Category Archives: Motoring and related

Anything to do with motoring ie cars, motorcycle, boats & airplanes (which I may never write on…)

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.

BMW 320d – Reliving the pleasure of driving in a new world of diesel…

Prologue….

Our life on the go is now becoming more exciting with the arrival of a hot new BMW 320d. What more it’s a bright red colour sport trim with exhilarating performance and fun driving.

Like: Fast, smooth, responsive and wonderful drive at any road condition. Gorgeous look, well-laid and spacious cabin, prestigious image.

Dislike: Purring of diesel engine audible at stationary and at low speed, auto on-off giving violent shake, headlights range a little short I can’t see far enough during night drive.

My verdict: *****

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The story began….

I always feel reluctant to purchase a brand new car. High cost, and in Malaysia the cost of a brand new prestige continental car could buy a good bungalow at the outskirt of KL. I used a simple salary to car price ratio, for instance in my own case, it will take me 13 months salary to purchase a brand new car costing RM200k. When I worked in Ireland, I would only needed 6 months, which means luxury cars were more affordable there.

The second reason is this fear or phobia of owning a brand new machine, how long I could enjoy the ‘freshness’ before the first scratch or dent, and how long it will take for the car to age, what would it be like in 5, 10 years time? Will it still be enjoyable to own and drive as when it was new? Basically, it is this nervousness whether or not your investment is worth the money. With a used car, the worry is usually much less, since I will spend much less money, therefore even if something were to go wrong, I could use the money saved to fix it.

Not all the story of people buying brand new cars are rosy, some have suffered with frequent failures of various parts or breakdown, and sadly many who don’t get compensated well despite the much hyped 3 or 5 years full warranty. Apparently there are too many small prints that the 3 or 5 years warranty is just something to feel good on paper, when actual problems emerge, the dealers seem to have many excuses not to stick to their words, or there will be delay in repair, or recurrent problems despite repaired under warranty etc. Sorry, I begin with this negative remarks coz it is a real thing from reading many owners/readers feedback. Nowadays when I read expert reviews about cars I will also read users feedback, so I could learn from the real world.

In our case, there is now a real need to purchase a new car. We have sold our old Mercedes E240 to a good friend, at a knockdown price. Yes we still have two cars, a Satria Neo and a Starex. And I got the motorcycle so I don’t need car to work, except occassionally. However the wife, you know, had been used to driving a Merc, now has some expectation that a replacement is due soon, there we go (ehem…or is this just another excuse by me..?). Another good reason is, our daughter just passed her driving test and she will soon be needing a car, so, the Satria may soon become hers, leaving us with no compact car to drive to work. The Starex, yes its good for the family, but for daily commuting may not be that practical.

Lets go hunting…for a new beast

We knew what we wanted, however there were some flip flop in the thinking, as a result we kept changing the target form time to time. At times we thought of a sports/coupe (I was not in favour..), or a small compact, then a total swing to a high end luxury/prestige car. So we started visiting a few showrooms.

First we surveyed Mercedes. I had my mind on a new C class. However the cost of a brand new or preowned (showroom condition) was too prohibitive. Therefore a used local or imported is a good option. We went to several dealers and had a short test drive on a C180 AMG bodykit (used, recon, imported from UK), I personally liked it, and the wife was interested too. From our survey we had a good idea of the price ranges which was quite affordable. I had this habit of studying car review from WhatCar, a well reputed UK based Car Magazine website. Surprisingly, they gave a very low rating, due to modest cabin design/quality, unimpressive ride and the editor stated: We struggled to recommend this car as a compact executive…Obviously the review received intense criticism from the readers community, one sinistically remarked that the Editor’s bias was due to their good relationship with BMW!

Moving up the ladder, we thought of a new E-class, yes, it is classy, elegant looking and certainly received a highly favourable review from WhatCar Magazine. Since it is quite recently released (first car out in 2009), the price of a secondhand, imported (E200) would be around RM250k, cheaper for local version. We always have high regard for Merc, and our pleasant experience owning and driving three different Merc car (including our cute A-Class back in 99), was a lasting testimony. We kept our mind open, yes, either a cheaper AMG bodykitted C class, or the newer, more expensive E-class, is a possibility.

Then we tested two other brands. First we test drove the new Golf TSI – no GTI version available. Though came with a small engine (1.4L) this is a completely new concept of compact car, it came in a fresh outlook though not very appealing still (as always Golf is never striking in look…), and it drove blisteringly fast, a total surprise with its small engine. This would be a one car that closely matches the BMW in drivability – pity I could not test drive the 2L GTI one. Complete with many of the features such as auto on-off, keyless entry, seven speed tiptronic gearbox, and a reasonable starting price (for  TSI version), was certainly an attraction. I have read the review too, and Golf is consistently highly rated, good safety features, excellent driving, practicality etc. Nevertheless, I was a bit turned off, since I was looking for a 2L car (a GTI), and yet, a GTI version would, according to the new proposed price revision, cost nearly as much as a 3 series BMW. On the other hand, it doesn’t carry as much prestige as a bimmer, and the look…yeah, though I like Golf very much (have pleasant experience driving it during our holiday last time in UK), I don’t like the appearance very much, its never inspiring, in fact it’s quite dull. So I have to excuse myself in the end.

Then we went for a new Mazda 6. This was rather accidental, initially I stopped at this Mazda showroom to check the Mazda 3 – I thought we may give a Japanese car a go this time…Then we were impressed with the new Mazda 6 shining appearance. It was a new release, early this year, comes with 2.5L engine with full ‘Skydrive’ concept making the car supposedly safer and more fun to drive. It came complete with leather seats, sunroof, keyless entry, stereo/DVD, driver assist including driver alert in case you fall asleep during a drive, and many safety features. Such an ideal luxury car. The price isn’t cheap but worth the money with all the above lavishness. I test drove the car for quite a distance, yes it was quick, punchy though a bit bumpy at times, and felt a bit like a BMW, though the wife pointed out that sitting inside, at the back did not make you feel like sitting in a luxury car, not as much. Overall it’s a great car, I wouldn’t mind having it, the only thing it is a Japanese car, lacking the three pointed star or bimmer badge in it!

My wife was also interested with Audi A4. We did own an Audi 80 long time ago, in Ireland. It was a nice car to drive and we love the experience. An Audi looks beautiful too, and it makes its presence on the road. I had some doubt though, as there are not that many reputable dealers, and the driveability is not any better than a BMW, yet the image, at least in Malaysia is not as high as a bimmer or Merc.

I have ruled out earlier interest in new Toyota Camry 2.5L (nice car, great 6 speed gearbox) as it lacked stability control system, and the Honda Accord 2.4L (drivability is quite average, according to WhatCar review). Wife was not very keen on these two Japanese brands anyway.

