Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 4)

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 4)

Our story began here.

Overhaul

The trio were already more than halfway in their journey. The room reeked of soiled clothes. CW was already downstairs inspecting his broken machine. That morning, they managed to push their motorcycle to a mechanic nearby. It never seemed like a simple problem, and were doubtful when the mechanic charged USD$20 to fix it up. To his credit, the bike was running again, but it was clear the engine was running on borrowed time. So they rode to a proper workshop, and they managed a questionable overhaul of the engine within a day’s time for USD$100.

Final Drive: Chain

Hoi An was famous for its seafood and while the bike was being repaired, they spent their downtime at the beach. They did tourist things, making sunglasses and roamed the streets for cheap beer. They had missed the famed Hai Van pass because of the delays and dreaded the next leg of the trip onto Kon Tum. 

When they set off the next morning, CW’s motorcycle had a new problem. This time his chain broke off. Karl tried to rejoin the remaining pins and spent a precious hour attempting so. They did their best but it was not enough, and succumbed to accepting the fact that they had to push the bike onward. Marcus was quite experienced with this endeavor at this point in time and they soldiered on. A local truck driver pulled alongside them and saw the painstaking effort. He kindly offered them a rope to tow the motorcycle instead. Another plus for Vietnamese people.

A Morale Boost

They travelled at a snail’s pace and covered about 20 kilometers of road in this manner before a mechanic was in sight. They continued on their uneventful ride till dinner. At the restaurant they were once again greeted by a menu that was unreadable, not even by Google’s visual translator. They ordered their food at random and had no expectations. The unassuming restaurant served the best meal they had on the trip. It was fit for royalty, large portions of fresh meat, vegetables and steamboat. The locals were amused by the portion the friends had ordered. They had suffered through a miserable day with no expectations for it to get any better and this meal lifted their spirits tremendously.

Nha Trang

When they reached Nha Trang the next day, they decided to detour and explored the empty roads. The compact asphalt made way for loose soil that invited them towards an open grass field. It was empty for miles, lush trees and hills made for the backdrop and only the river bordered the area. Local kids in mopeds curiously investigated these three foreigners. They were school children in their uniform, watching innocently as the three friends took turns letting the rear wheel loose on the soil. The kids gleefully imitated their actions and in that moment,  the language barrier fell away as motorcycles became the medium for communication. The bikes invoked the same emotions for everyone.

Dalat

Where the roads ended, adventure began and this was a common theme for the trip. Towards Dalat, the friends found themselves being rewarded for their curiosity as they explored every vague dirt trail they saw. Karl was drawn towards a steep hill climb and incited the rest to follow suit. They fought gravity in the warm weather and the Honda Win fought valiantly to keep up. It eventually passed the test, the hill mercifully revealed the beauty of Dalat’s landscapes to their eyes. It was a panoramic view of the hills and highlands that split the cerulean blue sky and viridescent vegetation. 

Dalat was their favourite destination on the trip. It was the distinctly cooler weather and empty, peaceful streets on the outskirts that they loved. The streets reflected the architecture from the French colonial period, it was also one of the most visited places in Vietnam. With that, came a siege of activities targeted at tourists. From curated adventure packages like waterfall tours to luge rides, the friends mulled over their options.

Mui Ne

In their last leg towards Saigon, the friends stopped at Mui Ne, infamous for corruption. They had braced themselves for road blocks and were prepared to pay off the police. A single road ran into Mui Ne and it was the main artery that the police had to target. But in a stroke of fortune, the Honda Wins were so slow that by the time they had reached Mui Ne, it was dusk and the police had already packed up. It was amusing even to the locals, when the friends retold the story to their homestay hosts.

With the midday sun bearing down, the friends found themselves barefoot on the beach, awaiting an epic fishing trip. A round tub, made of faded blue plastics, bobbled at the shore. CW clambered over it, before the rest got on board. The Vietnamese guide paddled with tremendous strength to get them towards the fishing boat, docked further offshore. They sailed towards the open sea that day, only to turn back empty handed. It was a disappointing waste of time and money, made worse by the insincerity of the guide. Mui Ne also had beautiful sand dunes sculpted by the winds brought inland from the sea. A unique desert landscape, marred only by the incessant number of tourists.

Saigon

They concluded their journey after Mui Ne, and headed south towards Saigon. Heavy traffic resumed, mirroring the conditions of Hanoi, where they had started. Eager eyed mechanics would scout hotels and home-stays with Honda Wins that were ridden by foreigners. The bikes were sold for USD$130 each, a mere depreciation of USD$70.

