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The BMW R18 Getaway Diary: Day 2 – Cameron Highlands to Penang At Top Speed!

Our riding yesterday didn’t just end after we arrived at the Century Pines hotel in Tanah Rata.

In fact, right after I had published yesterday’s entry, we jumped back on the bikes and headed to one of the oldest hotels & restaurant in Cameron Highlands – The Smoke House.

The ride there was chilly. If there is one good thing that Covid did, it stopped people from over visiting some key landmarks in the country, like Cameron Highlands.

This allowed the environment to somewhat heal, and the cool weather Cameron Highlands was once known for is thankfully back.

We rode in 18 degrees Celsius yesterday. And that was at 730pm. I hope it stays that way for good now. Fat chance I know.

Anyway, as I had mentioned it had rained earlier and that meant we were riding in the dark on wet roads.

I didn’t bother changing the ride mode and kept the bike in Roll (as I mentioned yesterday, the R18 has three riding modes – Rock, Roll and Rain)

Throughout the many corners between Century Pines and The Smoke House, never did the traction control light blink.

Power was easily manageable thanks to the masses of torque, so you don’t really need to downshift when entering a corner.

I did try the Rain mode on the ride back, but that just made the throttle feel too lazy. I reckon that would be best left for riding in torrential rain.

On the ride down from Cameron Highlands, I swapped the R18 Classic for the R18 Pure. I found the 16 inch front wheel a little too heavy and un-obliging when I wanted the front end to be where I wanted it to be.

So swapping the 16 inch front wheel for the 19 inch front wheel of the Pure should sort that out, in theory at least.

The Pure is also about 5-8 kilograms lighter than the Classic since it does without the windshield and cruise control and a lighter front wheel.

At first, the tight corners of Cameron Highlands had me huffing and puffing to manage the 350 kilograms of the R18.

It is a heavy bike and there is no sugar coating that fact.

KK Wong, the BMW certified trainer then pulled me aside and reminded me of something I had already known all this while – just be in the right gear and look where you want to go, and let your right hand manage the throttle and ultimately the weight of the bike.

And then it all flowed nicely.

Sometimes we all need a cool three minute talk to remind us of what is already in our entrenched memory.

From then on, the R18 Pure proved to be perfectly tractable in tight and long corners.

That front end was obliging anytime I needed it to move away from a pothole.

But the joy of riding the R18 Pure ended at the corners around Cameron Highlands, because as soon as we came down from the hills and hit the highway, I found myself wishing I was still on the R18 Classic.

Northbound on the highway heading towards Penang, we had the perfect opportunity to feel how the R18 is like on the open roads.

The 1,802cc engine and the 158Nm of torque were perfectly at home on the open highway, all you ever need to get up to speed is to gently squeeze the throttle and you would reach jail term speeds in about 200 meters or less.

There is no denying the power of the engine.

But there is also no denying the well known fact that a cruiser with no windshield and open handle bars can be extremely uncomfortable on the highway at high speed.

And I reiterate the now very important point that the first thing that needs to be done when you buy a R18 (Pure or Classic) is to change the seat for something more comfortable.

But if there is one thing that I learnt today, it would be the fact that the R18 Pure is quite capable in corners and can be quite fun too, which is amazing for such a heavy bike.

It would however need some aftermarket accessories to make it more comfortable on the highway.

A BMW representative nailed it on the head when he said, “The R18 is not a long distance tourer, it is a mid or short range tourer”. And you can’t blame them for that either, because they have the RT or the GS for those who want to go far comfortably.

After reaching our destination of the day, we ended up in what could just be the most difficult nasi kandar to have in Malaysia, and that is simply because of the long lines that the shop almost always seems to have.

I am talking about Deen Maju Nasi Kandar in Penang. For those not in the know, this joint always seems to have a long line that snakes out and around the shop. It is quite normal for people to wait upwards of an hour to have a meal.

But of course, in another stroke of pure class, BMW simply reserved a room and we trudged right in for lunch.

And about two hours after lunch, we hopped onto a catamaran for a relaxing sunset cruise under the Penang bridge.

Though quite common in islands like Langkawi, I never knew that you could charter such cruises in Penang. I suggest that you check them out at the “Straits Quay Sunset Cruise” Instagram and Facebook page.

Or you could simply email them at stratsquaysunsetcruise@gmail.com

What happens tomorrow?

Tomorrow is sadly the last day of the R18 Getaway.

But not before some cruising around Penang Island, and a spot of banana leaf “lunching” in Ipoh.

This could just be your adventure too.

BMW R18 MALAYSIA

You too can join the BMW R18 Getaway Ride Malaysia at just RM3,350 which includes all that I have mentioned including the cruise and even the BMW R18 motorcycle itself. And if you would like to bring a pillion along, you just have to add a further RM2,200 to that.

Seems like a steal doesn’t it? Consider this, the yacht trip alone costs RM4,500 for three hours. And you simply pay RM3,350 for the entire ride.

This is the ultimate motorcycle tour bargain, if there ever was one.

Visit www.fsadventures.com.my for more information.

Co-founder of Bikes Republic and a motoring journalist by night. He is a self described enthusiasts with a passion for speed but instead rides a Harley and a J300. A man of contradictions, he is just as passionate about time off in the quiets as he is about trail braking into turn one at Sepang Circuit on two or four wheels.

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