Sunday, October 30, 2011

Penang Foldie Night Ride Part 3

You don't get to cycle in Penang at night that often
The airhorn blared. 
In the rain, I can see a stream of cyclists on their folding bikes moving slowly into the rain.
I was riding next to Andrew and told him that I am just doing the ride at a casual pace.
Part of the first section was pretty dark and my Roxim RX-5 headlight actually helped in lighting up my path.
Most of the foldies were cycling with some really small lights, making it hard to see.
The first five kilometres were pretty easy as we made our way down to the Esplanade where the bunch regrouped.
From the rear, I can clearly see that the Dahon X10s were clearly out of the way.
These guys were fast!
Some of the foldies with smaller wheels like the Carryme and JABS were also doing pretty well.
I can see that there is a group from MiniVelo bikes in Penang who are cycling their JAB foldies.
Another bigger group, some sexy aunties were on their Dahon Dash P18.

An interesting ride 
The group came to an abrupt stop near the Esplanade.
There, a young boy fell.

He was okay as we proceeded towards the Heritage Row.
This is an interesting aspect of the ride which I think - should be exploited for tourists like me from KL.
We rode on cobblestones as some of the foldies were cursing.
Since I was on a full-suspension bike, it was a piece of cake!
We slowly made our way back to Burma Road, I can see my hotel and the night activities in the area.
Bit-by-bit, the crowd of foldies slowly made their way towards Jalan Kelawi and turned towards the Penang Plaza.
On my Garmin, the Straits Quay was in the middle of the sea.
This is reclaimed land with some really posh houses.
As I made my way towards the event hall, some riders ended their day by riding home.
The lucky draw offering a Polygon folding bike was the highlight of the day.
My number was drawn and I won a T-shirt which I gave away.
Andrew, En Jamil from Taiping and I took a photo together before parting ways..

Note to self: Never wear white when you cycle on the road especially after a heavy shower...
Touching-base and making new friends: with En Jamil and Andrew at the Foldie Night Ride in Penang...
Well, its over for some, not me...
Andrew rode off with his Dahon MuP8 towards Tg Bungah. 
He lives near a doggy boarding home where we sent Sir Naughty and Dame Queenie during our visit a few years back.
I shook En Jamil's hands and told him to frequent Malaysian Foldies Forums to say hello to the members and possibly hold a short tour of Taiping.
So, as the crowd dissipates, I mounted on my Jetstream.
There was a group of people who were watching from the distance. I waved goodbye to them and these nice folks returned my gesture...

Good, Bad & Ugly

Good - Excellent ride organization and management by the G-Club people. Marshalls were there doing their job, keeping the cyclists in tow and line. Nobody got hurt and well, here's hoping for more of such events in Penang. Kudos G-Club!

Bad - Stuck-up foldies. Some people have the knack of making outsiders feeling left out. While a handful thought they owned the road with their expensive bikes. I guess the Jetstream kinda spoiled their mood! Hahah!

Ugly -
Very bad Penang drivers. Some cars just shot out and nearly crashed onto the bunch. There was an Indonesian couple on a motorcycle, riding behind the cyclists, they were cursing. Rowdy foldies. These people thought they meant well, but when you behave like hooligans, you give others a bad rap. There were also some people who cycled in the middle of the road. They do not understand 'Keep Left". 

The bike and gear drying up after a hose-down
The aftermath..
My day concluded with a 8.5km ride back to Tune Hotel in Burma Road.
The ride was smooth as traffic was surprisingly light.
I made my way towards the city area and used several landmarks to guide me back.
By the time I got back to the hotel, the first thing in my mind was a hose-down.
I folded the Jetstream and took it up the room.
After stripping the gear and clothes, I noticed that my bumbag (waterproofed all the way) was filled with sand and grit.
Its black in colour and pretty disgusting.
The first thing I did, was to hose down the seatpost.
A stream of black gunk and sand filled the gutter.
Then, I took the bike into the shower, used a hose to shoot down the dirt.
Now, believe it or not, the high-pressure waterjet helped in hosing down all the dirt. 
My bike looked much cleaner after the much needed clean-up.
As soon as I was done with the necessary maintenance work, I made my way to the coffee shop where I had my early dinner.
There, I ordered a plate of mee goreng and downed it. It was my late supper.
The rest of the night, I stayed up to upload photos and check my emails.
Thankfully, I had my wireless broadband with a wifi hotspot on the Android phone to assist with all the work.
I called my wife and told her that everything was good before hitting the sack.

