Kembara Ramadan bersama TM Bikers…paradigma baru dunia permotoran?

Jam telah melewati 11 malam, dan kami masih lagi bertungkus lumus menolak jentera masing-masing sebelum menghidupkan enjin untuk memulakan perjalanan pulang. Di tengah-tengah laluan berliku dari Batu 14 menuju Batu 3 jalan Tapah-Cameron Highland, memang tak pernah terbayang sebelum ini untuk meredah laluan tersebut di lewat malam seperti ini.

Memang kami berdua (aku dan Dr. Hafiz) sudah menempah bilik hotel LF di Tapah, tetapi untuk sampai ke Tapah kami terpaksa melalui laluan berliku tersebut yang menjangkau lebih 20km, dalam kegelapan malam. Sewaktu naik di pagi hari, cuaca hujan dan jalan kelihatan licin, dan ini cukup mencabar di tambah keadaan jalan yang tak rata di sana sini, beralun serta berliku di sebalik kesibukan lalulintas dan kenderaan berat yang agak banyak.

Aku dah sampai ke Cameron dengan motor dua kali, yang terbaru bersama Harapan Baru Bikers. Kedua-dua kalinya kami naik samada melalui Sungai Koyan atau Simpang Pulai. Kedua-dua laluan memang berliku juga tapi jalan lebih elok dan besar. Lain pula halnya melalui Tapah. Bila aku mengumumkan hasrat nak join ride ni dalam group MIB, ada ahli yang kata – nak meredah laluan yang kona patah belaka memang kurang sesuai dengan jentera kami apalagi di malam gelap gelita (waktu pulang). Ini menyebabkan aku rasa cuak juga. Tambahan pula Dr. Hafiz yang beliau kata dah lama tak ride, kali ni beliau pasrah join selepas aku pujuk dan atas alasan nak support program Ikram Putrajaya. Takpe, jawabku, nanti kita ride santai je, apa-apa kita ride sekali. Akhirnya kami kuatkan tekad. Alhamdulillah pagi tersebut semasa ‘RV’ di Rawang, di sebalik kehadiran melempah ahli-ahli TM Bikers, muncullah Zul9 & Dr. Al-Amin, lega sedikit, walaupun Al-Amin tak dapat join, hanya datang menjenguk. KZH yang komit dari awal, tak muncul, jadi kami bertiga dari MIB, yang selebihnya 60 bikers lagi dari TM bikers.

Memang meriah bila ride bersama TM Bikers ni, ahli-ahlinya peramah dan mudah didekati, ramai yang berpengalaman dah berjalan jauh, walaupun ada 50% dari yang join kali ini kapchai – LC135, Y15Z & FZ150, tapi tak jadi hal sangat sebab ride tak berapa jauh, dan untuk mendaki ke Cameron kapchai lagi senang. Sebab ringan dan mudah koner.

Menghampiri Tapah, hujan mula turun, mulanya renyai terus semakin lebat. Seluar jeanku dah terasa basah, tapi Dr. Hafiz terus jalan, takkan aku nak berhenti pulak, so redah ja harapnya lepas ni panas terik seluar cepat kering. Kami berhenti di RnR Tapah, refuel dan terus ke Masjid Batu 3. Di RnR Tapah hujan turun lagi, membasahi helmet yang aku tinggal terdedah sebab melayan diri di tandas. Waktu ni dah ada masa sarung seluar hujan dan sediakan diri. Kami berhenti di masjid untuk solat dhuha dan ada yang punggah barang. Di sini jumpa Kamal, pengarah program dan sahabat baik kami yang juga ahli MIB & Ikram Putrajaya.

Sementara TM Bikers masih menyediakan diri, kami bertiga sepakat untuk ride terus ke Batu 14 Perkampungan orang asli tersebut. Hanya perlu ikut map yang dah diberi, aku set Googlemaps dan lead. Hujan mula turun dan jalan Tapah-Cameron kelihatan basah, tak rata dan memang berliku-liku. Mulalah rasa gayat. Aku lihat side mirror, terpandang Hafiz di belakang. Tak lama, bertembung deretan kereta dan lori, bas, aku potong satu persatu, rupanya banyak lagi di sepanjang jalan. Ya jalan licin, boleh terasa hampir skid setiap kali nak lap, ini yang makin cuak ni. Rupanya bertembung dengan beberapa kapchai, mungkin orang local, semuanya bawa slow saja, aku potong. Akhirnya dah tak nampak kelibat Hafiz & Zul (Zul paling belakang kira escort kami berdua ni). Tiba-tiba Googlemaps down, blank saja. Aku cuma berpandu pada jarak, lama sedikit lepas tak nampak lagi kedua bikers, walaupun selepas slow down – mungkin sangkut dengan deretan kereta dan bas di belakang, akhirnya aku berhenti di sebuah perhentian bas. Rupanya dah terlalu hampir dengan lokasi. Tak lama muncullah Hafiz & Zul9, ok kami pun set masuk ke simpang ke arah kampung Batu 14. Lagi gayat bila jalan menuju kampung curam dan berliku, memang merangkak saja tak biar tayar bergolek perlahan. Berbagai fikiran bergolak, hmmm macamana perjalanan balik nanti, di kegelapan malam…

Alhamdulillah syukur program Kembara Ramadan ke Cameron Highland ni berlangsung dengan jaya. Congrats kepada Kamal pengarahnya, dan TM Bikers, Presiden En Roslan, kepada ikhwah MIB yang turut serta, eh tak ramai tapi bermakna. Zul9 yang terpaksa korbankan program Ikram Batu beliau semata-mata nak meraikan program ride ni & memang kehadiran beliau amat membantu aura MIB. Dr. Hafiz, yang mulanya tak konfiden je (sorry Hafiz hehe), sebab dah lama tak ride kata beliau, malahan aku sendiri pun, bila ada orang sebut route ke batu 14 tu yang amat mencabar, gementar juga, rupanya kehadiran Dr. Hafiz membantu gak, konsepnya ride slow2 santai pun dah ok, waktu ni kita nak sampai dengan selamat dan program berjaya, lain waktu nak memecut ke hujung dunia tu lain hal haha.

Secara ringkasnya lebih 60 bikers yang join, separuh adalah ‘small bikes’ dia orang sebut bike comey – kapchai – LC135, Y15Z atau FZ150. Ada yg datang dari Trengganu, Johor, Utara dll. Yang ride bike comey adalah anak2 muda 100% sementara yang ride big bikes bercampur, separuhnya dah berumur dalam 35-40han. Ini dari TM Bikers lah. Dari MIB ada tiga orang sebagaimana yang anda tahu.

Ride ke Cameron, Batu 14 ni simple saja sebenarnya, memang tak banyak ride, lebih banyak program masyarakatnya. Ride dari Rawang ke Tapah – Batu 3 lebih kurang sejam. Dari Batu 3 naik ke Batu 14 tak sampai setengah jam, tu saja. Total distance, dari Ampang rumah aku, 160km hmm memang singkat walaupuan acara program ni tamat hampir tengah malam.

Programnya – Angkat barang, turun barang – di surau Batu 14. Lepas tu rehat. Ada program treasure hunt dan & pertandingan melukis untuk anak-anak. Lepas tu penyampaian hadiah (semua anak-anak) dan duit raya juga penyampaian sumbangan pada orang asli. Then sempat bawa anak-anak ni short ride big bikes kami, pergi dekat2 saja. Sewaktu rehat ada pilihan untuk naik ke Cameron atau mandi di Lata Iskandar, kami tak pergi, sebab ada interview dengan TV Jakim. Ya, media crew ni interview ramai orang, of course Kamal sebagai penganjur, TM bikers, penduduk dan mereka beri peluang, kami sebagai bikers Ikram –dalam interview aku sebut MyIkram Bikers lah, bagi orang kenal.

Berbuka bersama orang asli, dapatlah ruang bersosial dengan mereka – untuk lelaki kebanyakannya orang tua atuk2 atau anak2 kecil – selebihnya bikers dan petugas2 lantikan Jakim atau wakil JKOA, dan crew Ikram Putrajaya & Ikram Perak (Batang Padang).

 

Of course, Kamal sebagai Pengarah program ini menerajui program dengan jayanya. Beliau berjaya menghubungkan Ikram Putrajaya dalam ‘big picture’. Malah semasa berbual dan interview dengan media JAKIM, mereka tanya seolah-olah Ikram ni berpusat di Putrajaya, begitu juga MIB….tak mengapalah yang penting Ikram dikenali melalui usaha sahabat kita. Dan beliau menunjukkkan leadership yang baik dalam TM Bikers, sebagai pengarah program. So, pada aku beliau patut diberikan kredit atas usaha ini & insyallah mungkin bentuk JV seperti ini merupakan ruang yang amat baik MIB dapat melibatkan belia bikers, nak buat secara MIB sendiri-sendiri mungkin tidak dapat mencapai skala yang seperti ini!

Aku sempat berkenalan dengan Presiden TMB Sdr Roslan dan brief sedikit mengenai pertubuhan Ikram dan kumpulan kami MyIkram Bikers. Beliau kelihatan cool, berkarisma dan mudah bermesra. Dalam ucapannya beliau sebut kerjasama dengan MIB – ini program ketiga ada kerjasama dengan MIB – sebut beliau.

