Rally look for an old dirtbike
Biker spends more than $8,000 to build dream ride
If you can't buy the bike of your dreams, build it.
That was what Mr Yusri Yusoff, 45, did when he wanted a light yet powerful rally-inspired dirtbike.
He transformed an old 510cc KTM 530 EXC-R, registered here eight years ago, into what looks like the latest flashy Dakar Rally bike from KTM for more than $8,000.
Had it not been for a discussion between two friends caught in a traffic jam last November while returning from a dirtbike race in Johor, Mr Yusri's rally-bike - dubbed "Dumbo" due to its massive blue handguards - would not have materialised.
He told TNP: "We argued in the car for a long time if the conversion was possible, if at all."
What they dreamed of was a light dirtbike that is reliable and capable of going long distances.
It would also have to be powerful enough to keep up with bigger motorcycles on the road while staying agile in tight off-road sections.
Mr Yusri added: "The issue with big, dual-purpose bikes is that if you drop one, you'll have a hard time picking it up."
The current certificate of entitlement premiums hover in the $7,000 bracket and the new tiered additional registration fee structure would drive the cost of owning a new large capacity bike above $30,000.
Acquiring the used KTM 530 EXC-R last December for $4,000 was the easy part. Transforming it was a case of elbow grease and a lot of frustration.
The project was not as simple as bolting on the Italian-made navigation tower kit that gives the KTM its rally look.
Mr Yusri, a former mechanic who is now an operations manager for an oil and gas company, said: "When the kit arrived, I went straight to the bottom of the box. But there were no instructions."
When Mr Yusri attempted to fix the kit onto the front of his KTM, the mounts did not fit.
So he made adjustments to the bracket that holds the covering for the navigation tower.
Another two weeks were spent "debating" via e-mail with staff from Fasst Company in the US, known for its vibrationless handlebars (Flexx handlebars) that use elastomers.
It had recommended a narrower handlebar while Mr Yusri demanded a wider one so that he could fit more switches on the handlebar to control the radiator fan and select fuel maps.
"In the end, Fasst Flexx was right," said Mr Yusri. "The staff had asked for my body dimensions and concluded that a narrower (handle)bar would allow me to control my bike better."
The roughly 115kg KTM (without fuel) was now packing more weight - 10kg more due to the navigation tower, a 14-litre fuel tank and a rear fender rack.
With the added weight and more fuel, the front forks were upgraded with stiffer springs to prevent them from bottoming-out during jump landings.
The front brakes were also upgraded on the estimated 60hp bike.
To make the bike more reliable, Mr Yusri patiently stripped the bike and gave about 40 wires the "heat shrinking" treatment.
Bolts were replaced with universal ones and there is a socket to power a portable air pump.
Mr Yusri said: "If there are problems in a deserted area, I must be able to work on the bike on the spot myself."
Two months and more than $4,000 later, "Dumbo" was born.
It was ridden hard to test for reliability and so far, it has not broken down, said Mr Yusri.
Astride his bike, the navigation tower - complete with a GPS system - takes centre stage without blocking the rider's view of the road ahead.
"Dumbo" may possess an old soul, but don't be surprised if you see this rally-inspired bike at the start line of a race.