Being so close to the equator, Malaysia is warm year round and really only has two seasons: wet and dry. It’s always hot 80s-90s F. My wife and I enjoyed a couple weeks in Malaysia recently do to a death in the family. While it was a sad time, the hot weather and wonderful time with family made it enjoyable. The photo above is our first glimpse of the Malaysian coast from our plane.
When we left Minnesota, it was 28F and when we arrived in Kuala Lumpur it was 28C. A nice improvement. I caught my first glimpse of the thousands of motorcycles I would see during our trip on the taxi ride from the airport into the city (above). He’s enjoying one of the motorcycle-only lanes on the freeway.
Downtown Kuala Lumpur is filled with motorcycles as is the rest of the country. While I was there, I estimated that at least 40% of the vehicles on the road had to be motorcycles. It was a pretty close guess. This study says 50%+.
Like everywhere else in the world (except 49 US states sadly) filtering, splitting, and lane sharing are all perfectly legal and used extensively. The heavy traffic and poor roads means motorcycles are the only sensible way to get through the mess. The hot humid weather is encouraging those who can afford it to use cars though.
The public transit system in Malaysia isn’t very good. They are working on combing the systems, so it is getting better.
Most of the motorcycles were from the big four Japanese names you’d recognize: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, and Kawasaki with dozens of other names I had never heard of before. Yamaha and Honda seemed the most common to me.
Most of the motorcycles are less than 135cc. The small size makes them very easy to maneuver in heavy traffic weaving in and out of the trapped cars. It also makes them very easy to park. Occasionally, there would be a larger motorcycle. I saw a few 650s, but they were rare.
I was always impressed how close together they could park their bikes. Barely enough room to walk between. I like the Repsol-Honda inspired motorcycles in the shot below. With the Sepang Circuit, there are a large number of MotoGP fans in Malaysia.
Helmet use is required by law and I saw most people wearing helmets. I only saw a half dozen people wearing any other protective gear such as a motorcycle coat or boots. Normal gear is an open face helmet (usually fastened), thin coat on backwards, and flip-flops for the feet. The heat and high humidity would have made it uncomfortable to wear much else, but would probably increase the longevity of the riders.
It was common to see motorcyclists ignoring traffic rules (the other vehicles did too) like ignoring signal lights and directions of travel. I’m guessing that contributes to their over 50% of traffic fatalities in Malaysia involve motorcycles. It was interesting to observe a completely different traffic dynamic to the US were motorcycles are only 1% vs. the 50% in Malaysia.
Four stroke and two stroke motorcycles were both found in full representation with the four stroke being the most common.
Despite the plums of smoke and loud exhaust that all the two-stroke seemed to be equipped with, I enjoyed seeing them.
Motorcycles parked in the sidewalk adjacent to the train platform above.
Motorcycle shops were very common because of the high number of motorcycles around. Many were simply large garages filled with moto-related stuff. Similar to some of the enthusiast garages I’ve seen in MN. I liked the old triumph in the photo above.
The mechanics above were tearing down an engine on the sidewalk in front of their shop.
While enjoying some tea, I caught the scene above of a father picking his son up from school. He’s just helping him get his helmet on. Starting him young!
A have a few more Malaysia related posts coming, so stay tuned.