Setiap ahli MIB memainkan peranan baik – Zul buka agenda semasa sampai – ini buka ruang untuk taaruf dengan kebanyakan yang terlibat di lapangan (masa tu TMB tak sampai lagi) – termasuk petugas JAKIM, wakil orang asli, ahli2 Ikram (Putrajaya & Batang Padang) dan crew media JAKIM) melalui ini kami banyak dapat peluang networking yang baik, serta kenal lebih dekat masyarakat orang asli dan keperluan mereka di sini.

Aku nak sebut juga, mengenai bikers sebab ini bread & butter kita MIB. Kami ada sebut dulu nak buka kapchai chapter tapi tak pernah bergerak. Aku rasa model TMB ini model yang amat baik, macamana kapchai riders boleh join program just like the rest of the big group, ride jauh. Dan mereka memang mendapat tempat yang ‘equal’ dalam progam ni. Kebanyakan kapchai riders ni atau semua adalah anak muda, belia. Semasa ride, mereka ikut kumpulan sendiri, sebab riding pace tak sama…tetapi tetap tak ketinggalan, Marshall sentiasa pesan supaya riders jangan ride seorang-seorang, walaupun riding at own’s pace, sekurang2nya berdua, lebih baik untuk keselamatan. Bila diambil kira bermacam background bikers dan bike yang ada, jadi kumpulan kapchai ini membentuk geng yang ada ‘equal footing’ dengan big bikes. Perlulah disebut, dalam konteks ni, setakat yang join adalah LC135 ke atas (termasuk LC yang tak berklas (clutch). Aku rasa the ‘key’ untuk menyerap group kapchai ni ialah adanya kumpulan yang agak besar (contoh dalam satu2 ride ada sepuluh atau) dan anak2 muda yang ada background yang sama – contoh di sini profession…konsep ini bolehlah diadaptasi yang penting supaya kapchai yang join the big group tak terasa kecil atau terasing. Juga beri ruang kapchai ini menyesuaikan diri dalam the big group, contoh dari segi refuel stop, dekat sedikit jaraknya dari biasa. Sebab dalam ride macam program orang asli ni, fokus sebenarnya adalah program, ride tu sebagai wasilah program. Daripada 14-16 jam program – ride hanya mengambil tak sampai 40% dari keseluruhan program, jadi kalau buat ride konvoi yang melibatkan kapchai mungkin dalam bentuk seumpama ini…tetapi tak mesti, macam-macam bentuk kreativiti boleh dicipta insyallah bila dah ada big group kapchai tu pandai-pandailah mereka.

Last sekali pasal kecekapan dan keselamatan. Dulu aku selalu concern bila nak naik bukit dan koner ni.  Memanglah dan dari segi keselamatan memang kita perlu hati-hati. Tetapi untuk bikers, selalunya ‘cabaran’ untuk melayan koner dan bukit ni ialah dan mengenakan stail dan ride laju, sedangkan memang ada ketika, tak perlu pun pada semua tu. Bayangkan sewaktu turun dari Batu 14, di malam hari, walaupun aku ‘terpaksa’ sabar di belakang Hafiz mengemudi jentera bumblebee beliau yang sentiasa mengaum minta dilenjan habis, tapi Hafiz tetap cool menyusur laluan tak terburu-buru. Betul juga, apa nak dikejar, di waktu kegelapan malam dan jalan penuh berliku yang tak rata ni, yang penting ialah selamat sampai. Kalau laju pun, adalah beberapa minit awal sampai, tapi kalau silap lenjan, lain pula boleh jadinya, apa lagi bertembung dengan kenderaaan berat yang bila-bila masa saja boleh overshoot. Jadinya biarlah ada balance sedikit, memang jentera osem kita untuk dipandu macam kuda hebat (macam apa yang Ustaz Hasanuddin sebut dulu) tapi kita kena mengenali kemampuan diri, kemampuan jentera, juga keadaan jalan, cuaca, lalu lintas dan banyak faktor lagi.

 

 

Video link perlepasan, ride ke Cameron

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Memenuhi hak sahabat yang sakit…

Cuaca pagi hujan renyai, dan sesekali menjadi lebat. Rancangan awal untuk keluar ‘TTS sarapan’ bersama isteri terpaksa dilupakan saja, isteri pun rasa tak selesa disebabkan cuaca yang malap di sana sini. Kami bersarapan di Am Bistro. Lepas mengenakan roti telur bawang dan kopi O aku permisi. Sempat juga sebut pada isteri, cuaca dah elok ni jom, abang ingat nak ke Rawang…tapi isteri dah set untuk masuk kerja.

Dalam keadaan yang masih gerimis sedikit dan jalan yang lembab dan berlopak di sana sini aku kuatkan hati untuk terus menuju ke KPJ Rawang. Kira-kira 30 minit untuk sampai, mungkin kurang dari itu dengan bermotor. Jentera Triumph Tiger XRX meluncur lancar di celah-celah kenderaan pelbagai, menyusur laluan yang ditunjukkkan oleh Waze. Melepasi pusingan Jalan Ipoh, exit ke Rawang dan tak lama kemudian melalui jalan berliku menuju Rawang. Tak sampai setengah jam aku menghentikan motosikal di lampu isyarat dan terpandang hospital yang dituju.

Pagi memang bukan waktu melawat, tapi di hospital private mungkin tak berapa strict. Kalau ada halangan pandai-pandailah cari alasan, yang biasa sebut ‘saya ni doktor’, dapatlah pengecualian walaupun sebentar. ‘Assalamu álaikum tuan. Saya nak cari seorang pesakit NHM’. Tercengang receptionist, ‘err, saya kawan dia…’ jawabku meyakinkan. ‘Sekarang bukan waktu melawat Encik..’ ‘Eh, saya tengok kejap je boleh?’ dengan nada redha beliau membuat panggilan ke atas. Macam tiada saja nama tu…baru kusedar tersasul sebut nama beliau, nampak sangat tak kenal sahabat betul-betul.

Sahabatku ini telah disahkan mengidap kanser buah pinggang. Memang dah lama berniat menziarahi, tapi isteri minta pergi bersama, sedangkan beliau sebelum ini dirawat di hospital yang agak jauh iaitu Serdang. Sebenarnya aku dalam ‘panel’ pakar yang ditugaskan membincang dan memberi maklumat terkini beliau pada ahli-ahli organisasi kami, di samping memberikan khidmat perunding mana yang sesuai. Agak mengewakan ya, kerana berbulan beliau telah terlantar sakit, keluar masuk wad, sekali pun belum berhasil melawat. Ku akui memang kami saling mengenal, dalam organisasi beliau memegang beberapa jawatan kempimpinan di samping terlibat dalam peringkat nasional pelbagai organisasi lain. Aku orang biasa saja, adalah terlibat di sini sana, tapi tak pernah menonjol. Jadi, kami memang tak kenal rapat tetapi ikatan ukhuwah tetap ada. Mungkin alasannya, tidak berapa rapat, jadi nak roger beliau sebelum ziarah pun tak berapa pasti. Tetapi pada hari ini aku nekad, dan mengetahui beliau di sana, terus aku putuskan untuk ziarah juga biarpun pagi ini urusan pembedahan di makmal kardiologi invasif dah menanti. Takpe, co-pilot ada boleh beri beliau peluang lebih sedikit untuk jadi ‘independent operator’.

Memang kami tak rapat. Tetapi beliau seorang yang prihatin masyarakat dan menjaga hak persahabatan. Untuk pengetahuan anda, beliau, dalam keadaan sakit begitu, adalah salah seorang sahabat FB yang menghantar ucapan hari lahirku bulan lepas. Ini menyebabkan aku rasa lebih terkilan atas alasan yang berbagai tidak kesempatan melawat beliau. Jentera hebat dah menjejak Thailand, Langkawi dan berbagai destinasi ber TTS sana sini, hai, nak menjejak sahabat sendiri yang sakit pun tak kesampaian, ini menyebabkan aku amat malu pada Tuhan kerana gagal memenuhi hak sahabat. Sebab itulah, hari ini, apa jadi pun aku bertekad untuk menziarahi beliau.

Senyap sunyi saja wad di waktu pagi ini. Beberapa orang jururawat di meja bertugas macam tak hirau atau tak terkesan langsung bila aku melangkah masuk. Eh misi, tak alert ke mana tau saya ni pelawat ke perompak datang nak kacau pesakit….mungkin jururawat di sini, macam di hospital-hospital lain ada ilmu firasat tinggi, boleh rasa pelawat yang datang tu baik ke jahat, tanpa melihat pun dah tahu…

Ku selak kubikal, terpandang wajah seorang lelaki sedang lena…jelas dari penampilan beliau seorang yang sedang sakit. Nyenyak dan tengan tidur beliau…tapi nampak tidak seperti seorang biasa tidur. Aku mengambil masa lebih seminit untuk menyedarkan beliau. ‘Akh, assalamu alaikum…’ perlahan-lahan beliau buka mata, dan menyapa dengan senyuman. Biarpun beliau nampak lemah tak bermaya, senyuman sentiasa terukir dan beliau bercakap dengan bertenaga dan mesra. Walaupun aku tahu sejarah sakit beliau, aku tetap tekun mendengarnya semula, dan beliau memberi update keadaan semasa serta sebab-sebab kemasukan ke hospital kali ini. Dalam masa 15 minit tersebut sempat kami mengimbas kembali di awal waktu beliau mula disahkan mendapat kanser.

