Motorcycle Review (Triumph Street Triple): The legend of a blue Triumph concurring the street of KL

A leisurely, layman review of Triumph Street Triple 2013

Spec: 675cc, 3 in-line, 170kg, 105bhp, ABS

Pros: Beautiful twin sportslight, fantastic ride, great bike for daily use and commuting

Cons: Fuel economy is modest, tiny passenger seat, no storage

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In contrast to many friends, I use motorbike mainly for work, or, at least initially, purely for work. Later, the usage has extended a bit, and even more as the ‘home minister’ has decided to join the band. It is with this initial intent that I started my riding career with an entry level bike, KTM Duke 200. It indeed has served me well, and I still love it and think it is the best bike for short journeys in the city. As a naked bike it is small, light and sporty, quick and agile. However, as my interest in biking grow deeper (fueled by interaction with many riders in the ‘club’), I began to yearn for something bigger. The reason, I need a bike that can take me beyond work – eg attending outstation meetings, doing short leisure trips/convoys or occasional long journey when the need arise. It is not because the 200cc KTM Duke could not fulfil the need – I began to look for more, eg a more powerful engine, an ability to sprint to a higher speed beyond 130km/h (just around the top speed of Duke, 138km/h), and perhaps a new technology that offers smoother and more energetic ride in contrast to a single cylinder KTM Duke.

After a period of intense research, I finally narrowed down my choice to one of four – BMW F800 GT, Triumph Street Triple/R ABS, KTM Duke 690 or Kawasaki Z800. The first and last were excluded at the final round – the BMW was costly, no access to the BMW Motorrad (went to the showroom, no salesperson around – booked a test ride, no response). The Z800 which I test rode once, was a great bike, but too heavy, too tall and the bulky profile was less suitable for daily commuting in heavy traffic. As for KTM Duke 690/R I had studied it quite indepth, and impressed with its build quality and ride. An upgrade from a 200cc to 690cc from the same maker seems a natural choice, however, I found the bike (R) too tall – even with lowering kit it won’t change the height much. Further more, the exaggerated naked look, more of a hooligan, was a kind of deterrant. Then after some thought, plus family members indifference to my interest, I decided to move into a completely different world – beyond single cylinder technology. There comes the final choice, Triumph Street Triple. I thought I would go for the R version, however from short discussion with the Fastbike guys, I was convinced that the Street Triple is adequate, while its seat height shorter, and of course it is cheaper. One more important reason – I like the blue colour, sadly none of the R version came in blue.

I received the bike on 14 February 2014, after a 45 days waiting. This was unually long waiting period, thanks to Fastbike for their efficiency. There were delays in processing the loan, mistakes in registration, delays in signing the agreement, blah blah…I joked with them saying that it took one calendar year from booking before I got the bike! I reminded them in my faxed letter, that I placed the booking on 30 Dec last year, and only on 13 February did they confirm the bike ready – that, after receiving my inflammatory complaint letter. Even up to now, I have not received one of the accessories (tank bag) which was paid using the voucher. Maybe they need another complaint letter from me…sigh….despite all that they did deliver a great bike in pristine condition, and their service is friendly and professional.

The machine

Its a middleweight class with a modest dry weight of 170kg. At a glance, it didn’t have that ‘big’ look, it is not imposing nor too frightening to approach for a novice. What makes it look substantial is the large fuel tank, moderately sized belly and grille and the rear tyre that comes in standard 180. Nevertheless you would be a fool to think of it as a lightweight machine. Yes true I could push or drag it quite comfortably at rest, however, on the road, it doesn’t feel light, and this nicely balanced body gives you enough umph with accelerating, braking and manoeuvring bends etc. With such weight and profile, negotiating the gaps during heavy congestion is not a big task, in fact from the first day I instantly built my confidence riding the bike, even faced with heavy traffic from PJ right to Cheras. Unlike my brief test ride experience with the Z800 (bulky, too tall hardly suit my size), the Street Triple is a gem. It didn’t take long to be your best friend.

The spec indicated that the bike height is 800mm, which is slightly lower than my Duke200. I purposely requested for lowering kit to be fitted, and surprise as I handled the bike, it did feel too low at times, though the overall handling experience (eg when manoeuvring traffic) is more pleasant with such a height. In fact, they kept the factory fitted stand, which, due to the presence of the lowering kit, had caused the bike stands at complete upright when erect. I thought this was a bit dangerous, as I always have to find a slope when parking so that the stand will rest on the slope, keeping the bike slightly tilted to the left side.

Unlike the lightweight Duke200, trying to steer the handle at rest requires conscious effort, the handle does feel heavy (how I wish a power-assisted handlebar!), however, during motion, there isn’t such feeling, in fact the heaviness does help to make you feel more stable and secure during riding.

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I found the blue colour attractive, though the bike itself is not highly seductive or unique looking, unlike the Duke200, that has a more classy naked style drawing people’s attention at once. The most prominent appearance is the double sports light, one of the reason that made me strongly attracted to this bike. With colour coded fly screen added, seen from the front brings its unique presence.

Of note, some people say that a bike that is less than 1 litre is not a superbike…well there comes the term middleweight bike. Anyway, for simplicity in our biking community we refer all the big looking bike as superbike, and definitely those with engines bigger than 400cc. In any case, I feel upgrading to a middle range bike is the most reasonable path, as at the moment I am not in need of the rather less practical and oversized >1 litre superbike.

The ride

I like the engine and exhaust note, it brings this addictive beautiful aura. It’s smooth revving, at rest and during ride. During ride, it feels pleasant and powerful, though the exhaust is not very loud, which in some way maybe a disadvantage in trying to alert other vehicle’s of your presence. Riders do need to be seen and heard aloud, and I must admit the machine is too quiet even when revved hard. Its hums and growls is modest, perhaps a slip on silencer would amplify the noise, though I don’t plan to get this yet. So far, I am getting enough attention, and vehicles do move to give space, especially when I repeatedly rev the throttle. I do admit, that I get to press the horn more often compared to with the Duke 200.

