Wahid Ooi

  • The new Moto Guzzi V9 Roamer and V7 III Stone complements the Guzzi family.

  • Moto Guzzi calls the V9 Roamer a custom bike, but its design harks back to the beautiful 70’s bikes.

  • The V7 III Stone forms the basis for further customisation.

Moto Guzzi is a legendary Italian brand since 1912, but a few hiccups along the way gave the impression of the brand being “on/off.” However, Moto Guzzi is seeing a resurgence lately as the new official distributor, The Gasket Alley, has stepped up their marketing and aftersales efforts.

However, having ridden just one Moto Guzzi for mere hours in the past, I wasn’t sure of what to expect from these two bikes: The V9 Roamer and V7 III Stone.

When Sep and I went to pick them up, both had that modern-classic look, but it was the V9 Roamer which appealed to me with lots of chrome offset by anodized black parts and yellow paintwork. It looked like a 70’s kind of standard motorcycle. That’s just the looks, because the 853cc, 2-valve, 90-degree V-Twin engine is all new.

On the other hand, Sep preferred the V7 III Stone as it looked more “masculine” with its boxier fuel tank with flared sides over the cylinders, no chrome and flat yellow tank. In a way, the V7 III Stone has that unfinished look, no doubt being the model for further customization (there are hundreds of items in MG “Spark” catalog). The “III” designation means this is the third generation V7, inspired the by the 1971 V7 Sport. The V7 has been revamped in many ways including a 10% engine power bump.

Both bikes now feature MGTC (Moto Guzzi Traction Control) and ABS.

Pushing both bikes around The Gasket Alley’s parking lot revealed that they were light. It’s even more so when we climbed on board. Their seats were low and both of us could place both feet on the ground with ease.


The V9’s handlebar was mounted on a riser and swept back to meet the rider. The V7’s was flatter for a slightly more café racer feel.

As I reached out to thumb the starter button on the V9, I noticed that the switchgear had a new design, outlined by brushed aluminium bezels, similar to the Calfornia. The V7 made do with the conventional switchgear.

Both bikes starter quickly when the starter button was pushed, to a 90-degree V-Twin growl and the bike kicking to the right simultaneously. Such is the character of transverse-mounted twins (both cylinders projecting out the sides, instead of sitting fore and aft inside the frame), since the crankshaft is longitudinal along the axis of the frame. Conversely, V-Twin that’s mounted longitudinally (Harley, Ducati, et al) has the crankshaft across the frame, thus the frame damps out the crankshaft’s secondary vibrations.

As with Moto Guzzi’s engine configuration, the transmission mates directly to the back of the crankcase (like a BMW Boxer-Twin), although the Guzzi’s single dry clutch is behind the transmission instead of sitting in the middle between the two parts. Power transfer to the rear wheel is best served by a shaft final drive for transverse Twins.

This arrangement makes for a lower centre of gravity as the heavy parts are lower near the ground, as opposed to engine configurations where the transmission is “stacked” above the alternator (although it is more compact).

Anyhow, right away, the V9 Roamer exhibited a relatively maneuverable despite having a 19-inch tyre up front and 16-inch at the rear. Similarly, squeezing through traffic was easy as the bike’s pretty slim. My only gripe about riding it in traffic was the overly soft exhaust volume in order to comply with the Euro 4 emission standard. I don’t have to tell you that some car drivers in Kuala Lumpur are complacent behind their steering wheels, so a loud exhaust is the way to grab their attention unless you honk all the way.

The suspension of both bikes were supple in their initial strokes but took big hits over the shraper bumps and deep potholes. Still, they were remarkably better than their predecessors.

Out on the highway, the V9 Roamer went with the flow due to its taller gearing – it’s not that the engine lacks punch – the transmission was already in overdrive in fifth gear, while sixth was an even taller overdrive. This is definitely a bike for relaxed cruising.

The V7 however, felt more engaging due to its shorter gearing, meaning it kept pushing all the time. In Sep’s words, “The V7 feels more hooligan.” He’s right, because the Stone is just one of the variations in the V7 III family, which includes the V7 III Racer.

Italian bikes are famous for their handling, but I wish I could say so for these two. But it wasn’t because of the bikes, it was due to the standard Pirelli Sport Demon tyres. I’ve experienced the very same trait on another test bike. These tyres are great in running straight but their sidewalls flex like rubber stress balls when pushed in corners, causing the bikes to wobble. It also caused the V9 Roamer’s 19-inch front to steer slower into corners. My concern is that customers who are uninitiated to the Sport Demon will blame the bike.

Anyway, the V7 III Stone wasn’t a slouch when we blasted down the highway. With a sportier riding position, the rider has more confidence to take it to higher speeds. The V9 Roamer, on the other hand likes to be ridden smoothly and in a benign manner. That said, remember the crankshaft’s torque kicking the bike to one side? It all disappeared as soon as we got rolling and the engine became really, really smooth.

We took a different route to Kuala Kubu Bahru for the photoshoot and while it had many beautiful corners, certain sections were bumpy as hell, but these bumps were handled better as long as they weren’t sharp, whereas I would have a chiropractor on standby on the older bike.

We also noticed that there wasn’t any “shaft jacking” despite the lack of an extra arm, like Moto Guzzi’s CARC setup. The term shaft jacking pertains to the bike lifting upwards due to the shaft’s torque as power is applied to the rear wheel.

As our four days with both bikes coming to an end, we liked both the V9 Roamer and V7 III Stone for what they are. They’re just different from other bikes in the market, hence to compare with other makes may not be fair. Both bikes’ appeal rest in the ease of riding them, with a certain kind of soul that could only come from the transversely mounted V-Twin. Besides that, there aren’t many Guzzis around so you’ll earn plenty of inquisitive stares when you ride one.

So which one did we pick as our favourite? Let’s call it a split decision. Keshy and Sep chose the V7 III Stone for its no-frills approach, while Chaze and I chose the V9 Roamer for its looks and soft character.


  • We had the opportunity to ride the Honda RC213V-S MotoGP replica.

  • It was part of Boon Siew Honda’s Year-End Gathering for the media.

  • The RC213V-S was unlike no other motorcycle on the planet.

When it comes to motorcycle racing, I still romanticise what many regard as the “Golden Age of Motocycle GP.” Yes, those times were exciting, seeing riders getting spat off their 500cc two-stroker beasts without warning.

The modern-day four-stroke MotoGP machines look tamer on the other hand, but would any of us mere mortals dare claim they’d be easy to ride? So, when Sep informed that we were invited to ride the million-Ringgit (EUR 188,000) RC213V-S at SIC, every nerve cell hit the rev limiter.

Honda introduced the RC213V-S during EICMA in 2015. Hailed as the closest replica to the bikes ridden by works riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, it was a MotoGP bike for the masses.

Each RC213V-S is hand-built in a special workshop in the Kumamoto factory, with some parts sourced directly from the MotoGP bike like the swingarm, slipper clutch, magnesium alloy 17-inch Marchesini wheels, Öhlins forks, adjustable footpegs and pedals, and parts of the Brembo brakes. Other directly trickled down tech include the (partly) underseat fuel tank, and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic bodywork which is fastened with titanium bolts.

Besides those, the RC213V-S also features ride-by-wire throttle, power modes, traction control, engine-brake control, and position detection. The engine has the same configuration as the MotoGP too, a 990cc V-4 with titanium conrods, the only difference being the seamless transmission (a mainstay of MotoGP bikes) pioneered by Honda, and conventional valve springs in place of pneumatic ones.