Aku sentiasa memberi perhatian serius hal ini. Beliau memang dah lama mengadu sakit perut. Tetapi hanya berjumpa doktor untuk mendapat rawatan hujung tahun lepas. Pada asalnya, doktor merawat beliau sebagai pesakit ‘gastrik’. Hanya kemudiannya kanser tersebut disyaki setelah ujian CT scan dilakukan. Kesimpulannya, jangan ambil ringan simtom sakit anda terutamanya kalau ia berterusan lama. Malahan kalau doktor kata ok pun, pastikan siasatan yang secukupnya telah dibuat, dan ada review yang berkala.

Apa pun sahabat kami seorang yang cukup pasrah, terserlah kekuatan beliau yang disaluti dengan keyakinan pada Allah. Alhamdulillah beliau berjaya menjalani pembedahan biarpun ianya berbentuk paliatif, paling kurang dapat melegakan simtom yang dihidapi.

Aku doakan beliau dirahmati Allah dan dimudahkan dari bebanan kesakitan, lebih-lebih lagi dengan amal dan khidmat serta perjuangan beliau dalam masyarakat selama ini

A birthday mishap? Taming the twisties or being tamed by the twisties….

It was a long ride. After completing the KL-Klawang route (we called it Klawang International Circuit), we decided to follow Klawang-Kuala Pilah-Bentong-Karak to get us to the destination, Bukit Tinggi. The wife who followed by car would be driving back to KL to send a friend’s children home from the camping, then join us at Bukit Tinggi. So two of us headed towards Karak via the inner road above.

 

Klawang was as usual a ‘disappointment’for an old and hopeless rider like me. This is the second time I took my son, last time he followed me behind, I was riding the Bonneville. This time, it was obvious that he was far able to tackle the twisty roads better than me, so I waved to him to lead, and in no time he had disappeared. I kept my usual pace, there were a few speeding bikes overtaking me including this one Yamaha FZ rider who elegantly sprinted along the routes past us then he came back and I was still struggling to complete the lap. The son was good, almost matching that man’s speed except that he would stop at every few minutes, giving me chance to catch up.

 

At some point I began to feel desperate. That’s it, I am definitely no good at cornering. Even after going through the same route not less than 4 times, I am still about the same, shaky and uncertain at times, could not improve the pace. The only difference perhaps, this time I had more confidence and able to keep the bike on the road without overshooting. There was still a lot of difficulty leaning the bikes ‘correctly’ especially at some of those acute bends…and in this case I sometimes simply chose to go real slow. I had, since that near-fall incident in Thailand, adopted the 30-60-90 technique when cornering, the number referring to speed in km/h. 30 at the worst and most acute corners, 60 mid-way and 90 at ‘high speed corners’, the speed refers to the braking speed before reaching apex. I have been working on ‘body position’ which the trick by applying merely ‘level 1’ body positioning had helped me cope better with those acute bends. Nevertheless I have not been able to dramatically increase the speed and this is the embarassing part when compared to those young bloods the like of my son who merely started big bike riding in years later than me!

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It is worth noting while we were busy manouvering the bends towards Klawang, suddenly my son who was in front signaled to me to slow down, there were a couple of police officers and a crowd gathered on the other side of the road. Then I saw it, an accident involving a yellow Porsche and a Yamaha MT (9 maybe). The front headlight of the MT seemed badly damaged while the passenger side headlight of the Porsche smashed. We proceeded to the destination.

 

After having a late lunch in Klawang the two of us headed off Klawang-Simpang Pertang towards Simpang Durian then followed the Kuala Pilah-Karak road. It was along this approx 60km stretch of road, passing small towns and plentiful of twisty roads putting our cornering skill on test. Since this was a long stretch of road I ushered my son to lead as before.

 

On and off, there were a fair bit of que caused by vehicles slowing down due to the windy road. I thought I was generally more fluid at filtering the traffic, on a few occassions I overtook and stayed in front. Then we reached this area of Kampung Safie, my son leading in front. There were a number of cars ahead of me and I saw a tight bend ahead, however there was ample space so I overtook and got clear till I reached the bend, yes it was a very tight bend, forming an extreme curve making a half round-about shape, I slowed down and steadily worked my way through. Suddenly my eyes caught side of a boy lying on the ground, and on the other side, the middle of the road, a blue bike knocked down. It took a fraction of seconds to compute what’s going on then, oh, no! its my son! I nearly froze, then composed myself, brought the bike to a halt, waved to the vehicles behind to stop…then I got off the bike. By this time, the boy was sitting up, shaking his hands. I shouted ‘Are you alright?’. He took of the helmet quickly, I asked him to stand up gently, which he did. He seemed shocked but was able to move all his limbs fine, though very slowly. He was crying, oh dear. A few people rushed towards the scene, a man came close to the bike and lifted it up, which I quickly got hold of, and we started pushing the bike. It was on gear, the boy stomped the now crumpled foot gear trying to neutral it to no avail. I simply pull the clutch and we began pushing the bike to the roadside. Then I got on my bike and rode it to park beside the Triumph Street Triple.

 

We are ok, I declared to the friendly crowd of people, and in short time they all dispersed. All the clogged up vehicles now slowly began moving and the road/roundabout where the incident happened is now back in order.

 

I gave my son a hug. He was apparently shocked and distressed, more than feeling hurt. I repeated asked him if he sustained any injury which he denied. I am sorry, ayah, he said. No, I said, I am sorry, son I am really sorry. I was merely expressing my regret for letting this young man ahead of me. Of course he was good, but the guilt feeling came when realising that I should have taken the lead, and hence have control of his speed rather letting him in front at his own pace. When things settled a bit, he took of his trousers and revealed a few laceration wound on his left knee. Thankfully, thanks God, that he was otherwise ok. That itself gave me a big sigh of relief. Forget about the bike, when an accident happened, the first thing that matter is the human not the machine.

 

It was blazing hot afternoon, around 2pm. We could hardly find a good shelter. Tired, thirsty and now in desperation trying to sort out our fate. At least my boy is safe, thanks God, all praise to him. It was a definitely harrowing experience to witness you own son down.

 

I examined the bike, found the engin oil leak, broken gear pedal, broken panel and seat, cracked rear rim causing the tyre to deflate, and two lost indicator lights. This could be another major repair. I dialed our insurance helpline, Allianz and called for a towtruck. Now we sat down on the grass, looking at the ‘roundabout’ and string of vehicles passing it from both direction. It became obvious how acute and rounded the bend, worse still, it was a downhill descent, a litle bit uneven surface, there was a patch of mud on the left roadside, and it was a positive camber turn. Then we saw frightening view of cars and bikes overshooting to the opposite lane, almost like one in ten of them, each time, any vehicle that approached the turn at a high speed, will inevitabley overshoot. What made them lucky coz there was nothing coming the opposite direction, or most of them managed to brake while doing the turn – mostly, though their speed was a little ‘higher’ still it was at a relatively low speed. So, in short, all vehicles that got to the turn (including a number of superbike and cruisers) will slow down, my guess to between 30 to 40km/h anything more than this will lead to overshooting or extreme braking which could be dangerous.

 

Then we began to see peculiar things, like a motorbike with adult pillion at the back, and additional pillion, a kid, trudging along the curve smoothly. Or a kapchai carrying a dog or large bucket of box, calmly cruising the turn as if the rider was not bothered by the dangerous bend. And a few other motorcycle, including superbikes in solo or carrying pillion, successfully cruised along the curve comfortably (at a fairly low speed). Some slowed down to check what’s happening, we just waved away and they left. Yes, they safely exited the corner, because they exercised extreme caution there, speed and manouver wise. Sitting there gave us a good practical lesson of what cornering is all about.

 

When we were more settled I asked my son to share his traumatic moments. He was approaching the corner practising the technic he had successfully applied up to this point, when he suddenly realised that he was going at a far higher speed than he could manage. This created some panic, added with the sudden appearance of a car coming from the opposite direction, therefore eliminating a chance of widening his approach angle. So he was left with the choice of leaning the bike aggressively, which he did. However, there was little attempt at hanging off or shifting body position adequately to counterbalance the extreme leaning of the bike. Next, he scrapped the peg violently, lost traction of the rear tyre and the bike dropped to the ground, he swiftly ejected himself out a meter and a half away from the bike.

 

This was a bitter and costly experience, however I am so much thankful to God for keeping my son (and myself) safe. The fall had taught me (or both of us, me certainly) a lot of lessons, not only in cornering. But for me, it did enhance my belief and commitment to ‘slow down’ further, certainly at corners. Afterall that little excitement gained from passing the curve at a crazy speed, comes with an unacceptably high risk not worth taking.

Ride to Cameron Highlands…concurring the fear, building the confidence…

It was my son’s wish initially, and I thought it may not be a bad idea at all, furthermore the Mrs had also whispered to me the previous week, ‘feels like we could go for another ride…’. So I jokingly said we should go for Phuket (bike’s week, our good friend AH is going there), but that would be well beyond our own reach in view of time constraint and all that.

So I casually mentioned our intention in the whatsapp group, hoping that one of those adventerous riders like AKZ or NT will respond. On the day we set out for the RV at Karak BHP there were four of us, plus my Mrs as a pillion. So three Triumph riders and another KZ9 Kawa V600.

AKZ who led the convoy suggested we took the Karak-Sg Koyan route going and coming back via Simpang Pulai. We stopped at Bentong for a laidback breakfast at famous Toki Lemang. Toki is located just along our route to Cameron anyway.

