Category Archives: motorbikes

All’s Not Lost On My Copy-Cub

Prior to early 1970s, all Cubs in Malaysia were sired by Honda-san.  (Our family owned a series of Cubs in succession). Then Yamaha and Suzuki decided to bring forth their own Cubs – copies of the Hondas.

In 1978, my father bought me a new Suzuki FR70. With great joy, I rode off this 2-stroke 70cc bike for the final year of my MU studies.

My late uncle remarked that we should not have bought Suzuki, since in our Hokkien dialect it sounded like “lost it all” (输输去). Nonetheless, it served me well and I did graduate.

The 2-stroke engine’s domain was in the mid-to-high rpms – at low rpm, torque was poor, unlike the rugged Honda kapcai’s. The “zhng-zhng” sound was very different from the “put-put” sound of the 4-strokers. Overall, it was a fun machine.


The Dream Machine

I was a small kid with big dreams then.  Some time in 1962, when dad brought home a colorful catalog from Boon Siew Honda, my attention was drawn NOT to the cubby stuff, but a big stately majestic 250cc model, called “Dream”.  I liked the squarish headlight, the squarish-section front forks & rear suspension arms, the sparkling chrome fuel tank, etc., and not the least of all, the whitewall tyres.

(By contrast, modern m-bikes all seem to resemble creepy bugs that appear in nightmares)

Anyway, I told my dad “buy this one”.  But Dollars & Sensibility sank in.  We could only afford the 50cc Kap Chai, but that big fella remained the stuff of my dreams for a long time.

Anyone owned this machine before ?

The Mother Of All Cubs…

Was also a cub – the Honda Port Cub 240, with a 49cc engine.  Introduced in 1962, it was the forerunner of all the  ‘kap chais’.   The earliest versions did not even have signalling winkers for turning.

Most interestingly, the kickstarter was on the left side (see photo) and the gearbox had only two speeds.   I remember we had a second-hand specimen in the early 60s, until my dad traded it in for a C50 Cub.

The success of these Honda runabouts spawned a host of many copycat versions by Suzuki and Yamaha.

For Honda, later updates had bigger engines, from 65cc going up to 70cc, 90cc and eventually 100cc.    In my first 3 years in MU, I had a C70cc model, which I used for the daily commute between campus and Section 17 of PJ.

When Triumph Was All-Masculine

British two-wheelers had a thumping time roaring the highways and byways, before the Japanese overwhelmed the market in the 60s.  Among these was Triumph.  I remember a particular macho model quite well; it had a kind of “wrap-around” sarong-like rear mudguard – as shown in the picture.

A relaive of mine had one of these. It was funny – he had to leap onto the kickstarter and use his whole body weight in order to get the engine started. Always needed a few tries before the beast could finally be aroused from its slumber. But once it fired up, the low-frequency “thump-thump-thump” sound was sure heavy metal music to the ears (mine, at least)

Then vroom-vroom-vroom, off he went, with his wife on his back seat clinging onto him for dear life.

Haiz, nowadays the name Triumph is mostly associated with the feminine form.