I was in Sungai Buloh, a town at the northern outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, to meet my two NGO colleagues. The three of us were planning for a 3-country Middle East whirlwind discovery tour sometime next month.
After finishing our short discussion on the itinerary and preparations for the trip, we made our way back to Kuala Lumpur via the Sungai Buloh-Kepong road and the Damansara-Puchong Highway. I was playing sweeper, patiently trailing my colleagues who were driving a Toyota Innova MPV and a Mitsubishi Storm EVO 4WD. Just before the Penchala Toll Plaza, I overtook both vehicles and left them queuing at the toll gates, while I negotiated the curves of the toll-free motorcycle lane around the perimeter of the toll complex.
Less than 2 km away I exited the highway and entered the hilly Penchala Link, glided through the 700-meter long, widest Malaysian highway tunnel, into Sri Hartamas, Bukit Kiara and Damansara.
The bike’s twin-cylinder 535 c.c. engine purred smoothly, with a pleasant whistling sound emanating from the V-twins entering my AGV helmet. I felt like riding the whole day, on and on, until the sun sets. But reality put a brake to the reverie when I arrived at my office. Oh well, riding off into the sunset would have to wait 🙂
After parking my bike, I walked to the building’s cafeteria at the end of the basement 2 parking lot and got myself a can of chilled winter melon tea, take-away. Passing my bike on the way to the elevator, I noticed something odd about the rear tire of the bike. Closer look revealed that the tire had lost pressure, and the wheel had descended 3 inches closer to the ground. It was 1.00 pm, still 5 hours to go before office closing time. If I left the bike as it was, I would have trouble going home that day. Better hold off enjoying that chilled winter melon tea.
After putting back on my jacket, helmet and gloves, I rode the bike to a petrol station 300 meters from the office. Attempts to pump some air into the tire did not achieve anything. The tire remained flat.
Ignoring the flat tire, I gingerly rode the bike in medium traffic to the nearest bike shop about 2 kilometers away. It was quite a scary experience. The rear of the heavy 200-kg all-steel bike wobbled alarmingly around curves. I half-expected the bike to fall to the side at one time, but alhamdulillah that did not happen, and I made it safely to the bike shop.
The bike shop catered to smaller bikes, but luckily they had in stock inner tubes suitable for my bike. I enjoyed my chilled winter melon tea while waiting for the job to be completed.
After the wheel was taken off the bike, I realized just how worn out the tire was. It needed replacement – fast. Today. Now. I could not afford to wait another day. The center of the tire had worn so much that it would take only a short nail to drive in and puncture the inner tube.
After paying RM38 for the inner tube, I rode the bike 8 kilometers into Kuala Lumpur to my regular bike shop in Jalan Sentul.
The shop did not have in stock the Bridgestone Exedra G702 I had for my rear wheel. There was a Pirelli City Demon which I had once used for the front wheel, but the size the shop had for rear use was too small.
The shop supervisor then recommended to me a made-in-Taiwan Kenda Challenger K657 H-rated, said to be safe up to 130 miles per hour. That was equivalent to 209 km per hour, which was about 60 km/h less than rotation speed for a Boeing 747-400 aircraft !!. That was high speed enough for me. I never exceeded 150 km/h on the bike anyway.
The single tire and inner tube cost me RM408. Quite hefty compared to a small car’s tire cost, but less than the cost for a higher performance bike tire.
With a new tire and tube, the bike felt more agile than before.
Maybe I should now seriously consider the riding- into-the-sunset idea. The bike had new, reputable tire. And the engine had been renewed after the recent overhaul.
A solo 544-km ride north to Padang Besar, near Thailand’s southern border with Malaysia, would be a welcome change amidst Economy-class trips around Asia-Pacific….