As expected, the two young men sprinted away in no time charging along the twisty terrain of  Karak Highway with style, and subsequently a long series of bends along the inner road leading to Sg Koyan. I stayed behind a bit, and later decided to be the last, letting KZ9 who is a steady and experienced rider to be in front.

Recalling the near-fall experience from the Thailand ride I have since been a freak at corners. Added with the responsibility of keeping the pillion safe, I just employed a ‘safe mode’ whenever tackling corners, slow down as much, and merely do a ‘stage 1’ body positioning! which in a number of instances would not be sufficient without enough motorbike lean, but leaning had caused scare too, since I encountered a few peg-scrapping episodes.

Nonetheless, the Cameron ride turned out to be a thrilling ride experience that had rejuvenated my confidence in handling corners, thanks to the three guys (that, include my son then hehe)….due to the nature of a rather relaxing journey, no pressure to catch up with the big group, each one of us was able to enjoy at our own pace, and by that I meant it wasn’t slow of course, knowing those two enthusiastic young riders. There were ample time to ‘experiment’ with varying style of approaching or exiting corners and hence feel the bike’s reaction to it (I should rather be careful here coz road riding is in no way a time to experiment! what I mean was within the scope of applying a more or less ‘correct’ style, just the extent by which it was applied could differ a bit at different time point…).

The onward journey was a much more lively experience, since the road was clear most of the time and I admitted it was a well maintained road. This in contrast to return journey via Simpang Pulai, though the road was supposed to be better than that of Tapah’s, we were stuck in a long string of traffic congestion, ended up almost two and half hours of 100km ride out to Tapah R&R. That was a bit tiring, though once we were out of the congestion, we started to enjoy the twisty roads again, albeit it started raining a bit.

We had a short high tea session at Boh Tea outlet, and a late lunch/pre-dinner at Tapah R&R.

Once we exited the highway, I sprinted fast ahead of everyone and we arrived home just before 7pm. That’s a 11 hours of outing (we started 8am) thank God, everything went well and what a fabulous ride memory.

A gentle cornering lesson at Klawang and savoury brunch with satay tulang

It’s been a long time since I last joined this bunch of lovely people from the Triumph Ratpack group. Mostly due to time constraint and other issues. This morning I had a bit of free time and decided to be in their company to enjoy the twisty roads of Klawang.

I posted a late message to the group last night “I hope to join. But not sure if I will take the Bonnie or Street (Triple)…since two of the members joining are Street riders😊….hmmm but the Street could be met with higher expectation though…what a dilemma. Whatever it is see you guys in the morning”

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This is a dilemma I face whenever both bikes are available for the ride… Yeah usually the son follows me for the ride and he will take the Street and I am left with the Bonnie. Knowing most of the Ratpack who join the morning ride will be on their classic bikes, I should have taken my Bonnie. However it so happened the Street was just out of the garage after warded for three months….so its about time to give it a good test. Furthermore I found my skill of handling the naked bike has deteriorated these days since I have not been riding it much, it almost become the boy’s transport till the accident happened.

I fitted the tailbag (alas I still have my fron tank bag but could not use it as one of the locking harness was lost during the incident or repair). The tailbag is useful to keep some light stuff and if I decide to bring home goodies for the family. I do not need the rain jacket as I was wearing the full suit leather, which is waterproof.

During the night I was awake a few times and heard the sound of heavy rain….means there may be a possibility the ride may be cancelled. I had experience riding to Klawang with some other young guys before who were obsessed with weather, they will abort the Klawang mission when it start to drizzle or even when heavy cloud sighted on the horizon.

But Yus the leader of the gang this morning was very determined. He posted at 7am that he will keep his intention of meeting us at the rendezvous (RV) point despite the uncertain weather. As I got out of the house I could sense the road a bit wet and the weather did look a bit gloomy. Not deterred by the outlook I began the ride. It took me around 15minutes to arrive at the RV point, Hulu Langat Shell station. I was welcomed by Yus and the rest of the gang.

The list of riders were
1) Yusseri
2) Raja
3) Alvin
4) NormD
5) Ikwan
6) Alphy
7)Cheng
8. Hj Megat Street Triple R
9. Eddy
10. Mustafa
And myself of course

Yus confirmed that they were proceeding regardless of weather. So we began rubbing tyres on the rather wet road…at one point we ran over a puddle…yet no sign of giving up by these guys. I was a bit hesitated and tried to keep at low speed, keeping just within the group led by Raja on his Thruxton R. Raja stopped at the junction of Klawang road just to gather everyone again.

Short video link (use high quality view) here

I had done this Klawang ride 3 times before but usually I would not ride fast. The first and second time with the MyIkram Bikers, and on the first ride I had an overshoot, they guys were quick to notice and ensured that I was ok. Since then I knew what Klawang is made of, and despite the high enthusiasm, I usually choose to ride at a slower pace. On the second and third rides I took the Bonneville, it felt easier to handle and gave me more confidence, though I still did not go at high speed.

I noticed from the start the group tended to split to two…the faster riders 4-5 of them and the rest. After the short stop it took me a while before rolling the tyres then I noticed the faster group have disappeared from view. I kept my pace a bit faster but not too much on view of the not so crispy dry road. Then there were a large group of Ducati riders who went at speed, I was overtaken by them one after another…aah let them. At some point I tried to stay behind them, copying their moves and body lean but it proved too stressful. That’s it I have to admit I am not a sportsbike rider haha…so I should forgive myself for riding at a shameful pace…be it as long as I enjoy the ride and be safe.

Luckily somewhere halfway the faster riders had stopped on the roadside awaiting. So I stopped my bike awaiting the rest. Yus arrived and said we were about 30km to the destination, restoran Satay Tulang Durich Jelebu

We continued the journey again the same ride pattern with seemingly more of the riders in the faster group so I followed suit. Hmmm comparing to the Bonnie (I rode it last time on my Klawang ride) the Street Triple is fun with its smooth 3 inline though a bit stressful as I have to give it more bodily push at corners….unlike the Bonnie in which it felt more natural and less leaning, while its higher torque makes it quicker to.come out of corner…maybe I am too old to make full use of the Street features I supposed.

But the Street is great with its humming sound and strong pace on the straight, leaning and turning it feels like one so solid….unlike the Bonnie that occasionally stutter badly when pushed hard. So in short I enjoyed the ‘gentle’ cornering lesson on my Street what more in the company of these awesome crowd.

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We arrived at the Satay Tulang Durich Jelebu around 9.30am. The owner, Rizuan welcome us and said he was ready to serve the brunch. Yus ordered satay – tulang, kambing, ayam & daging. He also served us nasi lemak. Rizuan said he opened the restaurant specifically at Yus request…wow…and his own version of satay tulang has gained popularity that he regularly received many orders for delivery. He usually opens in the evening and serves nasi ayam and satay, though he can also prepare other variety of dishes including rendang, lemang, lontong etc. The satay was delicious and I ordered to take away.

I must admit that I do not know most of these guys yet they were easygoing. I knew Mustafa of course he came to my house 2 years ago, and Ikhwan whom I bought the Zard from. Yus shared his experience riding the Tiger Xc which I was interested in, and a brief discussion took place of the ‘low’ version Tiger XC which they think FB does stock them, while Eddy recalled his hiccup with the Ducati, now he has his passion on the Thruxton and he looked cool riding without wearing jacket, just like a real gentleman!…Cheng is a quiet yet capable guy who handled his Bonnie competently, at the end of the stint we were riding close to each other till exited the Lekas highway, and shortly after he disappeared in the thick of traffic – he said he was heading for KLCC. Raja I knew from a conversation at the FB showroom a while ago, a guy who owns five bikes if I could recall correctly, and has gathered the dust from many countries with his bikes. Haji Megat is an amazingly humble Street Triple R rider, perhaps the only rider who did not overtake me at any moment, hmm at least I learn that you do not have to be riding the naked machine very aggressively sometimes…Alphy is a humble and composed rider, he rides the Tiger XRX, knows the road well and seems to handle his machine very confidently, just by the look of him I guess he has ridden many long destinations. Norman is the rider who sat beside me at the restaurant, he was trying to persuade me to prescribe him a tranquilizer.

 

I learned that most of these guys do own more than one bike. What I really enjoy about the classic community, they are a mixed kind of riders, many are mature people with varying degrees of experience in riding, but they do have passions with their classic bikes – they are casual, fun seeking and sociable. Most of them take their classic bikes for short rides (some exception like Raja and Mustafa who do take their classics for long journey alternating with the adventure touring bikes that they also own) and not many that I know sue their classics for commuting to work (like what I do).

Thank God everyone made it home safely. During our brunch Yusseri informed us there was one of the bikers belonged to other group earlier on who overshot and ended up on the bushes. That sounded scary, so we were right to be more cautious.

What a lovely morning to spend in the company of these awesome Ratpack riders

A historic journey of a father and son on their Triumph bikes touring the Peninsular in 4 days

Not to forget their awesome company, a Golf GTI singly driven by the mother

It was a great delight and a sigh of relief as both of us arrived in front of the house gate on Thursday evening at 7.34pm on two Triumph bikes (a Street Triple and a Bonneville T214), shortly followed by the Golf GTI. A duo of father and son who have just completed 4-day tour of Peninsular Malaysia, accompanied by the rest of the family driven by their mother on a Golf GTI which acted as a backup vehicle as well.

