Surprise, its over a week since I received my new bike, Triumph Triple Street ABS. A week is definitely too early to write a review, and yet I was taken by surprise with such an eventful weekend!
First, I had been exhausted throughout the week due to a number of commitments – 2 major public lectures, five meetings, medical on call (on top of ‘permanent’ on call duty for cardiology), and the Monday started at 5am return trip KL-Melaka (by car). And yet, I rendered so little contribution (apart from giving one lecture) to our very first major workshop (ECG Masterclass) organised by our team from the Heart and Lung Centre of PPUKM – all credit to the committee members headed by Col. Rafizi. Poor planning – perhaps as I have practically stopped looking at diary except when appointment popped up on my android calendar!
And that’s how life was thrown into almost a complete disarray. I was not prepared. Like knowing that I had been put on Medical on call duty on the Friday, which otherwise was going to be modestly busy day. Then I knew I have not completed my slides for the lecture, while the evening was quite occupied till late.
On Saturday morning, around 7.40am I left the house riding my Street Triple heading to the hospital where our workshop was being held. The workshop was well attended, over 180 participants from around Lembah Klang and nearby states registered. I had my role to deliver the second lecture. I stayed till around 12.00, then got ready to ride to UKM Bangi, to meet the wife there to attend the wedding of a good friend, Shihab at Dewan Tun Abdullah Salleh. The weather was too hot, I could feel the burn on my skin, not the best time to enjoy a ride. As usual I filtered through the traffic well and the ST did it in good style.
Then I reached the Sg. Besi toll at the beginning of Plus highway. There had been lot of stories of riders had their misfortune with tyre punctures from nails purposely sprinkled on the motorcycle lane (this act was purportedly planted by ill-hearted road predators operating puncture repair business desperate for customers). I often bypassed the motorcycle lane and simply passed the left most toll booth normally used by large vehicles. However this time I decided to follow the usual motorcycle lane which had turned out to be a very costly exercise. The passage was fine, road surface looked nothing than usual. As I climbed the ramp toward the exit, I head a kind of explosion, from the rear tyre, I thought I could have hit a hard object (empty drink carton perhaps!) to cause such an explosion, the motor felt no different so I continued the journey. Now onto the highway I began speeding away, reaching 130 and going for more. Suddenly I felt a little unsteady, it degenerated into wobbly sensation, I thought of something bad going to happen. I quickly moved to the middle lane, lucky there was a car behind not too close by, and I spotted the left lane was clear so I swiftly pulled out to the hard shoulder. By now I knew that I had a flat rear tyre. I could hardly moved the motor, pushing it forward or backward was a stealth. I pulled the stand but the beast stood up straight and appeared to tilt a bit to the left, now I learned that with a flat tyre, you can hardly put your side stand to support the bike, what more, with mine that had been fitted with lowering kit.
Now my bike was stranded at the roadside, just before the Kajang exit. I took off my jacket, laid it down along with my bag and helmet. I tried to figure out what to do. A flat tyre…on a bike…well, I am well used with flat tyre on a car. I could do it within half an hour by changing to a spare tyre. But not a motorbike, I know of this soft plug material that can be used to seal the puncture, but in my entire motorbiking career have never thought of keeping a puncture kit handy for emergency like this.
So, all I did, was Whatsapp, first thing. I wassap MyIkram Bikers group whom I belong to, and got a quick response by someone, asking where I was. Meanwhile, I tried to figure out other thing, yes, the Triumph people, what can they do? Send a roadside rescue? Not sure they got one, perhaps a third party, or, I could get help from the Plus (motorway assist). So I opened Facebook and sent post to the Triumph bike club. One of the good member replied in an instant, asking me to call Along, who is based in Pandan Fastbike branch. Then went the comment that Along could come with his kapcai to do quick fix, sounded fantastic. Unfortunately my calls did not get answered by Along, he could be busy doing his work now or maybe not picking up stranger’s call.
