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Solo woman first to ride across Africa on an electric motorcycle

Sinje Gottwald, a tech professional from Germany, became the first person to drive the length of Africa on an electric motorcycle during a 124-day solo journey.

A lot of people are still wary about taking a long trip with an electric vehicle, but Sinje Gottwald isn’t one of them.

Last month, the German adventurer completed a 124-day solo ride across the length of Africa on an electric motorcycle.

And you might say it was a piece of … cake.

The tech professional had previously spent three years riding around the world through the other continents on a conventional 1994 BMW R100GS, so she had plenty of experience.


"After about 10 years working in sales tech, which is a stressful job, I decided to quit and go for my dream and take a bag and just leave," Gottwald told Fox News Digital.


She didn’t plan to spend so much time on the road but was having so much fun she just kept riding, figuring out where to go next each morning. But as she was preparing to tackle Africa, she decided to make things a little trickier.

"I thought, ‘I know how to cross a continent, I know how to cross borders, I know what to be careful about, so why not add some challenge to it and do something that no one has ever done before?’ And that’s when I thought maybe I should do it on an electric motorcycle."

She reached out to Swedish electric motorcycle brand Cake and proposed the idea, but the folks there weren’t so sure their bike was the right tool for the job, having a range of just 55 miles per charge. But then the trip was postponed by the pandemic, and Gottwald ended up applying for a job at the company and was hired. While working there, she had the opportunity to pitch the trip again to CEO Stefan Ytterborn, who was supportive.

Cake set her up with a Kalk AP off-road model, which lists for $12,370 in the United States and has a 14-horsepower motor and a top speed of 56 mph. The only major modifications she made were the addition of a large rack to carry her gear and a second battery. She also raised the handlebars to make it easier to stand while negotiating rough terrain.

The trip started on a ferry from Spain to Morocco, from where she set off without any assistance on a route through the coastal countries that would take her all the way to South Africa.

"I planned every day very thoroughly to find the next place with electricity," she explained, using available power wherever she could find it, which wasn’t always easy in the more remote locations. "I sometimes had to ask people if they knew of any companies that had an office out in the jungle where I could use the electricity. Sometimes I had to use generators, where there was just one in a small village."

Locals and her followers on social media provided tips along the way.

"When I showed up at places, people were amazed and also confused because, first of all, they saw the bike and didn’t know what it was. Then, they saw me and were asking about the rest of my group or where my husband was," she said.

Things got sketchy a couple of times, and approaching Nigeria, she met up with another solo rider, Anna, who negotiated the border crossing with her because neither had visas.

"I didn’t feel safe," Gottwald said. "There were issues with the military and police."

They stayed in contact the rest of the way through the country, occasionally meeting up.

"At one point, we were stopped at a military checkpoint, and I was hit on the arm for no reason by an officer who also grabbed her and shook her and yelled at us, so it was good we were together," Gottwald said.

She figures that a third of the trip was spent off pavement and said a typical day would see her ride 60 miles over three or four hours, stop to charge for three hours, then cover another 60 miles before bed.

"One of the challenging parts is being on the bike for so many hours," she said.

But aside from having to replace a fuse and deal with a fried charging cable, the bike performed almost flawlessly.

"Adjusting the chain was the main thing I had to do," she said.

At one point, she lost a screw from a sprocket in the dirt and was lucky to find it, but then her luck ran out.

"I tightened that screw to make sure I won’t lose it again, and I overtightened it, and then it broke off," Gottwald said.

Fortunately, she was able to find help to remove the stub and get a replacement screw.


Stuck while waiting to get across the Ghana border, she had to sleep outside without a tent and spent 24 hours worrying about the people milling about and the mosquitoes. Otherwise, the biggest issue was dealing with curious crowds gathering around the bike in the small villages she visited.

"If it’s too many people, it can escalate quickly. And, one time, in Liberia, I had to hide in the living room of a person who allowed me come inside with my motorcycle," she said.

After four months, she made it to South Africa, where she connected with Anna again for the final 37-mile stretch into Cape Town.

The trip covered over 8,000 miles and unofficially marked both the longest unassisted ride and first crossing of Africa on an electric motorcycle. But Gottwald is awaiting word from the Guinness World Records if it will be recognized due to two short boat trips that were required for security reasons.

She’s back home now, unconcerned about the outcome and already thinking about her next big adventure.

"In my brain, I always plan trips, but at this point, I work for Cake and there are so many things I need to do because I was gone. But, for sure, I’m planning another trip, just nothing concrete now."

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