Altogether we rode a total distance of 1668.5km, starting from Petronas Hulu Klang covering the following destinations:
Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat – mother’s house
Kampung Maju Jaya, Skudai Johor – Sekolah Islam HIdayah & nearby homestay
Mersing Jetty & town
Cherating Pahang
Dungun Trengganu
Sungai Tong, Trengganu
Jeli, Kelantan
East-West Highway stop at Royal Belum Resort
Gerik, Perak
Ipoh Perak
Yup, we missed Perlis, Kedah and Penang completely! though the initial intention was to stretch the route northworth covering the three states, however due to some circumstances, we changed plan in the last minute…nevertheless this was a fascinating experience and a real breakthrough in my relatively new riding history. Prior to this, I had never been out on a long ride longer than two days.

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The machines, that have made history…Triumph Bonneville T214 and Street Triple ABS. The car, as you know Golf GTI

The inception
No big activity could have taken place without proper planning. I have been dreaming of taking this Peninsular tour for quite a while, and waited for the best opportunity to invite the son, Harith to join. This was going to be our, two of us, ride. Well, other people might join or be invited, since I always wanted assurance and guidance in tackling such an arduous journey. Bearing in mind, we had never toured the Peninsular by any means, including cars, for the whole lenght of my life. This was a history.

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The Route, courtesy of Route4Me iPAD version, this apps greatly help to chart your journey, draw as many checkpoints or stops and you can edit or change the sequence as you like

The son was just finishing his works at the Espresso lab, so the timing was just right. This also coincided with the wife having a meeting among school principals in JB. Then I needed to visit the mother in Batu Pahat. I have always wanted to do this Peninsular tour on the bike, but time never permitted. With a little bit of adjustment here and there, I thought all can be accomplished this time at once. Knowing from friends who have done the road tour, three days is a good duration for quick, light tour – longer time needed depends on the particular purpose of the tour, say if for tasting local delicacies and enjoying scenic views on every town then you definitely will need a week or so.
I began by drawing the plan, starting from home, each of the major checkpoints drawn up. The route was constructed using an app called Route4Me, downloaded on the iPAD – it came on similar version on Android, though not as flexible. My aim was to follow as much of the trunk road that run along the coast – on the East especially, as I had never been through this route before (well technically, yes I did once or twice before, on a car, driving – between Johor and Trengganu).
The big issue is tackling the unknown. I have done several long trips alone before, therefore have a good confidence of my endurance and patience on the road. The machine – be it the Street or the Bonneville, both have been tested and I have good confidence in them for long distance ride, they are not dedicated touring bikes, but they are rather ideal day to day  bikes, and now I would like to take my day to day machine for a long distance tour, why not? In fact I had taken the son along once or twice, that’s apart from other group convoy with the MyIkram Bikers that he joined. Therefore, I have a good feel of how to deal with the different roads on a long journey. What I mean by the unknown, in such a long trip (exceeding 1000km), you have to be ready to face issues like correct timing, where to stop/overnight, what are the roads like, and more importantly potential technical problems with your bike.
There is nothing more convenient than consulting friends/groups in order to reassure yourself of the plan. Immediately after I have drawn the route, I posted the map on MIB facebook, asking the members for advice and feedback. Many were pleasantly surprised at my intention – they had always been teasing me as a frequent traveler on the two wheels despite my insistence that I mainly ride for work (!). They offered advice and helped to refine the plan. Some gave advice about preparation – emergency kits (basic tools including puncture repair kits – which would only work for the tubeless Street tyres), where best to stop or eat, which best route to take or even offering to meet up if I pass by their towns.

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Both riders and bikes were tested riding various terrains and weather over the 4 days period

Though I have driven on some of these roads before, riding is a totally different game. This is where experienced friends come in handy. They told me what the each of the routes are like and what special precautions need to be taken on each of the route, especially the coastal road between Johor Bahru-Mersing-Kuantan. Then the famous East-West highway linking Kelantan to Perak, which I had never traveled by in the past.
Two most important concerns were the timing and distance to be covered so that I could complete the journey within the intended time. In general my aim was to cover not more than 500km a day, may be slightly more or less. Technically 500km can be tackled within a full 5 hours riding, add in the stopping time for refuelling and rest, this would come to at least 7 hours total time, easy riding that is. Syed hinted that the optimum speed would be 130-140km/hr which was my target too, though I aimed slightly less when riding at night time, or through the more challenging route, it would be safer to ride at your own comfortable pace. On a long journey like this, high speed would only make you tired faster especially with strong wind gust, furthermore most of the journey was going to be on trunk road, giving less chance for speeding anyway.
In the beginning we left the checkpoints very flexible – having fixed the first two which was Batu Pahat and Johor Bahru, the subsequent one could be anywhere as near as Mersing or as far as Kuala Trengganu! I had a little concern though about the East-West highway, and because the Golf is part of the team, we have to consider the traffic condition to suit our plan. I asked the friends what would be the best time to start the journey from the East so we could reach Grik before night time. At this moment there was some anxiety and uncertainty, from hearing the story of other people who have traveled the road during night time. The particular hazard or fear was with wondering elephants! And now one friend said we may encounter the beast even during the daytime. That prospect worried us a bit, so I sought a workable solution by asking if Su Yan (Wan Sufian, my wife’s uncle) who is a biker, to accompany us. We could not confirm this until we met him during our night stay at his house. As a precaution we changed plan a bit so that we shall start crossing the highway by 3pm – giving plenty of time for the Golf in case there would be long traffic ques along the way.
The two machines – Street and Bonneville have been known to be reliable, no major mechanical problems thus far. The only thing that ever immobilised the vehicle – the Street Triple in this case, were tyre punctures and flat battery. With over 20,000 km clocked on both, I had full confidence that both bikes should be able to tackle the entire journey with a breeze. I brought the Street for a quick check at Fastbike PJ, in case of any anticipated issues. Everything seemed fine, I was told, nevertheless the brake pads were a bit more than halfway worn (40%), which should be safe enough to proceed the journey without replacing. I brought the emergency puncture repair kits (plugs) and a home manual bike pump which we loaded into the car due to its large size. I also took a set of electronic jump starter (worked with a power bank). We have contacts in case the vehicles encountered serious problems that required towing.

The Round Tour began
Night riders…Ampang-Batu Pahat
Distance 225km. Travel time: 3 hours 10 minutes (25 minutes break)
It was not the intention at all, but partly may have been due to poor planning plus fatigue. I had planned to begin the journey on Sunday evening, immediately after the meeting that took place at the Space Bukit Jelutong, aiming to complete the ride before dark, mostly. This proved impossible, as the meeting ended past 5pm, we have to ride back home, get the kids ready and only then start the trip. Then I was feeling drowsy due to lack of sleep the previous night, so on reaching home I took a quick nap, woke up at maghrib time. In the end we did not start moving until 9pm. Yes despite my earlier worries and trying to avoid riding at night, here we were pressed by circumstances, so around 9pm we started the ride from Petronas Hulu Klang. The Golf had started slightly earlier, we caught up with them somewhere past Cheras, both bikes cruised handily amid the traffic congestion.
Leaving at this hour, with much to catch up, I tried to keep everything calm and told Harith to take his time. We got all the gears ready, refueled and quietly began the ride. Traffic was heavy but both riders were used to this kind of situation, we moved smoothly, applying the skill of lane splitting. Occasionally we had to slow down manouvering along tight vehicle gaps. Once passed the Sungai Besi Tol things were fine. Weather was good and the cool night time temperature allowed us to enjoy the ride better, though I kept the speed down, increasing it gradually as the traffic eased off. Riding on the PLUS highway down South has been a fairly regular affairs for me, not less than 4-5 times before, and perhaps a hundred times driving, therefore this section of the road was among the most familiar to me, including the B road from the Pagoh exit to Parit Sulong. This probably was the main reason for having confidence to begin the journey at night, besides the time factor.

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As it goes, the only obstacle to smooth and straight riding on the highways is the volume of traffic, plus those fast lane parkers nuisances – even at the four lane highway between Seremban-Melaka, we still have to ride between cars on fastlane, which did affect the speed somehow. We took a stop at Ayer Keroh for refuelling and quick bite. The wife decided to continue with the journey hence we were left for a good distance behind.
The most tricky part of the ride at this hour was the B road on exit at Pagoh. Most part of the journey was unlit, with not so much of sharp corners, and few slopes. We took it easy, maintaining speed between 100-120km/h (at corners the speed might drop considerably due to poor vision!). For Harith this would be considered his first experience of long ride at night, he seemed to be doing fine, closely following behind. I kept track of his movement every few minutes by glancing at the side mirrors, when I spotted the double spotlights (or ‘bug-eyes’ trademark of the Street Triple) that meant he was there following close behind.
We arrived at Parit Sulong and rode further, climbing the famous tall bridge crossing the river and took the right turn at Parit Jalil. Kampung Parit Abdul Hadi is located somewhat in the middle between Parit Sulong and Tongkang Pechah. The turn to the village was a narrow tarmac runs along a canal, but there was no highly visible signboard to the village, and shamingly even after having passed by this route for hundreds of times I could stll miss the turn to my own village! It was not difficult for me to realise I have gone too far from my mother’s kampung turn, as the road (Jalan Parit Jalil) leading to the village is all a straight one, once the road started turning I instantly knew I have well passed it! So off we went, made a U-turn and slowly rode back up toward the village, keeping close eyes on the barely visible signboard and hut facing the village.
Riding on the small tarmac road along the canal, only a few seconds before turning right to ride on gravel towards my mother’s house. Earlier my sister in law warned us of a fallen log (from the dead palmtree) blocking most of the road. Indeed there was just a narrow passage around it, it did allow a car to pass with most of the body has to roll over the grass. This should be a job for me in the morning, I reminded myself.