Since I have read a few reviews previously, just on acquiring the machine, I had set my expectation high, and not surprisingly it gave me more than I wanted. The excellent smooth engine can be enjoyed at both low and high speed, ie whether you rev it low or high. This makes rolling slowly for instance during heavy traffic much more enjoyable task, you don’t feel the shake even down to 20km/h. At lower speed it is best to keep to 2nd to 3rd gear, while at 5th. gear can take you beyond 120km/h with no noticeable engin strain. Such an enticing ride gives you excitement whether going for a ‘santai ride’ at modest speed like when entering pedestrian zones, while high speed riding is its own specialty which you can attain painlessly. I like the flexibility of the gearing, as  I could ride at 6th. gear with low speed eg manouvering heavy traffic, though its more convenient to be at 5th. as it gives more pickup when needed. However, I could also choose the lower gears like 3rd or more commonly 4th and this allow me to steer the bike at between 30 to 100km/h and enjoy the highly refined engine note.

Though at a glance the machine does look tame and rather ‘shy’ looking, you must not underestimate it. Rev it hard and you will be surprised at how powerful the thrust of the engine is. At first you feel the heave and steadiness at modest speed, but don’t be fool, just twist the throttle a little and there you will sprint from 90km/h to 130-140km/h in a split second. This sporty attribute can be dangerous for newbie, therefore, one is advised to get used to the powerful engine. For someone who were used to a high revving bike like Duke 200, must be acutely aware that despite the triumph’s cut off point at 12000rpm, you will need much less rpm to reach similar speed, and much faster too. It is this briskness that I like, allowing me to quickly regain speed after slowing down – a very useful manouver when you are riding in a busy traffic.

The sharp handling and brisk response, which combines quick acceleration with good breaking, is an essential component to safe and enjoyable riding. I would like to compare riding the bike with driving the BMW car. One thing that I like with the bimmer car is, it’s sporty and ‘punchy’. You can çharge your speed at an instant, allowing safe lane changing and overtaking with shorter distance from the vehicle immediately behind. Then, when needed I can snap right behind another vehicle after an overtaking manouver – this attribute is essential during overtaking in a two way road. I found with the triumph, this is possible and of course being a bike, requires much less space to sneak in and out between cars courtesy of its swfit pickup and precise braking. What is good about the bike, it feels like the tyres are glued to the road, giving me great confidence when riding.

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The Duke 690 R was a close contender, but I ended up falling in love with the Triumph Street Triple

One of my aim in upgrading is to allow me to ride at comfortable speed on a medium long journey, which mostly related to work, or as the case these days, for short trips/convoys. Thank God, speeding and chasing is what this bike is about. The bike with its nimble ride quality and powerful engine has given me just what I needed, cruising at a modest speed of 130-140km/h. At highway I probably keep steady ride at 120-130km/h and occasionally over 140 or max 150-160 rarely. This is just enough for now, and the bike happily cruise at these speeds stylishly with its fine acceleration. The great fun indeed starts when you ride 90km/h above, keep at 6th. gear, as from this speed it can take you to 150-160 willingly, as long as you are willing to take the risk…me, no! except when I really have to. When I had to, it did it happily with no sign of strain, and indeed it could offer more, as if challenging you ‘is that all?’ Yes I know, people are talking about 200, I will never reach that for now. Anyway the most important thing about riding is, it allows you to travel in a more predictable time, therefore there is no need for excessive speed, perhaps for the occasional fun and ‘racing’ other riders, which I rarely do!

When riding in the open, the wind blast can be felt and it can be very strong at times, though, you can bend slightly forward and this allow you to comfortably cruise up to 140km/h or more. Being a naked bike the wind blast when riding in the open seems to be the limit. Additional windshield and good riding gears will help to push the limit further.

Gearchange is something that I admit still requiring some learning. I found engaging the first gear a real chore. On day 1, I was almost clueless, as repeatedly striking the gear paddle with clutch fully applied failed to engage the first gear. So half of the time I either release and pull the clutch back followed by flicking the gear pedal, or else rev the throttle a bit then flick the pedal. Worse still, even flicking the pedal softly caused the gear to engage with a loud clunky sound. It could be a little embarassing at traffic light, when other riders are already sprinting away while you are struggling with the gear – this maybe an exxaggeration, as time goes by I have learned the trick, or at least I engage the gear early. Another anomaly is the rather staid gearchange indicator. Say I am moving at 3rd., when I drop to 2nd., the indicator will keep displaying the 3rd till I rev or move the bike further, its not a big bother though I would have liked the indicator to be more timely. Apart from this, the gearshift is otherwise smooth, and one thing I like about it, I rarely get false neutral, unlike the Duke200 (the Duke has no problem with engaging first gear, but it comes with plentiful of false neutral gear incidents!).

Any unpleasant experience? I have so far found that the bike is quite easy to master, for basic daily use, as to its full potential that has to wait to be explored as time goes by. One thing that surprised me is the occasional ‘bumpy’ ride quality, which I can feel it excessively when riding over uneven surface or bumpy roads. Sometimes, even when I don’t notice any irregularities on the road, there was this feel of ‘unsettled’ ride, as if there was slight ‘misfire’ or a startle from the tires, I wasn’t sure. I checked in the forum and they thought that this was due to the oversensitive throttle. The only cure is to slow down slightly and regain your speed a few seconds later. Its happening much less now, perhaps as I got more used to riding the bike.

Some friends have commented about riding position. With its large tank and well spaced handlebar to the seat, it automatically forces the rider to be incline forward. Therefore my riding position is forward leaning, not straight, unlike the Duke. I honestly like this new riding position, as it gives me more control at the handles and feel better at long journey. When riding at low speed or going around the village, this stooped position can be a little tiring, but I don’t think its a disadvantage for me.

