Imagine this: no 10-year motorcycle death sentence, no COE, no annual inspections and free-for-all moto modifications. A Singaporean moto-enthusiast’s impossible dream? Actually, all that’s needed is your passport and cash – Ringgit, to be specific.
A growing number of local motorcyclists are buying and stabling their weekend machines in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. For dirtbikers, especially, this makes a whole lot of sense. Across the causeway lies a sprawling enduro playground, with Ulu Choh Dirt Park and numerous other open trails just a 20min ride away from Tuas. Here in Singapore, your knobbies can hardly taste dirt without fear of legal repercussion. What’s more, the strong Singapore dollar delivers more value for a pricey hobby over in Malaysia.
For Singaporeans, buying a Malaysian-registered motorcycle isn’t hard. Scores of motor shops have sprung up in Johor, catering to this new appetite. Popular outfits like The Gear Bros and The HangOut offer a one-stop service, including registration of newly purchased motorcycles to their Malaysian shop address, administration of road tax and insurance, secure parking at a monthly rate, as well as mechanical servicing. Reputable Penang-based distributor of popular offroad motorcycles, Planet Cycle Superbike Centre Sdn Bhd, can deliver brand new machines straight to Johor within weeks of an order.
It’s not just dirtbikes on the menu – some are also buying and kitting out their touring motorcycles in as far as Kuala Lumpur or Penang, ready for an any-time romp into Thailand.
If your buddies are all doing it, maybe you’re thinking of taking the plunge too. How do the numbers weigh up? Let’s take the example of a coveted race pedigree enduro machine: the KTM 300 EXC TPI.
Admittedly, the cost savings are pretty damn attractive, and even more so if you already have property in Malaysia that allows you to save on the parking rent. But the catch is obvious: you can’t simply ride your Malaysian motorcycle back home across the border, because it’s not legal. You’ll still be paying a considerable sum of money for a handsome set of wheels that you won’t get to fiddle with everyday.
On a side note, if you’re thinking of parking an LTA-deregistered or offroad-only motorcycle (meaning, it is not registered with LTA, and is free of COE and road tax fees) in Johor, beware. Malaysian authorities have caught on and are raiding popular motorcycle shops that house these Singaporean-owned motorcycles. If caught, you stand to lose your machine and get slapped with a court summons.
Have no doubt about it, with volatile COE prices and the ARF hike, Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in the world to be suffering from a motorcycle habit. This month, the hyped 2019 Honda CRF450L and fresh models from Italian offroad specialists, Beta, uncrate for the first time on our shores. On-the-road pricing for the Honda is rumoured to be 33,000 SGD at Loois Motors, and in the low twenties for the Beta models at Mah Motors. On the other hand, a Husqvarna 701 is going for only 16,000 SGD, ready-to-ride, in Malaysia. Where is your money going to go?
Cherie went to school with overachievers. She grew up to fully embrace her wicked, underachieving ways and made art, rode motorcycles, wore dinosaur costumes to inappropriate places, and was generally awesome. She has recently discovered that the optimal number of underpants to pack for world domination on your motorcycle is 2.5.