Amazing Naked Machines


I accept that most people reading this won’t ever considering riding a motorcycle.

That’s okay, because motorbikes aren’t for everyone, and it’s as dangerous as you believe it to be. We don’t try to convince people who have their mind made up about two-wheelers, we just go out and ride as “safely” as we can.

But oh, what a great time it is to be a biker with so many amazing machines being released recently, especially during this week’s EICMA motorcycle exhibition in Milan and in prior weeks.  With the Class 2 (401cc and above) population of riders doubling in the past 10 years to about 15 thousand, there will be more people riding such beautiful machines on Singapore roads soon. Continue reading Amazing Naked Machines

The Black Widow

I was done with the modifications to the Ninja 250, then a jealous act of vandalism marred the black fuel tank with an ugly scar. I can never understand what would make people so jealous that they would whip out a key or coin to scratch a brand new vehicle that has done them no harm. My bike was hardly 4 months old!

So with a trip to the Paint Extreme workshop, where the tank was repainted and decaled with a Kamen Rider logo 仮面ライダー, the Black Widow was born.

My Kawasaki Ninja 250R – Black & Red Edition

One of the most unexpected things I received in the army was a motorcycle licence. Back in 1996, I was drafted into a recon company and required to learn how to ride a bike. And it wasn’t until 2007 that I decided to finally get a civilian bike licence, after so many years of thinking about it. I took a little longer than expected to finish my Class 2B course (I took a break of two years between lessons due to a heavy travelling), and then moved on to get the Class 2A licence.

In July this year, I finally received permission from the CEO of the house to have my own two wheels. Then it became a question of which bike to get.

Now in Singapore, most Class 2A licence holders will go for a Honda CB400 (Super 4) as the licence allows you to get a bike up to 400cc. I had no desire to get a bike that everyone was riding on the roads, especially one that we used as the training bike in Bukit Batok Training Centre. Due to Honda’s dominance of this category, bike dealers now bring in very few other streetbike or sportbike models in the 201-400cc range.

The stock Ninja 250R in black, which is what my bike looked like when I bought it.

After shopping around, I decided to go for the Kawasaki Ninja 250R. An extremely popular model worldwide (apparently it is Kawa’s bestselling model in the US), this bike is hardly found on the roads here due to people’s preference to get the Super 4. It was also half the price of the Super 4 when new (I hear too many horror stories of second hand vehicles to bother with used).

Much has been written about how the Ninja is a great little performer – it’s light, it’s nimble, and the 2008 redesign is just plain sexy. Honda launched the new CBR250 around the same time with more modern parts (ie. a digital speedo), but the Ninja has the edge in looks.

For the first two months or so, I was focused on just breaking in the bike. Then I discovered the wonderful/terrible world of bike modifications. By nature I’m not a car or bike nut, nor did I modify my Corolla Altis very much apart from changing the rims and audio system. But motorcycles have an amazing capacity to be modded and the Ninja is no exception. You can do small mods or extreme stuff like changing all the fairings (the plastic body which gives it its overall look).

I did most of my mods at Unique Motorsports at Kaki Bukit Autobay, and AHM Performance (a few doors down from Unique) helped to order and install the Koso digital speedometer. The Ninja mod project was like a big Gundam airbrushing assignment – how to bring out the best parts of the machine without going overboard.

My Ninja, after all the major mods which turned it into a black and red beauty. The old rear mud guard was removed and replaced by EvoTech Tail Tidy, and the bulbous stock signal lights replaced by tiny Rizoma lights. I also repainted the rims, which is a stronger visual option than just pasting rim stickers (which can peel after a while).

The worst thing about modding is how addictive it is – once you do a small mod, you think about which other parts you need to mod. The best thing about bike mods is that it is relatively unexpensive when compared to car mods – the total cost of my Ninja mods is still lower than a complete set of Ah Beng car tyre rims.

Driven metal red grips, Motovation bar ends, ASV brake and clutch levers, EvoTech brake fluid reservoir. Sorry for the distracting sun ray, but you must agree such photo angles don’t come all the time.

Red bolts and gold engine oil cover to add small accents to the side of the bike. I changed most of the visible nuts and bolts to red.