Another difference is of course the brake discs. They are steel items on the road bike, instead of carbon.

It’s worth mentioning that the 80 percent of the parts on the RC213V-S are interchangeable with the full-on race machine. As it is, the RC213V-S is sold (or was sold if they’re sold out) to rev up to 12,000 RPM (US models rev up to 9400 RPM only due to noise restrictions). Customers could shell out another EUR 12,000 for a race kit that takes it up to 14,000 RPM.

Outwardly, and apart from not wearing the orange Repsol paint scheme, the bike looked no different from the bikes Marc and Dani used to destroy the competition. The headlights are installed into the gaping intake at tip of the upper fairing, but everything else like the exhausts and tail section screamed Honda MotoGP.

The front pair of cylinders vent exhaust gases through a pipe down low on the right side, while the rear pair exit through a pipe under the seat.

Up top, the controls on the handlebars were simple, devoid of the colourful Playstation-like buttons and a small LCD is placed up front. The handlebars are attached to the forks with beefy clamps below the beautifully finished top triple clamp which has the production number stamped on it. The rearview mirrors are attached to the ends of the handlebars.

That’s when I noticed the warning sticker on the tank. Right at the end was a symbol that says, “RON 98.” It means that an owner in Malaysia could only fill up with RON 100 at Petron or Shell’s V-Power Racing. And bring along a few bottles of X-1R Octane Booster.

Oi, enough talk. How was it to ride?

It’s definitely much, much smaller than how it appeared in any photo. Sitting on it felt like sitting on a CBR250, but when I grabbed the bar and sat up straight, I found myself looking over the top of the screen. Everything has been packed close to the rider for mass centralization. But it was surprisingly not uncomfortable. Racebikes of years past were uncomfortable, but the RC213V-S felt like any roadgoing sportbike. Heck, it felt a lot like the CBR1000RR Fireblade with racing footpegs.

While we ogled at the street version, Boon Siew Honda crew fired up a race-spec RC213V. You see, BSH had invited Khairul Idham Pawi and Zahqwan Zaidi as guest riders and they were given the opportunity to ride the real deal (the RC213V, not the MotoGP bike, though).

Everyone dropped whatever they were doing and rushed to over to bear witness! Khairul got off the bike and a BSH crew started blipping the throttle to warm it up. We’ve heard the Honda MotoGP bikes from the Grandstand and around the track, but this was the first time we were up close. That rasp and bark from the exhausts plus the mechanical sounds couldn’t be properly described in words, but it sure gouged itself into everyone’s brains. (Check out the video below.)

It was time to head out, with Zahqwan leading my group.

The Honda RC213V-S uses a proximity switch so they key fob had to be carried in my suit. Thumbed the starter button the first time and the LCD screen came to life. Thumbed it the second time and…. It fired up… While I wasn’t expecting the bark of the RC213V, I didn’t expect the RC213V-S came to life so subtly like a… a… very soft CB650F that I rode in the morning. What the…  but still, I’m on a MotoGP replica, so who’s to complain?

With all the BSH brass and crew looking on, and telling myself not to wheelie over backwards, I slipped out the clutch lever so carefully that I almost stalled it. It hadn’t been necessary as the bike was so smooth on pick up.

Out on the warm up lap, the RC213V-S was so easy to turn and burn, although we were taking it easy to warm the tyres up and acquaint ourselves to the bike.

We had a mock start from the grid. Zahqwan just blasted off into the horizon, leaving his exhaust note reverberating around inside our helmets.

The RC213V-S felt slow leaving the line, but whoa! It felt like I ran into a brick wall just almost as soon as I left the line. Other journos who had ridden the bike during the Honda Asian Journey Ride not long ago had warned us about the rev limit being capped. The bike I was on was limited to 7000 RPM, while there were a few others that revved to 9000 RPM.

But no matter, while it felt slow, it was actually picking up speed deceptively fast! And with the rev limit being blocked, I went through the gears like there’s no tomorrow.

Accelerating out of Turn 2, it was like short-shifting to third, fourth and fifth for the sweeping Turn 3. The bike just tipped over on its side even with the power fully on as I engaged the gears. The quickshifter was ultra-ultra-smooth so much so I didn’t even give two thoughts about it. I had wondered if I got to experience the seamless gearbox!

Braking for Turn 4 with two fingers had the front brakes bled off too much speed, so the bike dropped into the corner like an MX bike.

Sweeping through Turn 5 in fifth, I kept rolling on the throttle, having forgotten about the rev limiter. It cut in just as the bike neared the apex. Now, on any other bike, having the power cut i.e. chopping the throttle or hitting the rev limiter, is bad news as it’ll cause an abrupt weight transfer and change of traction, usually resulting in the bike wobbling or worse, standing up. But it didn’t happen on the RC213V-S, I just hugged its line as if nothing happened.

Now I started to worry about the rev limiter so I slowed down for the corners and decided to just blast down the main straight.

Since we were only using the North Track, I gunned the throttle as soon as I cleared the extra corner after Turn 6 all the way onto the straight. The bike ate up all the gears as fast I could feed it and I was already on the limiter just before halfway on the straight, which read 180 km/h.

The RCV213V-S felt slow, but its engine had plenty of kick and revved really quickly. Conversely on the CBR650F earlier, it only hit 179 km/h in sixth about 300m to Turn 1. Was I experiencing Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity firsthand?

How I wished Honda had raised the rev limit a little higher, say to 10,000 RPM.

We pulled into the pits four laps later. Although I was very thankful to have sampled the bike, I was also unsatisfied that I couldn’t go faster from worrying about the rev limiter.

The conclusion is this: The Honda RC213V-S is a superlative bike that’s unlike any other. I’ve never experienced a bike which t feels benign at high speed, that’s for sure.

The test session was a special event as part of Boon Siew Honda’s year-end gathering for the media, after having just celebrated their 60th anniversary in Malaysia.

During the welcoming session, BSH announced that sales had increased by 18% in 2017 from the previous year, having move 122,150 number of motorcycles (as of date of the event). But moving forward to 2018, BSH hopes to recapture its former Number One position in the market.

Datuk Sri Datuk Wira Tan Hui Jing, Deputy Chairman and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Boon Siew Honda provided the outline, “We are targeting to introduce 10 new models and will certainly surprise everyone with our product lineup.”

As mentioned earlier, Zahqwan Zaidi and Khairul Idham Pawi were present during the event after campaigning in the Asia Road Racing Championship (ARRC) and Moto2 seasons, respectively. Mr. Nobuhide Nagata, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of BSH announced that Zaqhwan will move up to the All Japan Road Race Championship (JSB1000) next year.

Also revealed was BSH’s plans to build the first Honda Big Wing exclusive one-stop sales and service centre in 2018 in the Klang Valley, followed by Penang, Selangor and Johor.


  • The new MV Agusta Brutale 800 is now much more refined.

  • Quality has also improved, along with driveability.

  • The new Brutale 800 is much easier to live with and enjoyed.

MV Agusta’s Brutale lineup has always represented the Italian company’s vision of naked sportbikes. According to MV’s philosophy, the Brutale should be uncompromising yet beautiful at the same time.

As such, most, if not all, Brutales, needed a high level of skill and no less amount of bravery to be ridden well. And for them to work well, they needed to be ridden fast and hard. But I’ve always loved how MV Agustas look (examples: Brutale 800 Dragster RR, Veloce Turismo, F4 Tamburini). Almost no other manufacturer could design something so bold.