What a 180 degrees turn…back to the bimmer

Standing side by side...bimmer in the middle, behind is C-merc, and infront Honda Accord

Standing side by side…bimmer in the middle, behind is C-merc, and infront Honda Accord

How about a BMW? Yes I drove a bimmer before and as you can refer to my previous experience ‘Dream Machine?’, it was great fun to drive, though not to own. Our car then was a secondhand, about 5 year old when we purchased it. Despite its excellent drive, there were plenty of complaints – Aircondition compressor broke down at 2 months ownership, water reservoir leaking, and leaked again after the first repair causing constant visit to the garage, Engine oil dipped to ‘low’ after less than 1000km drive, smoky exhaust (and engine oil leak) necessitating a major overhaul (costing more than RM5k), plus many other smaller, but annoying problems such as battery ran flat with no prior warning, engine noise while driving and car could not accelerate – due to spark plug broke and loose cable, car suddenly died off while driving at a highway, electronics shut down – due to alternator chain broken, car cigarette lighter recurrent malfunction (the fused blew off so many times). We ended up trading in the car for the Starex, lost a lot of value, plus the money spent on the above repair. In short, a conclusion I failed to make then, was, a Dream machine turned into a nightmare machine?

So, how, with the above history we could relive our dream on BMW? Well, this was a battle hard fought. Despite the above predicament, we still felt that a BMW is an excellent car, for it is the best saloon car to drive, surpassing a Merc or any of those Japanese high end saloon – a fact testified by many expert drivers opinion. In fact, we knew, from WhatCar review – who of course have given a high rating on BMW (3 series and above), clearly admitted that BMW reliability has been moderate, not high! However, one thing that drove our thinking was the yearning for a different driving experience, wanting a car that gives you instant pleasure at handling and riding alone, put aside any other thing! Then the answer has to be one, a bimmer. True, you may have other suggestion, but that does not negate BMW of this special accolade.

So it was with this premise we revisited the possiblity of having a BMW. I wouldn’t go any higher than a 3 series – a fiver is more costly and goes with different class of people, therefore we like to keep our aim simple, go for fun and practicality, at much lower cost. I had done some study and somehow keen on a diesel car. Reading the review clearly favoured a diesel than petrol engine of the same capacity, for the diesel has a higher torque, much better economy and yet enjoy similar drive quality to that of petrol. I therefore was set to look for a 320d. On the day we went to the showroom at Ampang, we were told that they have a number of this ‘preregistered’ cars – basically they are new, unused car registered under the dealers name (maybe for showroom, or for testdrive but not used yet), offered at RM20k less. That rang the bell, yes, at least we could spend 20k less for a brand new car, why not! Off we went, for a testdrive. This was the first time I had driven a diesel BMW. From my reading, BMW made excellent diesel cars. There are by now, many good diesel cars around produced by many other car makers. That traditional thinking of diesel being smoky, noisy and slow is now drifting away. For passenger cars, there are many example of good diesel cars that perform even better than petrol siblings, not as noisy and of course much more economical. The closest I had experienced was a Landrover Discovery TD5 (read my review), which was an excellent SUV, drove almost exactly as a petrol car, indeed it was fast and agile despite it having not a modest capacity diesel engine.

We were introduced to the testdrive car, a beige colour 320d. First I listened to the engine note, as was commented by some observers, that ‘agricultural’ sound of diesel, very little noticeable. Once inside, I was sitting in a BMW car, did not feel any different that it being a diesel, could hardly hear the engine noise. Rolling on, the drive was extremely smooth, revving was taken very steadily with no excessive noise, in fact, comparing to the old E46 (2litre petrol) that turned rough when accelerated hard, the 320d went on willingly with no sound of being stressed. At times, cruising at a low speed brings that familiar ‘purring’ diesel sound that instantly invited the horror of “O my God, this is diesel and soon its going to scream and vibrate” – wrong, cause the purring immediately goes away when you rev harder, therefore making this diesel engine no different than a petrol counterpart. At speed, the move was so pleasant, punchy and agile, even with the comfort mode. With the sports mode, it was blistering fast, and yet so quiet, I almost thought that I was going to throw the car some valley ahead, due to its mighty acceleration, no doubt the quoted 0-100 km/h of 7.6s (similar with 320i though it has higher torque or pulling power) makes the car a powerful cruiser, have no worry though coz it was stable and feel safe at high speed.

Yes its a diesel, equipped with a 1995cc engine with 8 speed gearbox

Yes its a diesel, equipped with a 1995cc engine with 8 speed gearbox

We have almost made up our mind at the end of the test drive, when I suddenly backed off. Lets give it sometime, I thought. I still had to search around, on the history of diesel car in Malaysia. We found out that now local diesel is graded at Euro 2 star, which is not bad compared to years ago. I also wanted to convince myself that the residual value would be good. This was more difficult to prove though looking at Mudah.com there were some used diesel model being put for sale, at good price. So more or less reasonable resale value. Howe about the fuel, they always advise not to get diesel from Petronas (purity issue? I wasnt sure). We had sometimes problem refuelling at a nearby Shell station, they frequently ran out of diesel. So, on the day we were going to make our booking finally, I ensured that there were a few Shell station around our area where diesel can be obtained easily. It took us more than two weeks before we came back with our final decision. We were interested with the red car, which they happened to keep at the showroom, we were delighted to know that the car was still available, so we proceeded to make the booking. Everything else after that was history.

Welcoming the new car

This preregistered car came with full warranty, short of 5 months of the period that has passed since it was registered. The mileage when I turned on the keyless ignition, was 28km (basic mileage used for the journey to JPJ/PUSPAKOM according to Auto Bavaria). We were quite anxious as there were quite some delay in getting the car, it took two and a half weeks since booking before the car was finally released. Coinciding with public holiday and long weekends contributed to the delay, however I think the main reason was due to the complexity of the finance agreement, the car was registered under my wife’s name, while I was acting as ‘guarantor’ means I am the one paying the loan. I supposed this took a little longer and all the concerned parties had to do double correspondence each time anything arise. I also learned the trick, that for the purpose of maximising your loan, the bigger your downpayment, the higher interest (sorry its no interest, we went for Islamic Banking, its called commission or profit sharing) you have to pay – the difference was quite small though. Of course you still benefit in having to repay less monthly and the total surplus to be paid is less.

There were more delay, even on the day the car was released, rushing from work with my motorcycle, on arrival the wife told me that the car wasn’t ready yet, and it was close to 6pm. Apparently they were not satisfied with a few minor things that did not meet the standard of a new released car. The guy told me that they had to replace the battery since on testing, the old battery did not meet factory standard of some sort. Wan, the salesman took us to the car and went through in some details on the basics of operation. We were  absorbed into a world of fantasy and illusion, the moment we walked approaching our very own dream machine. Standing proudly before us was this pristine, beautiful red bimmer that is now ours!. Its a 320d Sport – with 1995cc turbocharged engine with 8 speed auto gearbox, Amsterdam red in colour, the interior lined with black leather and elegant looking dashboard, all looked fresh and new. I had the pleasure to drive the car home, sitting at the back was my daughter Nawal and her friend Maryam who came along with the mother right from school. The Queen decided to let me drive, and she was satisfied with leading the journey on my Satria Neo which she drove from work. I left my Duke at the BMW showroom, so that I could come back later to fetch it home.

first day

To avoid traffic congestion, we drove around the Ampang Hilir area moving towards Ampang road then to Jelatek. Crawling slowly, the initial rattle from the Diesel engine could be heard very softly, the hum can be heard when moving at low speed or when the engine is cold. However at high speed you won’t notice any noice, even flooring the accelerator will not bring that strain noise usually heard with diesel engine. At idle, indeed sitting in front, or at the back you can hear the engine clatter which is a little bit more than what you would expect from a petrol variant. The ambient in the cabin was filled with splendor and luxury feel  that you will not like to get out of the car too soon. So I forgot about how bad the traffic was, cause every moment I spent in the car was mesmerising, even when it was iddling. I enjoyed the quietness, the smooth and responsive acceleration whenever I had the chance to do so. Passing though heavy traffic congestion was painless, the girls at the back were busy fiddling with the seat divider and Nawal with her usual tone of excitement and delight, they soon fell asleep in the comfort of the backseat.