Another dash of gold with the rear brake fluid reservoir. I’ve thought about changing the stock exhaust but the legal ones are all not too pretty, and they don’t really improve performance for the money.

I also changed the brakelines into braided steel red colored ones.

The Über-cool Koso digital speedometer. You can’t get this here as demand is pretty low, so we had to ship it in from Germany (even though the product is made in Taiwan). Koso also makes a special Ninja 250R mounting board and plug & play wiring kit for easy installation. I guess most people who own this bike can’t wait to get rid of the ugly, old school analogue dashboard. 

 A clearer view of the handlebar area. I also added red and gold bolts to accentuate the dashboard area. You can also see the small analogue clock from which is specially machined to fit Ninja 250Rs.

 The Immortal Graphix tank protector pad took some time to source, as most of the designs on the market are just plain tacky or just plain. 

 The rear seat was replaced by the original Kawasaki rear seat cowl accessory. It makes the bike look cooler as a single seater, but it does make it less comfortable to ride when I’m carrying a backpack to work.

Full Armor Gundam

Full Armor Gundam 05

I purchased this Full Armor Gundam FA-78-1 Master Grade set because Hobby Link Japan was selling it at 40% off at 3000 yen (S$45). I regretted it soon after because it became obvious why this relatively new release (2010) was being discounted so heavily both online and at local retail – the original color scheme of dark green, bright orange and white was not aesthetic and this Gundam was based on the retro RX-78 instead of the more modern/aggressive One Year War version.

But I saw that there was potential in the base design – it had a very rugged heavy armored vehicle design philosophy like my Votoms Scopedog and the decals had a good military feel to them. This Gundam just needed a better color scheme.

Full Armor Gundam 08

So after many days of mulling and color testing, I gave it the Iron Man War Machine treatment – gunmetal grey, copper, dull chrome and some champagne gold on the cannons just to make it a bit more “rich”.

I glued down all the detachable armor parts because they kept coming off anyway (thanks to Bandai’s useless gel sticker approach) and also because I don’t really like the retro RX-78 design underneath all the armor parts. I ordered the waterslide decals from HLJ and spent a long time (over 6 hours) pasting as many as I could – I like decals and you can also call this the Full Decal Gundam hur-hur.

In closing, I’m pretty happy with the end result! If you’re not going to paint this set, I don’t recommend the purchase due to the poor base color scheme. If you are, I think there are many opportunities to make it a really cool Gundam based on your personal color preferences.

Full Armor Gundam 02

As I was taking photos this morning, there was an opportunity to do these mood shots as the morning sun blasted into the living room.

Full Armor Gundam 03

Full Armor Gundam 06

The only downside to using the champagne gold (chrome silver + gold leaf paint) is that the white decals don’t come out so prominently.

Some history on the Full Armor Gundam from the Gundam Wikia.

As the RX-78-2 Gundam continued to score victory after victory against the Zeon forces in the One Year War, the Earth Federation Forces engineers began to devise several different upgrades to supplement and further increase the combat capabilities of the Gundam. The upgrade program, called the Full-Armor System and Weapon System (FSWS), developed several options packs to increase the Gundam’s already considerable power. One of these designs was the Gundam Full Armor Type, which vastly increased the Gundam’s firepower and armor.

However, due to the Full Armor Gundam’s massive increase in weight, it suffered a sharp drop in mobility which the new thrusters could not sufficiently compensate for. It was deemed that the loss in speed and maneuverability would be unacceptable and the Gundam Full Armor Type never left the development stages. The Gundam Full Armor Type would never be built, and only existed on paper. Although the FA-78-1 Gundam Full Armor Type was deemed to be a design failure while it was still in the planning phases, the Earth Federation continued to design new upgrades to for the RX-78-2 Gundam under Full-Armor System and Weapon System (FSWS) program.However the plans for the unit would later be used as the basis of creating the FA-78-2 Heavy Gundam.

The death of the Transformers

I had little choice but to watch Transformers 3 : Dark Of The Moon. The kids wanted to watch it, and I wanted to watch it.

For them, it was part of the essential pop culture ritual of their childhood. It’s the Star Wars of their generation.

For me, it was to see if Michael Bay would redeem himself from the mess that was Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

Continue reading The death of the Transformers