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Motorcycle Paradise

Malaysia Motorcycle tour

 

I have just returned from my second motorcycle ride in Malaysia and am even more impressed. 
Previously I rented a motorcycle in Singapore as a side trip to a bigger holiday however this latest trip was a bit impromptu, deciding just a week or so before to go somewhere and Malaysia came straight to mind. I flew direct to Kuala Lumpur from Australia with Air Asia.

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Scooters Rule in SE Asia, look at those poor souls stuck in their cars.

Yes you can rent a full size bike in Malaysia and the place to go is The Big Bike Shop in Puchong. To get to the shop I took the KLIA Transit train to Putrajaya then a taxi. I brought a Google map print out with me yet the taxi counter at the station and three taxi drivers still did not know where to go but eventually we set off and fortunately along the way I sighted the shop on the other side of the highway.

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I rented a Kawasaki ER6N for this trip. I was impressed with the comfort of this model when I rented one in Thailand so chose to go with what I know works for me. A big thanks to the guys at The Big Bike Shop for looking after me. That’s the boss Mr Ibrahim Bin Abdul Samad above with me who is a top bloke.
Leaving Puchong I rode East as I was thinking not to start the ride by going north through Kuala Lumpur city. After a short period of highway riding I was already into the suburbs and then onto secondary roads. My GPS had multiple problems trying to navigate me out on a predefined route and I really should have selected a point on map in route outside the city and asked the GPS to navigate me to there letting it decide the route. As it was the GPS got totally confused at a couple of major highway junctions taking me the wrong way and forcing me to take many side roads to try get back on route.
My chosen route was East on rural roads B19 and B32 however the B19 road next to a lake had collapsed down the hillside into the lake and the GPS was unable to calculate a detour so I remembered there was a road south east that would eventually loop me back to the other side somewhere so headed off on what turned out to be about a 90km detour but the roads where quite enjoyable.

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Typical easy riding rural roads on my detour east.
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Route 9 heading north.

I rode to Karak and back along the Karak highway and turned off towards Genting Highlands. It was my intention to go up to the top and get some photos however I had lost so much time back tracking and finding a detour I needed to keep going. The ride down the North West side however was an excellent collection of twisty corners and rounding one of them I saw coming the other way an orange ER6N with a green Tony’s Big Bikes sticker on the front – it was the very same motorcycle I had rented in Chiang Mai earlier this year!

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I stopped to rehydrate and change GPS routes near the exit to Genting Highlands because the GPS would not route from the Karak highway E8 to road B66. It insisted I had to travel nearly all the way to Kuala Lumpur to exit and then return back, Ha-ha still a technology with much improvement needed. Route day 1 Part A and Part B (not including detour) are available by following those links.

With the sun starting to dip I made my way up the Western climb to Bukit Frazer. This is another superb selection of twisty corners as you climb back up another high mountain. The final 9 km is one lane road which is very tight but being one way only traffic was a lot of fun. Bukit Frazer is a quiet mountain retreat somewhat in decay and I was one of just a handful of visitors.

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Lovely climb up on route 55.
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One way section.
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Last time I stayed at the relaxing Shahzan Inn (the building in the background above)but this time went for the much cheaper Puncak Inn which was rather noisy and I regretted being such a cheap charlie. After a poor sleep at the noisy Air Asia Tune hotel in KL and a short nap on the overnight flight from Gold Coast I was feeling rather fatigued the next day leaving, which is never a good thing on a motorcycle.

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Lots of palm trees on the C5 North.

Riding east and down from Bukit Frazer the next day I was the only vehicle on the roads for a long way and it was nice to stop and take in the morning. Next I headed north to revisit what was my favourite road from last time the C156 and again it was wonderful. I was given a compact Canon camera recently so took it along on this tour and on occasions took it out of my pocket to snap a few shots on the fly which while not difficult was easier on the R1200RT with cruise control. The camera has a GPS in it to log the photos location but I never turned it on thinking it would chew the battery.

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On board the ER6N. More of this road later.