So, after two and a half week of waiting, finally we drove this car back home and have it parked at the driveway. On arrival, the auto stop engine shut down, this puzzled my father in law who was standing outside who soon learned about the auto stop/start function which was designed to save fuel and make the car stay quietly whenever stationary. A little word about the auto stop/start, is one of the hiccups of this diesel bimmer. First I am not so sure how much is this manouver going to save fuel, since it will not stay ‘off’ for long enough (you need full engine capacity to maintain functions such as aircondition), second the wake up note is violent, it is in fact similar to starting the ignition from cold. Since the default is auto on, you have to press a little button above the ignition button to disable this feature each time you start the car. After a while, we kind of getting used to it, and found it quiet pleasant since, it did quieten down the diesel clatter completely. When the engine is autostopped, at a traffic light for instance, it still did not reduce your pickup acceleration a bit, just take off your foot of the brake pedal, the engine will resume and you are ready to go. This, I found in contrast to other cars like VW Golf, where the autostop requires you to press the accelerator pedal in order to restart the engine, which in effect introduced some 0.3s delay.

The spots trim comes with five spoke alloy rims with standard leather seats and a striking fine red lining separating the upper and lower part of the dashboard. Electric controlled seat adjustment for front seats, some storage recesses like cup holders (front and back) and arm rest, a fairly large digital display panel that incorporates various utilities including the entertainment, communication and  various cabin control functions such as iDrive (basic), car stereo system limited to audio, No DVD, just CD player but you can connect MP3 audio via Bluetooth or USB, also AUX input available. No satellite nav. The Bluetooth communication set is a breeze which when connected to your phone allows you to make and receive call using the car internal speaker system. I found this very handy, indeed this is the first functioning bluetooth integrated system that allows me to make full use of the smartphone to make and receive call while on the move. The bluetooth communication automatically copied all my phone contacts, this was done over time as there were a few hundred contacts in my phonebook, looks like it is capable of reading the Android system well. Steering mounted control for stereo and phone function is present as before.  The dashboard screen also function to display the car reverse sensor, automatically activated when I engaged the reverse gear, or can be manually activated by a touch of a button near the gear stick, this actually works to detect front as well as rear objects, which is very useful.

On the road with a gleaming new bimmer!

Everything about the bimmer, from stationary to a high speed cruising, is about prestige, performance and fun. First, the good look, no denying that some of the expert review has alluded that the three series new look is one of the best among the new cars. There is a balance of tone, curves, lines and angles that gives its outstanding appearance. Over the years, it is the unique look (just right, not too classy, not too sporty) of this car that has kept my interest alive. The new 3 series did it better and with slightly longer and wider body makes its presence more felt on the road. As regards to body trim, there are so many variants, I guess they are made to satisfy the need of various categories of people young and old drivers alike. We thought that a red colour suits our new car well, initially we were quite at loss when all the available models then came in either black, white and grey – they looked quite fine but somewhat lacking, till we spotted the red, we immediately made up our mind.

on road

The new series has been made slightly wider and longer. Therefore there is ample cabin space for driver and passengers. The rear seats enjoy great legrooms and comfortably sit 3 large adults or 4 small children though they wont sit there quietly knowing their nature. The boot space is generous, we could easily throw in one large baggage plus 2 other regular size, plus a pram, plus few more small bags. With the run flat tires, you already save space for spare tyre, therefore additional space under the boot to store some essential stuff.

The car remote control system that also functions as a keyless entry and ignition system, is surprisingly bulky, I could not get it sit in my pocket comfortably. In our case it did not end there, since my dear wife had attached the large controller to another yet, large keychain, so together I sometimes felt a bit awkward walking around with the things in my pocket. I guess, they could have made it thinner and smaller, but I am yet to discover of anything additional that this controller is equipped with to give explanation to its gigantic size. The keyless ignition can be started by keeping the brake paddle depressed while pressing the button located to the left of the steering wheel. I still could not come to term with this complexity of having a keyless ignition, which you still need the controller to be nearby anyway when starting the engine. Once it is on, I could walk a way a bit, which the dashboard monitor will start to flash an alert that they keyless controller is not presence, and if I move further enough (50m), the engine would shut automatically. I mostly keep the controller in my pocket, or under the dashboard, hoping not to forget to keep it in my hand when I stop the vehicle while leaving the engine on. I noted that, when you stop the car with the auto on-off enabled (default is on), put the gear on Park, and activate the remote lock, the engine will immediately shutdown. Mind you, this only worked when the auto on-off is in operation, otherwise, activating the lock while the engine is on does nothing apart from locking the doors as usual. This may be handy or not depend on your situation, but too many automatic operating system could at times be undesirable I suppose, one could only imagine any other possibility…

The next thing is the gearbox. It is another clever engineering. The gearbox is no longer a physical gearbox, its merely a digital one. What I mean, when I engage the gear to D, N, R or P, it still remains in the same position, what changes is the gears (you know by looking at the dashboard screen) while the stick is a mere reminiscent of the old gearstick (it could have been replaced with simple buttons indeed, though that sounds too radical I guess!). To be precise, I just have to hold the ‘unlock’ button to the right of the gearstick while engaging the D, N or R. As to the parking gear, it is engaged simply by pressing the P button located at the top of the gearstick. The story goes, my wife was stuck at the toll gate once, on her first outing with this car, when she forgot to press the unlock button trying to engage the Drive (gear was set to P while stopping) – as  a result nothing happened, till she did the correct thing. I still get confused sometimes, thus I always keep my eyes on the dashboard screen to ensure that the gearshift had worked.

The 8 speed gearbox is brilliantly designed, I hardly feel the shift, and the quick acceleration means when entering a highway, I could join the fastlane almost immediately, no moments needed to build up speed – just in an instant I reached 120km/h thanks to this powerful diesel engine. Running at speed below 100km/h is a great temptation, you will hardly enjoy it …how I put it, a bimmer always likes to be driven fast, and a 120km/h is understatement, my friend said he regularly drives his bimmer at 160km/h, this is his normal speed, so you can imagine what speed he is when going fast! Well, as for me, I like the fast speed but I dont really go that crazy, yeah I will keep to the speed limit most of the times, for safety and comfort (though comfort is no issue as even at 180km/h the vehicle cruises willingly, stable and smooth). In a highway, there is no more diesel feeling, the rev was very smooth, engine was quite and the pull was great, no sign of stress at all, climbing up, even with full load was splendid, if you floor the accelerator while ascending uphill, you will almost forget that you are driving a diesel car, it just goes willingly as long as your foot is on the accelerator. As a matter of fact, this the strength of the diesel engine, with a greater pulling power compared to a similar capacity petrol engine. In normal cruising I had difficulty keeping to speed limit, just when I thought that I was steady at 120km/h suddenly I realised the odometer is showing 140km/h. (You may wonder if I make use of the auto-cruise function, actually in Malaysian roads, I don’t prefer to use the auto-cruise, except in a clear highway road, which is a rarity). Amazingly, at 140km/h the rpm meter is just over 2000, it just goes to tell how much ‘meat’ this machine has to deliver, it has plenty of oomph. Going from 140, 160, 180 is nothing, no stress, no engine roar, the vehicle gains the higher speed willingly, effortless. What a breeze.