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At mother’s house we rode both bikes under the shelter for the overnight parking. This was not the first time father and son arrived here on the bikes, yet my mother was still baffled as usual, she must be impressed how the little boy had grown up fast and now able to bring himself to travel the distance to visit the grandmother. This was the first mission – visit the mother, pass her some medicine for my brother, met by younger brother, and the next morning used my bare hands to lift that big log that was blocking the road. My younger brother left for work early in the morning, so I did the job removing the log mysef and all the women were pleased now the passage is clear.

Ride 2 – Batu Pahat – Johor Bahru
Distance 123km. Time: 2 hours (10 mins break)
Since we did not have to be in Johor Bahru so early I took the morning time to rest, had a nap and only started the journey at 1pm.
We followed the Jalan Parit Jalil-Tongkang Pechah heading to Yong Peng towards the Yong Peng Tol Plaza to join the PLUS highway JB direction. We stopped at Machap for refuel, again the Golf left us. We followed the highway passed Skudai exit, towards Kempas tol plaza then followed the B road heading to Sekolah Islam Hidayah. This time we arrived slightly ahead of the Golf, as we parked the bikes across the road we spotted the Golf coming from the opposite direction driven straight to the school ground.
This was mission 2: accompany the wife attending school Principal’s meeting, and the daughter Nawal attending the Musleh school competition. We stayed at a homestay nearby, this was a village slightly bigger and developed than my kampung. In the evening we rode around the village to the nearby warong. There was a nearby Surau which I went for the maghrib prayer, and at Subuh I joined the congregation at the mosque nearby the Hidayah.
There was nothing peculiar about the ride, highway was straight road with modest traffic. We did not have to pass by the very dense and crazy traffic of Johor Bahru since we zoomed straight after the Kempas exit to the Hidayah school, the road were small and fairly busy with many potholes here and there. Going the homestay direction was even smaller tarmac road, and turning in toward the homestay we rode over rough gravel gently manouvering the healy and uneven surfaces with rocks splattered everywhere, this could be some hazard to the tyres if we were to press hard. Fortunately the passage was fairly short and we mostly used the car to go in and out of the house. Yes, I admit, this is an advantage of having a car in the convoy without which your movement would be much different perhaps.

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Ride 3: Johor Bahru – Mersing- Pekan – Cherating – Dungun
Goal 3: Visiting Wan’s uncle. Goal 4: Coastal ride Mersing-Dungun Goal 5: Meet up Ahmed (not done)
Distance 493km. Travel time (minus break): 7 hours 40min
This was the longest ride covering three states of Johor, Pahang and Trengganu all in one day. First of all I was a bit exhausted from lack of sleep the night before. We stopped for two and a half hours at Pekan Pahang, for prayers, quick bite and long nap. With the exception of short stint at Kuantan-Cherating bypass, all the other rides were not highways, this has given us a unique experience on the bikes, the car had to cope much with traffic and narrow road forcing Wan to go at slower speed I believe. Throughout the journey the rides have given advantage over the car I supposed, when we consistently arrived earlier than the car, if not much earlier. Hilly roads, bends and rough surfaces at many points especially JB-Mersing route, we kept speed below 130km/hr mostly, traffic was quite busy, at times we were forced to sneak through the narrow ‘motor’ lane (technically hard shoulder!), which was the only option for overtaking. When doing this I ensure the boy can see enough (me) in front of him, speed is kept low, and I tried to spend as little time on this hard shoulder. On small road like this there was always the possibility of encountering vehicles including motorbikes parked over the hard shoulder therefore blocking smooth access, or even caught us by surprise – in order to avoid this hazardous situation, I always try to stay on the hard shoulder (when necessary) on the straight part only, whenever there is a bend, I quickly moved in. One more, all these hard shoulders tend to disappear or get extremely narrow when it comes to a bridge, so you are well advised to move in on sighting a bridge ahead. Here I start to sense the boy has developed his own instinct, which he sometimes did not follow my tempo completely, like going over the hard shoulder, though I noticed he would not go over the hard shoulder by himself, means he has made sense of the potential danger.

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We left around 8am heading towards Mersing. I made one stop for refuel. We headed towards the Mersing Jetty then made a round and stopped by at Chamek cafe for breakfast. Wan who arrived a bit later parked the car in front of Chamek to join us. The cafe is facing the Mersing river. We had nasi lemak for breakfast which lasted almost an hour. I intentionally gave a longer break, anticipating a long and undulating journey ahead. Then we realised the car was parked at the town council spots and before we managed to do anything the uniformed staff had issued a summonse ticket! I later rode to their office and paid the summonse of RM10 (discounted), there you go, RM10 for an hour parking in Mersing was a bit much you guessed! Wan left earlier, so we took a round towards the beach, took a photo snaps, then hit the road towards Cherating.

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The Mersing-Pekan route was a fascinating coastal ride, the roads were much wider and smoother, with quite a few bends in between. Here we enjoyed empty roads at several parts, lovely views and at certain points we could clearly see the blue sea on the right. We arrived in Pekan town, rode slowly passing the modest traffic and stopped at Masjid Sultan Ahmad Shah. Here we had a long break, allowing the afternoon hot weather to subside. It was adjacent to the royal cemetery and the historic muzeum. Then we crossed the Sungai Pahang and rode the remaining of the coastal road heading to Cherating.
Though the initial plan was to follow the coastal road all the way, the Gmaps had somewhat mislead me to follow the Kuantan bypass instead. Here we rode past the reminiscent of red bauxite mining site, the pollutants can still along the highway. Pekan-Cherating was a good 2 hour ride, almost.
We stopped at Petronas Cherating for refuel and evening tea. At 6pm we hit the road heading the destination for the day in Dungun. This was slightly less than 90 minutes ride along the scenic route of Jalan Kemaman-Dungun. We stopped at the oil depot to capture the evening sunset view of the area. It was near sunset, we continued riding and arrived at the mosque nearby Su Yan’s house just when the Azan was called. Here we stopped for maghrib and isya prayer combined, after which we rode the bike to Su Yan’s house. Now everyone was almost flat after enduring such a long ride or drive. We chatted for a while, mostly about bikes and rides. Su Yan is a season rider, he currently owns a BMW GS1200 (latest version with low seat). Prior to this he started with an ER6, then a Yamaha FJR, then Honda VFR before changing to the GS. After much persuasion he agreed to accompany us for part of the journey heading to Gerik. We agreed now to skip Kota Bahru (therefore dropping Goal 6: visiting Wan’s grandmother).

Miracle of a sick child
The day did not just end there. In fact the day did not end, it was another sleepless night when our daughter Nawal complained of severe stomach ache. She had it for two days, I have tried some medicine and today we bought some other medicine for antispasm and sickness. She did not settle completely but I saw her falling asleep so we left her in the other room. Suddenly just past midnight she came awaking us crying, seemed to be the worst one. All the medicines were given. Hmmm a bit more paracetamol, I groaned. She never stopped sobbing. I woke up and sat beside her, told her to drink water. But she refused saying that the pain got worse when she drank water. I immediately summoned the wife to look for milk, there was no fresh milk in the house, so we went out to the nearby 7-eleven, get some milk and bread, noting that Nawal had not eaten much during the day. We gave her the milk and prayed she will get better. She slept for a wink then awoke and complained again. Now its a failure of a home doctor, and time to move on to next step. We take her to the hospital then, I said to the wife. It could be appendix, I murmured (recalling the past experience how I diagnosed my wife of having appendicitis, she successfully underwent the operation).
Many things came in mind then, maybe, I thought, this is the end of the tour then. We have to scap everything and focus on getting our daughter treated. The wife even suggested she drove home straight away, bring poor Nawal to a local hospital in KL where it will be near our home, and furthermore better facilities and experties. I on the other hand, as a doctor, thought we should get her diagnosed then make plan after discussing with the doctors.
We asked the young girl to put on her dress and tudung, meanwhile I asked my wife if we have her birth certficate or Mykid for identification when registering. Both negative. So, I sat down while browsing my old emails and folders contained in Gdrive, after a little while found her birth cert and passport scanned. Hmm that will do I thought. As we were doing all that I asked Nawal about ther pain. Kind of sharp and in the middle of her stomach, earlier on I felt no tenderness, now there was some tenderness. I pressed a bit to elicit rebound but negative. Then pressed again…and read Al Fatihah and prayers. Then not long after she felt asleep. Just as we got up and ready to move, she was lying in bed, deep asleep. So I thought, maybe we can wait, if she did not complain anymore we can take her in the morning. I woke up just at Subuh, and Nawal was not there, apparently she went back to her room. Later when I asked how she was, she said fine, and asked me a strange question: Ayah, what did the doctor do last night? Taken by surprise, I paused a while, and quizzed her: Did you remember going to the doctor? ‘Yes, his name so and so….and he said I did something wrong and has to pay a fine or something…’ that was a bit baffling. We kept asking her later and she told us of having a dream and met this nice doctor who had done something that cured her.
I kept close eye on her daily, and she never complained of the pain anymore, the severe stomach ache had completely gone! Praise be to God.

