Riding High with Motorcycle Gangs

04 March 2016

We’ve all seen convoys of highly desirable motorcycles cruising down the highway. Ever wondered what compels a person to be part of that impressive display of man and machine? Members of several motorcycle gangs in Kuala Lumpur share the appeal of their brotherhood (and sisterhood, for some!).

Citizens of Kuala Lumpur are no strangers to the fact that biker gangs are very much a large part of their beloved city. There are many different types of biker gangs in Kuala Lumpur, depending on where they are from or what bikes they use. It’s like the age-old saying: "Birds of a feather flock together."

Regardless of city or region, the one thing biker gangs have in common is their sense of brotherhood and how firmly they adhere to the principles that come along with it. Many of them form solid bonds of trust and relationships with one another, hence establishing ties that stay with them throughout their lives. Another thing all gangs can see eye-to-eye on, naturally, is their love and passion for riding down an open road.

For riders such as Adi Azren from Benelli riders using the TNT 600, the term ‘brotherhood’ is nothing more than a shell of what biker gangs should hold on to, but the reality is that he would definitely come to the aid of his brothers in need, albeit with several factors weighed in such as location, availability and safety. It is a common occurrence for bikes to break down and with this experience in mind, many bikers claim that with a simple phone call, your biker friend would be there in a heartbeat. According to other bikers like Zeela of Lady Bikers Malaysia (also using the TNT 600), the term ‘brotherhood’ means that those experiencing an emergency should always be a priority without a second thought.  

On the topic of brotherhood, a few bikers were asked how much they valued the comradeship of their bike brothers in contrast to the time spent with their partners. There was generally a mixed response. Izham Aziz from Honda Riders Malaysia answered with a biblical metaphor where he stated that if even Adam could be thrown out of heaven due to a woman, he would likely choose his partner, but being in the brotherhood also means respecting the needs of a fellow brother. In comparison, Dira (a Z1000 owner and member of Lady Bikers Malaysia) says that most of the men in the brotherhood choose to spend more time with each other rather than with their significant others.

Such differing perceptions between the sexes were further illustrated when several bikers agreed unanimously that women do not fully understand the concept of being in a biker gang as women feel that they are equals when it comes to matters pertaining to their expectations of being in the group. For some like Dira, each gender has their own role and part in the whole gang. For example, given that men are characteristically masculine and strong, they are expected to pull off stunts and compete in races to affirm that masculinity, which differs from women bikers as these activities are not generally portrayed to be what a woman should be participating in.

Nina, a biker from Woman on Wheels Malaysia, agrees that both genders expect the same thing from being in a biker gang or owning a bike. “I don’t see how we anticipate different outcomes from being in the same group as we all plan in a group and communicate to find common ground,” she says.

Izham on the other hand, disagrees. According to him, most men, in addition to their love for the bike, also own one for other motives. Owning a bike, especially if it ranges in the higher CC’s, gives them a certain boost of confidence. The claim is: the bigger the bike, the bigger the boost. With this newfound confidence aided by ownership of a bike, male bikers often rely on it to attract and impress the opposite sex. However, this is not a regular occurrence nowadays, as they say it does not have the same pull it had a few decades ago.

Previously, people would associate the bike that you own with your social status but in this day and age, bikes are getting more affordable hence it has been regarded as less of a status symbol than before. According to Dira, given her passion towards bikes, being part of a biker gang is a great way to find someone who shares the same interests thereby finding a perfect candidate as a life partner.

The main reason so many people indulge in owning a bike and being part of these gangs is the common ground that they’ve found with each other. The devotion to a specific brand is in itself a powerful reason to join a gang for most members. This is especially good for those joining for the first time as the more experienced riders can act as a support system and guide them about their machines to avoid any turbulence and practise safer riding habits. Adi also shared that the reason why riders of the same bike cluster together is because it would look rather awkward for those riding superbikes to be cruising with Harley-Davidsons as they are of a different build and riding style.

There is an assumption that a biker’s gang would definitely represent the way one lives his life. For example, an owner of the highly regarded Harley-Davidson would surely have a different lifestyle compared to those riding kapcais. According to Izham, this is simply a matter of perspective; if you see motorbikes as an ego booster, you will hardly ever be satisfied as there will always be something superior to what you own.

But for those true bikers, you would perceive it from the perspective of appreciating what the Harley-Davidson has brought to the riding world; not only its heritage and legacy but also its technology. With this piece of vital ingenuity, established companies such as Harley-Davidson has helped Japanese brands build better bikes and evolve to be the global frontrunners they are today. Kawasaki, a brand highly regarded in the riding world, was once dubbed ‘the young pretender’ in its early ages and look how far it has come! This teaches us to give the rising brands such as Lifan, Modenas and Hyosung a chance to be great. It shouldn’t matter what bike you’re riding as long as you enjoy the breeze on your face as you cruise down the long and winding highway.

It is also a norm that bikers would usually showcase where they are from based on their clothing items. However, this does not mean that a Ducati gang member would only wear products of the brand. Izham has seen a biker who rides a KTM RC8 rocking it with a pair of Crocs and half-helmets, which is far from the usual gear most riders of the same bike accessorise themselves with. Same for a guy wearing a Ducati T-shirt while riding a Modenas Kriss, or a Kawasaki rider with an Aprilia keychain. Some people are just enthusiasts of motorbikes in general, while others are devoted to certain brands. No matter the reason why they choose to indulge themselves in the world of motorcycle gangs, they would all surely identify with one another and regard each other as brothers by way of their mutual fondness and love for motorcycles.

By Shafeeq Zaki
Photos by Syafeeq Zaki

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