Here comes the dream machine

It is a gem, whether you drive it in a sporty way, or a more relaxing comfort drive. The car comes with four driving mode, Comfort, Comfort Pro, Sport and Sport Plus. The default mode and the best is Comfort, since it gives you balance of comfort, performance and economy, for most purposes it is more than enough to satisfy your need of driving in various conditions. It is punchy enough, and if you accelerate full, it gives more than enough power to be ahead of your competitors. The Sport is great for occasional fun driving comes the need to frequently maneuver around bends or overtaking. The Sport Plus mode will disable the traction control and you almost feel like driving a sports car, in fact it could be a little scary as the car suddenly becomes too brisk and rowdy, may not be an ideal mode if you are afraid to cause bodily harm to your brand new 200k plus machine!

We have taken the car for long rides, return journeys to Batu Pahat and Kuala Trengganu. And I have got a good bit of experience driving in various road conditions including rain, hilly  and twisty roads and night driving. A huge contrast to our old E46, this 320d is a mighty workhorse, indeed at times it has too much power that I could nearly throw the beast away like a bullet, just press the accelerator full, the car will jolt to your surprise that if you aren’t careful enough you will suddenly land on someone’s bumper. Thanks to the equally competent brakes system that responds at an instant, watch your back though, there might be fools tailgating behind who may not be blessed with the same previlege.

The bimmer has truly brought back the pleasure of driving in style. I am not saying that we did not enjoy the drive with the Starex or Mercedes, far from that. Both ‘cars’ were fine – together we had driven the Starex for over 35,000km, and the Merc – which mostly were driven for short journeys had clocked over 60,000miles by our own mileage. However, with its blistering performance, driving comfort and stability at high speed the bimmer is a league of its own. The second day we had the car, my wife asked, how is it like, driving the bimmer? My simple answer – ecstasy!

Yes we got two strong diesel cars (if you call Starex a car, I mean...)

Yes we got two strong diesel cars (if you call Starex a car, I mean…)

Though all cars are made for driving, a 3 series bimmer makes performance driving its ultimate specialty. There the term driver’s car comes. But now its not only driver’s car, you can enjoy the uncompromised, punchy and exhilarating cruise without sacrificing passenger’s comfort. Since I had previously driven a 5 year old car, so I am qualified to claim that this pleasant driving is not shortlived. Of course a F30, this new car is, does it better in almost every aspect. Talking about passenger’s comfort, I had a brief experience of sitting as a passenger, mostly in front. I think at a speed up to 120-130km/h you enjoy passenger comfort most, beyond this, you will have to be more alert of the wind noise plus the body roll to some extent. At a much higher speed, I guess a bigger car like 5 or seven series would be more advantageous.

How about fuel economy? My estimate is 800-900km with a full tank (57 litres). This is an awesome performance which will not be matched by any decent petrol engine. Added by the unflinching driving performance, the overall quiet engine that matches almost that of the petrol variant, then I have no regret of buying this diesel car. It is no coincident that both of our main cars are powered by diesel engines (if you can call Starex a car…). In fact it is our history of driving diesel vehicle (since 2004 with the old Pajero) which now has given us the confidence to go for the 320d. Of course, our first diesel machine was a true breed of that slow, noisy and smoky diesel image. Though it stood more like a van, the Starex had given us much pleasure of running a diesel vehicle, its overall competent engine and reasonably quiet at cruising speed had been a bliss. Then came this new baby what an ultimate experience with a diesel car that we have now forgotten the real difference between diesel and petrol engines.

How about maintenance, yes I do not expect its going to be cheap, but at least we are now mentally more prepared to face BMW attention seeking behaviour as it is known with. Since we were looking for years of driving thrill and fun, we are willing to risk a higher cost of maintenance. We have a high hope that the first 3-5 years should be hassle free after which maintenance cost is expected to spiral.

Postscript: It is a dream machine and a driver’s car, but not mine!

meduke

Haha that’s the trick. After all that, let me make myself clear, that this beautiful bimmer is not mine, coz it is registered under my wife. As with me, I have been driving most of that first 1000km, then on, I am going back to riding my KTM Duke 200 to work, and this is the most practical solution for me. Truly sitting in a BMW instantly makes one forget about the world momentarily, all the worries and exhaustion from the daily chores, it is a fantasy & illusion, and moving in the heavily congested traffic, you will enjoy a compliment of luxury ambient, quiet and pleasant drive that getting to your destination became second, you are treated to an endless joy and fun of driving. However, to get to work on time, you do not need to be glued to all this luxury, you just want to be able to cruise along regardless of the traffic. Therefore I choose the Duke 200 as my company, and so far it has never failed to get me to work in 20 minutes (plus minus) or even less.

Riding onto the new year with Duke 200

Praise be to God. And a happy new year if it still not too late to all.

Thanks to all visitors, and its quite pleasing to now that my article On the Move with KTM Duke is the top read posting, still receiving multiple daily views to now. Hmm I guess there are millions of motor fans out there many on the look or fancy this cute little beast.

So, any update? So far, I had only done a number of things which can be regarded as essential upgrades. I have recently installed Remus exhaust system at Pyoor Cycel (Nam the guy who did it), sounded noisy enough and I think it did the trick of announcing my presence on the road. However, I got some problem when I rode onto places where silence is preferred. My workplace included, since its perhaps better to get in quietly especially if you are latecomer (err I couldnt do that too often with this bike anymore, no excuse now…).

There was once I had great embarrassment amplified by the noisy hose. I rarely ride to Shoppings and not used to the parking system. That day I was supposed to meet the wife and family at Jusco Keramat, to celebrate our daughter’s passing the motorcycle license test. I kept riding up toward the open parking (that is, car parking) till I was met by the barrier, there I was stunned not knowing what to do. Silly of course I could have just taken the ticket and the barrier would be lifted – but you know when you are used to riding anywhere pass barriers without needing any pass or tickets, you are so used with that culture that doing such thing as pressing the button to get ticket is a taboo. Then I turned back, rode down and thought I could park at the basement. On my way down I spotted the dedicated motorbikes parking spot which was way outside the shoppping entrance – not good enough I thought so I proceeded to basement. This time I acted like Mr Bean and waited for cars entering the parking therefore momentarily leaving the barrier behind for me. It did work. But you know once I was in, I was like trapped in a maze, with the bike roaring madly the sound growl stronger as I was riding in an enclosed space. I guessed not long I will be spotted by the security. This did not happen till I was on my way out, when a few security guys approached, they themselves we puzzled as how I got in, the guys on the motorbike escorted me to a narrow motorbike exit at one of the gates….

That was just one occassion, others like coming to a function or mosque when people are praying or having lectures, of course silence is a must at this moment, and its dreadful to ride in with all the noise, of course people will know in an instant who that stranger is! Nevertheless, I enjoy riding to the daily congregational prayers with the bike rather than car, in fact I only drive the car when bringing the whole family for the prayers which I wish to do at least on a weekly basis.