With that experience in mind, I approached this new MV Agusta Brutale 800 with some mixed expectations. I had a sense of trepidation intermingled with excitement.

Like that bad girl your mother warned you about.

This new Brutale 800 sure looked awesome, the voluptuous tank in fire engine red, with a diminutive waist which had a hole in it, just like the Veloce Turismo. From the rear three quarters, it looked like wasp – ready to sting. MV Agusta calls it, “The big chest, small waist profile.” Sounds good to any man.

The engine dangled under the tank with everything tightly packed around it, looking like the guts of a monster. But I couldn’t locate the battery. There is a reason for this, though, in the interest of mass centralization.

But something caught my attention the first time I laid eyes on it. The panels, quality of the finish, fitment and components looked way better than MV Agustas of past.

The 800cc, DOHC, 12-valve, Triple still took a bit of cranking to get it fired up. But once it does, it sounded guttural, slightly primitive even. It lets you know it’s alive.

The seat is much taller now, as the top part of the subframe had to be designed taller to produce that hole. However, I was surprised that the seat was actually rather comfy, instead of feeling like I was sitting on a leather-covered plank. The waist where the subframe joined the tank was really slim, allowing my short legs easier reach to the ground.

The fully LCD display was crammed with every information you need, except surprise, a fuel gauge, although you could ride about 60 km more when the low fuel amber light comes on. There’s also a large gear indicator, but my only hope is that MV Agusta will place the tachometer bar on the top, rather than below everything else. On the other hand, I really do liked the fact that MV Agusta’s LCD screens hardly reflect direct sunlight.

There are four riding modes: SPORT, NORMAL, RAIN and CUSTOM. SPORT gives you full power and torque; NORMAL cuts power to 100 bhp (good for long distance riding), RAIN cuts power and torque further; and CUSTOM means you could set your own preferences. There are 8 levels of traction control which you could dial and the ABS is switchable.

Starting in NORMAL, a bit of throttle and slip of the clutch got the show going. Give it more throttle and the Brutale 800 took off and it didn’t stop pulling. The rush of speed was accompanied by a soundtrack that could only come from an MV Agusta Triple.

The switch for the riding modes was via a large button on the right handlebar. All you need to do is hold it down until the indicator blinks in the LCD and you can start selecting the mode you desire, without needing to shut off the throttle. That said, the placement of the button on the right side needed some getting used to, but you’ll get it soon enough without needing to relocate your right thumb.

But SPORT mode is where the bike truly shines. The new generation MVICS 2.0 ECU’s fuelling is crisp and accurate, while the throttle isn’t abrupt anymore. Along with the newly mapped ECU, the quickshifter is one of the best on any bike I’ve sampled.

It kicks in the next gear immediately without feeling like you’ve chopped the throttle, nor did it lag. Every gear was hammered home without delay, plus it works on the downshift too, with the throttle being blipped just the right amount. There was no wheel hop even when I experimented with downshifting right down to first without the clutch.

However, the quickshifter works on the upshift and downshift only in SPORT, while only upshifts are available in the other modes.

The next thing I liked about this new Brutale 800 was the suspension. Sure, it’s still stiff but it isn’t harsh anymore. Previously, a bump in the middle of a corner was sufficient to kick the wheels into the air and cause you to lose your line. Now, you could still feel the road but you don’t get displaced off your chosen line.

Besides that, while the previous suspension didn’t seem to respond to any adjustment, decreasing compression damping by three turns and increasing rebound damping in the rear by two turns did wonders for my 80kg weight.

With the suspension sorted, it was time to turn and burn.

The handlebar was placed higher than previous Brutales and was wide. That meant plenty of leverage from your arms to steer the bike quickly in any direction. Adding to the quick steer character was the rake of 24.5 degrees. But the Brutale 800 wasn’t nervous at all especially when accelerating hard, courtesy of the 103.5mm trail.

Combined with the engine’s serious punch and the bike’s light weight, and you’ve a bike that gets away from it all in the blink of an eye.

All in all, I’m glad to see that MV Agusta is still going and the Brutale 800’s big steps in refinement is definitely reassuring.

In closing, the MV Agusta Brutale 800 does make you feel good about yourself.


Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves, inline-Triple
Compression ratio 12.3 : 1
Bore X Stroke 79.0 mm X 54.3 mm
Displacement 798 cc
Fuel system Eldor EM2.0 electronic fuel injection
Maximum power 109 bhp (81 kW) @ 11,500 RPM
Maximum torque 83 Nm @ 7600 RPM
Clutch Hydraulically activated with slipper clutch
Gearbox 6-speed with quickshifter
Front suspension Marzocchi 43mm USD forks, adjustable for preload, compression damping and rebound damping, 125 mm travel
Rear suspension Sachs single progressive shock, adjustable for preload, compression damping and rebound damping, 124 mm travel
Front brakes Dual 320 mm floating discs, dual four-piston radially mounted Brembo caliper
Rear brake Single 220 mm disc, two-piston Brembo caliper
ABS Bosch 9 Plus with Rear Lift-up Mitigation (RLM), swtichable on/off
Front tyre 120/70-ZR17
Rear tyre 180/55-ZR17
Frame ALS steel tube trellis, aluminium swingarm pivot
Swingarm Single-sided, aluminium alloy
Trail 103.5 mm
Rake 24.5 degrees
Wheelbase 1400 mm
Seat height 830 mm
Dry weight 175 kg
Fuel capacity 16.5 litres
  • Study confirms that passengers are more prone to injury.

  • It’s the rider’s responsibility to ensure the passenger is fully geared up.

  • At least a good helmet is necessary.

Remember that video which went viral? Most riders already knew that it’s the passenger who usually comes out the worse in the event of an accident.

Unfortunately, we still see many riders who don’t equip their passengers adequately when riding. The rider may be cladded in armoured jacket and pants, a good helmet, gloves and boots, but the passenger looks like he or she just got back from the beach, and wearing a helmet seemingly made when Allahyarham Tun Hussein Onn was Prime Minister.

Hope this research changes your mind.

Published in Reuters Health, it is confirmed by researchers that passengers are likely to suffer more traumatic injuries compared to riders.

Even with helmets on, 36 percent of the passengers suffered traumatic brain injury, compared to 31 percent among riders.

Dr. Tyler Evans of the Indiana University School of Medicine said, “We believe that in certain accidents, the passenger is more likely to be ejected from the motorcycle.” This is the likely scenario why passengers face a higher risk of brain injury, he added.

You can read the source of the report here.

While riders face lower risks since they could hold on to the handlebar and fuel tank, and protected by the windscreen in some cases, passengers don’t have such luxury since they have little to hold onto. This is especially advantageous for the riders since they know what’s happening and could brace themselves.

Courtesy of

In Malaysia, there were 39,744 deaths resulting from motorcycle accidents between 2005 to 2014.

The knowledge gained from this study means that the rider should always provide the best helmet and riding gear he or she could afford for the passenger. Come to think of it, the passenger should be better equipped than the rider!

Courtesy of


  • The KTM 1290 Adventure S was launched to a great following.

  • As a special year-end promotion, KTM Malaysia offers the Travel Pack as a complimentary package.

  • The promotion is available via authorized KTM Malaysia dealers.

The 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S was launched in Malaysia just a few months back and has already enjoyed a huge following among adventure-touring enthusiasts.

KTM already has a winner when the Austrian and largest European manufacturer launched the 1290 Super Adventure (later renamed as “Model T”) in 2015. It was promptly named the “Best Adventure Touring Motorcycle” by many reputable motorcycle publications around the world.

