Malaysia - Fraser's Hill & Melaka

27 March 2010

 After a hectic few months at work, I managed to book a couple of days off for a solo trip north into Malaysia.

Long stretches of motorway, torrential rain, mad drivers and a whole heap of the world's best roads.

I was late starting off on a sunny Sunday morning in March 2010. A fresh pair of Conti Trail Attack tyres on the steel pony, I wanted a trip on tarmac and I figured these would be better than the TKC80s.

 Leaving Singapore via the Second Link at Tuas I headed into Malaysia and followed the North-South Expressway. I took a wide berth of Kuala Lumpur to the West via the E6 and E35 which delivered me to Rawang, just north of KL.  After 400km of tedious and very hot motorway miles, I head up Route 1 towards Fraser's Hill.

The minute I got onto the fun roads the heavens opened with the kind of tropical rain you can only get in this part of the world.  60km to Fraser's Hill, climbing 1260 metres along twisty roads with severe drop-offs in the rain...nice!

Fraser's Hill or Bukit Fraser is named for the Scotsman who discovered tin ore in the area and mined the wealth with a heap of opium-addicted coolies.  Like Jim Thompson, he mysteriously disappeared one day but the area keeps his name.  It's a small 'resort' area and much less commercialised then Genting or Cameraon Highlands...but the standard of accomodation is pretty dire.  Not a five star hotel to be seen!

Despite the rain, the cooler temperatures were welcome, down from 36 celcius around KL to the mid 20s up in the mountains
PhotobucketI eventually arrived at Ye Olde Smokehouse where they were filming a Malaysian TV show, but luckily they had one room left which I took gratefully.

"Quaint" is the word, a small slice of colonian England in the mountains.  "expensive"would be another word, at over RM300 for a room for the night.  The room was obviously very nice at some stage in it's life, but a little tired and damp.  No heater to dry the bike suit out, and barely any hot water, but I was out of the rain and happy.

PhotobucketNature obliged with some fabulous views when the rain cleared, with some incredible views from the room.
Later on, we were treated to nature's own lightshow when the sun set.  I don't normally post millions of sunset shots, but the colours were amazing:


PhotobucketThe food was good, the mattress lumpy, but the next morning was a whole new (dry) world.

PhotobucketMet this little fellow on my morning stroll...wish I knew how to get better photos of this stuff.

I timed breakfast perfectly to getaway in time to make the 10am  "Gap".  The last 8km of roads to Bukit Fraser are so narrow and winding that the traffic is only allowed one-way at a time.  Odd hours to travel up, and even hours to travel down.

PhotobucketUnfortunately just before I got to The Gap, I stopped to take pictures of the picturesque town square and managed to drop my bike.  On someone's car.  Outside the police station. Doh!  I had to hang around another 90 mins to wait for the 12pm gap.

PhotobucketBut looking at the GPS, I could see that there was fun right around the corner.  Lots of corners.  (This is a thing of beauty when you live in Singapore, where the roads are almost entirely straight and interupted with traffic lights every 500m).

Photobucket Given the late start and thought of a long hot ride back from Cameron Highlands the next day, I decided to have a day on the twisties and followed Highway 55, 8(old), 9 and 61 down to Melaka.
From the start there were no views more than 100m distant, as every corner was greeted with another corner.

Too much riding fun to stop and take pictures.  I mostly managed to keep ahead of the locals on their Honda Wave 125cc scooters.  I guess familiarity with the roads helps when the turns are this thick and fast.

PhotobucketFurther down the mountain, the roads began to open up into long sweeping bends that could carry 100km/h without any fuss.  After Singapore, anything less than totally vertical seems like an insane lean angle.

PhotobucketThe air was getting warmer lower down, back up to 28 celcius or so. 

The jungle vegetation and 15m bamboo forests thinned out to open up some spectacular views across the Titiwangsa mountain range.

The rest of the route to Melaka was also plenty fun.  No sign of traffic police on the back roads, or maybe it was too hot?  I stopped for Nasi Goreng in one village and felt like a rock star when surrounded by what seemed like the whole village wanting to oggle the bike.  I guess anything over 125cc here is still a novelty.  I was surprised not to see any other big bikes on these roads, it think if I lived in KL all my spare time would be on these mountain roads.

Rain hit again for the final hour's ride into Melaka, and didn't stop until I was nearly back in Singapore the following day.  After another 500km I arrived in Melaka with just enough time to check in, massage and eat before bed.

PhotobucketI decided to splurge and stayed in The Majestic, one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the world.  The room with its 4-poster bed and claw-foot bath open to the room was very nice, and the food was incredible.  Only 5/10 for the balanese massage though, would expect more from an expensive spa resort. 
Photobucket The final leg on Day 3 was a short 250km hop in the rain back to Singapore via a mix of back roads and NSE.  Back into Singapore via the Second Link again and home in time for Cucumber sandwiches.

All in all I did around 1200km over the three days, and it was the first proper outing for my Touratech Standard Breathable seat.  Comfort levels after 450km were as good as the first km.  Its a great seat that maximises the long-distance ability of the bike, but in this kind of heat I guess any biker will suffer from monkey butt and a hot arse.  Prickly heat powder liberally applied at every stop helps, but after 6 hours in the saddle I still get hot bits where the back of my thighs meet the seat.

