Passion for motorcycling can truly last through the ages and we had the privilege to chat with an old skool 2-wheeler.
Meet Alfred Armstrong, approaching his 80th birthday and currently the proud owner of a new Kawasaki KLX250. A retired teacher and fanatic motorcycle racing sports enthusiast (on TV), Armstrong is what we would call old-skool in today’s Singapore’s motorcycling culture.
Hi Mr Armstrong, do tell us how long have you been in the MC ‘scene’?
You see that licence plate on my KLX? That plate was issued over 46 years ago. I’ve been motorcycling around longer than that.
Where there biker groups or clubs in the 1950s like what we have today?
Well, you may know the saying – biker groups have been around since motorcycles have been around. In those days my personal group, or ‘club’ as you call it today were a bunch of two-wheeled fanatics who loved to roam the off-roads and villages in Malaysia on our Nortons and BSAs. Before your north-south highway there were trunk roads winding their way to the Malaysian capitol but even before trunk roads what we had then were just numerous dirt tracks leading to small villages.
That was the period which I got into serious biking. We called ourselves ‘Equire Cycfari’ which simply meant we were always on an adventure safari with our 2-wheelers.
Tell us about the motorcycling in those days.
The golden rule we followed was ‘you don’t ride for yourself’. Do bikers still follow this code nowadays? Trailing in the Malaysian forests and plantations was pretty intoxicating and challenging. We had small river crossings when we tried to enter certain villages and everyone always looked out for one another.
I’m sure riders that tour in Malaysia these days still encounter road obstacles like cow herds and perhaps even a wild boar streaking across the highway. In those days we were sharing routes with elephant herds ferrying goods and lumber on the beaten paths.
Are road conditions and traffic more hazardous today?
The short answer is yes. Taxis still like to switch on their hazard lights in the middle of the road and leave bikers guessing which way they plan to do a sharp turn to reach a passenger and lorries still leave their signal lights flashing long after they have made their turns. Guess nothing much has changed.
If you accept advise from an ‘old-timer’ like me, I would say bikers today have to really use all their senses of sight, hearing and instinct to stay safe on our local roads, be it hearing a noisy Ferrari cutting queue and roaring through a bus lane on your left, or sensing a foreigner or teenager engrossed in his or her iPhone crossing the road whilst everyone else is still waiting at the traffic crossing. Cultivate patience and be humble. It is the thing that will keep you bikers alive on the roads.