Ride stats

Distance traveled by car to ride venue: 780km 
Distance cycled: 34.94km
Average speed: 14.5km/h
Top speed: 32km/h
Time on road: 2hr 46m 14sec

Amount spent on this trip

Toll: RM90
Petrol: RM80
Hotel: RM87
Food: RM30

Penang Foldie Night Ride Part 2

A bike dealer setting up some Dahons
People started to fill-up the event hall in Straits Quay and by 6.30pm, the crowd was already swelling.
I met a guy who owns an Oyama bike. 
He said he was the only dude in his peers who rides a folding bike.
Later, I spoke to a couple. They came with their Dahon Dash P18 and an XDS bike that comes with a rear shock.
I met Andrew C, a friend of mine from Tanjung Bungah who rode his MuP8. 
We met earlier on the course during the 82km round-island CFAL3..
I didn't have a chance to strike a conversation with him at the time.
During the Foldie Night Ride, we caught up a bit on bike talk.
Later, Encik Jamil, a cyclist from Taiping in Perak, introduced himself.
"Hello Samo, I've been following you on the Dahon Forums and your blog.."
He was a pleasant guy who stated an interest in getting a foldie.
Jamil also invited me for a tour from Taiping to Pangkor.

A taste of Penang's foldies..
There a few groups of foldies at the event. 
Mostly friends and peers who shared the same interest.
To, individuals like Andrew C and Jamil who came up to me and talked bike actually made my day.
They made me felt at home and being a stranger who traveled 390km one-way to join the event.
As for the rest, I did get some raised eyebrows from the distance.
Some of the Penangites were proud with the Dahon Vector X10s.
These are the most expensive Dahons around and are celebrated for its speed and agility.
I guess they didn't expect a Jetstream EX to spoil the day! hahah!
What I found strange, was the heavily modded bikes.
I saw a Speed TR with souped up components.
There was also a modified Dahon Mu Uno. This one came with a double chainring and a set of rear cogwheels.
Later, a petite lady came up to me and identified herself as a dealer.
"Eh, mana lu dapat ini basikal? Dahon ka?" (Where did you get the bike? Is it a Dahon?"
I acknowledged her by saying that the bike is as rare as it seems.
Some foldies were friendly while a whole lot were aloof. They kept mostly to themselves.

With Andrew C at Straits Quay
Rain and a 15-minute delay
Well, the weather was not kind. 
It poured and poured.
"Hey, you don't have luck with Penang weather la bro.. Everytime you ride here, it rains...," said Andrew.
The organizers said flag-off was delayed for another 15-minutes.
But I can see that the crowd were getting a bit restless.
And after a brief wait, the airhorn was blared as we made our way towards Gurney Drive...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Penang Foldie Night Ride Part 1

The four-hour drive to Penang
I've obtained clearance to head up to Penang to do a piece on the Foldie Night Ride organised by G-Club, a group of cycling enthusiasts.
These are the same people who were responsible for the Campaign For A Lane 3 ride which I attended with my wife on September 11 recently.
I left KL for Penang with my Dahon Jetstream EX at 11:30am via the PLUS North-South Highway.
Only made one stop at Gunung Semanggol R&R area and continued my journey towards the Penang Bridge.
By 3:45pm, I was already on the Jelutong Expressway, heading towards the city area.
My mission was to locate the Tune Hotel in Burma Road.
This took a while as I trying to find my way around. I thought the nearest point of reference was McAllister Road.

After much struggling, I found the place that I was going to crash for the night.
Initially, I parked the Samo-mobile on the roadside next to a public housing scheme.
Later, when I checked-in a the hotel, I was told that a flat-rate of RM5 is charged for those who want to park in the hotel's compound.
There's just enough space to put 12 cars in the area.
Lucky for me, I managed to score a parking lot, making things easier.
The plan was to change in my 'away' RaceReady jersey and Zoic padded shorts.
For this ride, I brought my Pango folding helmet fitted with a Sigma Micro-R helmet light.

Booster fuel: Mee Rebus!
The ride plan
So, here's how it would go: I ride from Tune Hotel to Straits Quay.
This is roughly about 8km from where I was staying. 
But before that, my intention was to fill up my tummy.
I found a coffee shop serving Mee Rebus.
A friendly lady there prepared the meal at RM4.50 a pop.
After a hearty fill, I made my way to the carpark, set up my Jetstream.
It was drizzling and started to rain.
I set my Garmin EDGE800 on navigation mode as I am not sure of the way to Straits Quay where the ride is supposed to be flagged off.

