Every Ducati is a work of art, and it’s always fun to find new ways to photograph these beauties on a small island like Singapore. I used to scout actively for photographic opportunities on my previous Monster 1100 Evo with my larger cameras, but I’ve slowed down a bit with my current Monster 1200S due to work and generally lousy weather.
It is true that Singapore has some of the worst drivers in the world. To be fair to the driving community, I would also add that we also have some of the worst motorcyclists too. I’ve been driving and riding for about 20 years and I still can’t help but get upset when I see so many instances of bad behavior on our roads.
Our island is a very small place, and yet we have almost a million vehicles (972,037 vehicles as of 2014, to be exact) jostling for space on our roads. With such congestion, it’s no wonder we constantly see cases of road rage, reckless driving and vehicle pile-ups on expressways.
As a motorcyclist, you’re the most vulnerable of all, and every ride you take does put your life at more risk than any other road user. So I decided to pen down all the lessons I’ve learned over the years for other bikers.
In recent months, I’ve seen more people considering taking up motorcycle riding lessons in response to the dismal Certificate of Entitlement (COE) situation for cars.
It’s a natural outcome, given that riding is always going to be a cheaper transport solution than cars, even though the motorcycle COE premium is now hitting new highs of over $4,000 (nearly three times of what it was last year. UPDATE: And as of June 2015, it is over $6,500).
But I’ve also heard many people express doubt and uncertainty, because motorcycling is seen as an undesirable and dangerous form of transport. I’m writing this to help shed light on some important things before you make the decision to go on two wheels.
You might think that my immediate answer to the question “Should I ride a motorcycle in Singapore?” would be “Yes”. Actually, serious bikers focus so much on safety, that you should be asking “Am I able to commit to being safe on the roads if I want to ride a motorcycle?”. Many inexperienced bikers think that the Traffic Police is too preachy when it comes to road safety – well, you wouldn’t think that way if you know more about road riding. Continue reading “Should I Ride A Motorcycle In Singapore?”
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.
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.
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 www.clocks4bikes.com 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.