The 1290 Super Adventure T was both a mechanical and technological marvel, and became THE high-performance adventure-tourer, bar none. It was also the basis for the 2017 1290 Super Adventure S and 1290 Super Adventure R. The 1301cc, DOHC, 8-valve, 75-degree, LC8 engine (based on the insane 1290 Super Duke R) punches out a whopping 160 bhp and 140 NM of torque. But that’s just part of the story because the engine is already producing 108 Nm at 2500 RPM. That’s why the bike pulled like the clichéd freight train.

The bike features technological advancements such as MTC (Motorcycle Traction Control), MSC (Motorcycle Stability Control), ABS, LED Cornering Lights, and WP’s Semi-Active Suspension.

The 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S utilises the same, albeit uprated features. But more telling, it had been totally redesigned to reflect a new KTM identity, starting with the headlight.


The headlight is now split into two sides with a cooling “channel” in between to address concerns of the LEDs getting too hot. The consequence of this redesign produced a headlight design unlike any other motorcycle in the market, and for KTM themselves, as well.

Other features were uprated, including the engine and electronics for more refinement and even more reliability. New for the 1290 Adventure S is the 6-inch TFT display, which the owner may install the My Ride option which includes hands-free audio playback via Bluetooth.

The latest TFT meter panel for the 2017 KTM 1290 Super Adventure S

All these electronics make the KTM 1290 Super Adventure S sensitive, right?

Not so. We saw how reliable they were firsthand during the recent KMOG Borneo Ride 2017. Not a single bike broke down despite being trashed in arduous riding conditions including earthquake-damaged roads, no road, mud, gravel, sand, rain or shine. They just kept going and comfortable for the riders and passengers to boot!

As 2018 looms, KTM Malaysia is offering the 1290 Super Adventure S with a special promotion.

For a limited time only, KTM Malaysia is throwing in the Travel Pack option, worth RM 5,424 – FREE! With the purchase of a new 1290 Super Adventure S.

The Travel Pack includes the aforementioned My Ride, Quickshifter+, Hill Hold Control (HHC) and Motor Slip Regulation (MSR).

My Ride allows the rider to connect his mobile phone to bike via Bluetooth, allowing for music streaming and making/receiving calls hands free.


Quickshifter+ is an evolution of the run-of-the-mill quickshifter. It allows for smoother and positive clutch-less gear changes not only for upshifts but for downshifts as well. A novel feature of KTM’s Quickshifter+ is the absence of an “activator” on the shift connector shaft.

As any veteran rider can tell you, taking off on an incline is never easy, requiring the rider hold on to the front brake and slip the clutch like mad! Hill Hold Control (HHC) holds the bike on a slope during idle, even if the transmission is neutral. This is a very useful feature especially on a tall bike, laden down with luggage and passenger.

Motor Slip Regulation works in tandem with the other traction control features for a safer ride. While the MTC and slipper work to relief the rear wheel from hopping, MSR limits back-torque to the rear wheel by increasing the engine’s speed. A useful feature in low-grip situations. (It’s akin to riding MX, where the rider needs to keep the engine spinning at higher RPM for more consistent traction compared to fully shutting off – no doubt learned from KTM’s heavy involvement and success in offroad competition.)

The Travel Pack features bring additional safety and entertainment to an already great bike, so hurry to your nearest authorized KTM dealer today!

For more information please visit KTM Malaysia’s official Facebook page.

  • The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 headed to GIVI’s factory in Vietnam.

  • This is the birthplace of GIVI’s rainsuits and soft luggage.

  • GIVI carried out a CSR program called “Riding for Reading”.

17th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – Today marked the most important day of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 itinerary.

We were slated to visit GIVI’s factory in Vietnam, situated not far away from the hotel, where we were going to see not only how some of GIVI’s products were made, but more importantly, to attend a special Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

We left the Merperle Crystal Palace Hotel at little later than usual, with the sun already up and shining. The rider with CBR600RR was back and we sure hoped he knew which way we were headed. We were worried about running headlong into HCMC’s traffic, that’s for sure.

We travelled on city roads for a short distance before we started veering into a smaller road flanked on the left by one-storey houses and a river on right. The road condition was good, despite a few patches covered in gravel awaiting their asphalt cover. Hot and dry conditions meant the lead bikes throwing a thick cloud of dust into the air.

Soon we arrived at the GIVI Vietnam HQ and were welcomed by the smiling staff. We were ushered directly to the large entrance to the factory, where a reception had been prepared with light snacks and drinks. We attacked the bottles of water and Pepsi as if we had just left the desert.

Also, there were the Italian Ambassador to Vietnam and the Head of the Italian Trade Delegation, along with Hendrika Visenzi.

Two of the Vietnamese crew had dressed up in the traditional Vietnamese dress, called áo dài (pronounced “Ao-Yai”). Yes, they were pretty.

The GIVI Explorers were then separated into two groups for a grand tour of the facilities. Our group was led by Giorgio Della Rosa, the Factory Manager and designer of GIVI’s riding gear.

This was the birthplace of GIVI rainsuits and soft luggage.

We saw how different materials came together, being cut to exact dimensions by using a hydraulic press or laser cutter, the stitched together by highly trained professionals, before being QC’ed and packed.

We saw the very same tankbags, soft luggage and waterproof we were wearing being assembled right there.

In the meantime, the GIVI crew had taken our helmets to a room in the administration building, where two ladies pinstriped on our names and national flags on one side of the chinbar.

The GIVI Explorers and other guests were then ushered into the conference room for lunch and the GIVI charity event called, “Riding for Reading.” This GIVI CSR initiative aims to assist Vietnamese children in primary schools by meeting short-term and long-term needs. For the near-term, GIVI donated writing and drawing utensils; and health insurance and scholarships in the long-term.

A spontaneous fundraiser was set up among the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 participants, to which everyone was more than happy to contribute. A total of USD 800 was raised.

The kids came to meet us soon after, and it was a happy and emotional experience for all involved, as Ms. Visenzi and Mr. Perucca handed the items to them.

As Mr. Perucca said in his speech, the GIVI Explorer adventures have always been about learning and giving, rather than being just riding across the world.

With the Riding for Reading program done, GIVI presented gifts to the Explorers. First was renowned Vietnamese coffee, packed together with a set of serving cups, and the traditional Vietnamese conical hat called nón lá (translated as left hat).

It was time to say goodbye to GIVI Vietnam and head to our stop for the day. A few of the Vietnamese crew also joined us on the ride.

We cut a south-southwesterly course toward Cần Thơ (pronounced “Kan Ter”), the main city in the Mekong Delta, where the Mekong River empties into the South China Sea. The river life figures heavily here, including a floating market.

Unfortunately, one of the bikes developed a puncture and we arrived way after dark so there was no chance of us going anywhere.

Click here for Day Five (Part Two) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Five (Part One) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.




  • The new Kawasaki Ninja 650 and Z650 show much Kawasaki’s 650s have evolved.

  • They now feature new engines, styling and technologies.

  • The new models signify Kawasaki’s pursuit of excellence across their range of products.

It’s undeniable that three particular models ruled the Malaysian streets for the years between 2009 to 2015. They were the Kawasaki ER-6f, ER-6n and Versys 650 (we’ll omit the Versys 650 for the moment). Let’s see how the ER-6f and ER-6n have evolved into the Ninja 650 and Z650.

It could also be accurately said that the ER-6 models were collectively the catalyst which started the bike big boom, which consequently ushered all the other big bikes we have nowadays.