SOLO RIDE vs riding with pillion

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For all intent and purpose the bike is best ridden alone. There is a tiny back seat that won’t accommodate a passenger well, the bike doesnt come equipped with rear seat holder, therefore the only way pillion rides is by holding on to the rider. I have taken my wife on a few occassions. In fact I took her to join one of the short convoys (TTS). She seemed to enjoy the ride and indeed thought the bike copes well on bumpers, better than our Duke. Most of the time we went on short journeys, the longest perhaps was to and from Bagan Lalang, which took over an hour. My second son seems to give me the hardest challenge as he sits as pillion. He doesn’t hug me, instead tries to keep his hands free like a hero, and yet when I pull the brakes, he will be shifted forward, or tossed his hands on my shoulder, the movement which could be disturbing my concentration.

Apart from small seat, I find it a little harder to control the bike when riding with pillion, especially tackling a corner or manouvering traffic congestion. Increased load means your momentum to stop and start movement is increased, I would always needed to be more careful trying to reach my feet to the ground when the bikes slows down at traffic light.  Another issue is, when riding with pillion, I would always make sure my top speed is lower than usual. I must admit that my experience riding with pillion is quite limited so I probably have yet to learn the trick of the trade.

Based on the seat design of the bike though, I must say that it was made for a single rider, with occasional pillion passenger for short ride. Go beyond this you will lose the enjoyment of riding.

DAY TO DAY RIDE

The original intent of upgrading to a middleweight bike is primarily for commuting to work. So how does this machine fare? I have had over a year experience of riding the Duke 200, a small cc bike with great muscle, an awesome street hero and a friendly bike for a beginner to the big bike world. Obviously with the 200cc single cyclinder, I was limited in two ways, the small capacity engine falls short of power when needed for swift overtaking and more so when traveling a long distance, the engine strain can be felt once you twist the throttle beyond 120km/h. However, for daily commuting, in my perspective the Duke is enough, it is easy to handle (light and small), cheap to maintain, quick enough to blast through city traffic, and it’s handsome. Furthermore, I have fitted the Duke with a Givi topbox, making it a handy traveller that secures my luggage and its content especially when it rains. The noisy Remus exhaust, though a nuisance at times does help alert nearby vehicles of my presence which is a useful additional safety feature. What it lacks is a big bike image, and as mentioned before I merely call this machine a ‘super kapchai’.

Therefore the question is, what more can a big naked bike like Street Triple can offer? Or, is it a better alternative to the Duke? What I mean better can be subjective. After having a wonderful experience riding the Duke for over a year, has my perspective changed? Does better mean more convenience, or more ‘potential’ inconvenience at the expense of fun, adventure and other intangible benefits? The Street triple, heavier, zero luggage/storage capacity, more costly maintenance – why should I go for it, when what I already have is enough? A tough question indeed, which I exactly was pondering about even till the day I got the bike. But once I rode the bike, all those worries were immediately consigned to the bottom pit, and I just wanted to ride it more and more, anywhere I go!

By now I have been riding the bike for more than a month. Right from the first day, I was impressed by its agility, smooth, nimble ride and indeed it has inspired confidence in blasting through tight traffic gaps. Though it’s heavier than the Duke, its fine three cylinder engine is a charm, its excellent gears, and with lower seat height does help compensate for its weight, in fact the weight help you feel more stable during ride, particularly at higher speed. Obviously the bigger profile needs more effort when steering at idle or very low speed. However the engine smoothness does entertain and with time I get more used to keeping the rev and clutch balance therefore it becomes highly manageable.

As said before the slightly stooped posture may cause a little strain during city ride, I didnt feel much bother, and as time goes by I feel like I was able to keep almost straight posture, or maybe my own imagination…certainly not a bother either way.

So where does it fare better than the Duke? For one, going at higher speed or acceleration is what it is good at, and I was mesmerised by the crystal fine 3 in-line engine. Responsive throttle, great stability, precise braking, all give me what I need for daily ride.

Alas, with no storage capacity, I have to suffer, and once I rode during heavy rain along MRR2, I was wearing full Alpinestar rainjacket, managed to keep myself half dry, pity though, my backpack was soaked in water. Though the laptop was secured in its sleeve, the charger which I kept in different compartment was wet, and became unusable. The next day I immediately paid a visit to Pertama Complex and bought a tankbag that comes with its own waterproof jacket. This was quite cheap, and handy as I can detach the actual bag to carry as a backpack, while the magnetic liner is left at the bike’s fuel tank.

You may wonder if I had cut down on travelling time? When I switched from car to motorbike (Duke) I reduced traveling time as much as 50%, but when I switched from Triumph to Duke, there was not noticeable difference, and I am prepared to accept this fact. Though with the Triumph I was able to ride faster, the net difference in time saved was almost negligible. Nevertheless, the Street Triple’s advantage excels when I have to cover longer journey beyond workplace, when the situation arise, and I could do this more stylishly. In essence, this is great, since the more bulky and heavier machine has not affected my performance, while it gives more fun and better handling for longer journey, hence the Triumph is an obvious winner.

Enjoying the Superbike Fun world

Since late last year I have joined the MyIkram bikers group, a small ‘exclusive’ group of bikers from our organisation, IKRAM. Due to the various background of the members, the group is not one of the most active one around. However there are a few notable things about it. For one, the members are mostly very experienced riders, none of them have owned less than two bikes, some have used to change bike almost yearly. They not only know about bikes, many of them are well versed with riders destinations including those adventurous or most dangerous riding spots around the country and beyond. Another thing, many of them belong to other, bigger riders groups, this give us useful input on the recent and future happenings in the superbike world. I always put my query to our wassap group and receive satisfactory answer. Indeed I got their help during that ‘weekend trauma’ as described in my other posting.