The friends expressed their ambivalent feelings leaving the machines that had brought them through this extensive journey through Vietnam. They were grateful that the worst was over and that the bikes, that were a time bomb, were off their hands. They had thrown caution in the wind when they decided to make this trip as spontaneous as possible, but they were quietly confident in their abilities to step out of their comfort zone in times of hardship. Heck, they would have slept on the road if they had too. The trip was about the endearing hospitality of the locals, the extreme spectrum of the weather be it the biting cold or scorching heat that they had to plough through the day, the acceptance of vulnerability on two wheels that all riders shared, the unsaid understanding between friends and optimism in the face of adversity.

– Joel

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 3)

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 3)

Our story continues, check out Part 1 and Part 2 to catch up!

Mountain Roads

Phong Nha was promised as the utopia for the adventurous. The roads hugged the ancient karsts, contorted to nature’s will. What encapsulated the place, were the enormous caves that were chiseled by floods occurring over millions of years. The mountains were shrouded by the lush forests, lending to an ethereal atmosphere.

Mist settled over, and a chill lingered in the atmosphere. The roads banked with the turns, presenting a spectacular riding occasion. A light touch of the bar tips the motorcycle over as it swoops through the curves. Even on these miserable machines, the friends found joy cruising the winding roads. Karl felt weightless as he maneuvered through chicanes, feeling an intimate connection with road from the raw, unforgiving heap of a chassis. Marcus experienced a deep sense of serenity as he was reminded at the fleeting nature of this moment, to savour it while it lasted. CW had a grin wide across his face, all his worries were irrelevant, suspended in time and space.

Dang Wheelies!

The curves unwinded into a long empty straight road with no end in sight. The lanes widened enough for a small plane to land. The karst peaks lined the landscape, viridescent vegetation expanded outwards into the horizon. The trio pulled over and gazed towards the distant landscape, vividly aware of how miniscule they were in this place. Their solemn gaze soon turned into a cheeky smile, CW shot a gleeful look at Marcus. The cacophony that was his engine, rose to nobody’s pleasure. Then he dumped his clutch with as much finesse as he could muster to summon an anticlimactic extension of his front forks. Their playful nature took over as they tried to outdo each other’s attempts at wheelies.

Caves and Beer!

When the trio finally reached Phong Nha, they settled for a tour of the famous caves. A wild ride on the flying fox sent a gleeful Karl across a river, into one cave. In the darkness, they fumbled with the headlamps and were greeted by a mud pool at the end of the cave. They were awestruck by the scale of the place. That night, they rode into the countryside, deep in a single track trail littered with potholes to the Pub with Cold Beer. The moon shone soft lighting as they climbed a steeped trail up to the Pub. There was complete darkness, not a soul in sight, and were greeted by rasping barks of guard dogs. A fluorescent bulb flickered into existence and the friendly owners (who became the DJs of the night), greeted them. They were farmers and grew everything that was served in this pub organically. There was even an option to slaughter your own chicken before you served it up yourself. Marcus stepped up to the challenge.

The Problem With Carbs

The next day, they ascended in altitude as they rode through the highlands. CW’s problematic bike puttered to a stop as the carburetor gasp for thin air. His loose gas tank tumbled about its place and occasionally disengaged the fuel cock. Precious time was lost with each trivial fix. Hours along the way, the met a man who was fiddling with his own motorcycle. He had a tremendous build, and one had to feel for the puny bike that had to carry its weight. It was obvious that something had gone wrong.

Friends on Two Wheels

He had bought his motorcycle in Sapa, even further north of Hanoi, and courageously did so despite never having any formal training on a motorcycle in his entire life. He spoke passionately about how he kept stumbling along the way, but stood up again in the face of adversity. The trio were filled with admiration for this man. Marcus offered to help him. With one foot on the man’s motorcycle, Marcus pinned his throttle to get them both going. The Honda Win screamed for mercy as it powered itself, Marcus, the other guy and his motorcycle up steep slopes, banks and long stretches of nothingness.

They reached a mechanic on the roadside and this was where they parted ways. The trio wished him luck in his endeavors and had to make up for lost time. Darkness ensued, and they found the throw of their headlights pathetic. In a desperate attempt to illuminate as much of the road as possible, the trio made a comical attempt to strap torchlights on the front of Marcus’s bike. Marcus road cautiously onward to Khe Sanh, reaching only at midnight.