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Coming to 3000km so far so good

So far so good, thank God. Not that I have not encountered any problem. As mentioned before more and more reports of cracked brackets have been reported by owners, as for mine it seemed to be fine this far. I thought perhaps one of the reasons for the crack could be excessive revving, especially past the max torque…other users can share their experience. Lan at Pyoor told me that they can install some kind of slider or layers to protect the brackets, may be I will do it on my next service.

I have fallen once, as mentioned in my other posting. Thank God again I was not hurt and the motor had no major damage. I soon brought the motor to Pyoor and get the loose brake pedal fixed, though not completely since I will need a whole new set of brake frame which will cost around RM200, I thought I could wait, so far the brake is still functioning ok. Lan, an experienced and friendly KTM engineer did a few things to tweak the motor then took it for a test ride. He mentioned that there were a few loose things especially the clutches that was supposed to have been done during the first service. I think I will stick to Pyoor for my future services of my Duke.

So, did I do anything else to upgrade. There was the urge to do so but so far I resisted. I think I just want to keep the motor as it is, and do only necessary accessory upgrades. Radiator cover may be needed yes. The other thing, my left side radiator side cover was missing, Lan pointed this out to me, unfortunately he had none in store so I shall get it next time.

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Lastly, I had bought a few gadgets that help with the riding, to give basic protection from grazes or accidental fall like what had happened. I had this pair of Hipora leather riding boots, which is waterproof and helped to increase my standing height by a few cms, I thought is great for a better ground handling of the motor. I also got this waterproof jacket (Dainese) which is truly waterproof, though the trousers (bought separately) is not  but will cater for most occasions of light rains.

Thats all as far as accessories and upgrades concern. I resist the urge to spend on all those fancy stuff though a little more colour would be nice, I may give this future consideration. Another essential addition would be Givi box (top box), though I am kind of ambivalent as to the esthetic value of it.

Learning from a fall

There is always blessings behind all mishaps. Even when you fall from your bike…there is certainly a blessing…

I have always wondered, what it really is like, falling from a bike. Well, its not that I want it, God forbid, no I always pray for my safety and I take precaution. By the way, yes, indeed I had the experience before, 30 years ago – of falling from a bike. At least four or five occasions. Three bad one I would particularly not forget – once when I was riding with my youngest brother, on the way to the shop nearby my village. I was home for a holiday from Ireland, being young and highly charged, just like any young people, I rode fast and less cautious. Approaching the shop, I swept rightway, to to make a right turn, without looking – judging by ‘sounds’ that nothing was behind. And I was wrong, cause there was this motorcar, just behind me, and it was too late to pull the brake, my motor was hit and both of us dropped on the ground. My brother was little wounded, I was fine.

The second occassion, when I was riding in a joyful mood, just after receiving my SPM result. It was a straight road, but somehow I lost control, I just felt like the bike was veering left, and as if I had no control over its direction anymore, the bike went straight to the bushes, lucky the was no drain or valley along the road, otherwise something more serious could have happened.

The third occassion was when I visited my sister at Jelai Felda. My brother in law had this Suzuki motor cup which was almost brand new. The thing with Suzuki was that the throttle was very sensitive, a little rev is all you need to move. I was so naive to judge how much rev needed to move the motor from stationary at first gear. Just as I revved, the motor jumped forward, alas, right onto a pit. There was little damage to the mudguard and handles.

Now with my big moto Duke 200, I have gained quite some experience riding, and having spent over 1500km ride I felt all the confidence moving anywhere. The control seems to be seemless, except when making sharp turn from stationary its quite heavy and I need to use my legs. I feel that I am no good at cornering and on a few occassion had overdone it to a point of near colliding to the kerb or pavement. Rain is another common enemy and my anxiety grew when riding in rain.

However that night, I felt quite normal. I had to rush a bit to meet friends who were awaiting at our organisation’s office near to my hospital. At the traffic light, I took a left turn, there were a few cars ahead which I successfully overtook. Then the road became poorly illuminated that I virtually relied on my bikes spotlight. I was quite familiar with this road, with the car and not motor though. The road was quite straight except a bit bendy coming to another set of traffic light. That was where I suddenly was caught by surprise. Going at around 80km/h, darkness surrounding, part of the road looked slippery and wet, suddenly I felt like I had no control. The vehicle was charging in a straight line instead of following the curve. I was afraid to make steer the handle too much, then I realised that I was too close to the kerb. I did not have enough time to pull the brake, and the next thing was a bang. I was thrown off the bike, bumped on the grass. I did not feel anything, my whole body was free from the bike.

The bike engine was still on, strangely, still revving, maybe the throttle was caught during the fall. I touched both handles and lifted the bike up. Lucky that this cute little Duke isn’t a very heavy beast that I had no problem lifting it straight up. When I finished the meeting, I examined the bike, the little spring mechanism connected to the brake had gone loose, but the brake was functioning fine. I could still ride normally, the bike was thankfully intact following the fall.

Thanks God, everything was fine, and the road was empty during this incident, otherwise something worse could have happened.

Well, I had now learned something, and the most important, falling from a bike, could happen very easily. Especially when you have lost attention, other factors like sharp corners or wet road. Unfamiliar roads is another factor. As a good caution, I should slow down and take things easy. At least, falling at a low speed may not be as disastrous as falling at a high speed.

This was certainly a blessing, and a good lesson in falling!

Bila kematian menanti di luar pintu

Jangan bimbang kawan-kawan, kita hanya bercakap mengenai benda yang paling hampir dengan diri kita…

Syukur pada Allah, pagi itu aku terjaga dari tidur agak awal, kalau bangun terus tentunya sempat bertahajud. Tapi kerana berlengah lesu, hampir 5.30pagi baru bergegas bangun. Aku ambil wudu dan solat witir. Selepas tu bersiap ke masjid Kemensah. Kali ini aku memilih untuk menunggang motosikal Yamaha LC kepunyaan Harith. Sengaja aku merehatkan KTM DUKE ku, pagi ini.

Kenangan, dan kerisauan peristiwa malam tadi tetap menghantui tetapi aku cuba meletakkannya jauh di sudut hati.

Selesai solat subuh aku menuju ke dataran Melawati dan singgah di Maybank untuk mengeluarkan wang dari ATM – tujuannya supaya dapat membayar wang korban raya Haji nanti – satu bahagian diri, dan dua lagi dari dua orang doktor yang mewakilkan korban padaku.

Seterusnya aku menonggang motor ke restoran Darbar lalu memesan teh tarik dan beberapa roti canai bungkus, tujuannya untuk sarapan pagi bersama keluarga. Selain itu aku sempat membeli dua buku roti cokelat untuk Widad, yang kami ketahui jarang mengambil sarapan, sekali sekala Widad gemar memakan roti cokelat juga.

Pulang ke rumah terus kubangunkan isteri dan anak-anak untuk bersolat subuh. Seperti biasa, selepas subuh aku duduk bertafakur dan membaca Quran dari iPAD, hari ini giliran surah Faatir. “Sesungguhnya engkau (Muhammad) hanyalah memberi peringatan kepada orang-orang yang takut (melanggar hukum-hukum) Tuhan semasa mereka tidak dilihat orang dan sedangkan mereka tidak melihat azab Tuhan, serta mereka mendirikan sembahyang. Dan sesiapa yang membersihkan dirinya maka sesungguhnya ia melakukan pembersihan itu untuk kebaikan dirinya sendiri dan ingatlah, kepada Allah jualah tempat kembali.” Itulah antara intisari ayat-ayat Fatir yang kubaca.