We had done some short trips and were involved in planning one of a national events that will involve bikers  (later postponed due to circumstances). I always learn new tips, and exciting stories from veteran members on their years of riding experience. Because all of the members come from the same organisation (that works for the charity and social reform) we share similar understanding of life and worldview. Therefore every meeting will not be complete without discussing our organisation, IKRAM latest development and our own personal contribution in trying to change the society to a better one.

Our first trip was to Bagan Lalang, a short journey of around 90 minutes. I took the missus along, this was just the second day after I collected the Triumph, yeah, and I was still running in the engine. I warned the group earlier on, that I wont be able to match their speed as I was still running the engine in, my max would be 110km/hr. And I did just that, it was a wonderful ride to and fro, the ride at this relaxing speed was such a breezer, and at the same time gave me enough to learn how to tackle the twisty road. We had a delicious seafood dinner at the beach front, leisurely discussion, then performed the maghrib prayers at the surau before leaving to KL. The return journey was at night, which I was not so good at. However, the Triumph was a gem, with its refined and strong engine, good tyres I quickly forgot that I was riding at night. In fact, I nearly forgot that I was still running in the engine, there was time when I sprinted up to 140km/h, ouch…I quickly backed off and tried to keep below 5000rpm.

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Morning TTS at Putrajaya Mosque

On our second trip I followed one of our seasoned rider friend along the MEX highway Putrajaya KL. He was building his speed fast, though I did not intend to keep close distance initially, at a later stage I was a little challenged and began chasing him. Not long before I realised that I hit 160km/h counter, it didn’t feel much at this stage, it was just up to my own bravity. Now I was getting too close, so I backed off and kept at 130-140km/h again. But the bike was such a loyal company that won’t let you down, in this case it did not have any difficulty keeping pace with that 2 in-line Versys of course, it was all my own hesitancy that kept me behind.

Fuel economy, maintenance, accessories

In short, it isn’t cheap. With full tank capacity of 17L, I found that on average I will get the refuel alert when I reached around 200km on city ride. For longer journeys, I estimate that a full tank will cover more than 250km conveniently. I think in general everyone knows that riding a motorbike is very economical indeed comparing to cars, but for us bikers, we are also concern with the bike full tank capacity. I would be happier if it can cover up to 300km, therefore reducing the frequency of refuelling. This may have an impact when you set for a long journey. Having to stop at every 200km is just about the ideal riding practice, since a rider may last just over an hour before having a ‘pit stop’. But I would worry, due to lack of R & R when you are traveling north, whether this refuelling distance is good enough, or I could end up refuelling at half tank somewhere, for the purpose of covering the possibility of not finding another refuelling station in the next 100km.

Since it is fully imported model, accessories are expensive, no doubt. But I am wary, here, at Fastbikes, whether they can get them fast enough, if not they should not deserve that name eh..? The encouraging development has it that they are opening another branch in Penang, it means they are serious enough in expanding their business and hence customer base. There is also a centre in Singapore so that people from the South may get their parts and services there.

A lasting friendship…2000km up with a smile and relief

The bike had been serviced at 800km, right a day after the unfortunate event of rear tyre double punctures, which ended with a brand new tyre required. And the serious aftermath of heavy rain that cost me almost RM300 to get a damaged MacAir charger replaced. Otherwise, no other complaints about the motor. Problems? Not really, I just could not stop thinking about it…and at the running in stage, there was a lot of difficulty trying to keep within the recommended engine speed, since it didn’t take a big deal before you realise that you have exceeded the limit…

This blue Street Triple Triumph is no doubt a capable bike with smooth, refined engine and charismatic ride, highly practical for daily use, and it suit itself as my travelling companion for short and medium distance journeys. My short experience of owning and riding this bike, had yielded plenty of thrill and excitement, the Triumph has taken me to a new phase of motorcycle riding.

More on TIMI score

A lot of people have visited my posting on TIMI score, which had been posted quiet a good while ago. Let me update you a bit. There are TIMI score classification for both STEMI and UA/NSTEMI, they are separate of course.

The STEMI TIMI score takes into account many parameters that include ECG changes, presentation time and Killip’s score.

Killip score is a simple but useful risk stratification score of patient’s with MI based on their heart failure status (1 – no failure, 4 – cardiogenic shock).

Both scores are reproduced here (pic linked from cardiachealth.org). From Morrow et al, Antman et al Circ, JAMA 2000

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An eventful weekend with double tyre punctures and a lovely cruise with Triumph Bonneville T100

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.

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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.

ImagerNow, 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.

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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…

20140223_192421Anything 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

Ouch…wrong fuel loaded to my car…what a terrible mix-up!

It was a fine day, a public holiday for the Chinese New Year Day. My sister N and second last brother L arrived the day before as we plan to go for the big trip to Teluk Intan.

The day we set out early to head to Teluk Intan for my nephew’s engagement. I got my brother L to drive the Starex, carrying his family and my sister’s family along with their children.

As a routine before traveling I usually stop at nearby gas station for refuelling and checking tyre pressures. I refuelled my bimmer in no time then went on to check tyres. There was some delay getting fuel to the Starex as the kiosk it stopped at could not accept credit card. So L drove it to the next kiosk. 

While I was busy working with the tyres suddenly L turned up, scratching head: “I put petrol in your car” I was numb for a while…”I put RM30 plus of petrol in your car!” he said again, panicked. Oh no, when we are already running late…at first I was stunned, and recalling previous own experience, and other people’s experience I knew I was having a nightmare, this is going to set our trip back by not less than 2-3 hours. Everything came instantly to my mine. Wrong fuel type – petrol to a diesel tank – got to empty the tank, pump the fuel out, then refuel with diesel, and then start the engine everything should be fine. But that’s in theory. When it came to the real thing, one will realise that it is not easy, particularly when dealing with a fairly large group like this with everyone feeling anxious and having only one thing in mind, to arrive on time, get the engagement things done then rush back. 