The ER-6 family began in 2006. A few of the model made their way to our shores.

However, the ER-6’s true popularity started with the 2009 models. The ER-6f was fully-faired, while the ER-6n was a naked roadster.

Both models were built on the same frame, chassis and engine platforms. They exhibited easy handling, good brakes, upright and and comfortable riding position, and a tractable engine with good torque and power characteristics to please newcomers, veteran and born-again riders. They were bikes that could do it all: Commuting, weekend canyon bombing, long rides, sport-touring, and track riding to some degree.

Best of all, they were the most affordable big bikes at sub-forty thousand Ringgit, since they were first to be CKD’d.

So popular was the ER series that even Malaysian riding schools started using them as bikes for newbie training and “Full B” license exams.

The engine was a simple, liquid-cooled, DOHC, eight-valves fuel-injected, 649cc, parallel-Twin. It pumped out a healthy 71 bhp and between 66 Nm (2006 to 2011) and 64 Nm (2012-2016) of torque. The distinctive thumping exhaust note results from the 180-degree crank.


The ER-6 variants (called Ninja 650R in some countries) made their debut in 2006. The second-generation ER-6 made their appearances in 2009 to 2011, before being superseded by the third generation from 2012 to 2016.

There were only minor exterior and internal mechanical changes between 2006 to 2011. On the other hand, the 2012 models had many changes including styling, stepped seats, a bigger fuel tank capacity, a new frame, and suspension with added travel. The ER-6f looked even sharper and sportier, while the ER-6n looked muscular.

The engine was left almost untouched except for a small reduction in compression ratio. Spent gasses was pumped through a revised exhaust system. A new engine management mapping was tuned to spread torque further down the engine range, which lowered the peak power slightly. Kawasaki also debuted the ECO indicator in the LCD.

Since I own a 2011 model, I had felt that the 2012 version represented the peak of the ER-6 model evolution, when I tested both the –f and –n versions. Power was delivered smoother, the seats were comfier and most of all, it handled way better and was more stable than my own bike. It started right up every time and never once coughed through the throttle bodies.

Then Kawasaki took the covers off the 2017 models.

Kawasaki has now dropped the ER-6 name. The fully-faired version is now called the Ninja 650, aligning it as one universal designation. The naked version, on the other hand, is called the Z650, and inducted into Kawasaki’s family of naked bikes. Both the Ninja 650 and Z650 share the same engine and chassis components.


The new Ninja 650 stands out prominently when viewed side-by-side with the 2011 model, showing how much the model has evolved and improved over a short period of time.

At the initial glance, the Ninja 650 now looks almost identical to Kawasaki’s multiple-race and championship-winning ZX-10R superbike, especially when decked out in the special-edition KRT colour scheme. Those headlights have gone “raptor-like” and the fairing wraps tightly around the body.

Speaking of the fairing, the new Ninja 650’s still features large side openings to vent hot air, but the rear part of the vent is enlarged and flared outwards to push hot air away from the rider’s thighs. Plus, the rear part of the fairing fits tightly to the frame, minimizing hot air from rising into the rider’s crotch.

The effects are amazingly effective when compared especially to the 2011 and marked improvements over the 2012 models.

However, as sporty as the Ninja 650 may look, Kawasaki has wisely designed the ergonomics to be friendly to a broad spectrum of riders. The handlebars are set high and slightly forward, the rider’s seat is low (790mm seat height), and the levers are 5-way adjustable.

A new multifunction instrument panel is installed which includes a much-welcomed gear position indicator, shift light, and ECO indicator. The tach needle changes colour from white to pink to red as it swings up.

The Z650, meanwhile, has been given the Kawaski Sugomi (“sugomi” means “awesomeness” in Japanese) design treatment for a distinctively organic look. Kawasaki explained that they see the Z650’s stance as that of a black panther stalking its prey, in a crouched stance, with its head low and tail upswept.

A naked sportbike has to look fierce and that’s a great inspiration.

Unlike the Ninja 650, however, the instrument panel has a different design in order to fit behind that “flyscreen.” The tach is stacked on top of the LCD display, with the gear position indicator in the middle. The tach needle flashes at the rider’s preset rev limit.

The Z650 shares the same architecture as the Ninja 650 (more on this below), and as such it has the same seat height of 790 mm.


Kawasaki reengineered the familiar parallel-Twin engine to feature new cam profiles to reduce valve overlap duration (for better low-down and midrange torque); smaller, 36mm throttle bodies for smoother and precise throttle response; and a new exhaust system. These changes collectively result in a broader torque curve to provide the rider with power anywhere (in the rev range) at anytime it’s called upon.

Any previous ER-6 owner, myself included, could tell you that the engine’s strong back torque (engine braking) could sometimes impede smoother cornering transitions (as you’re dragged back by heavy engine braking, which causes the bike to lose speed, followed by instability and the reluctance to turn, ultimately resulting in the rider losing confidence), besides encountering rear wheel hop (or even skid) if we downshifted too aggressively.

Kawasaki addressed this by adding an assist and slipper clutch. The slipper function is a nice addition, allowing for smoother corner entries and eliminating wheel hop. The assist function provides easier gear upshifting, by using cams that function as a servo mechanism which pulls on the clutch hub and operating plate together, to compress the clutch plates under acceleration.


Kawasaki has also given the new 650s a new steel frame, which is 15 kg lighter than its predecessor –  contributing to a light 193 kg and 187 kg overall weight for the Ninja 650 and Z650, respectively. The sections are made as straight as possible to tune the frame for shock and load dispersion. Rake is at a sporty 24-degrees.

Moving downwards, the old ER-6 (and Versys) mounted their rear shocks on the right side of the motorcycle, connecting the frame and swingarm directly without a link. Adjusting the shock’s preload couldn’t be easier, but there are riders who complained of cornering imbalance (although this is subjective, as many motorcycles utilize this arrangement).

The new shock is now mounted in a horizontal back-link format for a more progressive action. But instead of installing part of the shock and linkage underneath the swingarm, they are positioned on top. This also ensures the components are moved away from the engine’s heat. The swingarm is now a curved unit (stronger while keeping the wheelbase short).


Braking is handled by a pair of dual-piston Nissin calipers gripping 300mm petal discs up front, while the rear is stopped by a single-piston caliper gripping on a 220mm petal disc. ABS is standard on both ends.

If a motorcycle is the sum of all its parts, then the it’s easy to see how the Ninja 650 and Z650 has evolved to be even better bikes. The answers are: Easy to approach, practical, economical, stylish while still being able to provide an exhilarating ride for both new and experienced riders.

Plus, the unbeatable price.

  • The Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin is a lovely machine to ride.

  • But it’s rather large and tall, especially for most Asians.

  • Honda is aware that they don’t have a middleweight adventurer.

Many fans jumped for joy when Honda announced the revival of the Africa Twin in 2015. It wasn’t only the international crowd who had loved the Africa Twin, for there were many in Malaysia during the late-90’s and early-20’s, too.

I too, fondly remember those tall machines in white, red and blue complete with handguards, metal grill protectors for the twin headlamps, massive fuel tank/radiator shroud, an also huge sump guard, and a booming exhaust note. It looked like it could bash through the jungle for breakfast right out of the box!

XRV750 Africa Twin

In fact, the XRV750T final version in 2003 looked like it ate a Honda CBR900RR Fireblade on its way to the mountains.