Ride 4: Dungun – Sg. Tong – Gerik (Royal Belum)
Distance: 362 km Ride time: 4.5 hours (Dungun-Sg. Tong 3 bikes including GS)
We started a bit later than planned, at 0730 we were ready on the bike and the Golf left after a brief photo session. Su Yan asked me if I wanted to ride the GS and he will ride my Bonneville. That will be great I thought. This is a low version GS and I could comfortably reach both feet on the ground, tip toeing that is. Otherwise I was quite familiar with the bike, in term of handling at least, as I had already done a test ride previously at Motorrad. We first rode to nearby petrol station for refuel of the two Triumph. The GS has got a near full tank when I started it, with one bar less on the fuel indicator. Su Yan lead the journey heading towards Kuala Trengganu/LPT.

I stayed in the middle, and soon could not cope with the temptation, so once we hit the highway I cruised passed Su Yan revving the throttle hard, and soon the speedo topped past 180km/hr. But I could not last long, as I have to wait fot the two bikers anyway. Harith attempted to follow suit whenever I sprinted at speed. The GS is a wonderful machine, it is light, powerful and quick. I have to be careful with the throttle, in fact there was less of a feel as to what speed you are, that happened when I hit past 200 mark and the bike did not show any sign of fatigue. It was a real breeze, putting the Bonnie in shame I supposed. By now, I guessed Su Yan may be wondering why he bothered switching bike! I tried to tempt him by riding close, and he did reach close to 160km/hr, thats it, no sign he is going faster, indeed he kept his speed around 150km/hr, so I had to follow his pace, and sprint ahead once in a while, then slowed down to wait for them again.

As I experienced before, standing still you could feel the vibration from the twin cylinder engine, it has got short gearing for first to third, a third one could take you to 100plus and good for rolling slowly, feels steady and fourth can take you all the way beyond 160 though screaming exhaust notes will come fast, so you better take from the 5th gear onward. Sure its a speed demon, with an average of 180km/hr is reportedly the ‘normal’ speed for all those GS users. What more, the new bike has a sleek design, the pannier bracket is hardly visible if you take out the pannier boxes. And it is designed to take loads, plus passengers, and can cope well with various terrains! Other less able competitor, from Triumph like the Tiger XC or XR, of a smaller capacity of course, and does not have that high sprinting ability (as far as I have tested the Tiger which was great for ‘lower speed’ travel per se, understandably with lower cc). The Triumph Explorer would be the matching competitor, though not available yet, and no guarantee it can fit my height. Or Sports touring, which again I will be faced with height contraint… The only lacking in GS, its not a sportsbike, a little lack of characters, thats it. So for now, I can only dream….yup, I have got two wonderful Triumph bikes now about proving their worth by completing this tour.
We had tasty local breakfast Trengganu style (nasi berlauk – rice with fish) at Sungai Tong. Here I took the wife for a quick spin on the GS, she seemed a bit scared with the high sitting position and could not adjust herself comfortably, well maybe I went a bit rough on the ride, trying to push hard to a high speed too fast on that small and bendy road!
Now we parted with Su Yan and continued our journey heading to Gerik, via the LPT. We stopped at Jeli for refuel – this is a must since there will be no refuel station between Jeli and Gerik (about 124km). The ride was kept at much lower speed due to high traffic volume and small road, hardly any hard shoulders. We were stopped twice at the Police roadblocks – cleared on both occassions and I had to apologise to the cops for not having P plate on Harith’s bike, they seemed not bothered by that…so when we stopped at Petronas Jeli, I bought two pairs of P plates and put them on both bikes front and rear.

From Jeli, we exchanged bikes – I rode the Street Triple and Harith the Bonnie. That was a world difference riding a sportsbike going around corners, well, the Street is the perfect answer for those brave enough, I was only half brave, yet it was definitely more enjoyable, keep at low gears and the bike roared loudly snapping corners one after another. I noticed Harith was left far behind, and on a few occassions I had to stop on the roadside and wait. This did not happen when he was riding the Street, well, maybe familiarity, that also proved the boy is a careful rider, he knows how to suit the ride according to the bike.
The fantasy ended as we reached the R&R (banjaran Titiwangsa), we changed back to our own bikes. I was still able to manouver the corners nicely with the Bonnie of course, in a slightly different style. Riding this highway is fun, and perhaps the only way you can pass by the congested road caused by many heavy vehicles like the military trucks. We started at the same time with the Golf as we left the R & R, soon the Golf was left behind along with the strings of vehicles. There were quite a few overtaking lanes along the way thankfully, but the big difference for the bikes, we did not have to wait for those lanes! Whenever there was little ‘clearance’ we could march forward for quick overtaking, especially most of the vehicles were going at fairly slow pace around the corners.

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The two beasts standing proudly ever willing to take the owners anywhere they wish…

Overtaking at corners can be a bit tricky though, one has to aim for the correct timing and good throttle control otherwise you are looking for for an overshoot soon. I did have that once (almost) when, without realising, after passing a corner the road surface suddenly changed to a much irregular one with some gravel here and there….the bike kind of veered straight heading to the ditch, I quickly countersteered to lean on the opposite site. That remedied the situation but with one other problem. The boy who followed too close behind was caught by surprise and had to swerve rightward to the opposite lane (by inches), lucky the road was clear or no speeding junkies coming from the opposite! Since my policy was to give ‘room’ for escape everytime I passed other vehicles, that did help to keep us clear of the potential hazards.
Perhaps due to the preoccupation with tackling the bends, we missed the next checkpoint at Royal Belum resort! and when I realised, we were already 30km away…you are just 15mins to Gerik town, sir, the girl at the BHP station told me. They have however run out of petrol so we could not refuel. But no urgency as yet, we still have over 100km to cover with the tank half full, so we made a U turn heading back to the Belum. This time I put on the GPS, which was not used earlier, due to poor network signal.

At the Belum Resort, night with elephants and all that…
The most important reason to stay in Belum, is its scenic view which only from the resort viewing plane you can enjoy the beautiful landscape of the forest, mountain and the lake (Tasik Temenggor). Besides, you can stay till midnight when it is time for elephant watching, if you wish. We did that, drove out around the midnight heading towards the R & R, and spotted the elephants on the way going and coming back.

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Apart from this, the resort is quite decent, perhaps a 3-4 star quality, food so-so, its got a lovely yet shallow pool, and quite ‘isolated’ from all amenities, which is not less than half an hour away if you are talking about Gerik. The cost? very dear at close to RM400 per night. For us as a family, and first time experience traveling via this highway, it was just the perfect solution for an overnight stay, for the above purposes.

Ride 5: The journey home
Due to the elephant watching, we had so little sleep at night, therefore we started the next day a little late. Starting at 10.30am, we had another stint of cornering lesson, and stopped at Rahim Mydin restaurant for breakast.
Our next destination was Ipoh, with a brief stop somewhere past Gerik town for refuel. In Ipoh we visited Wan’s friend who just lost her 19 year old son out of a sudden (sudden death). There were discussion with the family who were still grieving the loss, and a bit of medical consultation about screening the family members took place.
From the house we visited, we headed towards the highway (PLUS) and rode till Ulu Bernam for prayers, late lunch and refuel.
It was not till we passed Tapah (the refuel was in Tapah R & R) when heavy rain started, both of us were drenched! This was the only rain experience throughout the ride. I was quite used with dealing with rain, wore a rainproof gears (leather jacket/trousers) though this time was a real heavy, forcing many vehicles to move slowly (below 80km/hr! though some remain in fastlane which was a big nuisance), we still have to observe every caution when the rain became too heavy somewhat impairing good visibility. Though I managed to keep dry my socks were half wet, that needed change at the stop.
We only managed to leave Ulu Bernam R & R around 6.30pm, and reached home at 7.34pm (the Golf followed suit a little later).

Successful tour, 3 awesome machines accomplished the mission!
We spent in total just over 24 hours on the bike from the start to the end.
Both bikes, the Triumph Bonneville T214 and Triumph Street Triple have proven their worth and reliability for completing the tour without any problem at all. They have afforded the riders so much thrill and adventure.
Not to forget of course, similarly the Golf GTI driven by an unbeatable woman, a strong performance car giving endless joy and comfort
Thanks God, everyone was safe and sound and back as welcome heroes after completing the challenging journey.

(For short video depicting our experience click here)

A TRIUMPH-fan life….from naked Street to a classic rider…

A not so fast review of Triumph Bonneville T214
A bike too many? Here comes a Triumph fan who bought two Triumph machines within a year.
Almost. Exactly 14 months since I owned the first Triumph which is the Street Triple, a radical decision to purchase another of Triumph product, this time classic Bonneville special edition T214 Blue-white.
As it normally goes, a big bike owner usually will upgrade to a bigger bike, or bigger cc bike. In my case it is true by the displacement figure, though power wise, it can be considered a downgrade (from a 105bhp Street Triple to a mere 68bhp Bonneville).
The Bonneville T214 is in principle the same as Bonneville T100 with some make-over to commemorate the historical achievement made by Johnny Allen when he set world record as the fastest motorcycle with his Triumph-powered Texas Ceegar Streamliner, clocking 214.4mph (read it correct, yes 214.4 miles per hour or 343km/hr!). The occassion took place at Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats back in 1956 (I suppose where they got the name of the bike then). Of course the special edition Bonneville T214 does not have the same performance as the Ceegar, and it is now equipped with modern fuel injected engine (parallel twin).