Ok, got to calm down. L made several phone calls to friends and I consulted Google University – AA got some serious Q n A on this stuff and seemed useful. Depends on percentage it said, if 10% or less petrol in the diesel tank, you just have to fill the remaining tank with diesel and things should be fine. As with a petrol engine, sounded even easier, the worst thing could happen is smoke coming out of the exhaust, which will clear once the tank is completely replenished with petrol. As with diesel engine, better leave it with professionals it said.

Well are some heads of professional. Now I got advice from a mechanic friend, who said the following steps should be taken:

Ensure to shut down engine – if engine is shut, then make sure do not start the ignition or else the fuel will start to mix

If a significant amount of petrol had been loaded such as in this case (approx 15 itres, the tank was just under half full prior to refuelling), then the best thing is to empty the tank.

 

To empty the tank, the best would be to drain it empty – this is the only way to ensure complete evacuation of the “contaminating” petrol.

Next after successfully draining out the tank, flush out with small amount of diesel.

Then fill up the tank to full capacity with diesel and start the engine. 

If the car engine had been turned on, it maybe advisable to change the fuel filter prior to running the car for long term or long distance.

 

So, whatever it is, our big job is to empty the tank. First the good guy at Shell came up with this modest long hose and a small bucket. We tried to ‘suck’ fuel out first by mouth, so that once a small amount comes out, a ‘siphone’ effect will occur letting the remaining fuel out. First the Shell attendant tried to suck and spit the fuel, failed. Next Z my brother in law tried it, got a good amount of fuel smearing his mouth, but nothing drained. L tried next, and he nearly bathed himself with the petrol and yet nothing come out flowing as we expected. Alas, now we know how deep inside the fuel tank is, there is now way to drain the fuel this way, and certainly no way to empty it completely, even with the longest hose.

 

Failing this initial manoeuvre, we have Plan B which is to empty the tank from underneath the car. This is highly technical job, and L being an experienced driver of many buses (he owns two buses) knew a bit on this and guaranteed me that he will be able drain the fuel completely. There was one problem however, where could we spill out the content of the fuel tank, which measured not less than 40-50 litres? The Shell attendant advised against emptying the fuel directly to their drain, and on checking it seemed that the drain was shallow enough and would not accommodate that amount of spillage. So we looked around and L figured out a large drain running along the motorway (MRR) was perfect target. So we pushed the car to the roadside, with me driving it while all the others including women and children gave hand pushing the vehicle. Now I realised even with the key turned fully (on) the power steering and brake would not activate so I have to work hard to turn the vehicle, as well as push the paddle really hard to pull the brake. The drainage spot was located at a slop, so we had to be careful not to push the vehicle too much lest it will run straight to the motorway.

 

L who has the most experience with car mechanic went underneath and started working on the fuel tank bottom, connected to a large hose mechanism. To do the job he merely needed a screw driver and a spanner, thank to the Shell attendant guy who kindly gave us a loan of his toolbox. Not long after we saw fuel coming out, but it spilled just outside the drainage hole, so we had to push the car a little bit forward. Now L snapped the loose hose that we used to try to drain the pump earlier, right through the space occupied by the large fuel hose, and the fuel started gushing out fast. I though it may take ages, I was wrong, just in a few minutes, the whole thing came out, no trace of it can be seen as it all went down the drain.

 

Next we took a small amount of diesel to ‘wash out’ the tank, then L opened the bonnet, and on the right side of the bonnet there was this fuel pump where he repeatedly pressed in order to ‘empty the air’. In order to do it smoothly he needed to disconnect a small screw covering one of the air outlet. Unfortunately the screw dropped from his hand and disappeared. Now we had to deal with another mishap…everyone started looking around, one searched over and under the bonnet, another combed every inch of the ground and I started running over the exposed part of the drain with the aim of getting in it in case the thing had dropped into. At last we found it tucked somewhere in the bonnet. So now back to the real job. Deairing done, fueled reloaded (about 4 litres). Before starting the engine, we had to reassembled the underneath fuel tank compartment that was disconnected earlier. Most complex task indeed, such an intricate task compared to disassembling it earlier. First of all, very tight space that allowed just enough room for your head to snuggle, therefore we used a jack to lift the floor a little higher. On close inspection, I discovered that the hose connected to the bottom tank by a tight fit, then held by this O double ring that is kept together by a bolt and nut. We took turn to do the job and in the end it took my brother and me to work together hand in hand to have the final things put together.

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After everything had been put together, we packed all the tools and I started the engine, and in the name of God, it started wizzing, no sounds of trouble. I drove it reversing to the kiosk to fill up with diesel. I just refuelled half tank, than loaded all the passengers and drove for about 10-15km. Now the biggest question is, whether it is safe to continue the journey (over 100km) to Telok Intan, and on consultation with my friend mechanic, he assured us it should be ok. So, after we exited the DUKE highway we refilled the diesel again to full tank and continued the journey. Thank God, there was no problem at all!

 

What I have learnt:

It is always best to advise clearly, (don’t assume!) the person going to drive your car, of the type of fuel your car use. Even if he is your own brother, who has extensive experience driving diesel vehicle, huhu, in this case, what went through my brother’s mind, was that he was driving his own car and that he was refuelling it!

Have a conscious mind when you are refuelling your car, this applies if you have more than one car or one of your car/vehicle is a diesel

If you happen to put petrol in a diesel or otherwise, the best is not to start the engine, and get help, don’t panic.

The best treatment of fuel mix-up (significant amount – they advise if more than 5x e.g. 10L petrol mix up into a 50L diesel) is to drain the tank empty. If you don’t know how to do it, get the professionals

Wisdom behind a failure…and the therapeutic value of prayers and meditation

5 am something…my ears caught the sound of the smartphone alarm. Barely, barely. Then the alarm must have kept buzzing, through its ‘crazy mode’ incessantly…and I was overcome by exhaustion and lack of sleep. Then at 6.22 I jolted from my bed. Hah…I am late again! Err…its 6.22am and today is Friday, yeah, I may still catch the Subuh congregation prayer then.

