BMW R18 Malaysia

The final day of the three day two night ride, we head back to KL from Penang.

But because it is a relatively straightforward ride, the participants suggest to check out the new highest highway in Malaysia (at 61.5 meters above ground, the Paya Terubong to Ayer Hitam road takes over from the Rawang bypass as the highest highway) – this though turned out to be a disaster of traffic proportions.

Disaster is probably an overstatement, because we ended up in an absolute hellish traffic crawl through the market in Ayer Hitam, Penang.

Everything and everyone was stuck in that traffic, from the guy on a bicycle, to a cute Vespa and even a bus amongst the many cars.

And in the midst of it all were us! On gleaming BMWs with mega engines protruding out the sides, slowly inching along traffic, trying not to scratch the engine or get a dent on that beautiful body work.

If there is one thing that this epic traffic jam revealed was just how good the R18s were in slow traffic.

The low speed balance of the bike was fantastic, and only at extremely low speeds did we need to tripod it around traffic.

I know this is not a big deal, but keep in mind that the massive twin 1,802cc boxer engine keeps pushing the bike from side to side, so keeping this thing steady at low speed can be a workout. The fact that the R18 does it so effortlessly is genius.

We didn’t actually reach our destination, because we were stuck in traffic for quite a while and then lost our way, so we decided to get on to the second bridge and head south.

And this time I was on the R18 Classic, and boy am I glad for that.

Riding at about 160km/h on a shieldless cruiser is like holding onto a pole at hurricane level winds.

According to the Beaufort Wind Force Scale (a scale used to describe nautical wind speed), any wind that is stronger than 118km/h is enough to devastate a coastline.

So the next time you see anyone riding a cruiser faster than 110km/h, give his arms the due credit.

On the highway, the cruise control function available solely on the R18 Classic is a welcomed feature. Especially on long distance rides where the constant throttle input can become tiring.

The abundance of torque though lets you glide effortlessly. Even when you need to overtake.

Having said that, I did find myself downshifting a gear or two when I needed to get out of the way of an idiot in a fast moving murder machine aka Myvi.

Later I hopped on to the R18 Pure because a media colleague wanted to try out the Classic, because he saw that I was a lot more comfortable than anyone else was.

The R18 Pure can be brutally uncomfortable at anything above 120km/h. But that’s also the case with any shieldless cruiser such as a Harley-Davidson Fatboy or anything of that sort.

But on the long sweeping corners after Kuala Kangsar towards Ipoh was when the R18 Pure came together nicely.

BMW R18 Malaysia

From the vantage point of the rider, the engine looks like it’s just a few centimetres off the road. And this creates a psychological barrier when cornering for fear of scrapping the engine covers.

But get over that and you will notice that the R18 Pure really does like to corner. The R18 Pure at least.

It doesn’t take much to scrape the foot pegs, but it is only the brave that can keep scraping without fear. A quick check between my legs tells me that the size of my nuts doesn’t allow for that.

We reached Ipoh a little after noon, for lunch at The Andersonian Club.

Being an Ipoh boy myself, I have to say that this is not the finest that Ipoh has to offer, but there’s no arguing against a good banana leaf lunch.

But that made the ride back to KL a little more arduous because we all know what happens after a banana leaf lunch at noon.

But I was back on the R18 Classic for that part of the journey. The screen shielding me from the wind, the cruise control taking on the throttling duties, and that fat front wheel soaking up bumps better than the 70 profile Michelin on the R18 Pure.

I have said this before in the previous diary entries over the past two days – the R18 Classic is the better highway cruiser. While the R18 Pure is better and more stylish around town.

But the other thing that I truly enjoyed was the ride itself.

BMW R18 Malaysia

Riding in the cool Cameronian breeze. Carving the many corners of Sungai Koyan. The yummy food in Penang and the stay in G Hotel in Gourney drive. And especially the company.

I enjoyed it all. Everything was beautifully put together and the people and the R18’s made it better.

BMW R18 Malaysia

But this is not a journey that only a select few can enjoy. You too can sign up for this at a little over RM3,000.

I received a message from a friend saying that it didn’t sound like a good deal – I didn’t understand that.

BMW R18 Malaysia

The bike rental alone costs RM1,000 a day (if you can find one) while a stay at the G Hotel in Gourney comes in at over RM500 per night.

You can’t really put a value to not having to line up at Nasi Kandar Deen Maju. And that sunset cruise was a classy touch – typically BMW. But just so you know, the cruise alone costs RM4,500 for three hours.

BMW R18 Malaysia

For RM3,350, you get an all expenses paid trip. Even the petrol is covered and you don’t even have to worry about carrying your own bags because there will be a support car to manage all of that.