The first model, the XRV650 was actually built by the Honda Racing Corporation (HRC) itself. Yes, the people behind all of Honda’s racing motorcycles. Some people actually called it the “RC30 of off-road.” It was based on the Honda NXR-750 which won the Paris-Dakar Rally four times in the Eighties.

We came across this immaculate XRV650 at Motonation 2017

The 650 became the XRV750 Africa Twin, the most famous model that we saw here. But it had never been exported to the US.

When Honda stopped its production in 2003, many were heartbroken.

Now with a 1000cc, 270-degree crank (to mimic the firing order of a 90-degree V-Twin), parallel-Twin engine and Honda’s Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) option, the new CRF1000L Africa Twin promised to be a much better, much more contemporary iteration of the famed heritage and lineage when it was launched for 2015. (Click here for our First Impressions.)


2016 Honda Africa Twin DCT

I managed to finagle a short ride on a CRF1000L in Thailand during the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017. There was a total of three Africa Twins on the ride, two of those with DCT. It was an amazing machine to ride: Its poise, balance, comfort, the torque of its engine. But it was tall and that made it rather heavy to manage in busy urban environments. It towered over the Kawasaki Versys 650 and Suzuki V-Strom 650, and it was the bike that made the 2013 BMW R 1200 GS LC look err… short and squat.

However, if you’ve the blood for adventure and insists on a smaller Honda, you could choose from the crop consisting of the CRF250L or CRF250 Rally, CB500X, NC700X and NC800X, but they are nowhere near Africa Twin territory.

Honda knows this. Kenji Morita, Large Project Leader for the Africa Twin said, “When we speak about pure adventure, we don’t have a wide line-up. And yes, we are thinking of putting a halfway model to attract younger riders.”

Honda already has a 750cc parallel-Twin which powers the NC750X and X-ADV (we rode this in Thailand too. It was awesome!). But that would create a product line with models too close to each other. So, how about a new 650cc engine as the direct link to the original XRV650 Africa Twin?

This is a segment in which Honda could not afford to miss out, since the middleweight adventure (750cc to 800cc) market has now become THE most contested territory. It is currently being fought over tooth-and-nail by the BMW F 850 GS, Triumph Tiger 800, KTM 790 Adventure and soon to be launched Yamaha Ténéré 700.

Honda says they aren’t working on the smaller Africa Twin as yet, but you can bet the Red Giant isn’t going to sit still, so watch this space.

  • True to the GIVI Explorer spirit, we explored downtown Ho Chi Minh City after dinner.

  • Ho Chi Minh City is thriving with 7 to 7.5 million motorcycles.

  • The city’s main charm is the mix of classical and modern buildings, and rich heritage.

13th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam – The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 participants freshened up and boarded a bus specially chartered to transport us downtown for dinner.

GIVI did so to mercifully spare us the hassle of having to suit up again, and ride through that traffic.

A VIP had joined us by now. She was Ms. Hendrika Visenzi, daughter of GIVI’s founder, Mr. Giuseppe Visenzi (the first two letters of his name became GIVI). The Hevik sub-brand was under Ms. Visenzi’s charge (HEnrika, GIvi, Kappa). She rode with us from this point on.

Ms. Hendrika Visenzi

The local guide on the bus announced that the restaurant wasn’t far away and we had time to shop at the Takashimaya Mall nearby, before getting back together for dinner. That sounds great, maybe I could get something for family and friends back home.

As usual, it was already dark by 7pm and the roads seemed to be fully illuminated by the headlamps of the scooters and mopeds. There are 7.5 million motorcycles to HCMC’s population of 10 million.

It was explained that HCMC has a chronic parking problem, therefore the motorcycle was the perfect tool. The rich would have their drivers drop them off at their destinations and the driver would continue to drive around in circles until their bosses are done with their business. Hence if the city was a body, motorcycles are the blood cells. There were many Grab Bikes too!

It was also pointed out to us on how the bikes were parked – squished together as if they were bicycles. The owners of these motorcycles will park them inside their living rooms when they get home.

Shops lined the road, selling everything from foodstuff to house stuff.

In the meantime, mopeds kept zipping by. One fast guy swerved through everyone else and was closed to being squeezed like a bug between our bus and a car. Ronald, Enrique and myself were seated at the front and we started yelling. Man, that puckered us up real good.

Other impatient riders would hop onto the sidewalks, sometimes against the traffic.

Our guide was right, our makan place wasn’t far from the hotel, but even he miscalculated the amount of time we needed to get there.

I took us more than an hour to get to the restaurant and it was already too late to visit the mall, so we decided to foot it to dinner. Here’s another adventure: Crossing the never-ending stream called “the road.”

The trick was to see an opening, then step confidently onto the street and keep walking in a steady and predictable manner. That allowed the local riders to guesstimate where you’re headed so they could go around you. Ismadi and I said a prayer, and I almost had my eyes closed when we crossed en masse.

We made it!

We also noticed that all bikes were fully stock and most glaring of all, no bike had any luggage tacked to it (due to lack of parking space). Well, except for one scooter which carried a B32 top case! That was enough to send us all into a celebratory mood!

Dinner was at the 3T Vietnamese BBQ Restaurant on the rooftop of the Temple Club Restaurant. Superb food! I’m allergic to seafood so I hammered on the Vietnamese spring rolls and chicken all night.

A group from GIVI Vietnam had also joined us. Joseph explained that it was through these hardworking individuals that we were enjoying the exclusive line of riding gear during the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Here’s a personal note to them (hope you guys are reading this): The gear were truly amazing. Both the new jacket and pants kept me cool when it was really hot. They fitted my body well and allowed lots of freedom of movement without flapping in the wind. Also, all the accessories worked. My favourites were the X-45 Fibre helmet, Hevik Lumbar Support belt, and the Technical T-shirt. Well done!

Now, where were we? Oh yes, dinner.

We went out on foot again after the thoroughly satisfying dinner and chartered every trishaw we saw at a square. Sure, we were swamped by traffic again at first, but we didn’t care by now as every GIVI Explorer was laughing and giggling like children. A few Explorers took to riding the trishaws instead of being ferried. GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 happened on three wheels, too! Hah!

It was only now that I discovered just how beautiful HCMC was! I was shooting pictures of the guys around when I spotted, first an M48 Patton tank with Vietnamese Army insignia, followed by the tail section of a Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter jet and Bell UH-1 helicopter in a compound! Being a military history buff, I asked the trishaw uncle, “Is that the museum?” He just smiled and shrugged. Then I heard, “Yes, that’s the War Museum” from behind somewhere. I looked around to see a young couple wearing surgical masks on a scooter to the left. “But it’s closed now,” said the rider in perfect English. I thanked him and they nodded. Whoa! I have to come back here!

It was during this time that it occurred to me how HCMC has thrived. HCMC, known as Saigon at the time was the capital of South Vietnam, and had been the scene of battles and bombings during the Vietnam war. Being the first “televised war,” there were many enduring images from Saigon, but perhaps the most famous was of choppers airlifting civilians from the US Embassy (Operation Frequent Wind) on 30th April 1975, which marked the Fall of Saigon and end of the war.

It’s been forty-two years since then and Vietnam, although remaining a communist country, had opened its borders to trade and tourism.

Our convoy of trishaws rounded an intersection and a large classical cathedral like those you’d find in Europe came into view. it turned out to be called Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, just like the one in France. It was built by the French in 1863 and completed in 1880.