Wet, wet, wet..
From Burma Road, I cycled towards Mount Erskine. 
This is a light climb and well, a warm-up round and the light drizzle made it a breeze.
After the sloped ride, its a sharp right-turn on Fettes Road before getting back on Tanjung Pinang.
Its started to rain heavily when I arrived at Straits Quay by 5:30pm and rode my way towards the event hall.
Nobody was there stop me as I slowly rolled towards the registration booth.
A lady, who was very helpful screened my name on the registration list.
My bike was tagged with number '0006' and after I was done with the formalities, I made my way to Coffee Bean and ordered a cup of coffee.
At Straits Quay, I met Mr Money, distributor of Strida Folding Bicycles at the event location.
He was going all-out to sell the Stridas.
I looked at another dealer whom I met before at PIPR series 11 in Putrajaya.
The dude was cycling a recumbent bike and was featured in an article published by The Star on personalities with folding bikes.
The man in question was 'Scuba Sim'..

Mr Scuba riding my bike..

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tern Teaser

Le Run Industries' Ruey Chan with the folded Verge X20
I made a beeline to Le Run's office yesterday to hand over a cheque from our sponsor Canon Marketing Malaysia.
Met Danny Teoh who is in charge of Polygon bicycles and made a prior arrangement to meet up with my contact Ruey on a preview of the Tern Verge X20.
It arrived in Malaysia together with an assortment of 19 other models from Tern's range of products.
There's only one Verge X20 and S11i in Malaysia and its up for grabs during the launch on Saturday, November 19 in Bandar Botanic, Klang.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Project Foldie 2012

The perfect find: Tern Verge S11i
I am basically done with folding bikes.
We have six, three for each person ranging from 16" basic and high-end, 20" tourers and 20" full-suspension foldies.
I won't replace my Dahon Speed P8, but I would consider the Tern Verge S11i.

Technologically superior frame 
The Tern crew has produced an IGH folding bike based on the award-winning Vector platform.
This hydro-formed frame is said to be strong and yields a firm ride.
So, no flexing and twitches.
What I like, is the 11-speed internal gear hub.
This eliminates the need to clean the chain at all times. Its also much cleaner and virtually low-maintenance.
Based on what I see, this bike is solid.

The good stuff
The physis handlepost is something that is out of this world.
I can see that the Tern guys are putting a lot of emphasis on handling and having rode the Speed TR with its Andros steering system, I'd say that I can expect a lot of big things out of this bike.
Everything on this bike spells elegance and grace.
And at a pricetag of USD$2K (RM6,250 before 35% duty and sales tax), I'd say that its simply an upmarket product.
Since I won't be getting a MuXL, the Verge S11i is definitely in the running for my next bike project.

Classy ride: Tern's 11-speed IGH foldie
Rigged for touring
I placed a question on the Tern Forums.
Asked whether the bike can be fitted with rear and front traveller's racks.
The company's owner Josh Hon said most Tern bikes can be fitted with them.
Now, this is a bonus! 
I can fit the bike with by Ortlieb front and backrollers.
Well, I guess the Verge S11i is worth the wait. I can't wait to check out the bike once its launched here in mid-November...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Warming up my Speed P8

Re-activated: The 2009 Speed P8
I've made prior arrangements to meet up with my buddy Billy and his kid, Khidir at Putrajaya for a leisure ride last Saturday.
The deal was simple, meet at Masjid Putra and ride along the lakeside.
Coincidentally, my wife also planned to meet her friend at the same venue.
They were directed to park at the monumen alaf baru near the lake.
And as usual, Billy was late. And so were Michelle's friends.
By 08:00am, we rode towards the meeting point.
The family was already there, setting up their ride.
I rode my Speed P8 into a pool of water and nearly veered out of control.
Seems that I rode straight into a trench under four inches of flooded water.
Phew! That was a close-call!
Anyways, I went on with Billy to close-in a 10.5km loop around the lakeside.
Michelle had to entertain her friends and kids at a playground.

Cockpit shot of the Father and son team

By 10:00am, it was all over.
We made our way back to a cafe near the lakeside to have a drink before leaving Putrajaya.
There, I met Encik Izwan, a Dahon Eco C7 owner who was cycling on his own.
Apparently, his regular kakis - the Putrajaya Urban Riders (P.U.R.) were away on an outstation trip.
We chat a bit, had our drinks at the cafe where the service was horrendous.
After that, Billy and I drove to Jalan Diplomatik near Precinct 9.
He concluded that there is a good Nasi Kandar joint there.
We checked it out and the food is below-average.
What made my day, was this fumbling worker who spilled iced Milo on my left leg.
Later, we paid a visit to Rodalink's branch nearby and had Khidir's bike fixed before calling it a day....