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Selesai sarapan bersama isteri lalu mandi dan bersiap untuk ke tempat kerja. Hari ini aku perlu sampai awal untuk program CME mingguan. Selepas mengucapkan selamat tinggal pada isteri dan anak-anak aku keluar rumah, masuk ke dalam kereta Proton Satria Neo lalu kuhidupkan enjin kereta. Isteri tercengang? ‘Eh, kenapa abang tak naik motor hari ini? Kan hari ni last kerja, mesti jam teruk?’ aku hanya tersenyum, ‘tak pe, saje nak tukar selera.’

Bismillah, disertai doa perjalanan, aku mulakan pemanduan melepasi kampung Kemensah. Terngiang-ngiang pertanyaan isteriku, dalam hati aku tersenyum lagi…(laa takkan nak senyum di luar seorang-seorang pulak, apa orang kata nanti?)

Ya, memang pelik. Semenjak sebulan yang lalu aku memiliki motosikal KTM DUKE hanya sehari sahaja ke tempat kerja dengan menaiki kereta, itupun kerana anakku Widad mengikutku ke tempat kerja. Selebihnya aku tetap bermotosikal ke tempat kerja, malah ke hulu hilir dan ke surau masjid pun dengan motosikal DUKE kesayangan tu. Tak kira hujan, panas terik tetap kulalui sampai terasa kesan kepanasan bila warna kulit pun dah berubah. Namun aku tetap dengan hobi baru tersebut. Apalagi, baru semalam aku menulis di blog ‘On the move with KTM DUKE 200’ yang menceritakan pengalaman peribadi memiliki motosikal ini selama sebulan (tulisan tersebut telah ditatapi ratusan pembaca dan ramai yang menyatakan pujian). Tiba-tiba, pagi ini, cuaca elok, dan isteri pun tak menghalang, saja-saja aku merubah haluan dan bertekad memandu kereta, meninggalkan motosikal kesayangan tersadai di rumah.

 

 

Mimpi ngeri – akukah yang terlantar di jalanan itu?

Malam tadi, aku dan isteri bersama dua orang anak usrah telah bertandang ke rumah arwah Abu Bakar, sahabat seperjuangan kami yang baru meninggal 2 hari lepas selepas 6 bulan sakit ‘Lymphoma’. Kami menghadiri majlis kenduri arwah hari kedua. Memang terharu sekali bila kami mendengar berita kematian beliau. Sewaktu sakit, aku kerap juga menjenguk beliau, malahan mengarahkan pembantu penyelidik kami Azreen untuk berhubung rapat dengan keluarga beliau supaya dapat memantau keperluan seharian. Sempat juga menyampaikan sumbangan khas dari wang zakat tabung penyelidikan kami kepada keluarga beliau, melalui pertubuhan IKRAM Bandar Tun Razak.

Beliau pergi meninggalkan balu muda, dan dua orang anak kecil, di samping 4 lagi yang dewasa (dari isteri pertama, yang juga meninggal 11 tahun lepas selepas mengidap kanser payudara). Hanya Allah yang tahu perasaan keluarga dan anak-anak, mudah-mudahan mereka diberi kesabaran dan ganjaran sewajarnya.

Selesai kenduri kami bertolak balik melalui jalan Genting Kelang ke arah MRR. Tiba-tiba, menghampiri Taman Bunga raya trafik sesak dan kenderaan bergerak amat perlahan. Tak lama kemudian kelihatan di bahu jalan orang ramai berkerumun. Rupanya satu kemalangan motosikal telah berlaku, kelihatan sepintas lalu tubuh seseorang terbaring di bahu jalan dengan di kelilingi ramai. Aku memberhentikan kereta dan bergegas pergi memeriksa. Rupanya, mangsa seorang anak muda Melayu, menunggang motosikal LC. Terlihat kesan darah di tengah jalan, dan wajah dan tubuh beliau dipenuhi darah. Hampir separuh bahagian muka beliau luka parah, mendedahkan rahang sebelah kanan yang dipenuhi ketulan darah. Beliau masih lagi sedar dan mampu bercakap. Pemandangan yang cukup mengerikan. Motor masih terbaring di jalan, lalu aku membantu seorang pemuda menarik motor tersebut ke tepi. Kejadian ini berlaku betul-betul di simpang jalan. Menurut mereka, sebuah kereta (Honda Accord) membelok untuk memasuki simpang, dan  dan telah terlanggar motor tersebut yang bergerak menuju ke arah MRR. Terlihat kesan kemik di bahagian penumpang depan, mungkin juga motor tersebut yang terlanggar kereta lalu terseret. Apapun, amat mengerikan. Aku cuma mampu memeriksa mangsa secara ringkas, memastikan beliau masih bernafas dan dalam keadaan stabil. Seorang wanita cina membantu beliau dan memberikan arahan. Beliau memaklumkan ambulans telah dipanggil dan dalam perjalanan sampai ke tempat kejadian.

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Selesai, aku berjalan longlai menuju ke kereta, lalu mulakan pemanduan. Aku bercerita sedikit sebanyak apa yang berlaku pada isteri. Ingatanku masih berlegar di tempat kejadian – bagaimanakah kalau akulah mangsa yang terlantar di jalanan itu selepas dilanggar kereta? 

Sampai di rumah, aku bertemu anak-anak, dan menceritakan satu persatu apa yang berlaku, mereka akur dan merasa gementar mendengar cerita tersebut. Ya, masih terbayang-bayang pemandangan tersebut, dan sepanjang jalan pulang, waktu di rumah pun aku masih berfikir dan berbicara dengan diri sendiri, inilah gejala naik motor. Baru semalam aku merawat seorang pesakit yang patah kaki kerana kemalangan motor juga, akibat dilanggar dari sisi oleh sebuah teksi. Dan kurang dua bulan lepas, baru berlaku kemalangan ngeri adik perempuanku, Saloma yang menaiki motor bersama anak beliau Faiz, telah dilanggar oleh sebuah kereta ketika cuba membuat pusingan U. Akibatnya Saloma telah patah kaki memerlukan pembedahan. MasyaAllah, Innalillah, sesungguhnya Engkau maha menentukan…

 

‘Rider’ bertukar haluan…takut kecut?