I jumped up, read the duá (prayer) then walked to the bathroom. Quick bath, that took mere 3 minutes. Out of bathroom, 6.25am, dressed up that took 30 seconds. Rushed out of the door. Son is already up but I wouldn’t have time now to wait for him to join me. So I took the KTM Duke keys, and the house keys. Turned ignition on, walked to the gate and unlocked it. Grab the motor and revved hard along the rural road to Kemensah Height Mosque (al Iman). Its been my habit, whenever I am a little late for congregation prayer, I will go to the Kemensah Height mosque. They have this tendency of starting the prayer a little late – usually 15 minutes after azan (call for prayer), therefore I will still make it, even if not all the prayers, part of it.

Knowing that on Friday usually the Subuh prayer will be longer than usual, coz the Imam will read surah As Sajdah (Q: surah 32) in the first rakaah and surah al-Insaan (Q: surah 76) in the second rakaah, therefore typically the prayer lasts not less than 15 minutes, compared to usual 10 minutes. So I was sure I will make it. And how lucky, as when I arrived, the Imam just started reading surah as Sajdah, so I got ample time to join the congregation. I parked the motor right at the entrance – this a special prevlilige afforded to the motorcyclists only.

The Imam is not the usual one. I could not recall the last time I prayed here, probably almost two weeks ago, in the last while I had been keeping regular visit to the local surau at Kg. Kemensah, which is only 5 minutes walk from home, and yes, I do walk most of the time. Walking to the surau is a great exercise, well its not much of exercise, maybe light exercise only, though I consider that a good habit. So, its only when I was late (by few minutes), going to al Iman mosque is a ‘salvage’ to save me from missing the congregation prayers.

Besides fulfilling basic obligation, there is one great benefit of prayers which many people tend to underestimate. Thank God, since I started regular habit of waking early in the morning, performing the witr or if time permit night prayers (tahajjud), I can appreciate the difference. True, as God promised man, prayers at night is more potent and heartfelt. So every prayer is like a therapy session, for the heart that has been subjected to various forms of worldly insults.

Alas, the ‘clean’ record of keeping full attendance to the subuh congregation for 40 consecutive days, had been broken, 3 times. I still got up though, timely enough for Subuh prayers at home with the family members. So, this is a 100% better, and I feel God has answered my prayers, 10 years ago at the Kaabah – yes long ago. But this is a result of struggle and trying to change the life habit, and it is no easy. Of course, in the usual way, everyone gets up in the morning, and I had been doing that in a very irregular way (time wise, could be very early, or really…late). ‘Sometimes’ early enough to join the congregation prayers, sometimes too late. So, with the new year ‘resolution’ I intended to develop this new habit, of changing my morning routine completely. A routine that starts no later than 6am. So my aim is to start the morning between 5-6 am, and fill this time with full devotion to God – prayers, Quran, mathurat, and exercise if possible. Thank God, with this intention and strong motivation, and – something which I found by chance, new alarm system (its part of the stopwatch app in the Android phone) which will almost certainly awake you from sleep, it works wonder. Even the occasion when I went to sleep late, I still managed to get up on time. So with the coming of day 40 of this new habit, I hope, and I do believe that God has answered my prayer, this new morning habit will stay.

Are you going to be at my funeral?

(This is an old script (written over two years ago!) which I found while browsing through some folders…so I revived it and post it to my blog for sharing).

She is just over forty, and yet death does not wait. She succumbed to endstage cancer. I have heard about her suffering almost over a year ago, in fact I treated her husband who came to my clinic during that critical moment of her illness, perhaps result of stress and anxiety, he had some cardiac symptoms.  However In the midst of all this buziness, I never bothered paying her a visit whenever she was admitted to the ward. Dont know her, not a close friend, perhaps the reason, or excuse? Hmm just a colleague like many others, hundred others under the same roof…?

But today was different. Suddenly someone told me she had passed away. I said I knew nothing but have heard that she was unwell, sure I will find out. Then I realised that my Blackberry Messenger was disconnected as I had turned the data setting off, no wonder I was not getting any updates…on turning my BBM on then I quickly learned about her death, and that funeral arrangement was made at noon after the midday prayers.

I looked at my diary, in the morning I had a short meeting cum visit to the new cardiac ward followed by clinic, plus the cath lab which could last the whole day. Then I had set two important appointments in the afternoon, plus other commitment including meeting one of my students to discuss his research proposal. In short ahead of me were the usual stretch of commitments that demand my physical presence for the entire day. Not even long since I started, I received two separate calls from the private wards referring patients for consultation therefore extending my to do list further. I must also keep in mind that today I have to leave work early, as there is a gathering and buka puasa with our local MP at the surau in my housing area, which I have made a promise to the YB, to be there. The latest I must exit the door by 6.30pm, which leave me just enough time to get home.

Despite all these pressing commitments I have made up my mind. I am going to the funeral. A colleague has passed away, is it not fair that I pay her a last visit, her right as a Muslim colleague and friend? True, I did not give her right during her illness, but now is the last chance I can afford a little kindness to a Muslim sister who will hopefully benefit from my prayers and good words, and the family. And for me, I will benefit too, by being there, is there any better reminder of death than witnessing the dead itself?

Unfortunately it was not the quitest morning by far. Right from the start I received various calls demanding my presence here and there, including reviewing patient’s echocardiography to confirm or refute an intracardiac clot. Then the usual cath lab business that kept me busy till just around 2pm, when I called for lunch. That’s just the time when they were supposed to start the Funeral prayer, so I was late. However, I kept my resolve.