The Tern Supremacy

Perfect for every occasion: the Tern P7i
Sometime back, I was talking about retrofitting my Dahon Speed P8.
To date, its one of the most versatile folding bikes I've come across and Tern Bicycles, a new player in the bicycle industry, had introduced the Link P7i.

Its perfect.. almost..
The Link P7i offers an internal gear hub.
What does this means? Less messy, easy to maintain and no more grease baby!
I did mention about fitting an IGH on my Speed. This would incur a heavy cost because the spokes have to be changed.
An alternative is the Alfine hub by Shimano. This is by far, one of the best and smoothest drivetrain I've come across.
The Link P7i, I believe, offers a Shimano Nexus 7. Good, but could be better.

A great touring foldie 
I want a bike that is solid.
On the Link P7i, there's no telescopic stem.
This means it would be firm ride. Not twitchy compared to the Speed P8.
The Andros stem, that gave the Dahon Speed TR its robustness is found on the Link P7i.
This means that its gonna give the rider a comfortable riding position.
I don't know if a rear and front traveller's rack could be fitted, but I am confident that if the racks are fitted, it would make an awesome touring folding bike.

Suggestions for improvements..
For better stopping power in any environment - hydraulic disk brakes. This would put the Link P7i in a class of its own.
The Speed frameset had proven itself and I think that if a Rholoff IGH can be added, this bike would go places! 
That said, I'll settle for a Shimano Alfine 11 anytime! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sigma Micro R helmet light

The Sigma helmet light
I needed a blinker for my Dahon Pango helmet and I found one.
Its a Sigma ( Micro R light, powered by two button cells and is capable of yielding a long run time.
Its a lower-end model compared to the Sigma Micro, which retails at a slightly higher price.
The Micro R comes in two colours - Red and White.
It retails about RM30, but I bet you can get it cheaper elsewhere.
A push-button on the top panel of the light sets it on momentary on or blink mode.
There is a small LED module on the business end and you get two sets of velcro straps to mount in on your helmet or backpack.

The Micro R on my Darth Pango folding helmet

- Two modes: momentarily-on and blinking
- Powered by 2 x CR2023 button cells
- Total runtime of 30 hours
- No tools needed to install the light
- Water resistant housing 

The First Impression...

Mr Pink's reaction on folding bikes
Some folks live under a rock.
They are so set in their ways, its hard to conform to 'new ideas'.
I met a guy, Mr Pink recently who said he couldn't believe that I've done some century rides on my folding bike.
"You mean, you rode on that piece of crap? Is it safe ah?"
To Mr Pink, folding bikes are flimsy, handles poorly and are usually made of crap.
He could not comprehend the size of the wheels and a bike that folds in half.
"I don't think these bikes can last, I trust only bicycles with large wheels," he said.
Mr Pink insisted that he had never heard of folding bikes as an alternative for mobility and transportation.
He argued that such bikes are dangerous.
Then, came the magical question: "Eh, how much you paid for your bike ah?" 
So, I revealed the amount and got a mouthful from him about spending beyond my means.

Taking in the truth 
I told Mr Pink that he didn't pay for my bikes, nor did I owe him a fucking living.
"Look, just one bike costs more that the three pieces of shit bicycles in your household. 
"You cycle a few hundred meters in your housing estate and complain that the bike is no good, how can you shoot off your mouth with words coming out of your ass?" 
Mr Pink was dumbfounded. 
He didn't expect to be verbally raped.
The man thought that he was doing me a big favour by talking 'sense' by giving a lecture about the economics of scale.

Yeah, there are plenty of them out there..  
Mr Pink is just one of the many ignorant people who lives underneath a piece of rock. 
He is oblivious to the fact that there are factors like quality, fit and finish that made things good.
Obviously, the word: "High Performance" does not exist in his vocabulary.
After much research, he called me one day.
"Eh Samo, I want to get a new bike...
"Its a folding bike with suspension. Okay ka? 
I asked him if he was serious, he said 'yes' and told me that he had been thinking hard.
It sparked off with a visit from a neighbour who was riding his folding bike.  
"Eh, my neighbour came by, he was cycling a Dahon bike. Its very steady la...
"I want to get one, can recommend ah?"
I knew that somehow, his enthusiasm was just a bag of hot air.
He rang me up again, this time, from a bike shop in Bangsar.
"Hey Samo, this bike, the Jetstream P8, I like it la, but its damn fucking expensive!
"You know where I can get a cheap one ah?"  
I told him that if he wants something cheap, he can go to Giant Hypermart.
"Ah, there's a full-suspension folding bike at Giant, cheap-cheap!"  
Mr Pink was very excited with the prospect of scoring a new full-suspension folding bike and made his way to the said location.
Then, he rang me up again.
"Eh Samo, fuck you la! You think I am an idiot kah? 
"Why you recommend me a cheap ass bike?"  
I told Mr Pink to calm down. 
"But you wanted cheap right? The bike is a folding bike with suspension right?"  
He paused for a while.
Then, he said: "I want something like that Dahon la! RM250 with full suspension, I thought the quality is the same!"  
Mr Pink said I should reimburse him with petrol money and a meal for his family because I wasted his time.
Obviously, he was not in a mood to joke. He was dead serious.
All Mr Pink wanted, was a high performance bike for RM250.
I told him to dream on. He could drop dead 100 times and get resurrected 200 times all over again, he would never get what he wants.
"Why don't you crawl back to your fucking cave a sulk you fucking loser!" 
Everything he had ever hoped for was dashed.
But hey, the full-suspension foldie in Giant is still waiting.. And it will never get stale...  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another new bicycle shop!

