This groundbreaking competition, organised by Mat Durrans and Harry Fisher of The Bike Show and involving 13 members of the South African motorcycling media and professional motorcyclists, pitted 16 new-for-2013 motorcycles against each other for the overall title.
The 16 finalists were chosen from nominations by the official importers. They were the Triumph Trophy SE, Triumph Daytona 675R, BMW R1200GS Liquid-Cooled, KTM 1190 Adventure, MV Agusta Brutale 800, Kawasaki Z800, Aprilia Caponord 1200, Moto Guzzi California 1400, Suzuki Inazuma 250, Honda Integra DCT, Honda NC700 DCT, Yamaha FJR1300, Yamaha XJ6 Diversion, Victory Boardwalk, Hyosung 650GT and the Benelli 600.
While it may seem unfair to try and compare a KTM 1190 Adventure with a Triumph Daytona 675R and a Suzuki GW250 Inazuma, each bike was rated on its own merits and against its previous versions, not against its competitors.
The judges were told to vote for their top six bikes - with the best being first - and then points were awarded in the order 10, 6, 4, 3, 2 and 1 for first to sixth place. These points were totalled and a winner declared.
The judging process took part over two days in Gauteng. Day one was at Midvaal Raceway and a track venue was used not only to see how fast the bikes could lap the circuit, but as a controlled environment where each member of the judging panel could ride every bike and assess it over the same piece of tarmac.
Day two saw the bikes being ridden on the open road from the Vaal Dam to Magalies, where a 10km loop of open roads had been marked out for further assessment.
So, without further ado, the winner of the Pirelli South African Bike of the Year is the BMW R1200GS Liquid Cooled! Second place went to the KTM 1190 Adventure and third place to the Triumph Daytona 675R. The MV Agusta Brutale 800, Kawasaki Z800 and Moto Guzzi California 1400 rounded out the top six.
It was a very close run between the BMW and the KTM and the result was in doubt to the moment the last vote had been received.
It is hoped that the competition will stimulate debate and interest in motorcycles and motorcycling in South Africa. This will be an annual event and arrangements are already at an advanced stage for the 2014 edition of this important competition.