I had also posted to my favourite KTM Duke 200 FB group, more of a casual posting, lamenting on the often said about Sg. Besi toll saga – of many account of people who experienced similar misfortune with tyre punctures due to deliberate planting of nails on the motorcycle lane. Then a good friend RS (who had introduced me to motorbiking world!) who seemed to follow my posting everytime, assured me that he’s just around if needed, ready with repair kit. I called the wife, who has reached Bangi where we supposed to meet, to look for any good bike repair shop, perhaps can fetch one of their handyman to come over and do the job.
Between making those calls for help and wassaping/facebooking, I received call from the guy in HIlton, where I supposed to come and join the meeting. So I told him my predicament and that I will not know for sure when the whole thing will be over, therefore a good chance that I could miss the entire meeting (this is serious, all Advisory Board members usually comply with their attendance and assignment without fail – however, I was then more concerned with my own survival! so I better not make any promise till my bike is back in order)
I looked at my watch, its quarter to two and time is ticking away. By now I had FB, wassaped, called people and searched google etc, well I must not forget to pray to God. I sat by the ditch, under the shade and opened the Quran apps, managed to complete two surahs. That was soothing, and brought some tranquility while waiting for the unknown. There was intermittent interruption like calls from hospital about a sick patient, whom I had to assign my junior to attend to later.
After quite a long wait, Plus roadside assistance team arrived. They could not offer much apart from pumping the tyre. They did offer to accompany me to a nearby bike repair, I declined the offer saying that someone is already on his way. Furthermore, judging from the way the puncture happened, I had a strong feeling that mere inflation will not last. I was right, it only took a few minutes after they left before the tyre was completely deflated!
It wasn’t long when SGH, a member of MIB called saying that he had two sources of help who were ready to come to my rescue. Shortly after a guy riding a red scooter with his son stopped by the roadside. Apparently (I learned later) he belonged to the Ampang Rider’s Club, and a good friend to a number of MIB members, kindly obliged to help. He took out a small box containing this pallette/plug material and a number of tools like screwdriver and mini-pliers. And amazingly a minuscule pump that was able to inflate my 180 rear tyre. We figured two punctures, one with an obvious nail sticking out, another was big enough that no trace of the penetrating object could be seen, means that it could have been a bigger nail that was the culprit, or this hole was too big to be repaired. The job got done within 20 minutes or so, I thank Az and his son and handed him a note, which he let his son handled. By now, my wife had arrived and brought cool iced tea. So when the job was over, she drove ahead of me heading to the wedding. I stopped by at a Petronas station to inflate the tyre fully and it worked fine. Now I was back in action. We arrived at Shihab’s wedding at close to 3pm. Hunger and taste at max, though I could hardly eat, just drank plenty of cold drink. Managed to socialise with an old friend and guide, Ustaz EH who actually was Shihab’s brother in law. After meeting the bride and bridegroom, and their family, we left the hall, me back with the riding.
rNow, onto the highway I nearly forgot about the problem, I was riding normally, hitting over 140km/h or more, well, I completely disregarded the fact that the rear tyre has had punctures sealed, may not be strong enough to withstand pressure at high speed riding. As I exited the Plus highway, I started to feel the same wobbly sensation again, lucky I managed to stop at a nearby Petronas station. To my horror I was not able to inflate the rear tyre the normal way, meant that it has dropped pressure to a flat level. This time I managed to speak to Along over the phone, expressing my concern, however, it was too late then since his workshop closed by 3pm, so he advised me to ride to a nearby motorbike repair. Now I rode the bike, feeling worried that the tyre could run flat again anytime, even before I reached the workshop. I was right, just as I passed near the Bandar Tun Razak exit, I nearly lost tyre pressure again, this forced me to ride in straight to a Bridgestone garage. They do motorcar tyres, sure they can fix this little puncture. And the guys were kind enough to carry out a less than five minute job. Alas, when he tested the puncture seal, there was still some micro leak. Can’t do anything, he said, and advised me to visit a nearby motorbike repair shop. I did, the first one refused saying that he didn’t do big bike. The second one took me in reluctantly. He jacked the motor, wetted the tyre and checked, there were tiny bubbles seen on the second puncture that was just fixed by Bridgestone. However, the man said he could do nothing at this moment, since taking the plug out and redoing the job will not guarantee complete sealing. The hole was simply too big. That sound bleak, I could end up needing a completely new tyre which could cost thousands….