Hoi An

The trio rose after a deserved rest, and had to leave immediately for Hoi An. It was a long, uninspired stretch of asphalt that had an unchanging scenery with no signs of life along the way. Time seemed to pass incessantly slow. Dark clouds loomed over and a crack of thunder signal the impending storm. The torrential rain demoralized the trio. Karl and CW sought protection from their raincoats, while Marcus braved the cold and rain head on. They all shivered in the wind and rain, but there was no shelter insight. Desperate, and dispirited they trudged along.

Lightning Strikes

Marcus witnessed the formidable lightning strikes first hand as it struck ground that was dangerously close. They were on exposed highlands and could not help but fear for their lives. Their wooden boards for seats started collecting water as the rain continued relentlessly. Karl and CW could not help but pity Marcus’s drenched state. The fog enveloped the mountain as they made their way towards the city. It was their most miserable part of the trip so far.

They managed dinner and just about had enough of this day when CW’s bike broke down before they could reach their hotel. It screeched to a halt and sounded like the piston had seized, giving up on itself, mirroring the state they trio were in. They were at the brink of resorting to dumping the bike, but Marcus pushed the bike in the same way they helped the fellow stranger the day before. As they filtered through traffic, the locals stared at them with amusement. Three foreigners, a broken motorcycle and in soaked clothing.

They had reached Hoi An in horrid fashion. Marcus reminisces on this moment and knew that “we will make the best we could out of the situation.” It was learning to understand that no problem was too difficult to fix, that patience was key and unnecessary worry weighs down the soul. They had the tenacity to face each obstacle head on, and sought solace knowing that the locals would be friendly, that trust in humanity mattered more. This trust does not come easy, especially as city dwellers. One never meets horrid people in the countryside, for they congregate in town. The unique stories will be etched in their minds forever.

– Joel

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 2)

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 2)

Three friends were on a motorcycle journey from Hanoi to Saigon. They had just rented cheap motorcycles for USD$200. 

Ninh Binh

Their next city from Hanoi was Ninh Binh. As the trio rode away from the city, they witnessed a beautiful change in landscape immediately. The Ninh Binh province was near the Red River Delta. An intricate river system connected the river deltas and they exit out into the South China Sea. It also boasts beautiful hilly regions where limestone karst peaks stood out from the low lying rice fields in an unworldly manner. These karst peaks pervade through the area, forming valleys that are partially submerged with steep, vertical cliffs. The formation of these hills created amazing limestone caves in the process. Additionally, Ninh Binh also has a substantial amount of coastline areas and beaches that are recognized as a world biosphere reserve by UNESCO. It is an experience in itself to take in the varied formations, emphasized by the changes in color from dark green tropical forests, stone grey limestone, turquoise waterways to the warm hue of the rice paddies in Ninh Binh. 

Hospitality

The riders had to make several stops to rest and stretch from the long hours in the saddle. On one of these stops, they entered the driveway of what they thought was a shop house. It was a dirt track off to the side of the main road, with green plantations on either side of it. In the front porch, there were tiny plastic stools that were about as tall as a scooter’s tire, sitting down on it felt almost like a squat. No one there could speak English but the universal language of beer was understood. The three friends watched as the owners went about their daily lives while they sipped on their beer. The father sat in front of the television with his son and the wife going about the house chores. There was not a care in the world as three complete strangers sat on their front porch, savoring the chilled beer on tiny plastic stools. A different world of hospitality.

Home stay

As they made their way towards their home stay in Ninh Binh, Marcus who was on the lead bike, found themselves directed towards a dirt trail far off the road. Google maps showed a clear road leading towards their home stay. But what they saw was vast plains of rice fields and limestone karst peaks in the horizon. Their dirt trail meandered behind those peaks, what laid ahead seemed mysterious. They ventured forth with a tinge of hesitation and found the home stay nestled just at the fringe of the limestone peaks. They were surprised at the finish and decor of the home stay. It was a great relief for them after a day of riding.

The City

The city of Ninh Binh was a beautiful place to explore, non-existent traffic was a nice change from that of Hanoi. The weather was cool, which made for an enjoyable ride into town. As they rode along, the three friends saw how the impeccable landscape was the backdrop for a few couples, who were taking their wedding photos. Wandering into the tourist area, they spotted some all-over print t-shirts that had been seen everywhere since they landed in Hanoi. The team bought matching shirts just for laughs, it represented their light-hearted approach to this trip and life philosophy. 