On the other side of the street was a beautiful classical building, the Saigon Central Post Office. Completed in 1891, it was designed by the architect Gustave Eiffel, the French civil engineer who owned the firm which built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

We stopped for a photograph session, then continued onwards past the river front of the Saigon River. Here, we saw European-styled luxury hotels, exactly like those you’d see in movies. And up the road was a large cruise ship at the Saigon River Dock. An ultra-modern skyscraper with an open-air deck shoots into the air on the opposite side.

That’s the charm of HCMC. Classical colonial buildings amidst modern buildings and modern lifestyles. We stopped at the Nguyen Hue Walking Street and continued on foot. This stretch encompasses more classical and old buildings converted to shops and hotels.

There was a concert here along the median between the lanes. The Explorers stopped for ice-cream at the foyer of The Reverie Saigon, HCMC’s most luxurious hotel. Wisnu and I spotted a brightly lit building about 500m to the north and decided to investigate.

The concert was over by now and the street was reopened to light traffic. Pretty Vietnamese ladies caught our eyes. We stopped opposite the Rex Hotel to shoot a few pictures when we spotted a Bentley Continental GT poking its nose out of a side street.

We kept walking and discussed about the ride as we hadn’t done so since this GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 first started. We were roomies during the GIVI Wilderness Adventure 2015 in South Africa. But we kept getting distracted by the Vietnamese girls. Oh yes, friends have warned us about this.

We arrived at the building. It was gorgeous, beautifully restored and maintained. It was the HCMC City Hall. We got busy photographing it when we heard the roars of sportscars. They were Ferraris and Lamborghinis and they charged down Nguyen Hue Street.

The group had finished their ice-cream and caught up with us there. They too started shooting the pictures of the City Hall. We continued walking and ended up at another prominent classic building, this time it was the Municipal Theatre of HCMC, but better known as the Saigon Opera House.

Built in 1897 by French architect Eugene Ferret, and restored in 1995, it was shaped like Opera Garnier in Paris. Right opposite was an old building, with a large “Louis Vuitton” signage on top of the entrance.

The left side of the building was boarded up as the authorities are building an underground MRT system.

From here, we took taxis back to the hotel in District 7 and called it a night. I regretted that decision as there’s so much more of HCMC to be discovered. For a few Explorers and myself who had been here the first time we vowed to return. The memory of the traffic had faded into oblivion.

Click here for Day Five (Part One) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.



  • The GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 Explorers left Cambodia behind for Vietnam on Day Five.

  • Downtown traffic was the main concern as we neared Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Vietnam proved to be another contrasting experience.

13th November 2017, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – It’s time for the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 to leave Cambodia (for the time being) as we pushed forward to Vietnam.

The weather stayed clear all morning, thankfully, but the downside was it was starting to get hot by 8am as we prepared to head out from the Phnom Penh Hotel.

Apart from crossing the great Mekong River at Naek Loeung, the rest of Cambodia was uneventful, to put it succinctly. with more small towns interspersed with paddy fields along the way. Traffic was moderately heavy with the usual mopeds, large SUVs, among those huge Peterbilts and Mack trucks, and of course, more mopeds. It may look like there are many curves and corners along the way, but it was straight in reality.

Courtesy of GIVI Explorer and Nikkasit

Still, am just happy to be here to see a whole different country.

And that notion brought along a surprise as we reached the Cambodia-Vietnam border crossing at Moc Bai.

Just as with the border crossing from Thailand, there were a number of casinos on the Cambodian side, and they were called glamourous names such as those in Las Vegas. We didn’t get to find out if “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” tho’.

The Moc Bai Border Crossing consists of beautifully constructed buildings in the traditional Vietnamese style. The administration building was no doubt modern, but it was unmistakably Vietnamese. We stopped to wait for the organizers to sort out the paperwork, while we took photographs with the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017 banner, to stamp the evidence that “we were here.”

Then as we were running around with our cameras and our phones, the marshals announced, “Okay, let’s go!” What? Wait, that was just like 20 minutes. We waited for almost an hour to cross into Cambodia a few days prior.

I noticed a blue and yellow Honda CBR600RR among us for the first time. It had a loud exhaust, semi-slick tyres, but no mirror and he was way up front of the pack.

It turned out that he was our guide to the hotel from the border. The Vietnamese authorities prohibits the entry of overseas motorcycles, unless you’re guided by a government-designated guide.

So nevermind, since we’ve only 100 kilometres to go to Ho Chi Minh City.

We were swallowed up by packs of mopeds soon enough. Well, “pack” isn’t the correct word, but swarms would be accurate.

Before I proceed further, please allow me to state on record that this isn’t a criticism of the way people ride and drive in their own countries. Instead, it serves as one of the episodes in the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

We had been briefed earlier by Joseph about the traffic in Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve seen pictures and documentaries about Vietnam, so I made an offhand joke with a few guys that we might be surprised to find a local sitting on one of the boxes when reach the hotel.

Right in the thick of it, it was disconcerting at first, but conditioning, survival instinct and defensiveness kicked in as the mopeds crossed right in front of us, or overtaking one another without checking behind or alongside, etc. The duty to avoid them and stay save therefore fell squarely on the shoulders of each Explorer. Still, that didn’t mean being aggressive, instead one should be assertive. Oh yes, there’s a huge difference between the two.

Anyway, most of us started to struggle further along, including the hardworking Marshals who were getting overwhelmed. They had nominated me as their assistant marshal after the first day, so we did what I we could to open a path for the rest of the convoy.

But most of us started to get an inkling of something was wrong as we kept riding in the same traffic for two hours without getting anywhere. Worse of all, there wasn’t even a split second to check out the sights.

Remember the guy on the CBR? With no mirrors and being prone on the tank, he couldn’t look behind to see where we were. He had been briefed back at the border crossing to take another route (Joseph and Giorgio are familiar with Ho Chi Minh City) to avoid the gridlock, but he had guided us down the very route we had wanted to avoid.

So, we ended up covering 25 kilometres in two hours.

However, all of us made it to the Merperle Crystal Palace Hotel safe sound and that was what mattered the most.

It had taken us the better part of a day to cover the 289 kilometres from Phnom Penh. By comparison, that distance (minus 3 kilometres) was the same as travelling from the Rawang R&R to the junction of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge (the new Penang Bridge). But, that’s what an adventure is: Experiencing something totally different from everyday norms.

Click here for Day Five (Part Two) of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Four of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Three of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day Two of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

Click here for Day One of the GIVI Golden Triangle Adventure 2017.

  • Motorcycle engines are the hearts of the bike.

  • Not all engines look alike and a few are truly beautiful.

  • They not only belong to legendary bikes but they made the bikes legends.

Yes, the engine is the heart of the motorcycle. But while non-bikers are confused by how a lump of metal could do stir up so much emotions in us, to us they’re mechanical porn. Here are the best-looking motorcycle engines, in no particular order.

1. AJS 7R

The AJS 7R was a 350cc race bike built from 1948 to 1963. Commonly known as the “Boy Racer,” it won victories for both the factory and privateers from its inception.

Designed by Phil Walker, the single overhead camshaft (SOHC) was driven by a chain from the outside of the engine block, hence the “tower cover.” That cover and cylinder head cover were painted gold contrasting against the gray and black parts of the engine.

AJS 7R engine – Courtesy of

2. HRD Vincent Black Shadow/Black Lightning

The 1948 HRD Vincent Black Lightning was the race bike spawned from the Black Shadow.

It was the fastest production bike of its time, and widely acknowledged as the first superbike.

