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ADV NewsCouple Crosses African Continent Two-Up on Electric Motorcycle

Couple Crosses African Continent Two-Up on Electric Motorcycle

Adventurous couple travel across Africa by e-bike on mission to inspire others.

Published on 03.18.2020

It’s one thing to cross a continent on an electric motorcycle accompanied by a fleet of support vehicles and your buddy riding next to you (see “Long Way Up”). It’s quite another to do it two-up on one electric bike, unsupported because your chase car died in Cameroon and you had to abandon it and sell most of your gear to continue the rest of your crossing of Africa.

That’s how adventurers Thomas Jakel, 33, and Dulcie Mativo, 24, got from Morocco to South Africa on a Zero DSR Black Forest Edition. For six months, the intrepid couple rode 9,300 miles (15,000 kilometers) through 20 countries across the length of the continent. They rode through deserts and jungles, and over mountains one charge at a time until the end of their expedition in Cape Town.

Two-up on electric motorcycle crossing Africa

Starting out they had all the necessities for a long, documented journey through countries with spotty infrastructure for electric vehicles: extra battery packs, luggage, cameras and recording equipment. And, according to the original plan, a chase vehicle to carry it all. But when the car broke down at about the halfway point and couldn’t be fixed, the only way to carry on was to leave it behind and continue solely on the Zero. To do so, the duo had to sell all the stuff they couldn’t carry, hop on the bike and hope it would make it the rest of the way. 

Two-up on electric motorcycle Africa
Due to the chase vehicle with all their equipment breaking down, Jakel and Dulcie had to sell all the stuff they couldn’t carry and continue their journey solely on the electric bike.


Luckily, the electric bike proved up to the task. The DSR Black Forest Edition is Zero’s newest version of the off-road oriented DSR. It adds a windshield, GIVI side and top cases, crash protection, auxiliary lights, a headlight grill and wider footpegs to come up with an adventure-ready package. It’s got a 19/17-inch front/rear wheel combo, Showa suspension and a curb weight of 489 pounds. Standard combined range (city and highway) is 112 miles. A bigger battery pack boosts that to 141 miles. 

Completing the trip relying exclusively on electric power meant careful route planning, said Jakel. But the surprise was that they were typically able to “fill” their tank at no cost. “It requires some planning to ride through Africa on an electric motorcycle but with forward planning and sufficient charging breaks, usually overnight, the low-maintenance Zero was a reliable partner. We got the electricity for free or included in our hotel fees, whereas no one is giving the gasoline away for free,” he explained. “It is easy to say that we would have saved a ton of money even if we would have had to pay every time we recharged.”

Two-up Zero electric motorcycle Africa
Two-up Zero electric motorcycle Africa

Jakel, an entrepreneur from Germany, and Mativo, a social media coordinator from Kenya, planned their trip as a way to highlight people transforming communities through business initiatives and positive change. It turned out that riding an electric motorcycle the length of Africa was a great way to meet and interact with people.

“We shocked many with our adventurous plan to master such a route with an electric motorcycle,” Mativo said. Border police in Sierra Leone wanted to be in a picture with the Zero, while other officials along the route would salute the passing bike because they assumed it was a military vehicle, thanks to its blacked-out appearance and camouflage graphics.

Jakel and Mativo are planning a full-length documentary of their trip and the 100 “changemakers” they interviewed along the way. Info on the trip and some of the interviews are available on their website, AfricaX.

Photos courtesy AfricaX

Author: Bob Whitby

Bob has been riding motorcycles since age 19 and working as a journalist since he was 24, which was a long time ago, let’s put it that way. He quit for the better part of a decade to raise a family, then rediscovered adventure, dual sport and enduro riding in the early 2000s. He lives in Arkansas, America’s best-kept secret when it comes to riding destinations, and travels far and wide in search of dirt roads and trails.

Author: Bob Whitby

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2 thoughts on “Couple Crosses African Continent Two-Up on Electric Motorcycle

  1. Pingback: Couple Crosses African Continent Two-Up on Electric Motorcycle

  2. The novelty of giving people a free charge will also disappear in due course I would have been well impressed if they were using a Solar charger but like the long way up they are the first stranger to turn up holding an electric cable to fill up their steed but people are quick to catch on.

    Not to take away from their achievement but they took advantage of the situation


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