The new bicycle shop in Damansara Perdana
Bicycle shops are sprouting like mushrooms in the Klang Valley and one of the latest store to hit our shores is KH Bicycle in Damansara Perdana.

First impressions
I was enroute to Mini Velo bike shop in a shopping mall around the neighbourhood and saw this shop.
To my surprise, its next to the new Backyard Pub in Damansara Perdana.
When I got to the mini bike store, no one was around.
I rang up a number which was left behind, and was told that the store manager would only be back in after lunch. 
So, I walked over to the shop and found plenty of Scott bikes displayed there.
Most impressive, was the selection of knick-knacks.
Then, I approached this bald-headed bugger, who is in his 30s or old and asked: "Excuse me boss, you sell touring bike frames ah?"
"Oh, don't have. We only sell complete bikes...."
"I am looking for frames made by Surly," I continued.

"Ah, that one only can find in Singapore. You have to import yourself or buy through the internet..."
From the vibes, I sensed that this guy wasn't interested to answer questions by walk-in customers. 
He then referred me to a younger dude who is much friendlier...

The Singapore connection...
The younger dude was very helpful.
He showed some Scott bikes, (that looked like a piece of crap on two wheels) configured for touring. 
I guess the older baldie wasn't interested because touring bikes are cheapo and doesn't reel in the big moolah.
But the young guy was very enthusiastic. I give him credit for keeping the customer interested.
"We don't keep stock ah, you must order..."
I asked him what was the turnaround time, he told me about three weeks to a month.
Everything comes up from Singapore.
To the bicycling industry, this puny island republic is the centre of the Universe...

The bike
I was shown a picture of the Scott Sub 30. 
This is a chromoly framed bike that can take anything you can throw at it.
Looks nice, but since its not on display, it kinda looked like a big risk.

 I knew things won't go far with the attitude of the guys in this store, so, I picked up some knick knacks and paid for it at the check out counter.
Pricing-wise, I would say that they are reasonable. 
One of the items, a Minoura bottle cage adapter, is a whole lot cheaper than a bike shop in Damansara Uptown. 
They sold it for RM43 a piece while the other shop is retailing theirs at RM53. That's RM10 difference!
For a posh looking shop selling high-end bikes for the upmarket crowd in Damansara Perdana, I can safely say that the accessories sold there was impressive.
I struck a conversation with the baldie who told me that he too was looking for a Surly frame.
From the tone, the bastide was being sarcastic and at the same time, trying fish for more information. 
Rather than letting him jerk me off, I told him that there are people riding Surlies here in KL and its not only a 'Singapore' thing.
"Boss, Singaporeans are not the only people who can afford good bicycles.. If not, you won't open shop here la..", I said.
I think this store will do very well if they don't have that stand-off'ish fucked-up attitude.
After all, the money is still in my pocket and if they continue to behave like bunch of wild gorillas they can go back to their crowded little island across the causeway..

Tern Bicycles Malaysia Launch

I was just informed that the Tern bikes are already here.
All in total - 19 models from ranging from basic to high-end bikes. 
No pricing information was given and the tentative date for the launch would be on November 19 at Rodalink's branch in Bandar Botanic, Klang.