I quickly changed then rushed out of the OT door to the car park. I was not sure of the area myself, there was no GPS app on my blackberry apart from basic maps. I had the address from the good guys in my BBM group. The destination is graveyard around the housing area, yeah, nearby housing area, presumably that’s what they told me. 

The house address was somewhere at the early part of Hulu Langat which I knew a bit. However the house located quite deep in the area that required me to drive around tortuous and narrow roads. Judging from the few cars that went in and out of the area, and the type of houses I guess this was a middle or high class living area. I had to stop twice to ask around, and finally arrived at a large two storey building. I was greeted by a middle aged lady who instantly knew my intention, hence pointed out that the funeral procession had long left, and she had no idea of the whereabout of the graveyard! I just asked her which direction they went and tried to follow the empty road which I wasn’t sure where it lead to. I ended up driving up and down both direction till I reached this housing area and saw a group of people gathered there. On driving closer I saw the mosque and graveyard nearby. I hesitantly stopped and walked to a group of people gathered at a coffee house. I scanned for familiar faces but failed to detect any, maybe some of those guys who came from my workplace have left earlier. Then I heard a voice calling me, this was Mr. X who is the deceased husband, yes I knew him since he came to my clinic before. We shook hand and I said my condolences and prayer for the deceased. Just a few word of consolation, and prayers and left. 

I glanced at the graveyard trying to gauge where the fresh burial spot was. Wherever it was, may her soul rest in peace, may God bless your soul sister, and may you be gathered among the believers.

 

Did you make it? Asked someone at the BBM…Just barely, I said, well I met the family. Then I wrote…I hope, my funeral whenever its going to be, will be well attended by my friends. Professor A replied: You are a good man, sure your funeral will be flooded by people.

 

Well, when I died, it wouldn’t matter anymore who attended my funeral, or how many performed the last rite – and no matter, as a matter of fact, what and who I am, what my title and position etc etc…it will be just what I have gathered in this world while I was alive (all the good deeds that count), and I hope I will carry enough to obtain God’s mercy and compassion.

Procedure complications – revisited

In the recent Singlive AsiaPCR meeting, I sat as a panel in one of the complications session chaired by Prof. Wijne (Chair of EuroPCR). The presenters showcased a variety of man-made complications, some of which sounded so unlikely. Alas, today was the day when I had this strange visitor called procedure complication.

I had decided to bring forward the cath lab day to Wednesday, as I planned to take a day off on Thursday, so that I could go and pick my son Harith from his boarding school in Malacca. Somehow there was only one case, and it happened to be an elective PCI (coronary angioplasty usually accompanied with stent implantation). I had anticipated the day going to be very hectic, as today is the last working day for many people before the long Chinese New Year break. I had to turn down request for appointment from a number of individuals. A few last minute and of high priority things included a meeting with Permata Pintar student regarding his research, an adhoc clinic appointment of a certain Dato’ who is the holder of the King’s royal seal. Not to forget that I have two critically ill heart failure patients, admitted from the private clinic. Then I was reminded by Dato’ Az to see his lady patient whom I supposed scheduled for surgery at the orthopaedic ward (seen by the MO however the ortho team are not happy enough and specifically requested a consultant review!).

The morning started with a CME session, which we replaced with a research proposal presentation by Koo, who is conducting our pet project from ‘Dana Lonjakan Penerbitan’ (special empowerment fund to raise your publication profile). While we were having an intense discussion, there were a few messages already calling for a specialist presence to review our research patients – now I realised there were only two Cardiologists presence today, myself and H. And not long, a call from the cath lab, patient already on the table. So H was delegated to start the case, I am left with the rest then.

I told my RA, and Ar from Permata Pintar whom I supposed to meet at 9am, to wait as I have to do a brief ward review of two cases. The first was the lady whom we performed complex PCI yesterday (post CABG graft occlusion) at the Cardiothoracic ICU ward. Next I went to the ortho ward to see Dato’ Az’s patient. Now H rang in telling me the case in cvlab is actually a complex PCI post CABG, certainly requiring my presence. So after completing patient’s review I walked to the OT changing room and joined the team at OT6. This is a young guy who works as an Imam (leader of prayers) with severe three vessels coronary disease, treated with CABG two years ago, now returned with recurrent angina. His LAD graft was smallish, well functioning LCX graft, while the distal right/PDA artery not grafted, now severely diseased. So the target was distal RCA extending to PLV/PDA bifurcation Medina class 1,1,1.

Following usual initial routine of anti platelet and heparin check, I let H started the procedure. Everything went smoothly, both bifurcations successfully dilated and now time to stent the RCA-PDA. A BMW protection wire was left at the PLV branch and stenting with a 2.75 x 33mm drug eluting stent performed smoothly. I advised H to rewire the PLV branch with a fresh hydrophilic wire, and remove the trapped BMW wire out. There was some acute bent noted at the distal end of the wire which did not look anything more than usual. However, when H tried removing the wire the distal opaque end was stuck under the stent and would not budge. The standard technique then was to advance a small balloon to support the wire exit. A 1.25mm balloon failed to facilitate wire extraction, so I suggested a micro catheter. I decided to thread in the micro catheter over the wire myself, since there is a special trick to manoeuvre the catheter over the ‘blind spot’ as it travels upward while the entire wire cannot be seen externally, till it reach the tip of the guide catheter. 

Unfortunately there was no luck with the micro catheter and I was not able to bring it close enough. Now I noted the distal tip, about 5mm portion appeared severely bent which may explain the reason for failure to withdraw the wire. Nothing left, but a forceful hand, rotation and whatever else…plus anchoring balloon from the other branch. Still failed, and with further rotation now I felt the give in, and I knew the wire had snapped somewhere. Two hours have passed.