Why a classic?
It is a magnificent classic bike. It brings along with it the history, the build, the retro look, and yet its a modern bike disguised in a ‘old’ looking machine.
There is no denying that the greatest reason of buying the classic bike is its look. Yup, I like the retro bike from first sight, but decided against it the first time, for some practical reason. Then I made attempt to come close again, just 9 months after acquiring the STreet, I hired the Bonneville for a trip to Tanjung Piai Johor to ‘test’ the machine, and were impressed by its rideability and easy handling. What more, the special edition comes with a beautifully crafted, hand painted white and caspian blue colour scheme, with predominantly black painted metal instead of pure chrome colour. No doubt it’s an eye catcher anywhere I go there would be people who stopped me and started asking about the bike. Mostly the middle age or older who have experience the nostalgia of the 60’s.
The second reason, which is the most important driving factor, is the desire to ‘slow down’. Ever since I had the ‘accident’ with the Duke, many thought have come to my mind as how I can improve safety further. While speed is not everything, one thing I realised with riding a naked sportsbike is the temptation to sprint fast, indeed it’s a kind of people’s expectation to a naked bike rider, hence the term ‘ride the bike as if you stole it’…With the Bonnie, I would be under no pressure to speed up, if I ride ‘santai’ (Malay word for easy riding), I will not feel ‘guilty’ as the bike is not made for performance anyway. Having said that, the bike is capable enough of sprinting to some extent, enough to keep up with most machines on the road, or during convoys (I had tested the bike performace wise, you see, during the above trip to Tanjung Piai, indeed a few friends were pleasently surprised at its steady performance).

first bonnie
Practicality and ease of riding and handling has to be a big factor too, and this I have testified from the long distance test ride. Since I began serious riding (as you know by now, my main ride interest is commuting to work and short rides), I always yearn for a practical, easy to handle bike that more or less behave like a motorcup (‘kapchai’), however has a big personality. Suitable for public appearance like visiting relatives, frequenting the mosque or other public places and meetings. It has to be highly capable of manouvering daily traffic jam. The bike comes with short rack and trail making it easy to manouver in corners, in fact I had more confident with cornering since riding this bike.

My personal perspective
Aesthetic & build
It is a beautiful bike, if you have a classic mindset, ie for someone who appreciate the build, will be an instant attraction. On the road, it easily turned many heads. Indeed when I first visited the Fastbike hunting for the STreet Triple, my eyes immediately fell on one of the Bonneville. But not everyone likes it, particularly young people. There were a few young lads who really were impressed, but majority of them, given a preference, would rather adore the sportsbike, in this case they would go for the Street.

It is not a superbike
Yeah, it can be considered a big bike, but no way a superbike, in look, handling, performance or any part of it. Though, on the road it could easily catch up with the big bikes, it does not handle like one. If you ride it to a bike festival, the parking staff will instruct you to park along ‘others’ apart from the Superbike. They would lump it along with the Harleys and other easyriders.
So, if you are out looking for a superbike, you will be disappointed.

Performance
It certainly is not a sprinter. Though on the road, it would outdo a 250cc Sportsbike, or those low-medium powered 4cylinders 600cc bikes, but it doesn’t feel anyway near a sportsbike. No loud engine hum, it’s not as agile, and it has no ABS – though the brakes are very reasonable and satsfying. On a highway, it would happily cruise to 140-150km/hr anytime. 160km/hr is possible to do in a comfort style once I have fitted the windshield. Beyond that you are asking for too much. I had continuously ridden it at 170km/hr plus, even with two passengers (felt better in fact!), and occasionally could reach 180km/hr or beyond if you are lucky. That will require full throttle shift. What separates it from a sportsbike, is the sprint capability, it could go fast, but wont be as fun as a sports bike. As such, reaching a 180km/hr spee would have made a headline, whereas on a sportsbike, it considered a routine stuff.
Cruising at modest speed of 110-130km/hr is where it is best, you feel comfortable at its upright sitting position, keeping between 4th. to 5th. gear. Settled at 5 between low speed of 50-60km/hr it could sprint all the way beyond 140 without needing any downshift, however if quicker pace is needed, starting at 3rd to 4th. would give better pick up.
What it is good at?
If all you want to do is get from point A to B in good style, smoothly filter the traffic, on a machine that does not look overly agressive (like many of the superbikes), a go-anywhere bike that can blend in a variety of crowd or events, for a short to medium distance convoy ride in a relaxed manner, it offers you the perfect solution. Or having a pillion passenger that can sit truly upright at same level with the rider, then this is the bike. What more it handles easily, good at cornering and capable to keep up with modestly high speed traffic. If sports performance and speed is not your concern, this bike suits you well.

Over 12,000 km fantastic journeys
Within 8 months I have clocked over 12,000km.
Most routine use of the bike – commuting to work. Its just a perfect bike, it does not tire you, due to an upright and low sitting position. This particularly helpful during heavy congestion, maneuvering lane splitting is a doddle, and with its lowish seat height, it gave me more confidence to ride at crawling speed. I would have to play with the clutch more at low gears (comparing to the Street), and the ‘jerk’ that came occasionally would be controllable once you are used to it.
Next is doing a bit further like attending functions, events, lectures and conferences etc which involves riding into the city or a medium distance ride. With its generous luggage capacity I could conveniently carry most of my need. It certainly is less cumbersome to ride into the parking with this bike comparing to a more intrusive sportsbike with loud pipes and agressive look. Occasionally, for very short distance and ‘easy’ riding, I could do without any accessories leaving my gloves, heavy jackets all in the saddle bags, just the helmet and riding boots, making for an open air ride, cool – this is not to be done seriously or at high speed obviously. This kind of ride is often done within the confine of the ‘village’ such as going to the mosque, neighbours or nearby shops.
I had done a number of long rides – Sg. Petani, Alor Star, Kuala Kangsar, Kuantan, Batu Pahat, Malacca. On state (sub-urban) road it performed as a capable and smoooth cruiser, would happily keep up with other riders or drivers, and I had no problem to sprint ahead of the ‘competition’ to keep myself clear of the crowd of vehicles. Negotiating turns and corners is a pleasure which can be accomplished often with much less efforts.
At highways, it is equally capable at moderate speed up to 140-150km/hr. Going beyond this, the windblast is too strong, and sometimes feel impossible. Since I fitted the windshield it felt much more stable, and I was ablet to push my luck beyond the 160km/hr, though a lower speed keeping it below 150km/hr is best for smooth and relaxing ride. At this steady speed I could go on for up to 200km stretch which is just enough distance to be covered before the next refuel.

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The dark side?
Am I missing something? Yeah, the fun of a sports or big bike. It doesn’t feel at all like it. Not in performance, appearance or feel. That’s it, it gives you fun in a different manner.
It also gets hot quickly. Since there are many exposed metals especially the long exhaust pipes, I had suffered various kind of burns to my skin, clothes, shoes etc. I like to hang shopping bags on the handles when riding to the neighbouring groceries. Once I hanged a loaf of bread on the handle, without realising, as result of it dangling over the top metal pipe, I reached home to find a perfect roasted slices of bread!
It felt like ‘old’ bike sometimes. The gearshift, the choke, fake carburators, of course the classic looking lights and indicators. On a bad day, you could feel like coming from the 60’s getting lost in the middle of civilisation…surely many of those onlookers who were amazed with the bike retro look could equally be puzzled with the aging bit.
Though I mentioned the bike was easy to handle and ride, it is not so at stationary. It took some effort to move the bike (awefully heavy at 220kg), and trying to manouver it can be very tiring. The stand, which is too much leaning to the left, may be a bit tricky to straighten up the bike at rest, once, I nearly lost control and drop the machine, saved only by the left leg, which felt horribly sore after that!
If I were given a choice to redesign the bike? Well, I keep the classic look, its good enough. All I like to see is a Bonneville fitted with a Street engine perhaps, wow that would amplify the fun in riding this classic machine, though I bet it would make the retro machine rather awkward and kind of out of place. (I am aware of the new Vulcan S easyrider bike from Kawasaki, which is fitted with a sporty engine of ER6). A classic is meant to be ridden like one, or else you might as well ride a different class of bike!

at smds

Whether a short relaxing ride or a medium long ride, you will enjoy a great company with this Bonnie…so long you do not expect too much out of it…

Verdict *****
Great bike once you are prepared to accept it as it is. Then you get endless joy, magnificent looking machine which is so easy to ride and control. Will I keep it – yes, for now, and for a fairly distant future I say. Would I buy another classic bike, hmmm that would give the answer in negative. Yes there are now the more powerful engines and more radical look, and performance from the same line (newer series of classic bikes from Triumph) – but I have to excuse myself as I think owning one is more than enough for now, either I will keep it forever, or trade it in for another class of bike (unlikely), but not for the newer version.

Specs: (adapted from Topspeed.com)

year: 2015
make:Triumph
price: RM69k (got special discounted price)
Engine: Air-cooled, DOHC, parallel-twin, 360º firing interval
Transmission: 5-speed
Horsepower @ RPM: 68
Torque @ RPM: 50
Energy: Multipoint sequential electronic fuel injection
Displacement: 865 cc

Weight: 220kg