It’s like being swallowed by a whale, motorcycling down the throbbing morass that is Kuala Lumpur’s highways, byways and no-bloody-ways. Maniacal scooters that make our taxi drivers look like road-safety poster boys, the city heat that liquidates your eyeballs, that distinct chance of you being shat out a beautiful mess over tarmac – the list of delights goes on.
KL’s roguish charms belie hidden treasures, though. The reason why i’ve winged 4 hours up north to wrangle traffic, on 2 hours’ sleep, is this:
“Hey, we’ve just thrown a couple of old containers and awesome bikes together – you should totally come up here and chill!”
My achingly talented friends at creative agency Think Tank really know how to bait a girl. Beautiful Machines is their latest brain egg, a thinly-disguised ploy to marry work and their hearty passion for all things loud, hairy and Harley. The custom bike workshop sees them making a surprising transformation of an industrial hole-in-the-wall, creating a living, organic space buzzing with a cheerily insane vibe – you certainly don’t have to be a lover of motorcycles to appreciate the madcap wall murals, the darling dishevellry of those stacked industrial cases, and cute, tattooed mechanics sweating over tangled metal with a cigarette dripping off their lips.
They’ve made room for seriousness though, by packing the entire creative agency – workstations, directors, producers, assorted minions and all – into windowed containers. No one, even friends and clients on the other end of the phone, is spared the throaty howls of V-twin engines, rolling out like thunder with a plantation-wide kill radius. You’d be hard pressed to call this a clandestine operation.
If you ride, and fancy seeing the city and its outskirts amid a cloud of sound and fury, be gladdened to know that these folks need little excuse to take the action out of the garage. Head honcho Rajay keeps weekends sacred for foodie excursions (Genting, Fraser Hill and the like), and he welcomes tag-alongs – although he’d much prefer that your machine keep up in the style-stakes. “Cherie, when are you gonna ditch that iPod and get a REAL bike?” Verbally reduced to pocket-electronics, my 650cc Versys, which bears battlescars from a 7000km ride through Thailand’s northern wilds, cringes apologetically in the corner. If it aint chrome, it’s going home.
Home? The furthest thing from my mind, when we all piled into our saddles and exploded into the night like pillaging Khans, minus the raping, furry hats and horse shit. Rush-hour traffic parted at the blow of an exhaust, which is the Harley equivalent of a gentle but firm elbow through the crowd. This, you will never see happening on Singaporean roads, where anything on two wheels is automatically scraping the bottom of the vehicular food chain. That evening, rollin’ with the big boys, I felt like we were the whooping, gleeful lords of our own chaos kingdom – the sort of experience that puts proverbial hair on your chest.
But I exaggerate. Roll up to P.J. Selangor and find out for yourself just how beautiful custom motorcycles, and the people who love them, can get. i hear that the folks responsible for this gorgeousness are soon to unveil a cafe just next door. I look forward to the weekend when I can knock back a cold one or two while cheerily deafening myself at the windy end of someone’s shiny 883 Iron.
Hit them up at http://beautifulmachines.my
Ready, Steady, Explosions!
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