I was right, the next morning, I checked the tyre pressure was more or less intact, however I did not enjoy the same ride quality (whether this was more of psychological effect!) furthermore Along did say that the first few day following puncture repair you would feel a little unusual since the bump created by the plugged in seal will be more or less be felt during motion. That alone was not a problem, but I needed reassurance. I also found that the odometer now displayed close to 800km, meant I have reached time for first service.
I decided to bring the bike to Fastbike Pandan, met Angah who briefly inspected the bike, didn’t say much, and thought that I should give it a few days try with the tyre, if it showed signs of leak then this could be indication that new tyre maybe needed. Then I asked if I could service the bike, he declined saying that they were still waiting for the computer before they can do the job. Not feeling completely satisfied, I sped away to PJ Fastbike HQ and the place I got the bike from. I was greeted by Mr. Fastbike himself (RM) and after a long chat, he concluded that I needed new tyre. His points sounded reasonable – there were two punctures, one of which was big enough, the seal may not last, or could loosen out at high pressure, after all the quality of ride won’t be the same with a repaired tyre while you would still worry about your own safety. I accepted his proposal who said that a new tyre, at discounted price cost around RM750. However, there was none in stock. So he advised leaving the bike for the service and tyre replacement the following day, and offered me a replacement bike. That’s where the Bonneville T100 come to play.
Triumph Bonneville T100 – a beautiful classic for a relaxing cruise
A look can be deceptive. Being a classic bike, first look may not impress you, or yes it may overwhelm you, depends much on your expectation. I have indeed read a number of reviews on this bike, in fact several articles comparing it with another classic bike from Kawasaki, W800. And yet, when I was handed the key, and shown the bike, it deceptively look a tad old to me, and I could not for sure tell whether it was a new bike, or a refurbished unit from last millennium…
Riding the bike too, make you feel as if you come from the past! No wonder, as I stopped at the traffic light, a young guy riding ER6 greeted me ‘hi Uncle’ he said…(usually though age wise I deserve this title, when riding my Duke or Street Triple, with full face helmet, no one could tell what age group I belong to, and the general impression particularly from those young females, they look at me as if I am one of those young guys…).
When I first sighted this bike in its dark red colour, it looked strong and appealing. Even by look alone many would have fallen in love with the bike. However, the one given to me as a loan was black colour scheme somewhat appeared less attractive, you just see black tone everywhere plus shiny metal. But yes, it has a retro look. Plus quality and high standard finish, no doubt it has lasting appeal to many would be fan. What brings about its classic (read ‘old’) is the circular, large headlight, large orange coloured indicator light, handlebar and exaggerated presence of solid metals – the double exhaust, body frame etc enhance its stylish look.
When I parked it at home, all the family members generally love its look and they were all excited to get a ride. With its large and long seat, it can take any type of passenger comfortably. Because of its low height, I had no problem balancing the bike as the wife climbed on it. Further more, the passenger rides at the same height as the rider, therefore climbing behind does not impose excessive threat on the rider, unlike climbing up on spotsbike, which I still loose ground sometime causing a near fall situation…
The engine is 865cc parallel twin, with 5 speed gearbox, quoted engine capacity of 67hp. It has a weight of about 230kg hence feels lead heavy to push while stationary. Though the seat height is just 740mm, sitting on it did not make you feel much in control like sitting on a, cruiser like Yamaha Virago or Kawasaki Vulcan. Yes a classic does not behave like those easy riders in certain way.
So how does it ride?
