Power trip

Lean, mean racing machines are Victor Lee's preferred transport mode

When 54-year-old Victor Lee is not jetting around the region as manager in a multinational aerospace company that provides repair and overhaul services to airlines, he is busy looking after his "extended" family - namely his Golf GTI and a collection of six motorcycles. Yes, six. 

His love of wheels began when he joined the Singapore Air Force in 1978. He saved up for his first bike in 1979 - a Suzuki GS425E, which he promptly modified.

As someone who idolised aces such as Kenny Roberts, Randy Mamola and local racers such as Gerry and Fabian Looi, Mr Lee says the bike "changed my life".

He has been riding for the last 37 years - five more than he has been driving.

His first car was a Mini Clubman. "The Mini was a car that fell within my budget during my initial wage-earning years as a regular with the Singapore Air Force," he recalls.

Mr Victor Lee with his Golf GTI and six motorcycles. -- PHOTO: ANDRE LAM

His favourite car is the Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1, which he owned in 1984. He says: "This car irreversibly transformed my appreciation of driving."


    • Golf clubs

    • Laptop

He has owned several VW Jettas and Golf GTI's since. Today, he drives a GTI Mk6.

Somewhere along the way, he took a detour and bought a Citroen BX16TRS. He says the happiest days he had with the Citroen were the day he bought it and the day he sold it.

Because of  punitive measures here against car ownership, Mr Lee's obsession has not resulted in a huge stable of cars. He says the price of a Golf GTI is equal to that of his six bikes.

His collection consists of a Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, Ducati 1098S, Ducati Hypermotard SP, BMW 1100RT, KTM250EXC-F and a Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster.

His favourite bike is the Yamaha YZF-R1, which he bought in 2000. As a pure racing bike, it gets to 100kmh in three seconds. 

He felt it gave him a newfound appreciation of new bike technology. The model has won many World Superbike championship races and it was the  bike on which Mr Lee honed his riding skills.

With this Yamaha, he competed in the Malaysian Super Series Races, ending with podium finishes in the early 2000s.

He says: "I do not really own any bike which I dislike, as every bike is designed differently and is expected to be used differently, whether for cruising, touring, trail or sport riding or racing."

Riding is cathartic for him as he enjoys being in the slipstream journeying to points as far as the Thai-Malaysian border over a weekend, leaving behind the stress of work life, if only temporarily. 

One aspect of bike ownership he likes is the company of like-minded riders. 

On one recent riding trip, he met a biker who used a rather unique strapless full-face helmet. He showed Mr Lee how the helmet snaps open like a clamshell and locks into place easily.

By the end of the conversation, Mr Lee wanted one badly. When he asked where he could buy one, the rider disclosed he was its designer and the owner of Australian helmet company Voztec. He offered Mr Lee an exclusive distributorship of the product here.

Turning to his car, Mr Lee recalls: "I met my wife Dorothy while I had my first GTI and from then on, I have kept to GTIs."

Every car he has owned has been modified, including his current GTI. His journey with his GTIs also led him to bid for an exclusive distributorship of a well-known VW-Audi tuner brand.

He prefers not to mention the name as the distributorship agreement has not been finalised yet.

His Mk6 now has Neuspeed and Bilstein suspension parts, plus the engine has been "re-chipped" (re-programmed) for more power.

His 19-year-old son Jun is beginning to follow in his footsteps and helps with the maintenance of the vehicles.

What does Mr Lee carry in the car boot?

An avid golfer, he keeps a set of golf clubs next to his company's laptop - always ready for work and play, a double function that the bikes cannot offer.

• The writer is a regular contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'Power trip Me And My Car'. Print Edition | Subscribe