Bike Issues

It was not long till CW’s bike ran into trouble again. They came to a stop alongside the road and discovered it was a flat tire. As they gathered around the motorcycle, several curious Vietnamese people surrounded them, wanting to help. They could not understand a word of English, but were genuine in their desire to help others in distress. The team gestured to the nearest pedestrian, pointing to the contorted rubber and gesturing an air pump’s motion. One old man pointed down the street and another in the other way. The trio acknowledged, and traveled gingerly down in search of a mechanic, which they eventually found along the way.

Lying Dragon Mountain

They spent the next day exploring Ninh Binh’s mountainous region. Slightly north of Tam Coc, the Lying Dragon Mountain stands tall. Ascending the 450 stone steps that lead up the contorted shape of a dragon’s back, one would be greeted with incredible views of Ninh Binh. It provided a panoramic view of the rice paddies contrasted with the limestone karst peaks with rivers flowing through the area. 

They found a beautiful bar near their home stay. Being the only customers, they were beloved for their patronage. They drank to their heart’s content and wandered back in their drunken stupor that night. The three friends found themselves alone in the padi fields, with the silhouette of limestone peaks against the night sky. A single dirt track led back home. As CW laughed for the world to hear, the echoes reached nobody and only the stillness of the night replied. They felt at peace and surreal in that moment, without a care in the world, nor worries about the journey ahead. 

Vinh

As they left Ninh Binh, they were in high spirits. Their next stop was Vinh and they rode along the Ho Chi Minh trail. It was a long straight highway and their bikes could only average 60 km/h. There were trucks everywhere and they attempted to make good time by limiting each rest point at the 3 hour mark. It was a tough mental game, to keep concentration in the same position, to watch the unchanging landscape, all amidst the droning sound of wind and engine noise. During one of their pit stops, they lamented how this was the worst part of the trip, not knowing what laid ahead. They rode for 300 kilometers that day to Vinh.

 

The City

Vinh is the biggest city in central Vietnam. It became an important industrial area under French rule. With the extensive damage from wars later on, much of the city was damaged and it was the resilience of the people that rebuilt it into the high-rise apartments today. The unique Soviet-style architecture that exists today was because of the influence of East German aid and ideas on town planning. The pastel colored houses and city-scape was unique to Vinh, and easily recognizable because of that. 

The three friends deployed their drone to capture this moment, only to have it crash into their balcony before it landed on someone else’s roof top. The zinc roof looked precarious to climb on, so they employed the help of a young Vietnamese boy who was more than eager to take on the challenge. It was these amazing moments that cemented the impression of the Vietnamese people.

They had to change the engine oil on their leaky bikes before settling in for dinner. They saw first hand how the mechanics chose not to drain the oil conventionally through the drain bolt, but extract them out with a mechanical pump. It intrigued Karl who had never seen such a contraption in his life. At dinner, the challenge was deciphering the menu. They pointed to anything that was in their budget and eagerly awaited their meals. It turned out to be instant noodles as the base on all three of their plates. It was edible, but not what they had expected to end off their long journey to Vinh. They did their best to get enough rest for their journey to Phong Nha the next day.

Till next time!
– Joel 

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 1)

Vietnam – Hanoi to Saigon Road trip (Part 1)

Abenteuer

  • ein militärisches/politisches/verbrecherisches Abenteuer a military/political/criminal venture
  • auf Abenteuer aus sein to be looking for adventure

We crave adventure, an escape from the routine. But the plethora of information on the internet threatens the experience of any form of adventure. In an instant, we can plot and plan our journeys down to its finest detail. Here at Rock Ready, we yearn for a hard earned trip, filled with spontaneous decisions and problems to be solved along its way. Riding is an experience, so is an adventure, it cannot be planned for nor created deliberately. It is the visceral feeling on a motorcycle, the uncompromising weather and people you meet along the way. Three great friends waltz into the unknown together.

The Ho Chi Minh trail was born out of a dark phase in Vietnam’s history books. In the face of relentless attacks by Americans, the trail was kept open to move supplies from North Vietnam into South Vietnam. It consists of numerous paths and trails that starts from Hanoi. Much of it meanders within Laos before reaching into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) where ammunition and crucial supplies found their way into the hands of communist guerrillas.