I asked for a cutting balloon with the hope of ‘cutting’ the distal portion of the wire then pull the rest to the guide catheter. Unfortunately none available, the radiology department kept a few, however they told us that the smallest size available was a 6mm balloon which will not suit our job. So I was left with a brain and every other things or people in the room. Prayers recited, patient is now restless complaining of back pain, headache, nauseas and other signs suggesting impending collapse. Anaesthetist was summoned to be on standby and assisted us with pain, sedation and oxygenation. I refrained from calling the surgeon, nothing much really would materialise at this stage, furthermore, I thought, we had just elevated ourselves to a superhero status the day before by treating one of their patients with acute graft closure! (no, that is just a side remark, really, I don’t think surgery needed here…)

At last the BMW appeared to have snapped at some end as I was able to freely pull the external end, But scary, to see a good part of the wire is now left in the vessel, partly trapped under the stent! The opaque distal 5mm tip visibly trapped, and a very thin streak representing remnant of the abraded wire can be seen with careful cine. I kept the micro catheter sitted nicely for fear of losing a grip of the wire, leaving the whole free end floating in the catheter. However, this didn’t hold for long. I now tried to get the whole portion of the remaining abraded wire to the vessel, with the aim of pushing it as far as possible, then crush with a stent. Now I tried pushing the remnant wire which was guarded by the micro catheter so that the whole thing will collapse into the vessel. I tried using a Miracle wire, both end, nothing happened. I tried advancing a 3.5mm non-compliant balloon to the distal RCA, however I could hardly advanced the balloon beyond proximal portion, when the proximal shaft of the monorail balloon kinked, and ouch, severed completely! Panicking I pulled the balloon shaft forcefully, apparently this action caused traction to all the devices sitting in the vessel including the trapped wire, and there…everything came out. The (good) PLV wire, the PDA wire, balloon and microcather, all now out. But…the trapped remnant of the wire, with the shot opaque end, still there. Long segment of remnant wire left, can be seen hanging out of the guide catheter. Now I tried to push the whole thing in the vessel using a small balloon. Nothing happened (even with the balloon fully inflated).

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Sweaty, scared…? Now, the ‘pilot’ side within me stood calmly, assuring everyone that things will be alright. I now asked for 2 new wires, advanced them to both branches. However, there was a lot of difficulty getting the wire to the PDA while the other went through the strut easily to the distal PLV. I suspected something, but keeping myself composed, I did sequential dilatation of the PLV branch and distal RCA, then advanced a bare metal stent overlapped with the earlier implanted DES…with intention to trap the free end of the wire. This succeeded and a short 3mm stent was deployed. Next, I was able to cross the stent to wire the PDA, so now I proceeded with steps to perform kissing balloon inflation of both branches. A DEB was inflated first over the PLV. Next kissing balloon.

Alas, as I tried pulling the 3.5mm non-compliant balloon suddenly there was a jolt, and the guide catheter dived in deep, reaching the distal part of RCA. I was startled, and without thinking I pulled forcefully, but shocked as there was rebound, and the balloon stayed while the guide dived in again.  Frustrated, I decided to do the opposite, instead of pulling, I pushed, the balloon moved distally, now I took a cine and saw ugly picture…segments of vessels contracted and several filling defect seen (all these could be due to either vessel dissection or spasm). So I inflated the balloon over the ‘ugly’ segment, magically, following balloon deflation, now I could pulled the balloon out easily. Cine was repeated and the artery looked okay, no dissection and TIMI3 flow maintained. Now we discovered something else, no more hanging wire remnant, the whole thing had prolapsed in the vessel, which was what we wanted! So, now all I had to do was to trap the remaining wire to the wall using a big stent. A 25mm bare metal stent implanted in the mid segment of RCA. This appeared to cover the loose remnant wire.

Final angiogram showed good vessel patency though the bifurcation segment looked a bit funny. Now I realised that a ‘stent accordion’ phenomena had occurred, part of the stent segment was crushed down the vessel, leaving a short naked segment of unstented artery. Fearing further unwanted nightmare, I decided I had done enough. We had good result now, but not perfect. Patient is fine, I explained to him briefly all the mess we have created (and fixed), and that the final result showed we have nicely opened his previously stenosed artery, hopefully this will translate into long term angina relief. As to the trapped guide wire, it should get endothelialised to the vessel wall soon, perhaps we have to maintained good dual anti platelets cocktail for a long period of time.

Finally we concluded the procedure just passed 2pm, almost 4 hours total procedure time…Thank God we had dealt with the complication successfully. Relieved, but not done with the day yet. I looked at my phone, several missed calls, and realised I have made at least 3 people awaiting me for more than 5 hours! Time for recompense, I scanned all the missed calls and messages, and made return calls. Then I found a message from Bayer’s rep stating that she wants to get my quick reply as they want to purchase my flight ticket to Washington for the ACC…thank God finally I have a sponsor for my trip to the ACC, to present abstract of our research work.

I made ablution, performed prayers and took a few minutes chanting and meditating, what a great therapy, now I felt much stronger and look forward to next assignment. I now remember of our Department meeting in which my presence is definitely needed. But before that I better walk to the outpatient clinic to ensure everything is clear. I was pleased to learn that the clinic was over, thanks to our efficient team. I met a few MOs and helped sorted their queries. Then Mak Iti served me some kuih and laksa. Coffee made a great break. Next I proceeded to the department to join the meeting. It was nearly coming to an end, good anyway to be there and did my part. By 5pm we went down the CCU to do quick ward round. I had to move between three places, our research station, the CCU and the private ward to settle my heart failure patient. And sign a few documents at the office. Finally the day’s work over by 7.30pm when I heard the azan (call to prayer). Thankfully, there was enough time to get down to my motorbike and ride to the nearby prayer place on my way home.

It’s just one of those eventful days, that was going to be  usual one, with this once in a blue moon event. Nevertheless, I thank God who had helped me through, more so to feel closer to Him despite all the challenges along the way.