My first impression on reaching my hand out to grab the handlebar was a spontaneous: Ey…feels like handling a Virago! This remark may have not impressed Mr. Fastbikes but the initial reaction quickly dissipated into an aura of grandeur riding a classic and stylish motorbike from a world renown maker. The engine was very quiet, even if you rev hard, nothing much but a hum can be heard, this is particularly true when you try to warn impending vehicles in front during a tight traffic negotiation, you are guaranteed no one heed the engine note. Strange though for a bike that comes with double exhaust system. However this smooth and quiet engine is a doodle and you will quickly enjoy the nimble ride quality. Its acceleration is strong, being able to pull up from 40km/h at 5th. gear. Well, for slow riding such as filtering traffic congestion, I could merely do with 2nd gear, though I could nearly use the third permanently if I don’t go more than a 90-100. Similarly I could be using the 4th or 5th gear for low speed riding which was still comfortable.
Moving in slow motion is pleasant, and this is where a cruiser beats those sport bikes that do not behave well when pushed at lower speed (engine crank, gearshit, clutch control etc). With the Bonneville you feel more relaxed and this is the way the bike should be ridden, in a leisurely and unhurried way. One thing that I found a bit odd is the riding position. I honestly don’t like it, and therefore settled for my own way, this is worse as I was riding a cruiser bike with sportbike’s riding posture! Who cares, the main thing is I enjoy the ride.
Notwithstanding the above statement, one must be warned not to underestimate the bike’s power though, as it can easily beat any ordinary (including sport bikes!) with its commendable acceleration. I nearly laughed at myself when I unknowingly overtook a Tiger, yeah, its a Triumph Tiger explorer ridden at a modest speed, it could be this rider’s first day owning the bike hence he was not going at higher speed, I thought trying to console myself! But yes, I had surprised those kapchai and other smaller sport bikes at the traffic light with this little devil’s swift pickup from idle. Its not really meant for this job but it certainly is capable of doing it, and rest assured you will not hear the engine complaints, with its massive 865cc it has more than enough to entertain your adrenaline rush when required. What more with its reported top speed beyond 170km/h.
That’s on record, since, on my way back from Fastbikes, I purposely followed the highway (Duke), and I was taken by surprise at this bike’s lightweight feeling during cruise, I almost forgot that it weighed over 200kg. Sadly, this lightness act against its favour when come to speeding. I found that 120-130km/h is perhaps the max that I could tolerate, the wind blast was way too strong. I could feel the blast when going up from 110km/h, and I don’t think I could at any moment exceeded 130 lest the bike becomes unstable or I lost control. In this sense, as opposed to the sports variant like my own lovely Street Triple, it did not inspire confidence at high speed. Yes, perhaps a season rider has his own way of tackling this bike and hence utilise it to max, but for an ordinary rider like me I will stop enjoying this bike once I am thinking of higher speed or trying to overtake at highways.
Is that all? So what’s my verdict…
Hmmm not a very in-depth review about this particular Triumph I guess. Am I impressed? Honestly I am not sure whether, or in which way will I ever like to ride a cruiser such as this classic model. Perhaps the free swinging handlebar with long inverted fork put me off, as it was a reminder of my companionship with that old Virago during the riding lesson days. Lack of grunt from the exhaust is a big disappointment, though most owners will perhaps get on with new exhaust. I am also concern with the instability and wind blast at higher speed. The black colour scheme is another negative trait. Finally, I kind of feel its not the bike for me – not now perhaps, till I reach the age of 60s…
Anything I like about the bike? Overall classic look (yes I admit its one of the thing that turns peoples eyes) and a lovely cruise, great bike for sheer fun and ecstatic value rather than for speed or adventure.
Back to real life
There you go, a most eventful weekend, only a week after getting this Triumph Street Triple I have to fork out over RM1000, for service and new tyre as result of the Sg. Besi disaster. This will not put me off certainly, from enjoying my new ST, and in fact, brought a new excitement as now I have passed the initial 1000km limit means I could rev higher and enjoy the bike to its full extent. Thankfully, the agony was somewhat compensated by this pleasant experience of trying the new Bonneville T100