Decades later, these pathways remain largely the same. The roads and trails wind through the mountainous terrain, running beside the main artery which is the main highway that stretches the length of the country. The terrain has been the perfect setting for adventurous motorcyclists all over the world. Well documented and published by many who have come before, CW drew inspiration from the beauty of the challenge that this journey posed. He roped in two of his best riding mates, Marcus and Karl who were eager to test their own mettle as well.

Touchdown

None of the three friends knew much to expect. They had bought their flight tickets on a whim, and chose to go forth spontaneously. Working around the number of days they had, they decided on a journey that was south bound. While most travellers would pass through the established coastal road that ran the length of Vietnam, no motorcyclist would ever choose to ride such highways that perpetually went on forever. From there, they plotted their route along the Ho Chi Minh trail, expecting the scenic route to be lined with the beautiful mountainous ranges. This route would follow roads that at times, seemed almost non-existent. This pretty much dictated the locations for each pit stop of the trip.

With their spirits high and determined to let fate decide their experience, the three friends packed light, only clothes, passport and bare essentials. Karl and CW wisely brought along their raincoats as a contingency. Unfortunately, the team was left without their assortment of tools and fuses that they had brought along, when security confiscated them after the hand-carry check.

They touched down in the evening and settled for the night. In their own space, each of them were undoubtedly curious about their journey ahead, ever more so because of the uncertainty. But the friends drew comfort from one another, quietly confident that they had each other’s back should things go south. Dawn broke, the three friends went about the city of Hanoi looking for a cheap motorcycle under USD$200 to purchase.

A quick search on the internet directed them to a few established shops. Weaving through the sea of traffic on motorcycle taxis, they made their way there. Shophouses selling auto parts lined the street, the motorcycles were splayed out on the oil stained concrete floors. They were so close that they seemed to be entangled with one another, huddled in fear of the journey that their potential owners might take them on.

Honda Win

The establishments here sold the Honda Win, appearing in decent, serviceable conditions. The local market had seen enough aspiring ‘adventure’ riders and none of the owners were letting any motorcycle for less than USD$400. The three friends were on a student’s budget. Doubling the cost of the ride was not an option. They wrestled with the idea of renting the bike for USD$200, but they all had an inkling that somewhere down the next turn, a cheaper alternative would surface. They much preferred to take the gamble, to risk riding a horrendous motorcycle and overcome the obstacles that would be thrown in their way.

How dull it would be, to have a motorcycle trip with no hiccups, desperate situations and insufferable weather? But to faff around and be indecisive would mean they would lose considerable time, extend the road coverage per day and even risk missing their return flights. There was a round table discussion with beer that night, take the gamble it was.

They had to move off the next day and became less hopeful as they wandered down the same street in search of a bike. The three friends were in constant worry, yet they were hopeful that the tide would turn and things will go their way. To their amazement, it was a small tour agency, hidden in an alleyway that had exactly what they needed. They were picked up by a suspicious looking van that wandered towards the outskirts of Hanoi. The end destination was a derelict garage that was filled with motorcycles. Marcus adamantly expressed their budget and deflected any form of up-selling from the owners. 

The three friends laid their eyes on the last three USD$200 Honda Wins. There was no love at first sight, no aura glowing behind the motorcycles. The first one looked like it had all the correct parts that made up the Honda Wind. The second seemed to have made an unsuccessful face lift, attempting to mimic a strip down, cafe racer style. While the previous owner of the last bike had it spray painted black all over, with no effort taken to remove the individual panels while doing so.

Karl swung a leg over the first Honda Win, which would become CW’s ride for the trip. Karl took it for a test ride. Even though it was a rust bucket, with misaligned steering, plush wood for seats, a carburetor that was probably sourced from Aliexpress, the bike started, idled and ran. Besides, these were the only options they had, and away they must!

Off and away!

The deal was done, they loaded their packs and rode into the horizon. But a road trip is never as romantic as it seems. Thirty kilometers in, CW’s best looking Honda Win had an amusing look to it. Its headlight hinged on one bolt, and drooped towards the right of the motorcycle. It had the look of defeat, like that of an unwilling participant in this epic journey, for it had probably seen the sufferings of this cross country ride during its ten odd years in service. It would not be the last instance that this motorcycle gave up. 

Stay tuned for the next chapter in this epic journey!

– Joel

Our Origin Story – from Singapore!

Our Origin Story – from Singapore!

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).

Tiered-License

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. 

Going North

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.

Ride Dirt(y)!

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