Four years ago Dieter Sowade, a German import with a lifetime of experience in the hospitality industry and a passion for motorcycling, opened the Viper Lounge - part bike shop, part pub, part restaurant. It was the first of its kind in Cape Town and from the start it was popular with cruiser riders for its relaxed atmosphere and the obvious care Sowade and his staff put into both their food and the bikes they sold.
Recently Sowade cemented his motorcycle-industry credentials by taking on an agency for upmarket Victory cruisers, while the restaurant side has been going from strength to strength on the back of innovative promotions almost every weekend.
Katharyn van Staden, left, and Tamsyn Odendaal were on hand to give customers' bikes lots of TLC. Credit: Dave Abrahams
Recently Sowade celebrated the fourth anniversary of the Viper Lounge with free boerewors rolls and draught beer, loud music and a bikini bike wash - but the star of the show was undoubtedly Moodswing, a 1960s-style custom chopper entirely hand-built in Cape Town by the editor of ous sister publication Argus Motoring.
The engine is a 1640cc V-twin, as used in Indian motorcycles up to 2003, the six-speed gearbox is by Trikshift and the 60-spoke wheels by American Wire - everything else is handmade, including the fuel and oil tanks.
The bike has girder front suspension, hand shift, and a very clever spray job with built-in 'street cred'. It's built like a tank and, in a collision with a brick wall, I would not put my money on the wall. Although independently built, it embodies Sowade's philosophy of 'Go your own way' and looks right at home in the Viper Lounge.