At the top of the climb was some road works and a detour and I had a serious brain fade from being so tired. Workers were waving scooters past and I did not stop to check it out ahead and before I realised was on a slippery side track and well to cut a long story short I stopped, tried to avoid another vehicle but rolled back and fell over not able to hold the bike up on loose surface. Being dirt saved me and having crash knobs saved the bike but both of us looked a mess and the foot peg broke clean off.

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As luck would have it I was assisted by road workers to get the bike up and back to the road and by other people to wire the foot peg on temporary. It was such a good job that I could continue the rest of the journey although I was cautious not to weigh that peg more than just my leg while riding and I got a pack of large zip ties from a hardware store just in case.

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I enjoyed an early light lunch overlooking the tea plantations in the Cameron Highlands then rode from Ringlet to Tapah on route 59. This is a very twisty descent from the highlands which while very good road would be more enjoyable coming up and with less vehicles as it was quite heavy traffic this time and on my previous visit. A took a couple more on bike photos after taking a break from passing endless convoy of cars.

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Then I blasted up the motorway to just before Ipoh where I turned off onto route A181 which climbs back up to the Cameron Highlands. This road … wow wow WOW! it is just astonishing, a bit like the C156 in parts, still many sweepers but a bit tighter on most corners yet still free flowing not tight. More traffic than the C156 but loads of places to overtake, if you think of Burringbar range in Northern NSW then imagine it going for about 40km you might get some idea of how good this road is.

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A couple on board riding the A181. More of this road later.

The combination of this and the 156 plus the tight twisty road that connects in between really offers just about any type of corner and all a rider could want. Next I rode down route 185 the North East descent to Gua Musang. More superb riding, perhaps not as good with one broken foot peg due to a number of places where the road has sunk but still a very very enjoyable ride.

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There were virtually no cars on this road which gave me the impression that I was really out on my own but then a new Skyline GTR blasted past me enjoying the road. With the super tax levied on imported vehicles in Malaysia the owner must have been a millionaire. There was quite a bit of smoke in the air as you can see, not as much as northern Thailand but enough to spoil the view. Todays route here.

Gua Musang is a regional town and not much to see however I was the only westerner in town and I always like being away from the tourist trail. The accommodation was again very noisy and nowhere open to get breakfast the next morning so a yogurt and iced coffee from the 7/11 had to do.

Today I rode north to Jeli, nearly on the border with Thailand. In the morning there was a fog as well as the smoke and the GPS tried to take me wrong way twice so I figured it could not see the satellites and referred to the offline map I had on my iPhone. The fog and smoke cleared up by mid morning to finally have some good viewing distance but the GPS continued to be unable to navigate me so I put it down to a possible error in route file and continued by traditional navigation. The D29 road up was easy riding, not heaps of curves but never boring, this then became Route 66, nothing like the famous one in the USA but some interesting road signs all the same.

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After Jeli I turned West again riding to Gerik on route 4. The first half of this road is a superb ride up and along a mountain range which eventually lands you at a huge lake. I stopped at the Belum Rainforest resort on Banding island for lunch for a much needed rest as the curves just keep on coming, about 100km of this.

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Now there is a road sign you don’t see every day.
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The ride into Gerik and back down the motorway was nothing special but I still had one more treat in store. I was staying in the Cameron Highlands tonight so I would get to ride up the A181 for a second time. What a great finish to another wonderful day of riding. Todays route.

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The road climbs then hugs the mountains for about 30km of wonderful riding. Hard to capture, you can see the road in the distance.

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Next time I ride here I will base myself in one of the villages in the highlands for a few nights as every road from there is terrific. The ER6N was a good pick for this this ride, the addition of the Akrapovic muffler really livened the engine up compared to the one I rode in Thailand and gave it some character too with a few pops and bangs on over run or change of gear. The rear top box fitted was big enough to swallow my travel bag whole and the small screen fitted deflected the wind effectively.  Enough power to pass yet light and easy on the fuel, I never felt like I needed anything more from a motorcycle for this ride at any time during the trip.

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Just to break up the photos of roads – did I mention the food was great yet? All this for about $4.50 Australian.