Tern Verge X-20
Folding bike fans can expect to see the Verge, Link, Castro, Eclipse and Joe series bikes at the launch.
As for me, it would be nice to get acquainted with the Verge X-20, which is one of the fastest folding bikes around featuring a SRAM Red groupset...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Old Town Predator SS150 Canoe

The Old Town Predator SS150 carries a hefty pricetag here
I made my way to a local outfitter in Petaling Jaya.
Was looking for some NiteIze 'slap-on' blinker, but to no avail.
At the store,a middle-aged Indian lady too my query. But when a family walked in to complain about their goods, she turned her attention away.
So much for customer service.. hahaha!
Anyways, I noticed a section of the store is now home to some watercrafts and one particular canoe caught my eye.
It was an Old Town Predator SS150.
This is a legendary flat-bottomed canoe that comes with a transom. 
You can mount a 5-horse outboard engine and wade upstream with this baby and even when fully-laden, its capable of getting the job done.
The last time I sat on one was in Sungai Nenggiri in Kelantan.
Its very stable and at the same time, able to take at least three people.
This vessel is suitable for lakes and small streams. 
If I have a big house with a garage, this baby would be my pride and joy. Well, of course, its not practical as I hate getting in and out of water.
I asked the sales person about the pricetag and was old that the Predator SS150 costs RM9.8k. What the fuck? 
Even if you throw in freight, sales tax and duty, I don't think this boat would cost so much.
So, having seen it, the Old Town Canoe is destined to sit at the store for eternity.
On Cabella's website, this boat retails at USD$1,599 a pop.
This simply translates to about RM5.07k with plenty of spare change.
I feel bad for the local outdoor enthusiasts as they are slapped with some really horrendous pricing..

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Penang Foldie Ride

The Penang Foldie Ride was announced recently on
Its an initiative by the Penang G-Club where some of its members are hardcore folding bike enthusiasts.
I pitched this idea to my boss who was keen to run a picture spread on Starmetro.
So, looks like I'll have to work with my Penang counterparts to put this together.
I've just booked a one-night stay in Georgetown at Tune Hotels and will be working on the logistics.
Seems that I'll have to drive up to the Pearl of the Orient on Friday morning and check-in at the hotel by mid-day.
The plan is to hook up with some foldies in Penang, have some teh-tarik and join in the ride later at night...

The rider's list on G-Club's website
Co-incidentally, some of the MKF guys are also having a meet and greet.
But that is on Saturday.
I'd probably pay Ahmad Nadir of Outdoor Dynamics a visit at his store before shooting back to KL on Saturday.
Since Sunday is a working day for me, I'll be too bonked to get back to off on the day itself.
After going through the list, I think I am the only dude from KL to ride in this event.. That all depends on whether any last-minute participants would register on Friday Oct 21, which was set as the closing date...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An affordable mini-bike Raleigh Compact

The Raleigh Compact
I was in the Bukit Jalil area yesterday and found a bike shop called 'Joo Ngan Pro'.
Went in and saw a mini Velo hanging on the shop's exterior.
This is the first time I saw a branded bike that is priced below RM1K.
The model in question is the Raleigh Compact.
At a price tag of RM570 retail, its one of the cheapest mini-bikes around.
The overall built and quality is acceptable.
Both wheels are 20" and its roughly the size of a folding bike except that it doesn't fold.
The bike has a 6-speed drivetrain which is ample to cover most riding conditions.
If you ditch the components, you can build a nice bike with better parts.
This mini-bike is ideal for beginners who don't want to blow a hole in their pocket...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Malaysian Foldie Forums

I am very pleased to announce the setting up of Malaysian Foldie Forums. 
Its now on-line and is meant for folding bike enthusiasts from all over the country.
I hope the foldies would take advantage of this domain to promote the interest of cycling among each other..

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2011 in perspective..

Team Jetstream
When the dust had settled down...
We were pushing our bikes on Dataran Merdeka and while we were at it, I received a call from Billy. 
"Eh Samo, mana engkau? Aku tengah makan hotdog ni!," he said.
Then, I bumped into Kenny Chia, owner of a black Raleigh i8 foldie who pointed me the direction Billy was taking a rest.
He was having his meal near a hot dog kiosk.
We parked our bikes nearby and I was wary of a drug addict that was glaring at our bikes. 
The Camelbak pack that I placed near the rear tire contains my wallet and coin purse including some gear. 
Since this is a crime of opportunity, we kept our eyes peeled on the bikes as the Pek Hoon Kia was on the prowl.
Later, Billy excused himself and took off.
We stayed behind and later pushed our bikes to the Polygon booth to catch up with Ruey Chan and Chanson Lau of Le Run.
There was a Dahon bike promotion on the fair grounds.
While I was at it, Seumas Tan, a fellow foldie who came on his XDS bike came by.
I was introduced to his wife who suffered food poisoning. 
The gutsy lady rode the entire 21km in pure gusto! 
We exchanged notes on the bikes and Seumas told me that his next bike would be a Dahon Jetstream! Way to go! Another member in team Jetstream....

