Monday, August 14, 2017

Selangor-Perak-Penang: Cycling Selangor to Penang The Coastal Route

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Selangor to Penang Via The Coastal Route
West Coast Peninsular Malaysia : 7th August - 13th August 2017

Our buddy Sin (if the hApPy HaPpY blogs) would be going on 45 days cycling tour around Peninsular Malaysia. Being the magnimous chap that he is, he has invited friends to join him along the way.
He has divided his tour into several stages. Five of us joined him for stage 1 that spanned from Sungai Buloh (in Selangor) to George Town (in Penang). It was an interesting route that took us monstly along quieter rural roads, opening our eyes to the beauty of our country that city folk's seldom see. This here is the tale our adventure which we thoroughly enjoyed. (Note: further below are cycing tips, and write-ups on food and places along the route)

Below are the blogs of our cycling tour, click on the respective photos to read. It was a good cycling tour, so come see our rides:




Here's, some general tips on cycling in Malaysia, more detailed tips will be included in the day to day blogs:

1. Traffic Directions!
    Malaysia is right-hand drive so ride on the left side of the road.

2. Bringing Bikes Onto Trains & Ferries
- KTM (Keretapi Tanah Malaysia) Peninsular Malaysia's rail service provider runs an electric train service called the ETS from Kuala Lumpur to Padang Besar. Folded bicycles are allowed on board but should be bagged. Un-bagged bicycles could be subject to additional fares of RM10 per 150km of travel or part thereof.
- The Klang Valley MRT operated by MYMRT provides mass rapid transit for the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. Foldies are allowed on board without extra charges but must be folded.
- The Penang Port Commision runs a regular ferry service between Butterworth on the mainland to George Town on the Penang Island. One can ride straight into the ferry, just follow the motorcycle lane in. The fare is RM1-40 for each bicycle and it's rider.

3. Communicating with Locals
    For the uninitiated cycling in foreign lands can be a daunting experience, especially when one can only speak a smattering of the local language or if there is no common language to speak to each other (like English). Most Malaysians can speak fairly good English; but in the rural areas the locals speak only some rudimentary English, so learning some basic phrases will be helpful.
    This could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    And do install memory-resident translation apps into your mobile phone.

4. Staying in Touch
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost or just to share photos and moments. Pre-paid phone sim-cards are easily available from most phone shops in the main towns.

5. Accomodations
In most of the towns, accomodations are easy to find, there are hotels and homestays around; use Google maps to search for these. We did not pre-book accomodations except for those in George Town which is a favourite tourist destination and as there was also a major cycling event during that time. Our accomodation cost averaged about RM90 per room per night.
(See individual daily blogs for our accomodations at that specific localities).

6. Food
Malaysia is a multi-racial country and a range of reasonably priced delicious food is easily available from most shops that usually open up til 10pm. For late night eats, Mamak coffeeshops are opened 24 hours. Along the route food can be found at road-side stalls or coffee shops. Also at coastal route are many seafood restaurants and one would be spoilt for choices. Penang has been rated as the best place in the world to eat by food writer James Oseland of the Saveur food and travel magazine.

7. Weather
August is the beginning of the wet season of the country do have your raincoats ready. However it does not rain everyday, so do cover up or use sun-block lotions when necessary.
Temperature ranges from 27°-32°C; on hot days it could should up to 34°C.

8. Navigation
Where data signal is available and strong, one can use Google Maps to navigate around. If the cycling options may not be available, just use the walking options.
In cases where data signal is weak or unavailable (like in remote rural areas), install MAP.ME into your phone. It's an off-line map app.   
Alternatively, use a dedicated GPS unit like those from Garmin. However ensure that one install the Malaysia maps into the unit.

9. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads with the relevant tools.




(Next... Europe?)


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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Selangor-Perak-Penang / Selangor to Penang The Coastal Route
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Brompton Accessories #21 - Ceramic Ball Bearings For The Brompton Hub Gear

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Brompton Accessories #21 - Ceramic Ball Bearings For The Brompton Hub Gear
                                                   AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                                  
"Goofy" my Brompton P6R have loyally taken me for rides all over the world for years. The long journeys we have been on together has taken it's toll. To give it a new look after tons of scratches and dents, I had it Brompton copper plated and was very proud of it's new look.
Soon I will be embarking on a overseas tour with Goofy, one that will require us to ride more than a hundred kilometres per day and one that will have us facing strong headwinds. My riding legs are getting old too, so how should I overcome this or at least alleviate it.
A few of my friends, have had ceramic ball bearings installed into the hub-gear and had given good feed-backs. So why not give Goofy a technical up-grade instead of the usual cosmetic one?

Ceramic ball bearings are made of sintered materials that are then ground to size and shape as above. Common materials include: silicon nitride ((Si3N4) and zirconium dioxide.

Ceramics have many advantages over the usual steel bearings, among which are their hardness and corrosion resistance which will extend the effeciency of the bearings over a longer period. No wonder I have seen those "ceramic-balled" friends easily coasting by me while I was still pedalling hard!
The table above shows a comparison between different the materials used for ball bearings.

The Brompton has a Sturmey-Archer BSR 3 speed rear hub, with the gearing cosily hidden and effeciently doing their work. It is a robust system, fully hermetically sealed and hardly needing any maintenance. But it is also a complicated piece of equipment, and I am quite apprehensive of having the hub-gear opened up, especially in the hands of an inexperienced person. A friend, Jason from Chain Story, has been regularly opening up and servicing this hub gear; and he has these ceramic ball bearings too! So it is to him that I sent Goofy to have this latest upgrade. The above photo shows the gear dismantled but not yet un-assembled.

To do a full servicing of the hub and install the bearings, it has to be totally un-assembled; and this I leave it in the expert hands of Jason who is quite meticoulous and organised. The above photos shows the hub fully taken apart, the smaller bearings are in an O-ring shown at the centre right.

A total of fourteen big bearings and fourteen small bearings are required. The smaller bearings are installed onto an inner black O-ring; while the bigger ones are put into an outer grooved ring. Here's a photo of the large bearings assembly.

Well, since everything is already opened up, Jason also did a full servicing of the rear derailluer (seen above, spotlessly cleaned).

Here's the hub installed backed onto the wheel, looking good - but how will it perform?
I will be doing a short tour cycling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang Island and hope I will be able to give positive feedbacks soon - will I be coasting pass my friends while giving them a silly grin?

Phone: +6012-9077679         |          Email:

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You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Bikes & Accessories / Brompton Accessories #21 - Ceramic Ball Bearings For The Brompton Hub Gear
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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