I had said it many times how good the Street is, however, I must admit that it takes the arrival of another bike in order to fully appreciate the value of one you already have! As mentioned above there was this reluctance to take the Street for a long ride, for the fear of excessive back pain as result of forward leaning position.
Since having the Bonnie, I had already undertaken a two series of long ride to the North on it(read the review here). It was fine with the exception that the Bonnie is ‘happier’ to be ridden rather gently, and best to stay at or below 160km/hr. You can push it to 170/180 (its not that I do it regularly you know…) but it would be a hard struggle and impossible to keep even at 160km/hr for too long. Another is it’s slightly less agile due to the rigid suspension, sometimes you loose that feeling of harmony with the bike, when the rear tire feels sort of waning a bit once you do an extreme manouver like switching lane aggressively. When you need that performance ride and the extra umphh then the Street is the definite choice.
I was right, and once I made up my mind to take it for a long ride to Trengganu – I was fully satisfied, indeed the STreet gave more than I expected.
Taking the Challenge
I was set to accompany two friends to Kota Bharu, as part of their journey across the border with the rest of MIB team. I did not join the trip due to local commitment. They were the two riders who could not join the team who have left earlier in the morning. Then, as we met at the RV point at BHP Gombak, we found out that the other guy, KZ had to cancel due to pouring rain in his area at Shah Alam. Initially we were quite taken aback, but thinking about it, then I thought there is no way we can force people to ride (despite the weather), we can force someone NOT to ride, and not the other way. So, I was left with no choice, have I not gone ahead to accompany R, there would be a strong possiblity he will back off, and I could be the guilty party then.
I had a meeting early morning the following day. The wife just left with two kids to the camp, means, my other two kids are left at home overnight without big adult…means, I have to come back home by hook or by crook. Thinking about the prospect of riding over 400km and then turn back home, alone, made me almost sweat…knowing the brothers in MIB, they will most likely advise against doing it for safety. So I was torn in between.
So I made a deal with R, I will not be able to ride all the way to KB, but I shall accompany him to a point he feels comfortable to proceed. And to him, its Kuala Berang, near his home town, where he will have the opportunity to rest there, or proceed to KB if we arrive early enough. And Kuala Berang is just over 400km away!
We began the journey around 3.30pm after a cool lunch and refuelling. I was riding the Street and R his Sym Evo 250i, what a missmatch you may think. Knowing R, he is such an efficient rider, at open highway he will ride at constant speed of 130km/h plus, but thrown into a traffic congestion he is the king, and will not waste a second to project himself ahead of others. However today, for some reason I initially did not know, he decided to keep himself at a lower speed below 130. That was pain (oops).
Huh….as the Street began its cruise along the Karak highway, I kept at 4th gear, anticipating series of corners ahead, I started to feel restless. Not a few seconds pass and R was nowhere can be seen behind. Never mind I thought, he will catch up when I got to those tight bends – since I am quite hopeless with them. Suddenly just as we approached Genting Sempah, I saw vehicles slowing down as a long que started to build up. I had just begun enjoying the corners with this ‘new’ approach when the traffic came to a halt. I was caught once when I tried follow the emergency lane (gravels and soils on the road, waited clearance to join the first lane gap, and R quickly launched ahead leaving me struggling with lane splitting behind.
Not long after the congestion started to ease off. I must say the STreet is well capable of tackling those tight gaps, but I am talking about tackling it at high speed, of course a no no when met with mixtures of tailgating plus tight corners, no choice but I had to take it easy. Once I was clear, I began squeezing the throttle fast, the machine just complied with no sign of stress at all. Now comparing with the Bonnie, it was a breeze to enjoy streaming at 160-170 or 180plus (occasionally) smoothly. Yup, its such a muscular machine, and I felt comfortable despite the foward leaning position. In fact the position is ideal for dealing with wind and high speed riding. In no time I caught up with R and took the lead again.
At one point I was overtaken by this Z1000x I thought, I quickly caught up just to remain closely behind the rider, maybe he realised he was being followed. When it came to tight gaps, I felt I could do better and once freed, I squeezed the throttle hard almost to full, very close but I decided not to overtake him, I know he owns a more powerful machine! no wonder the guy is riding a litre bike which is no match to my Street, though almost! (Well I supposed, the game would have been entirely his when we come to corners huhu).