Last day and nothing open for breakfast in the town I stayed at. I should have purchased something light the evening before from bakery perhaps (or chosen a hotel elsewhere with breakfast) oh well, I head off in some heavy fog and it was quite cold being up high so I had to stop and don my rain jacket. I have a very compact light weight ‘cycling’ rain jacket and pants that I take when I go riding in SE Asia. Obviously not suited to a ‘rainy season’ but for brief use in thunderstorms until you find shelter or riding through some light drizzle then works fine. I found very little was open along the way so decided to just leave since most shops do not open until 10am.

And to end the ride I chose to revisit what I called last time the best road I have ever ridden, the almost car free C156…
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And it retains it’s No.1 crown in my books. 50 odd km of grinning so much it hurts!

I had a mostly trouble free ride back to KL. Approaching the outskirts of the city I noticed some real heavy clouds and seemed to skirt around them at one stage but then I got caught in a small storm. It was really just poor timing that I stopped to don my rain gear because a few minutes more down the road I took it off again at a rest stop where many scooter riders were already under cover and sipping some tea. I joined them, purchased a coffee and waited it out which took no more than 30 minutes. Most riders seem to travel without wet weather gear here.

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Yes I travel light, that’s my entire kit including wet weather gear. I should do a post on how to travel with less.

As I mentioned on my last ride in Malaysia, underneath all the road over passes is always a dedicated parking spot for riders to stop in rain which I again forgot to photograph but its a nice touch along with riders being exempt of all tolls on the motorways!

My GPS struggled with the junctions on the mega motorway system in KL so I took a wrong lane at one point and then I was stuck heading off in the wrong direction for about 7 km with no off ramps. I had some difficult navigation to do from there to get back on my route because I had no address lookup function on the map I was using so I kept zooming the GPS unit out to get a birds eye view and followed a rough route to the general area I was heading to in a big loop and eventually got back to bike shop. Last day route here.
Back in KL I relaxed and enjoyed the great food and quiet hotels but soon wished I was back on the ER6N. Out on the open road. Away from all the people. 

Looking forward to going back and perhaps I can find someone to ride with there with next time as it is so good I would love to share the experience.

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22 comments

  1. The Big Bike Shop web site seems to be down but they are operating as normal so google and you will find their phone number or they are also on Facebook.

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  2. HI,

    I just followed your blogs.
    It seems like you are a solo rider.
    I have just got myself a versys 650. Nothing much in my touring list, but I have just concluded a tour with my wife, covering 850km in two days to South of Penisular Malaysia.

    If you are coming again to Malaysia, you may drop me an email, perhaps we could ride together.

    Cheers!
    Jeff

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jeff, I am riding solo mostly, Versys is great bike, I am fan of the ER family from Kawasaki. Planning to get back there in July or sometime this year.

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    2. Hi,

      Great to hear that. Hope to meet you then.
      Till then, ride safe!

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  3. Hi... i was just wondering about the gps maps that you used when you were in Malaysia. Was it a map specifically for motorcycles (thereby showring all the bike lanes) or was it the normal automobile road types?

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    Replies
    1. I used the standard Garmin SE Asia road map and the bike lanes showed when zoomed in however I was routed via main road at toll booths since that was how I plotted it in RidewithGPS using Google maps. When approaching a toll gate slow down early and get over to left, the bike bypass lane can be well before the toll gates.

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  4. Hello,

    Its difficult to get hold of big bikes - would you mind sharing the cost you paid for your bike - maybe a daily or weekly rate.

    Thanks in advance

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  5. Any idea how to book with the big bike shop considering their website is down? I am trying to make travel arrangements right now and wanted to find out pricing and availability.

    Thanks, love the blog and will be using this post as a guide for my own malaysia solo ride.

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  6. Actually I cannot recall what it cost. More than Thai rentals but still less than rentals outside of Asia was my thinking at time

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  7. Google the shop and it appears in some business listing type sitrs with phone number. l'd call them on Skype.

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  8. I sent them a facebook message and will give them a call. Thanks for the response!

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  9. Next time maybe u can try our service. We provide a harley davidson rental in Kuala Lumpur. Visit our website www.klezbike.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for contacting me. I will post your site on my other page about rentals in Malaysia.

