FROM NORTONS TO KAWASAKIS: THE MOTORCYCLES THAT SERVED MALAYSIA

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Malaysia is 57 years old today. Dataran Merdeka is packed to the brim with people attending the National Day Parade. Dozens of policemen on ST1300s, VFR800s and even more on Ninja 300s are managing traffic to ensure that the parade goes on smoothly. Exactly 57 years ago, there were no Japanese bikes handling traffic duty on the streets around Stadium Merdeka. Instead, British bikes like the AJS, Nortons and BSAs were used by the police to ensure Tunku Abdul Rahman’s entourage madeimage_gallery2 it to the stadium safely and on time.

After the British left, and Malaysia ruled itself, Japanese motorcycles were bought for the first time. Over the years, the police have used several different Japanese motorcycle types for their duties. In the 1960s, the Suzukis were a favourite. One of the models used by the police that has slipped into obscurity is the T500. A 500cc two-stroker, the bike pushed out 45 hp at 6,000 rpm from its 2-stroke, aluminum twin cylinder engine. This, coupled with it’s low weight of just 187 kg made the T500 a scorcher on the road – capable of speeds of up to 176 km/h. honda3Pretty impressive for its time. Clearly impressed by Suzuki’s motorcycle the police later purchased the GS550 in the 1970s and 1980s. Four stroke technology had come a long way, and this bike produced 49 hp from it’s in-line four engine. The GS is reknown for it’s reliabilty. In fact, even today – many are still running on the road, a favourite among cafe racer enthusiasts. At roughly this period, the police also purchased the CB750. There is one pristine example currently on display at the police museum. CBX

Some time in the late 1980s, Honda became the preffered choice for the force. The CBX750 was purchased in the thousands. They can still be seen today, ridden amongst the ST1300s and VFR800s – the workhorse of the force, doing their little bit for the country.

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