Little red dot. We are one of the most affluent cities amongst the South East Asian countries. This entails many luxuries that many of us are privileged enough to grow up with. A robust transportation system, efficient governance and all the bells and whistles that a first world country ought to have. Motorcycles, deemed less worthy of the status of a car, were once considered a utilitarian machine. A workhorse for the blue-collared. This idea changed with the burgeoning demand for larger capacity, more luxurious machines. Motorcycles were now primed to be taxed by the government. The growing middle class would no longer be able to get away with a throaty 90 degree L-Twin for sub $1000 Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and 15% Additional Registration Fee (ARF). In the year 2017, the tiered-ARF announcement dashed many motorcycling millennial dreams.
“Why We Ride?”
“Why we ride?” is an existential question. Objectively, the vast and efficient transportation networks deem the weathering of the heat and rain in this country, unnecessary. Yet, the intangible aspects of straddling a bike, riding down the road with every sense of your body on overdrive and most importantly, being behind the bars alongside friends, is why we make the stupendous decision to forgo all creature comforts of the enclosed vehicles (cars, buses and trains alike).
A millennial’s life-savings range from naught, to the bare minimum left from National Service, to the extreme wealth from the upper-middle class families that seem to be growing out of proportion. Most of us scrounge what we have to start the mandatory riding lessons. Exorbitant prices the lessons deter some. (Here’s how much it costs to get a 2B license).
Failing a lesson prevents progress to the next, some press on, others give up. A handful each month are awarded with their 2B license, an entry pass to the world of motorcycling, under 200cc. An ambitious few would come back a year later to take the 2A license, entitling them to motorcycles under 400cc. Mundane work schedules, miscellaneous commitments and diminishing interests would creep in. A passionate few would take the Class 2, this license would open up the entire catalogue of motorcycles, regardless of engine capacity.
We waltz out of the driving centres, with little cash left after the lessons. What monies left in the bank goes to the motorcycle itself. A full set of Dainese gear is not something most can afford, most would reckon a ten-minute ride in sunny Singapore would not be worth the trouble gearing up anyways (Get them at Riding Apparel in Singapore). We drool at the Youtube reviews from Revzilla (Where you can watch decide and Ride!). The young will always think they are invincible.
The first year, we shall enjoy the serendipity of discovering lifeless roads never reached by feeder service buses. Not to mention, the long nights spent trawling four-lane roads in town to the sound of a stifled single-cylinder. Most importantly, the time and effort saved on transport. But the biggest gripe, the weather in Singapore, would take its toll. Rain hits like a volley of fire here, it is unforgiving and unpredictable.
Paths shall diverge as riders discover the different disciplines of motorcycles. They start singing to the tunes of raspy V-twins to 6-cylinder masterpieces. One either forms an allegiance to a characteristic type of riding or samples between everything in between.
What little this red dot had to offer soon grew stifling, we yearned to do more with our motorcycles. One will eventually discover the open roads up North. The beautiful valleys and endless switchback corners remind us of the Americas and in the European Alps. The insatiable appetite to ride can now be appeased.
This was when the $200 entry level riding jacket seemed useful. From Motorworld’s Komine (you can find them here) promotions, to Racing World’s Alpinestars closeout sales. Kriega packs cost a small fortune, so began the quest for second hand ones.
Up North, we could roam free. Was this not what all motorcyclists chased? Yet we shall always be shackled down to the lines of asphalt drawn up by city planners. Paved roads eventually end. Loose dirt and gravel fill its void.
The untrodden lands held no boundaries, no marks. The chocolate bars of knobby tyres shall be the first to make its mark. Or so we thought. Venturing out of the tarmac for the first time was as intriguing as the first day in riding school. Learning this art opened up the unreachable places on the maps. Inadvertently, we had discovered dirt-riding.
Drop the Komines, the Alpinestars, trawl the secondhand market for used armour and offroad boots. Give up the creature comforts of a 4-stroke engine for the volatile 2-stroke machines. ‘Cause we, were going into the world of dirt-bikes.
Riding dirt was hard. Dangerous. A physical affair.
We loved Ulu Choh (check them out here), a vast open playground. Learning things the hard way, demolishing the bikes, our bodies too.
It became our passion, an innate desire to rip hard and relish in the primal nature of motorcycling. No frills, just the engine, frame, wheels, and barely a seat.
This was the making of the Bar Pad Tool Kit. Bound to the same utilitarian ideals of motorcycles.
– Joel, RRE