How does it compare to my Bonnie T214?
Most amazing, comparing to the Bonnie, both being naked bikes, the STreet did far better at higher speed. At 140 cruising is a doodle, you hardly feel the wind resistance (keeping in mind my Bonneville has no windshield yet). Even stepping up to 160, 180 is a gem, and the humming sound when you get beyond 150km/h is seductive. In contrast to Bonnie (quite viby at high speed), steady ride at 160 is a pleasure, I could squeeze to 170 and beyond without feeeling any vibration or instability, yes a confidence steady ride at such a speed, as long as I am on a stright line. On a high speed corner, it is possible to maintain a 150 plus without any trouble. Ooops, I forgot about my friend, now I definitely could not trace his shadow…so I had to practically stop on the roadside and wait. That was good, coz i could take the time to stretch out, walk back and forth straighten my back and exercise my neck. 160km on, I stll felt good.
We took two stops, one at Gambang, and another … not another. From Gambang it was a straight long, almost boring ride. R said we could go all the way pass Kuantan, but I almost made mistake at the Kuantan Tol booth when R came behind signalling me to make a U turn which took us back to the LPT (I was slow enough then R could see me). From then on, straight ride till we reached the Kuala Berang exit. My fuel reserve indicator had long come up but I managed to keep going and the reading was 220+ when I reached the refuel station.
Home with happy mileage…
We stopped for maghrib prayers and then made a U turn and ate at a nearby restaurant – simple menu (that took a while to arrive!) consisted of fish Tomyam and Kailan ikan masin. Due to the long waiting, it took us a total of 90 minutes or more rest before started riding again. By now R had decided that he is ok to go alone, indeed he was near his house, but proceeded straight to Kota Baru, which was just over 180km. I headed back to KL which was another 400km plus, alone.
Now this is the most challenging part of the ride. Riding at night, a long straight ride, and it began to rain. God knows how nervous I felt in the beginning. One of the MIB members asked on the Whatsapp group how I plan to spend the night. I left the question unanswered.
Riding gears on, I started the bike, ahead of R, we both headed the same direction till the beginning of the highway that separated us according to the direction. I bid farewell to R & prayed to God for his safety. Just as I about to enter the highway, there were a number of young guys riding RXZ acting suspicious as if they are going to rempit. I speed away and did not see any sign of them again. Now onto the highway, I felt warm and my confidence grew. Amazingly I did not feel tired, even after that long ride. My back felt normal, though my neck hurt a bit. I built up the speed, 140, 160 plus…and the bike kept going nicely. Then came to the unlit part of the highway, I suspiciously slowed down a bit, when the ran began to pour quite heavy. I had to take it easy this time indeed quite a number of time I just kept it at 120-130km/hr. Being a naked sport, its not easy to keep a constant speed, and despite the rain I could not avoid passing the 130 mark. In total I travelled under the rain for almost one hour, covering over 100km of highway, when the weather began to get clear. Now I was on to the better part of the highway, though most part were still unlit – which I despised this shortfall. My aim was to reach Gambang, distance in total about 220km. Now I kept to a constant speed between 140plus to 160, or more sometimes especially when coming to a well lit area I could squeez more juice out. The road was rather quite in most part, that was not very desirable, since I had no clue what it was like, except that I had to rely on my own vision. My eyes fully focused on the road and surroundings, watching for any signs of puddle or any unusual objects. It is known that sometimes animals like monkeys or foxes could cross the road at this time, and I am definitely not going for the kill or else I would be the one troubled.
Off to Gambang, there was jubilation and excitement, knowing I only had less than 200km to go. I rested a bit, drank coffee, refuel and check tyre pressure before resuming my journey.
Gambang KL was much more civilised with the traffic began to build up once I passed Karak tol. The worst part was tackling the curves in total darkness, I almost gave up, slowed down a lot and only picked up my pace when the lighting got better. I kept wondering how the authority have the heart of leaving such dangerous bendy road unlit, in fairness it is not very safe even for cars and other vehicles. All I could do was slow down and refuse the temptation to follow other, more experience or daring riders. Passing Bentong there were better lighting and I felt more confident going at speed. The rest of the journey was smooth and thank God, I arrived after spending in total about 3 hours 40 minutes (including stops) of return journey.
Arriving home, it was all for a happy ending after breaking the record of doing over 800km ride within a day!