The guerilla cyclists
So, there I was, complimenting a newbie about his Dahon Speed P8 and told him how versatile the bike was.
You can use it for anything. I likened the Speed P8 with the A-10 Warhog. You can rig it up with heavy stuff and still bring it back in one piece. The Speed is one tough summabich!
Smack in the middle of it, I met Ng Sek San, famous landscape architect and a Dahon user. His latest bike as a Brompton and he had cycled with Guan to Kuantan on a 'Green Mission'.
The ageing Rockstar rode his Mu Uno and I can see it pimped with leather which is very sissy for my taste.
Parked right next to my Jetstream Sek San said: "Aiya, my bike looked like a Proton Saga next to a Mercedez la.. "
All I did was chuckle. To rub it in, I might just get the Mu XL and Vector X10... Muhahahaha!
My colleague Andrew Sia was in the guerilla group too. I waved at him from a distance to acknowledge his presence at the fair.

Angry cyclists
Some of the roadies including one of my team cyclists were hopping mad.
Bare two hours into the 52km challenge, the ride was called off.
Those who rode under 2 hours completed five laps while the slower cyclists were diverted to the recovery pen.
What surprised was the fact that some kiasu roadies were actually sprinting to the finish line and raised their hands like it was a race in Europe. What a bunch of losers! I'm talking about guys who came in on the fourth or fifth group in the challenge...

Kiasu is kiasu!
The excitement of a podium finish and wearing the yellow jersey made many of the amateur cyclists super-kiasu.
As a result, some crashed their bikes on the hair-pin turn near Jalan Tun Ismail.
This is apparent when road conditions were still wet from the early morning shower.
Some of the people who rode in the foldie challenge complained that they were not given the first dibs.
Well, too bad.
At a later photo session, I saw the Kiasu Racing Team (K.I.T) posing for a shot taken for a local cycling magazine.
This won't be the end as I expect to see them in OCBC Cycle Singapore next March... hhaahah!

We did okay.. 
I wasn't pushed for time and am glad that I didn't cop out. 
Two rounds riding up that long climb, I must say, had sapped the daylights out of me. It wasn't as bad, but the impression that time is of essence did make the ride a very rushed affair...
Michelle finished on the 28th place in the overall standing. There were 76 participants in the foldie challenge. I think this should be scrapped next year as their numbers were insignificant. A hundred foldies would make it better. But really, if you are in for the challenge, take the five-lap 52km ride. Not 21km with the rest of us lowly minions.
On gender placing, my wife was 7th, which is not bad at all. This puts her in the top 10 women riders. You can minus the second place in the Female Foldie category because a man rode in the challenge.

First time is the most memorable
I paid RM49 for the ride, got a T-shirt that fits, some junk in the goodie bag and cycle in KL's city centre with the police diverting traffic. 
This experience is unforgettable as it brings back memories of commuting along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman on my racer.
I think its not fair to slam OCBC for the abrupt end to the 52km ride.
As far as my 21km experience is concerned, the guys from Spectrum and their contractors - some old hands who managed Le Tour De Langkawi had done a professional job in managing the event.
Like the head honcho of OCBC had said: "This is not a race.." It was kind of an oxymoron when the kiasu buggers had crashed and injured themselves for a stupid yellow jersey...
Next year, they better avoid Jalan Chow Kit at all cost. The ride could be done around Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi and other parts of town... But its all up to the organizers to make the ride even more happening. So, next stop: OCBC Cycle Singapore 2012...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2011 Part 2

Cyclists doing their lap at Dataran Merdeka
Friends and some kiasu buggers
I made plenty of friends and most of them are foldies. There were some whom I had shunned due to conflict of interest.
I met some at Dataran. Seems that they were in the Kiasu Racing Team who took part in the 21km Polygon Foldie Challenge. 
These guys paid top-dollar to enter the challenge and their ring leader, to my surprise, was still riding his old bike. 
By now, I guess he might have gotten a new and better performing bike. But seeing as it is, they guy was cycling his bike that was plastered with some crappy stickers..  I wasn't wrong when I said he is a stingy bugger... Hhahaha!
While making a trip to the mobile toilet, I bumped into CH Lee, a bicycle dealer in Kota Kemuning. He was with his family.
We exchanged some information and snapped photos.
At the big flagpole, I met two of the Stormriders - Rita Wong and her friend who were both taking part in the foldie challenge..