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  10. Hi Iron Chef,
    You have amassed a treasure trove of information over the years. Lot of us ride but we are lazy and do not give back to the community.
    Need help in fixing a ride in Malaysia. Do you know of any other bike rental place in KL? They have only 1 ER6n and there is 2 of us who need bikes!
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. There is new rental shop in KL. www.klezbike.com that has a Kawasaki ZX800 and a XR1200.

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  11. Thanks! Wrote to them so lets see.

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  12. Iron Chef,

    Thanks again for posting this one, my father and I just finished a 5 day Malaysian ride taking a similar path but broke east from Gua Musang (8-1744-185, and 185 was a very close second to the 102 in Cameron just a little hotter and a few asphalt patches as opposed the the near perfect roll of the 102... Also the lake area has spectacular views)

    Very rewarding to hit the beach at the East Coast and get refreshed at the Swiss Garden in Kuantan, also where I was chased by a herd of bulls who I suspect had escaped a nearby Ramadan event and CLEARLY had less appreciation for the roar of the HD 883 Iron I was riding than I did. Which BTW, I rented from KLEZBikes in Petaling Jaya for 450MYR p/d, and dad had a 1200. His was a bit low on brake fluid out and oil, and the rear tire was worn but within reason. All in all the bikes were in good shape... I would recommend contacting in advance and making sure they have what you want, doing the standard maintenance check when you first see them, etc... Btw the shop fella did not even do a return check on the bikes before giving us the deposit back and waving goodbye, if ever... All in all the only hardships we had were the behaviour of the TomTom GPS through Kuala Lumpur (pick itinerary marks on highways and plot a course off the side streets!) and getting the address of the shop straight with any and all taxi drivers, who are from this experience, consistently the worst and shiestiest in all of Asia, but do it all with a smile... And they are about dirt cheap so best to take it in stride unless you're on a tight schedule. Also, travelling at Ramadan has the mixed blessing of less traffic and less food shops open. Personally I prefer less traffic and there were enough places to eat if you are fine with Curry Houses or eating after sundown. Lastly, it only rained ONCE the whole week, at about 10pm, torrentially for about 20 minutes.

    I still prefer the Golden Triangle which I did solo a few years back, but this was also a great run and recommended for anyone who can deal with the heat/humidity and culture of the land.

    Chad-California

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    1. Hi Chad, good to hear your ride went well.

      Yes the taxi's in Malaysia are not the best. I took a print out of google map showing The Big Bike shop location and then used a taxi stand with office where you pay in advance the fare and get a coupon - supposedly to not get ripped off - but the driver had no clue and got lost and the coupon turned out 3 times the actual meter rate I got on return in honest cab. Oh well it still beats some of the taxi experiences I have had in Philippines.

      I also had difficulty navigating through KL however my problem was knowing which lane at major expressway junctions when not able to see which way the split in the road went. I got lucky couple times but then the route on the GPS appeared to go left at one point so I stayed left at the split to find the two sections crossed over on other side of a spaghetti like flyover junction and I was stuck going the wrong way for 10 km. Lane assist would have helped but I had none on the GPS at the time. Actually I should have returned the way I left the shop which was riding east avoiding KL.

      Thanks for all the feedback!

      Regards, IC

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  13. Just found your website and loved reading this one on Malaysia especially. I lived in KL for 5 years (2005-2010) and rode many of the same roads. Frasers Hill was a Saturday morning staple. Thanks for sharing, brought back many happy memories for me. Now I live in Switzerland and have to make do with the Alps as my back garden ;) - but would move back to KL in a heartbeat! Thanks for sharing. Happy Riding. JB

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    1. Hi JB, I want to get back there too. Malaysia and Thailand are two of my favourite riding destinations.

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  14. Hi there I was wondering what you did for accomodation, did you pre book or just winged it as you travelled along. I'm going to Malaysia in September and would like to do a 4 day ride.

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    1. I like to have something booked mostly so end of day I can just arrive and check in and be walking distance to shops which is what I did here. It does lock you in to a plan but then on a small ride of only few days or a week I rarely have spare days. Hope your ride goes well, i very much want to return there myself.

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