form a group of one brand like for example a group for Suzuki boulevards only, or for Honda shadow only. After all, these groups/clubs have the passion for riding in common among them all.
One of the reasons that I think why the motorcycle scene grew rapidly is because the amount of freedom you get when you are on the bike. A lot of motorcycle owners consider it as their personal get away from everyday stress, from family, and work. That’s why you will find a lot of motorcycle owners are 40 years old and above and they never rode before. Some of them had it as a dream when they were younger and thought it’s just about time to fulfil one of their dreams. Others get into motorcycles as a kind of a hobby or activity that they recently knew of.
Also, one of the reasons that made motorcycle scene grow in Egypt is the increasing number of cars in the big cities like Cairo and Alexandria. People prefer to use a motorcycle to run their evening errands or to go and meet friends. It will be easier for them to pass through the crowded streets, they will save gas and for sure they will be able to park their bike way easier than their car.
Motorcycle prices vary a lot in Egypt. There’s a motorcycle for every budget. But the most common brand here is Honda. Then comes Suzuki and Yamaha. The Japanese bikes are in general very common here. Also, Harley Davidson motorcycles are emerging so fast although they have existed in Egypt since the late nineties. But lately people are turning to them, as they are most famous brand worldwide, for their reliability and uniqueness. The only drawback for Harley Davidson bikes is their price; they are quite expensive compared to other brands.
As I said earlier, Egypt is a very beautiful country with so many destinations to ride to. The most famous destination for bikers is Ain Sokhna. It is a city by Suez gulf, on the red sea, 120 Kms to the east of Cairo. What makes this spot famous is that it is considered to be the nearest city on the sea to Cairo; bikers can hit the road in the early morning, spend a nice day there with the sun and by the sea and head back on the same day.
What also makes it one of the most famous destinations for bikers is that the road to this city is one of the best roads in Egypt; it’s well paved, wide, with some nice curves that allows bikers to swerve smoothly with their bikes and have fun. Also, half way to Ain Sokhna there’s a cafeteria and a place to have some coffee or tea or grab some snacks. A lot of bikers can just hit the road till that point then head back to Cairo, for it is a nice ride on a nice road.
There are also trips organised for further destinations like Hurghada, Sinai, Aasis and heaps more places and cities in Egypt.
Bikes are not only for men in Egypt. We also have female bikers and it is growing more and more and they are even part of groups as some groups allow female members.
It’s also worth mentioning that motorcycles’ gear and apparel are spreading rapidly across the country with stores opening that only specialise in motorcycle gear and apparel. Not to mention the online pages on social networks that offer the same thing
The biggest challenge a biker would face in Egypt is the low awareness of car drivers, for the risks bikers face for their reckless driving attitudes. It’s worth mentioning that driving in Egypt is a disaster, and they say, if you can drive in Egypt then you are a professional driver. But still, people don’t understand the difference between cars and motorcycles, that’s why they put us bikers in a lot of hazards because they think that a motorcycle can be handled in the same way as a car in certain situation.
No matter what the risks are, no matter what we face on the road, people keep riding as it’s their passion. No matter how expensive this part is, people will save money to get it, for it’s their passion. And no matter how many arguments they will have with their families, wives, and lovers, people will keep riding for it’s their passion. And you will not understand until you ride.
Ride safe… live to ride, ride to live.
Mohamed El Babi is a writer based in Cairo, Egypt.