All you have to do is ride. And perhaps just like it did for me – your soul too can be fuelled.

Visit for more information!

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

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.


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 for more information.

It has been about seven years since I had last attended an official BMW Motorrad ride. The year was 2015 and the destination was somewhere in Spain.

The model that was introduced back then was the much loved BMW S1000XR – Munich’s first ever salvo at the Ducati Multistrada. That is of course an entirely different story.

Fast forward to 2022, and I write this lounging at the Century Pines Hotel in Cameron Highlands, after completing day one of the first ever BMW R18 Getaway.

This is a unique event put together by BMW Motorrad Malaysia for R18 owners or those who would like to experience the R18 and the lifestyle it offers.

The ride costs somewhere in the RM8,000 region, but you could have it for a little over RM3,000, owner or non.

To be able to offer this, BMW Motorrad Malaysia partnered with a company that could just be the authority on BMW motorcycles in Malaysia – FS Adventures which owned and run by BMW fanatics Faisal Sukree (above) and KK Wong (below).

FS Adventures is a company that specialises in putting together adventure rides for BMW owners in Malaysia and around the world.

Faizal is also a contestant in the extremely demanding GS Trophy, while KK is a BMW road riding trainer.

We had interviewed Faizal in depth some time ago and spoke to him about his rides and adventures. He is a man of many tales, like how he once rode off a snow cliff in Alaska because he couldn’t see the road ahead in the thick snow.

You can read about Faizal and his adventures here.

So what happened on Day One?

The ride started after a brief at Bungalow 37 in Bangsar. The destination for the day was Cameron Highlands.

It wasn’t too far of a ride but the roads were beautiful.

After a quick splash and dash at the famous BHP station at Karak, we headed towards Century Pines hotel in Tanah Rata via the secluded but much loved Sungai Koyan – Cameron Highlands road.

Lunch was served at a quaint cafe and guest house called Tiny Boutique.

When Faizal told us that the cafe serves some of the best pizzas in Malaysia, I dismissed that. Almost everyone says that about pizza at some cafe.

But after trying it out for myself, admittedly it is one of the best I’ve had. Even the soup served as a starter was made of five different types of mushrooms, Alaskan snow crab and mussels. It was unique and a must visit.

We reached the hotel at about 330pm for some downtime before riding back out for dinner later at 7pm.

How were the bikes?

Both the BMW R18 Pure and R18 Classic was on offer in the morning, but I chose to start with the classic.

Why? Well, it came with a windscreen and cruise control, which is not available on the Pure.

The windscreen offered some protection from the wind blast at illegal speeds, while the cruise control provided some comfort after about an hour and a half of my arms being stretched out to grip the handle bars.

The R18 Classic came with a bigger front tyre as well. Measuring in at a chunky 130/90 16 while the Pure offers a slimmer Michelin tyre measuring in at 120/70 R19.

This made the front end feel a little less eager to turn especially around the winding rounds of Sungai Koyan and up Cameron Highlands towards Tanah Rata.

More saddle time should fix that issue.

Talking about saddles, the seat on the R18 could be better. My bum was absolutely murdered after about two hours of riding.

But that isn’t too surprising though, BMW does after all offer a selection of aftermarket seats, and there’s even more from BMW’s aftermarket partner – Mustang Seats.

This is a strategy seen in other cruisers such as Harley-Davidsons as well.

The BMW R18 is after all supposed to be a blank canvas for you to customise according to your taste. To create your own custom BMW according to your whim and fancy.

It is a very capable canvas too.

That 1,802cc engine is a masterpiece, not only to look at but the way it delivers its power as well.

The controls are mid-set with no option of forward set controls simply because the mammoth of an engine gets in the way.

It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful engines ever to grace a motorcycle.

It puts out 91hp at 4,750rpm and about 158Nm of torque from just 3,000rpm.

This means that on the highway and around fast bends, you can simply ride the torque wave without downshifting.

But when the corners get tighter, you need to adopt the regular riding style of downshifting or risk the bike running wide.

There are also three different riding modes, and in typical BMW fashion, are called Rain, Roll and Rock.

As you would probably expect, Rain dumbs down all the electronics and power to keep you safe when the roads are wet.

Roll is for regular dry road riding with maximum power available at a squirt of the throttle.

While Rock is what we regular folks would usually call Sport. This is when the bike is at its liveliest and gives you full beans.

So what’s next?

Tomorrow we head to Penang with some corner carving on the way down from Cameron Highlands and some highway time on the north south highway.

I will bring you more about the R18, and also hope to spend some time with the R18 pure.

For now though, I need a whisky.


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