HRD Vincent Black Lightning – Courtesy of

The Black Lightning was stripped down and its 998cc, air-cooled, pushrod, overhead valve (OHV), 47.5-degree V-Twin on the Black Lightning had stronger connecting rods, larger intake ports, polished rocker gear, steel idler gears, racing carbs and manual-advance magneto, pushing it to a top speed of 240 km/h.

HRD Vincent Black LIghtning engine – Courtesy of

Yes, yes, 240 km/h is attainable by most middleweight bike these days, but look at those skinny tyres the Vincent rolled on!

In September 1948, Rollie Free attempted to break US national motorcycle speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats. He could only reach 239.1 km/h during practice so he stripped down to his swimming shorts, rubber cap and sneakers for the final run and hit an average of 241.905 km/h (regulations required two runs). That bike became known as the “Bathing Suit Bike.”

Rollie Free – Courtesy of

But it’s the level of attentiveness to detail and quality that made Vincents’ engines true works of art. Sadly, it was that kind of passion which made them time- and cost-consuming to produce.

Only 31 Black Lightnings were ever built.

3. Britten V1000

Frustrated with the lack of parts and reliability of stock engines, New Zealander John Britten decided to do the impossible: Building his own bike and engine.

Working from his home shed with a few buddies, he came up with a creation in 1991 that not only looks radical, but went on to dominate the Battle of the Twins championship over the factory bikes.

John Britten passed away in 1995 and only ten plus the one initial bike were made.

Britten V1000 – Courtesy of

4. Ducati Singles

Fabio Taglioni adapted the desmodromic valve drive to Ducatis to combat valve float (the valves staying open, thereby causing loss of compression and peak performance) at high RPM. To turn the camshaft, a vertical shaft (also called a tower shaft) on the right side of the engine sent drive up to the camshaft’s idler gears through a bevel gear.

The resulting engine design together with typical Italian attention was the purest testament in the “form follows function” sense, and the “Desmo” became the trademark of Ducati.

Ducati 250 Single – Courtesy of Vintage Motorcycle Photographs

5. Kawasaki W650/W800

The bevel gear lives! Well, for a while.

Ducati’s bevel drive was soon replaced by belt and finally chain drive in the interest of simplicity and weight savings, which saw the disappearance of the tower shaft and knuckle-like bevel gear cover next to the cylinder block.

But hang on, here comes the retro Kawasaki W650 and the later W800. Such beautiful bikes deserve beautiful engines, don’t they?

Then Kawasaki announced earlier this year that the W800 will be discontinued as will not meet future emissions requirements!


W800 engine – Courtesy of

6. Honda CBX

Speaking of Kawasaki, the 1978 Honda CBX was Honda’s weapon in the titanic arms race between the two Japanese companies. Honda’s wants to reclaim the world’s fastest production bike crown which it lost to the Kawasaki Z1.

Featuring a 105 bhp, 1047cc, air-cooled, DOHC, 24-valve, inline-Six, with six carburetors, it hit a top speed 216 km/h. But that’s just part of the story. The 1979 CBX blew through the ¼-mile run in 11.36 seconds, at 189.82 km/h.

The engine looks large and ungainly in the bike, but it’s only big at the top. The lower parts of the engine were made narrower but moving the alternator and final drive away to other locations to provide more ground clearance for spirited cornerning.

Honda CBX engine – Courtesy of

7. Moto Guzzi V-Twin

There’s no mistaking the Moto Guzzi V-Twin, with both cylinders sticking out the side. This transverse mounting uses the airflow to help cool cylinders and their alloy rocker covers, learned from aircraft experience, instead of having both cylinders stuffed longitudinally along the frame.

The deep, finned oil sump design has also survived to this day.

The newer engines such as the 843cc unit powering the V9 series and 744cc unit powering the V7 series are now fully Euro4 compliant, and are much smoother and easier to live with.

Moto Guzzi V-Twin

8. Triumph Twin

Whether in pre-unit form or the later iterations, Edward Turner’s created an icon. From the timing cases to the angular cylinder and finning around the cylinder block, the Triumph Twin is a distinctively beautiful power unit.

The essential design has been carried forward to the current crop of Triumph modern classics, never losing its trademark and appeal in spite of liquid-cooling.

Triumph Twin – Courtesy of

9. Harley-Davidson V-Twin

How does one argue with something that has become an icon over so many decades?

Sure, one could argue that there isn’t much innovation or substantial power gain in the Motor Company’s V-Twins, but that’s not the point.

In any way you look at it, H-D’s 45-degree V-Twins (both the Big Twin and Sportster Evolution) form the focal point of all Harleys (except for the V-Rod) and that’s why so many customizers still prefer the Harley V-Twin (along with the aftermarket engines from S&S) as the starting point of their creations.

10. Suzuki “Square Four”

The Suzuki RG500 “Gamma” was built between 1985 and 1987, directly inspired by the RGB500 Grand Prix machine which won 7 consecutive constructors titles in the 500cc class with riders such as Barry Sheene.

The 498cc, liquid-cooled, two-stroke, twin-crank, rotary valved, four-cylinder engine had its cylinders arranged in a square configuration, hence the common pet name of “Square Four.” All four cylinders were arranged on the same plane in the earlier versions, while the later versions saw the front two and rear two staggered for better placement in the frame and weight distribution.

It was also the last 500cc two-stroke race replica ever built (the Bimota V-Due didn’t work).

And no, the pistons are not square-shaped.

Suzuki Square Four – Courtesy of
  • X-1R’s appearance at Motonation 2017 was good to highlight the benefits of supplementary products to your bike and car.

  • All the products were highlighted during the event.

  • Most of the products can be safely used in motorcycles.

X-1R has been anonymous with automotive engine protection products and what better way to highlight them than at the recent Motonation 2017 grand finale at PICC.

X-1R has been working together with the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the past 22 years, and such, their products are “Space Certified.” Their lubricant is especially used in “The Crawler,” the vehicle which transports the assembled space vehicles such as the Space Shutter and other rockets from their assembly buildings to the launchpad.

The know-how gained from this venture is what gives this company the edge in engine and mechanical protection in the gruelling real-world driving scenarios.

During Motonation, X-1R Asia had displayed and sold their world-famous products, headed by the Engine Treatment.

This product is formulated as a supplement to whatever engine oil you have in your engine and works to further reduce friction amongst the working parts. From reduced friction, benefits include increased engine life, improved fuel economy, reduced operating temperature, reduced mechanical noises and of course, increases overall efficiency and performance.

A variant of this Engine Treatment is available for motorcycles, called the X-1R Small Engine Treatment. It works to perform the same tasks.

Another product we’ve tried and liked is the X-1R Octane Booster.

It has long been an indispensible companion for this writer on his long-distance touring trips, especially to neighbouring countries. The product came into play during his recent trip into Cambodia and counteracted the negative effect of using fuel of suspect quality. (Click here for the report.)

Other products included the X-1R Engine Flush, which is useful when your bike is due for an oil change. Changing the engine oil without first flushing the old oil may leave behind some residue and possibly sludge in older engines, and end up corrupting the new oil.

This writer has also used the X-1R Fuel System Cleaner on a few occasions, especially after letting his personal bike sit at home for many days and weeks. The compound in the product removes the gum and varnish residues left over by evaporated petrol in the tank, fuel lines, fuel pump, parts of the throttle bodies and fuel injectors.

Also showcased was their Diesel System Treatment. There’s no diesel-powered bikes yet, but this product should be used for the pickups used by those who use them to transport their bikes.

For more information and availability of X-1R’s proven products, please head to X-1R Asia’s website and X-1R Asia’s Facebook page.


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