Semenjak aku menunggang motor berulang alik ke tempat kerja, telah berlaku beberapa perubahan dari segi waktu perjalanan. Aku bebas pergi dan balik pada bila-bila waktu yang dikehendaki – tidak kira ‘peak hours’ atau ‘off peak’ tidak menjadi masalah. Motorku meluncur laju meredah lalulintas dan ratusan kereta dan kenderaan berat yang berderet di jalanan. Ini merupakan satu ‘nikmat’ dan pengalaman baru. Fikiranku tidak lagi dihantui oleh traffic jam. Dengan tabiat motor Duke yang mencuit hati memang begitu teruja dan tidak terasa perjalanan jauh membebankan, setiap detik dilalui dengan penuh ceria. Apalagi aku kini ahli kelab baru, iaitu Kelab KTM DUKE 200 Malaysia yang membolehkan penunggang berkongsi pengalaman dan mengasah minat dan bakat dalam arena permotoran. Biarpun begitu sebagai penunggang yang agak baru dan baru memiliki motor Duke yang bergaya besar ini, ku akui banyak yang perlu dipelajari. Ilmu meredah lalulintas pun barangkali masih dangkal. Beberapa kali berlaku detik mencemaskan bila kawalan tersasar biarpun tidak keterlaluan dan masih dapat dibendung. Itupun, aku mencaturkan pengalaman berulang alik melalui MRR selama 7 tahun berkereta sebagai satu bekalan berguna bila mula bermotosikal pula, paling kurang aku boleh membaca gelagat pengguna jalanraya yang kebanyakannya sama berulang alik pergi kerja juga. Melalui pengalaman ini akau dapat mengetahui tempat-tempat yang dianggap berisiko dan juga selok belok jalan dengan baik.

Suasana pagi agak sederhana dan jalan tidak begitu sibuk. Sampai di Bukit Antarabangsa, kesesakan lalulintas mula terasa. Seperti biasa (walaupun sudah hampir sebulan aku tidak mengamalkannya…) aku mengambil lorong paling kiri dan bergerak mengikut rentak kenderaan, sesekali memotong ‘Que’ apabila ada kereta yang cuba menunjuk kehebatannya. Ish ish mana boleh ni, kita orang Islam ni kan rahmat pada seluruh alam, biarlah beri jalan pada orang lain – kadangkala memang susah mengatasi ego sebagai manusia tetapi pesanan Ustaz Maszlee masih segar di ingatan. 

Sebagai dijangka kini aku terperangkap kembali dalam kesesakan, mulalah merasa cemburu bila melihat penunggang-penunggang motor berdesum melepasi keretaku macam angin, sedangkan aku terkapai-kapai bergerak seperti siput. Hmmm oke saje semua riders ni, tak ada takut tak bimbang apapun…hidup macam biasa – life goes on, man…

 

Aku sampai di pejabat tepat setengah jam perjalanan. Waw…ini pun belum ‘jam’ pekat lagi, kalau hari biasa bermotor, 20 minit senang-senang…begitulah aku cuba membanding. Apapun, setengah jam adalah jangkawaktu agak munasabah dan tidak begitu berbeza dengan menunggang motor. Sempat aku menghadiri sesi CME di Unit Kardiologi, alhamdulillah. Sesampai sahaja Encik Hashim seperti biasa mencelah sambil menghebahkan pada hadirin ‘status’ ku yang telah bertukar menjadi ‘rider’ dengan motor baru DUKE. Mereka mula berseloroh, aku menyambut dengan senyum dan ‘no comment’.

 

Introspeksi diri…bersediakah menghadapi mati?

Statistik menunjukkan sebahagian besar kemalangan maut di negara ini melibatkan penunggang motosikal. Selain kematian, kemalangan melibatkan motosikal boleh menyebabkan kecederaan parah dan serius. Bukan sahaja dari kelalaian pemandu motosikal tetapi kerap juga kerana mereka ini yang menjadi mangsa oleh kereta atau kenderaan berat, ataupun disebabkan kestabilan yang kurang, bahaya jatuh dari motosikal juga amat tinggi. Malahan sejarah hidup keluarga dan rakan-rakan dipenuhi dengan peristiwa hitam kematian, atau kecederaan serius akibat kemalangan motosikal. Atas sebab-sebab ini, biarpun di sebalik keperluan mendesak untuk mengatasi kesesakan trafik, isteriku membantah kemahuanku untuk memandu motosikal ke tempat kerja. 

Walaubagaimanapun senario berubah semenjak setahun lepas disebabkan keperluan anak-anak pula. Mulanya hanya kerana keperluan untuk berulang alik ke sekolah, dan sebagai ayah dan juga seorang yang punya sedikit pengalaman motosikal, aku telah melatih anak-anak untuk menunggang sehingga mereka cekap dan konfiden. Akhirnya kami memutuskan untuk membeli sebuah motosikal, Suzuki Smash 115 tahun lepas untuk kegunaan Widad. Kurang setahun dari tarikh ini, diikuti dengan pembelian Yamaha LC135 untuk Harith. Semenjak memiliki LC ini minatku terhadap motor bertambah, lalu secara kebetulan aku mula menunggang untuk ke tempat kerja. Di sinilah bermulanya hasrat membeli sebuah motosikal besar untuk kemudahan kerja, akhirnya sang isteri terpaksa akur.

Rupa-rupanya kehadiran Duke dalam hidup ini diraikan oleh semua ahli keluarga. Bentuk motor yang cun dan gah memang cukup menguja, bahkan sang isteri pun turut berbangga, dan disebalik kebimbangan yang tersuara berkali-kali, kini beliau semakin aktif memberi galakan dan sokongan untuk aku menunggang dengan selesa. Kami berkali-kali ke kedai motor atau Uptown untuk membeli bermacam aksesori seperti jaket, baju hujan, sarung tangan dan lain-lain. Keperluan akhirnya bertukar menjadi hobi apalagi bila aku telah menjadi ahli aktif dalam kelab motor secara maya. 

Tiba-tiba berlaku peristiwa semalam – memberikan satu kejutan, dan menyebabkan aku tersentak. Alah, bukannya tak biasa tengok orang eksiden, kadangkala benakku mencelah. Ya betul, dan beberapa banyak kali aku berhenti di jalanan untuk membantu mangsa-mangsa kemalangan yang cedera parah, jadi ini bukan pengalaman baru. Tapi mengapa kejadian malam tadi begitu menghantui jiwa? Mungkin juga kerana di saat ini, setelah hampir sebulan dilamun keseronokan bermotor, aku menjadi hampir lupa bahawa di situ ada bahaya, ada risiko yang boleh berlaku bila-bila sahaja. Agaknya, bila melihat sahaja suasana semalam, segalanya kembali untuk memberi amaran dan ingatan. Awas, inilah bahaya menunggang motor, apakah kamu dah lupa?

Sebagai penunggang berusia matang, aku tidaklah terikut-ikut gaya mat rempit atau orang muda lain. Di jalan memang amat berhati-hati, walaupun sesekali menekan kelajuan lebih 100km/j, dan memotong apa saja kenderaan di jalan. Aku tetap mengambil langkah berjaga-jaga, memang sepanjang pemanduan berkali-kali membunyikan hon kerana memberi amaran kepada kenderaan lain yang bertukar lorong atau beraksi liar. Di simpang atau lampu isyarat tetap dipatuhi, walaupun biasa memecut bila isyarat bertukar hijau, meninggalkan motor kapcai lain dan kereta-kereta jauh di belakang – kelebihan motor seperti Duke memang pantas memecut. Setakat ini pemanduan penuh berhemah secara amnya dan tidak ada apa-apa kejadian yang menakutkan.

Biarpun begitu, sebagai insan biasa memang tergetak rasa hati setiap kali mahu meninggalkan rumah, sambil berdoa, ya Allah selamatkan perjalananku pergi dan kembali.  Pendek kata segala langkah yang perlu diambil dan sikap berjaga-jaga sentiasa ada. Biarpun, sebaik duduk di atas motor, perasaan bimbang dan gundah ini lenyap serta merta, dan apabila keluar mesej dari paparan meter ‘ready to race’ terus meningkat rasa berani dan yakin, sebaik baca doa perjalanan terus memecut tanpa rasa takut lagi.