The Conti Trail Attacks are an incredible tyre.  The pattern doesn't suggest much use on trail, and I didn't take on any gravel roads during this outing.  But on the pavement, there was almost no difference between the dry roads and roads with 2" of standing water, I am very very impressed with these tyres.  I am sure better bikers than me will easily scrape not only the pegs but probably the engine casing too with these tyres on.

I've got to say that the highlands of Malaysia are a must-do for anyone biking in the area.  Send me a message if you want a GPX file of my routes.



How The Germans Soothe My Bum

02 March 2010

Since moving to Singapore, my bumblebee has given me a severe case of Monkey Butt. The flesh/cordura/plastic interface is made horrible in the heat, and after 300km leaves me crying like a small girl.

So I searched out the seat alternatives, by way of 2 year birthday present to the yellow horse.

I took a look at the Corbin Seat, but it made me feel a bit "meh". If I wanted a Harley seat, I'd buy a Harley.

Then I had a nosey at the Sargent seat which is, for me, a bit OTT with the piped trim.  A bit poncey.  (Image courtesy of

All very nice but not what I was looking for.  Over on ADV Rider and the UKGSer forums, there are lots of posts on custom jobs and local guys who work miracles with memory foam.

I decided to take the easy way out with an off-the-shelf saddle from Touratech.

It's not a cheap option, but hey its the bumblebee's birthday.  And it's certainly the easiest option, I don't have to send my original seat away or wait while someone attacks the foam with a carving knife.  I made the decision for the TT seat based on the principle that if I don't like it, I can sell it and revert to the stock seat...this isn't possibly if Freddies Foam Fitters have hacked it up.  (Although in fairness you can probably buy a brand new BMW replacement seat for half the price of the TT seat...).  But the TT seat is the only one with a breathable option.

Now THAT sounds like a cure for Monkey Butt!

Anyway, the seat arrived today so I thought I would share some pix.  This is the Touratech Breathable Standard seat, about $800 Singapore dollars.

Side-by-side comparisons

Notice that the TT seat (on the left) has a distinct step to it, creating a flatter area of support for both rider and pillion.  The BMW is more of a Nike swoosh.

The TT seat is marginally wider at the rider seat/ass interface.  But definately flatter on account of the stepped design.

Off the bike, it seems that the very lowest point of the seat is comparable to the BMW seat, but in all other respects it is higher.  Remember, this is the Standard seat from TT.

Yes, there is a BMW seat alongside.

Here you can see how much higher the TT seat is.

The front portion is some faux leather affair, I guess for the hardwearing crotch zipper area.  The remainder of the seat is a breathable goretex that TT claims allows air to circulate inside the seat.

The underside of the seat is identical to the OEM seat, including the spaces for tools and first aid kit, but minus all the disclaimer stickers.

What is interesting to note, that the stepped design of the seat is not the same as that shown on the website.  Something isn't matching here.

Notice that the TT website picture are all more 'swooshy' like the original BMW seat.  There is no labelling on my seat, but given the height of it, it's certainly not a low seat.
Previously I could just about get both feet flat (I am 5'10" and 32" inseam, in jeans at least).  Now I can't quite manage that, but can comfortably get both balls (of my feet) down.  On the way home I noticed I adopted my usual right foot down position, fully flat and my bum had to shift sideways to achieve that.

So how does it perform?

Erm, well you'll have to wait for an update on that...only rode it 3km home so far, but a 800km jaunt to Kuala Lumpur planned over the next couple of weeks.

Whatever the verdict, I can bet it will be better than the 1cm of 'padding' my mate has on his SuperDuke R.  At least after 300km I can still walk  ;)

But for my next trip, just in case, I'll be taking a large tin of this...

UPDATE - Post ride
I did 1200km over three days through the mountains of Malaysia in temperatures ranging from around 25 celciues to 26 celcius.
I have got to say that the TT standard breathable seat is a million miles better than stock, as far as my own ass is concerned.  Comfort level is vastly improved with a broader, flatter base to move around on.  The front is narrow enough when you need to get up on the pegs, and if you really want to move around and have long enough arms you can sit right back on the pillion ridge.

Although the seat is standard, it is definately taller than than stock and I can't flat foot both feet any longer. It also take my head up into the air stream a bit more, but nothing uncomfortable for me.

It's the heat and sweat that kills me out here, and the back of my thighs get uncomfortable where they meet with the seat.  Prickly Heat powder helps some, but after 4 hours or so its pretty noticeable and uncomfortable.  Would like to hear if other riders in this kind of heat/humidity get the same problem?!


About This Blog

I had been saving for a ST1300 for a long time, as it was clear that my Deauville wasn't up the task.

In November 2007 I saw pictures of the F800GS and ran to the dealers to place a deposit.

On 13th March 2008 I took delivery and have never regretted it.

On 13th April 2009 my 800GS joined me in Singapore for a new life and adventures...

This is my F800GS Blog.


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