Michelle, at the starting line
The long wait...
Like cattle, we were herded onto the pen. 
There, I waited and struck a conversation with a fellow foldie. I couldn't recognise him because the last time I met this guy, he was riding a red Dahon Speed P8. This time, he was on a blue coloured MuP8.
While waiting, the crowd started to swell in the pen.
My colleague Low Boon Tat, who dropped out of the 52km challenge had joined me.
"Eh Sam ah! That Kenny Hills stretch was bad la, a lot of people crashed there!," he warned.
I wasn't worried at all. We had our Jetstreams. The tires had good road-holding qualities and my Ashima disk brakes would take on any terrain.
Our 'secret' weapon, were the front and rear suspension.
While most foldies were riding light, we packed some equipment.
The Jets were like a Boeing FA-18F Superhornet - multi-role and multi tasking.. It will get us in and out alive. 
Word of the day: Survivability!

Cyclists eager to go.. (pix by Cycling Asia)
Blast-off! And Fat man's climb..
After all the speeches and bla-bla-bla, the airhorn blared. 
It was time to leave the pen.
The first section of the ride was towards Bank Negara. This is a long stretch of hills and I can see that the strong cyclists were pulling away, leaving the unfit lot struggling to pedal uphill.
I kept my cadence at 60rpm and a steady speed of 8-9km/h. The strategy was to conserve energy for the second lap.
As the road slowly winds towards a drop near the remote-sensing centre, I saw for myself how easily one could get hurt.
Its an 'S'-shaped curve and the thin road tires wouldn't give enough traction.
My Jetstream's Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires worked its wonder. The Ashima disk brakes gave the stopping power needed to avert potholes.
What made the descent so smooth, were the German-A fork, Kilo front shocks and the Suntour epicon rear shock absorbers.
The road-handling was superb and the Jetstreams had proven its versatility in the 82km Penang Round Island ride in September.

Madness at Jalan TAR
A brief part of my life was spent on the road cycling to work.
Like it or not, I had to ride along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. This is the worst stretch in the city centre.
The ride organizers had cordoned off a section of the road to allow cyclists to pass through. Great job on their part.
The traffic cops were keeping things in tow and line.
This wasn't bad as I kept my speed at 25km/h.
Unlike the lighter Dahon Vector X10 and its high-performance cousin: the X20, the Jetstream wasn't meant for speed.
Its ability to sprint was sacrificed for comfort...
After a left-turn towards Jalan Sultan Ismail, many cyclists were already struggling with the undulating terrain.
This course led us towards KLCC and down Jalan Sultan Ismail again.
There was a water station in front of Life Centre.
Like Penang, the ugly Malaysian scene rears it face, cyclists were dumping water bottles on the street.
I felt no need to hydrate as I packed my Camelbak Octane 24 hydration pack.
The road in Jalan Sultan Ismail is a gradual climb and as the course banked towards Jalan Raja Chulan, its a downhill roll.
On my high-gear, I picked up speed and headed towards Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
Again, this is the busiest section in the city with plenty of hidden hazards like potholes and motorcycles....

Lap one.. 
As the group were cycling near the Samad building, I noticed that they were cranking for their lives. 
Its no wonder as the crowd cheered on.
"Come on! You can make it! Pick up speed!"
But wait a minute, I am not racing.. hahahah!!!! 
I pedaled my bike towards the RFID gantry as my buddy Billy yelled across the field! 
He was waiting for us to finish our ride. I raised my left hand and gave a thumbs-up sign, indicating that everything was okay.
Then, I pressed towards Fat man's climb near Bank Negara.

As I was cranking up, I noticed a foldie overtaking the group.
It was Mr Kiasu!
The red bike and all those cheap stickers were unmistakable. This guy did five laps earlier and was pulling away. 
Behind him, a couple in a Giant Halfway made their appearance. They weren't friendly at all and later, Michelle told me that one of them had nearly caused a crash.
At this point, I knew that my fitness level had gone to the dogs. Nearing the half-way mark, I was  crunching gears rather slowly.
I am the tortoise on two wheels.
Barely minutes before the infamous 'S'-curve, another foldie, Will, was catching up on his white Dahon ECO-7.
He was rolling downhill fast! I set up my high-gear and rode past my friend.
Riding downhill is favourable to the Jetstream..
And after clearing the danger zone, it was a final push towards the finish line.

The young dude and his Vector X10
Its over in a flash!
Getting people cheering for you on the sidewalk is certainly a rush.
As I made my way towards the Samad building, the crowd was boisterous. They were yelling out their buddy's name.
I managed to ride under one hour and safely make my way to the recovery area where medals were handed over.
Michelle radioed me and cruised towards the pen area.
I saw Mr Kiasu and some of his friends taking a break. 
And meters away from the scene, there was this young Malay dude with his Dahon Vector X10. What a magnificent bike! 
Michelle and I were glad to have completed our ride. She wanted to check her timing on the 21km Foldie Challenge, but details were unavailable...

With the Metro cycling team guys after the ride..