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Old to gold: Restoring old bikes can take owners to extremes

You see them occasionally on our roads.

Older motorcycles from a different time - pristine and roadworthy. And then there are newer-looking motorcycles which are remarkably better-looking than the day they left the showroom.

Most times, both types of motorbikes cannot be bought. Yet someone had painstakingly invested time and money to rebuild these unique motorcycles.

If you ask Mr Matthew Lim of Vicious Cycles, a custom motorcycle workshop, the journey to owning these specials can take the owner to extreme levels.

Mr Lim, 39, said: "Some restore old motorcycles by strictly following every detail in the original motorcycle manual.

"If it's a Suzuki cable tie or a decal on a 1970s dirtbike, they will hunt them down around the world. To them, original parts are a must."

The lengthy restoration or customisation work starts with a vision, planning and somewhat deep pockets.

Added Mr Lim: "On average, a custom job will cost more than a restoration project. It will also incur costs for labour and parts which could be as much as $50,000."

He has worked on a Harley where the owner pumped $100,000 into the project.

Thanks to the Internet, sourcing for rare parts is still possible.

You could trade with bike enthusiasts or contact speciality companies that produce them.

Mr Yusri Yusoff had reached out to the latter for the conversion of his used KTM 530 EXC-R dirtbike into a Dakar Rally-inspired one.

In the age of rising Certificate of Entitlement premiums and costly rally-type motorcycles, he decided to build a replica while still maintaining the original functionality of the KTM.

Said Mr Yusri, 45, an operations manager at an oil and gas company: "I ran into many problems along the way.

"Parts didn't fit and I realised there were no instruction manuals. So I had to make-do and fabricate some of my own parts."


The two-month project, which began in December last year, was worth his time.

He now has a newer-looking motorcycle that is tailor-made to his specifications and has become the envy of others.

Mr Lim's customers demand that their restored motorcycles look original and are roadworthy.

The oldest motorbike he was involved in restoring cosmetically was a 1930s Vincent Comet.

But you do not have to be a custom builder to reproduce something special, as Mr Abraham Muralli, 43, found out.

Mr Muralli had secretly restored his father's 1970s-era Honda CL175 K3 dirtbike.

He did that just to say "I love you" to his father who had stopped riding due to a stroke and old age.

While not 100 per cent original, the Honda, which required new paintwork, did the job.

Said Mr Muralli: "After taking the bike cover off, there was a magical moment when my father touched and inspected every little part on the Honda.

"His nods and smile were enough for me."