Most of you will have read the article on the Ulu Yam road crash video where a speeding car crossed the centre line and was hit by an oncoming vehicle. Now here’s a video from the day before, showing a convoy of motorcycles cutting across the road centre line and into the path of an oncoming car.
Thankfully, there was no mishap and the driver of the car, who recorded everything on his dashcam, was kind enough to be paying attention and slowed down to avoid collisions. Yes, collisions, as the line of riders was stretched out and cutting the apex coming through a corner.
The manner in which these riders were taking the corner was dangerous, not to mention against the law. This is something we’ve all seen especially if you travel the Karak Highway on weekends and head up into Genting Highlands or Bukit Tinggi.
While the author understands the need for speed despite being a “slow” rider, something he is fond of saying is, “choose your battleground carefully.” This means riding to conditions and being respectful and courteous to other traffic.
If a rider really wants to go fast, there is are track days at about RM350 per half-day session or more, or various race series held year-round in Malaysia. For basic, fun racing, there is Malaysia Speed Festival (MSF) or Malaysian Superbikes (MSBK), two local race series held at Sepang International Circuit (SIC).
Additionally there are smaller scale race promoters like BRAAAP Racing, who organise several races for small capacity machines at SIC and other circuits in Malaysia as well. For those riders who complain that racing is expensive, the reason for the cost is not profit for the race promoter but safety measures to ensure, well, your safety.
For riders, if you are riding fast enough that you are uncomfortable leaning your bike to negotiate a corner following an acceptable line without crossing the centre line, then you are riding too fast, don’t know how to ride your bike properly or need more training.
Taking a corner on two-wheels means having to lean. The faster and tighter the corner, the more lean is needed. In physics, the forces governing cornering are immutable, unless your name is Marc Marquez or Randy Mamola.
A motorcycle negotiating a corner is a ballet, and balance, of centrifugal and centripetal force, of acceleration and braking, of tyre hysteresis. There are many riders who put down money for the latest, fastest superbike but have no clue in how to safely handle their machine.
Think this is a joke? The author has been riding for 38 years, on road and in competition, on diverse surfaces, and is a fair judge of a rider’s ability. A rider unsure of his or herself on a motorcycle is readily apparent and will be a danger to not just others but also to themselves.
Conversely, there is the rider who rides with his ego, using speed to intimidate other riders. This is notably so amongst the group who frequent the Karak Highway, taking corners at speed well above 250 km/h and giving the highway its infamous sobriquet, the “Karak TT.”
So, what is to be done? Well, for one, speed doesn’t kill but the deceleration upon impact with an immovable object does. Road conditions are constantly variable, and going up the Genting road at 9.00 a.m. is not the same as descending at 11.00 a.m. after your coffee at Starbucks.
Rider training is available in Malaysia, from pure speed schools like California Superbike School or the Ducati Riding Experience. For those needing to brush up on road riding skills, places like Most Fun Gym or instructors like Haizal Omar, Remon Azrem, Oh Kah Beng and Eric Yong are more than happy to take students under their wing and teach them the art of cornering.
There are of course spurious people who purport themselves to be “instructors” so credentials should be examined carefully, along with references and background checks in the industry. For any rider, young or old, experienced or new to the sport, proper training will pay dividends.
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