More motorcyclists riding to Malaysia again, 6 months after borders reopen

The start of the Givi Rimba Raid 2022 jungle race in Pahang, which saw more than 30 Singaporeans take part in September. PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

SINGAPORE - More motorcyclists are venturing into Malaysia to attend motorcycle events, races and tours again, six months after Singapore reopened its borders with Malaysia in April.

Singapore motorcycle distributors and event organisers have also been busy restarting such two-wheel activities that were stopped when Malaysia closed its borders in March 2020 due to Covid-19.

Overseas riding events are not new, but the reopening of borders has released a pent-up demand.

Turnouts have far exceeded expectations at some events. On Sept 25, a day ride to Desaru in Johor planned for 50 motorcyclists attracted 190 riders and their pillion passengers. The event was organised by Mr Wang Ying Hao, branch manager of motorcycle shop Yew Heng Motorsports.

“We were surprised as about half the participants were from the public,” said Mr Wang, 34, noting that participants of pre-Covid-19 events were mainly Yew Heng customers.

The large group was broken into seven smaller groups based on riding experience.

On that same weekend in Pahang, the Givi Rimba Raid 2022 saw 226 motorcyclists from the region take part in a 150km race in the jungle. There were over 30 participants from Singapore, a sharp increase from only two in 2019 before Covid-19 struck. Among them was Mr Kelvin Chia, who came in 10th overall, completing the gruelling race in 3hr 19min on his new 300cc KTM dirt bike.

Mr Chia, 50, said: “I couldn’t prepare for the race (because of Covid-19). For me, the race was a matter of endurance.”

On the sidelines, Didi Lifestyle, the authorised agent for Triumph motorcycles in Singapore, gathered eight local motorcyclists who rode a total of 1,400km to watch the event.

They travelled to Kuala Lumpur to join more than 30 riders from Malaysia, Britain, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia who departed for Pahang from the Givi factory which manufactures motorcycle accessories.

Said one rider, Mr Daniel Lim, 31,  head of operations and projects for an oil company: “I felt quite tired as I am not used to riding long distances after (the pandemic). I need to build back stamina for long riding trips.”

He added that newer riders who obtained their licences during the pandemic may also take an interest in riding to Malaysia and boost the participation rates at such events.

A September day ride to Desaru, Johor, was planned for 50 riders but drew 190 riders and their pillion passengers instead. PHOTO: BRIAN SOH

Mr Eugene Mah, managing director of Didi Lifestyle and Givi Singapore, said venturing north on winding Malaysian roads and having a go at the Sepang International Circuit are exploits favoured by Singaporeans. The 5.54km race track in Selangor is a three-hour ride from Singapore. A rider can hit speeds of up to 290kmh there.

On Sept 29 and 30, motorcycle event organiser SBR Trackdays brought back its feature track event at the Sepang circuit after a hiatus of almost three years. The event attracted an enthusiastic turnout of 179 participants from Singapore and seven from Malaysia, said organiser Joseph Lee.

Pre-Covid-19, the event, which used to be held seven times a year, had around 150 Singapore participants and 50 Malaysian riders.

One of the participants, businessman Jonathan Yeo, 30, who rides a BMW S1000RR, said: “We have been keeping it in for too long. It was unbearable (for me).”

Said Mr Mah, 38: “In the last two years, companies have been trying to plan and market their brands online and on social media.”

“There has always been an interest in riding events overseas. We live in a small country with limited space, so naturally, our events are also a lot smaller in scale,” he added.

Riders from Singapore, Britain, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia making their way to Pahang for the Givi Rimba Raid 2022.   PHOTO: NIKKASIT MOTOGRAPHER

Beyond Malaysia, motorcycle distributors Ducati Singapore and BMW Motorrad organised test rides in Italy and Thailand in July 2022 for customers and journalists.

With riders venturing up north again, motorcycle servicing and maintenance businesses, as well as retailers, are also benefiting, said Mr James Lim, marketing manager at Ducati Singapore.

Mr Lim said the dealership prepares motorcycles for riders to get their adrenaline rush safely at the Sepang race track. “We do multipoint checks such as on tyres and brake pads, and oil change for customers’ vehicles to ensure they are track-ready.”

“Riding a motorcycle on the circuit requires focus and fitness,” he added.

Motorcycle transportation services, race apparel sellers and tyre distributors also look set to benefit from Singaporeans getting back in the saddle, noted Mr Lim.

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