Ziggy Marley's African Road Trip
Ziggy Marley, oldest son of the legendary Bob Marley, teamed up with David Alexanian, the producer of perhaps the most prolific video production series about motorcycling yet, “The Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” with Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. Instead of circumnavigating the globe, Ziggy decided to begin exploring the world of adventure riding in a place close to his heart, South Africa. In addition to sustaining some minor injuries, setting up two impromptu charity concerts, and running from a charging giraffe, they visited SA during the 2010 World Cup, like his father did exactly 30 years before.
With his two brothers, Robbie and Rohan Marley, the Three Marleyteers saddled up their Ducati Multistradas and rode South Africa to spread the word of African unity into the countryside and commemorate his father’s historic concert there. Robbie “The Ninja” Marley is a stunt bike rider from Miami while Rohan, a former linebacker for the University of Miami, is now back in Jamaica running a coffee farm cranking out one million pounds of world-class beans a year. Given Ziggy and his brothers’ diverse range of talents, passions and philanthropic interests, ADVMoto greatly enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Ziggy and discover that, true to his heritage, he speaks openly and from the heart.
ADVMoto (AM): When did you start riding?
Ziggy (Z): In my early teen years. It began on a bicycle because where I lived was a pretty rural farm in a mountainous setting. I was always an adventurous type of person. Then when I went to visit my grandmother in Miami, my uncles had motorbikes and that’s when we learned.
When I came to visit for Christmas from Jamaica, we’d start messing around with their machines. And in back Jamaica we rode street bikes for a little bit. But I was always interested in utility vehicles. While others were into sports cars and street bikes, for me it was pick-up trucks, four-wheel drives and dirt bikes… vehicles that could take on the terrain and do adventurous things.
AM: What bike do you have now and did you ever get into repairing your bikes?
Z: I actually didn’t get back into riding until recently because up until then it was something I only did occasionally. By the time I was in school, I was doing music, which took up most of my time. I didn’t really get into doing my own stuff on my bike until a few years ago when I got a BMW 800GS.
When I came to LA, I wanted to get back into bikes. Because I hadn’t ridden in a while, I used a Honda 250 to get my riding legs back. So I started with that, then began researching other stuff which lead to my fever for adventure riding.
When I saw the “Long Way Round” and “Long Way Down” with Ewan McGregor by David Alexanian, where they went from England to South Africa on adventure bikes, it really excited me. I’m a survivalist type of person. I want to be able to survive if there’s anything that goes wrong, and I wanted a bike where I could carry gear, water and other necessary items.
When I got a BMW F800GS, I liked it. At first it seemed like a really big bike to me—and I dropped it a few times practicing. I’d take it down to the park and after a while I got used to it. Then came the upgrades: mufflers, pegs, seat and a whole modification to the bike—that’s when I got back into the wrenching.
My bikes are given names, you know, as if they had personalities. It’s a psychological thing where I try to treat my bikes like my horses.
AM: What’s the name of your bike?
Z: The 800GS is called “Samson.” What I did with Samson was play around with it for a few months before hooking up with Jim Hyde of Raw Hyde, an adventure school a little outside of LA. That’s where I really learned to let the bike do what it does naturally. It’s like an animal, a horse; allow it to do what it does without me affecting it too much. During adventure riding you have to let the bike slip around without trying to sit and be stiff on it. It won’t fall if you handle it that way and just keep looking where you need to go. Jim Hyde taught me some pretty cool stuff about adventure riding.
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