Memang kemalangan, kematian tidak bisa diduga. Seorang kawan, yang bermati-matian menghalang anak-anak beliau dari memiliki motor mengatakan: ‘eksiden memang boleh jadi di mana-mana, tapi, anak saya, kalau nak mati eksiden pun biarlah dalam kereta…’ Bukankah kita percaya pada takdir Ilahi? Jadi, kalau dah berhati-hati, ambil segala langkah yang perlu, tetapi berlaku juga kemalangan – seperti kata orang, kita menunggang motor ni, salah kita atau salah orang (melanggar atau kena langgar) – kesudahannya sama juga; kalau terjadi juga, itu adalah apa yang tertulis buat kita.

“Tiada satu bencana yang menimpa di bumi dan (tidak pula) pada dirimu sendiri melainkan telah tertulis di dalam kitab sebelum Kami menciptakannya..” (al Hadid: 22)

Jika saat kita telah ditakdirkan tidak ada apa yang dapat menghalang, dan tidak akan tertangguh walau sesaat, biar di mana kita berada:

“Di mana saja kamu berada, kematian akan mendapatkan kamu kendatipun kamu di dalam benteng yang tinggi lagi kukuh… (anNisa: 78)

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Ayuh! Hadapi kenyataan, akur takdir, dan hayati kehidupan ini…

Sebenarnya, kalau ada sesuatu perkara, yang apabila kita lakukan, ianya akan mengingatkan kita kepada mati, inilah satu-satunya perkara yang paling baik untuk dibuat! Sebab, ikut pesanan Rasul kita s.a.w, mati itulah sebaik-baik guru, dan orang yang paling bijak ialah yang ingat mati. Bukankah, bila kita ingat mati, merasai mati itu lebih dekat – ianya akan membuatkan kita lebih bersedia (dan, kalau belum bersedia lagi, kita tingkatkan usaha untuk menyediakan diri).

Dengan mengingat mati, kita lebih hampir dengan Tuhan. Dan takut nak buat maksiat atau melanggar perintahNya. Nah….bukankah ini satu keadaan yang baik? Lalu aku menyingkap formula baru:

Naik motor – ingat mati (bukan takut mati…ada beza) – ingat Tuhan – sediakan diri – pandu berhati-hati – hidup lebih proaktif – sedia terima kenyataan. Kesimpulan ini memberikan sedikit cahaya ketenangan dan motivasi buat diri ini. Jom terus merempit – the right way!!

 

Hmmm kalau begitu, kenapa pula perubahan hari ini? Haaa ini hanya membuktikan aku manusia biasa, yang terkesan oleh peristiwa yang berlaku di keliling. Disebabkan hal ini, walaupun kesimpulan di atas telah dibuat, keberanian dan pasrah telah terbina kembali, aku cuma mahu ‘cool down’ dan memberi masa untuk diri ini introspeksi lebih mendalam, supaya dapat ‘consolidate’ segala resolusi yang telah dicapai.

Alhamdulillah syukur padaNya. Mungkin ini inspirasi, bisikan dan detikan hati yang mendapat suluhan Ilahi, untuk menghayati satu tazkirah kehidupan dari peristiwa semalam.

(sebahagian ilustrasi dr Pena Cikgu blog & National Pictures/Nick Edwards) 

Aside

Anecdote from a complete amateur to a big bike world… So, after a long thought, and days of persuasion trying to convince the wife, I made up my mind. On a fine Friday morning of Sept. 21, we went to … Continue reading

Fastest way to beat the traffic – how about motorbike ride to work?

Today was my first time experience riding a motorbike to work. Yes it was fun, but I was a little scared to say the least.
Ever since I bought the Yamaha LC, I have been dying to take it for a long ride such as going to work. My wife objected vehemently. I told here I will be safe and fate is in the Hand of God. Then I got the L license, which will soon be followed by a P.
Today I had no choice though. Despite managing to wake up so early and join the full congregation prayer at a nearby surau, I was still late to work for other reason. Since I had to be there fast – as I my presence was needed at the OT for a perioperative echo, I was left with this interesting option to beat the heavy morning traffic, that is, take the LC to work!
There I went, helmet on, jacket on and I started ravving the engine. I tried to be extra careful, though at times I was kind of lost between worrying with anything that could suddenly come from behind, to forgetting to look in front, which is the most important as I must avoid colliding onto the vehicle in front of me.
I could feel the breeze and I was a little nervous. The ride seemed easy and I could go at any speed, this is the great thing about LC, it’s indeed a great fun to ride. There were lots of fellow motobikers on the road so I did not feel lonely though it’s silly to expect sympathy from them since everyone is really on their own.
Coming up to Bukit Antarabangsa the traffic congestion started. I slowed down to third gear and began rolling between vehicles, cars, buses, trucks etc. I wanted to stay on the left most, though non of the other motorbikers did that, so I began copying their move that is to stay at the fast lane or the middle. I found the middle lane, left side my favourite, though a few occassions I felt that many vehicle drivers failed to notice oncoming motorcyclists on their left. So what is being said in the book is correct, that is, right side of the lane is safest, though scariest I think…
From Bukit Antarabangsa to Ampang flyover took me about 5 minutes, which in normal journey with a car could take as long as 15 minutes or more. I guess I could move faster but I reminded myself that this was my first ride to work, so better be safe and slow. When the traffic was almost completely clear, I kept the speed around 80km/hour, which is no way near a car speed on a clear road (anywhere between 90 to 100 plus). Therefore on a clear road, my motor ride would be slower than a car, or most cars, though indeed I found numerous occassions of having successfully overtaken cars or other motorcycles moving at lower speed.
The second congestion point was Ampang Indah to the Jalan Cheras exit – all along, which took me another 5 mintues plus, then onto the exit and the roundabout – which is a bit tricky especially at its exit to Taman Midah/Jalan Cheras. My safe strategy was to stay on the right side of the moving cars, therefore avoiding confrontation with the oncoming traffic from the left feeder road trying to enter the roundabout. Piles of vehicles at Taman Midah slowed me down to a stop a number of times, I was lost for a moment and decided to join other motorcyclists squeezing their way through tight gaps. From this point on, the ride was smooth and quite fast. Checking the clock, I took about 25 minutes or less from home to hospital. At this kind of traffic, driving my car would take me double the time (though I always tend to underestimate this…). Therefore I had saved a lot of time already, though, of course during the ride, I would be completely mute, no radio, no phone, nothing really. I spent a fraction of the journey reading morning remembrance of al-Mathurat.
AFter completing short work at the OT, I went for a quick ward round, before deciding to go back to hand back the motor to my son who will ride to school. Going back was a pleasure. I choose a shorter route by riding along the opposite Jalan Cheras leading to Jalan Pandan Indah, exiting at Pandan Indah intersection to MRR2. The whole journey home took me just around 20minutes or slightly less. Awesome I thought, I felt great at this first successful experience.
The next question is whether I intend to get a big motorbike? The definite answer at least for now is NO, for so many reasons. The worst or the most I would go for more is a FZ150i a modest cruiser but slightly bigger and heavier than LC to give it a slight edge over the LC. Well let me get the full license and a bit more of riding experience first…