Training to handle big bikes, harsh terrain
Bikers riding to Ho Chi Minh City attend clinic to prepare for 2,800km journey
In January next year, some bikers are planning to ride from Singapore to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, which is some 2,800km away.
For a handful of them, the ride has begun.
For the last few months, the bikers, who own some of the latest adventure bikes, have been participating in a riding clinic organised by two experienced dirt bike trainers.
After all, falling is part of the journey to becoming better riders.
One of the half-day clinic's participants, Mr Muhd Fazrul, who is in his 20s and works in shipping, said: "You drop your bike once, you can pick it up. You drop it twice or thrice, it drains your energy. But at the end, we still have to depend on ourselves."
Mr Fazrul, who rides a Honda Africa Twin he bought last year, said it helps when a rider understands his limits. Their bikes weigh at least 220kg each when fully fuelled, and the weight goes up with equipment such as panniers, tools and safety gear.
Another participant, Mr Iswandi SK, said that while training is necessary, working as a team is equally important as it builds camaraderie.
The 31-year-old said: "When we ride, train and fall together, we get to know each other better. It helps with the teamwork when we are faced with challenges on our journey."
According to him, part of the group's training takes them to longer off-road trails in Johor.
The terrain there simulates some of the harsh terrain they will face on their overland journey to Vietnam.
Mr Iswandi, who is in logistics, added: "We have crossed streams, rode over logs and slippery slopes.
"Heavier bikes behave differently from smaller off-road bikes. We have to adapt and be ready, because we might not get any help when riding in the isolated areas."
The core of the training is to understand the fundamentals of handling a bigger bike, said Mr Yusri Yusoff, 45, one of the clinic's trainers.
A former dirt bike racer and mechanic, he emphasised body positioning, utilisation of front brakes, throttle control and speed controlled turning, among others.
The group was also taught basic suspension set-up, towing techniques and terrain reading.
Mr Yusri, who observes his trainees closely by tailing them during exercises, said: "They have to train to prevent injury and minimise crashes. Most importantly, they have to be confident when faced with unfamiliar terrain."
As the riders negotiate various turns at an open field in eastern Singapore, another trainer, Mr Hart Victor, leads Mr Fazrul by showing him cornering and eye lines, including correct body posture. Big adventure bikes cannot use the same lines or change direction as quickly as smaller dirt bikes.
Mr Victor, 37, said: "Different (cornering) lines, brake and throttle points need to be used.
"It may not be the fastest line but it is the easiest on the rider, and that style is best for long adventure rides like the one they are embarking on."