The BMW R 18 Getaway got us riding over 1,000km to Cameron Highlands and Penang
After two years of basically being stuck at home and rushing everything in terms of work to make up for all the lost time due to the pandemic, a few days of riding was definitely long overdue. As we were about to plan a quick ride out of town, an invitation came our way to join the BMW R 18 Getaway Malaysia tour - a three-day ride covering over 1,000km to Cameron Highland and Penang. Talk about perfect timing.
BMW Motorrad Malaysia has partnered up with FS Adventures (official partner, not play-play one okay) to organise this tour revolving around BMW Motorrad's finest Heritage bike yet, the BMW R 18. The plan was simple - three days of riding the 1,800cc beauty to a number of beautiful local destinations before heading back to Kuala Lumpur. Just what the riding doctor ordered.
It was also a great opportunity to test out the R 18 as it was impossible to do so during the many MCO periods. There are two variants that took part in the ride, the R 18 First Edition and the R 18 Classic. Together with a bunch of other highly-decorated motoring media members, a total of seven BMW R 18 headed out on the R 18 Getaway Malaysia's third tour (nine total and you can join too as it is open to the public, just head over to www.fsadventures.com.my to book your slot).
The first day was a simple and relaxing ride up to Cameron Highland, really a chance to get used to what the BMW R 18 had to offer. Our first stint was on the BMW R 18 Classic model which had a few extra bits and pieces compared to the First Edition model (16-inch front wheel with fatter tyre, cruise control, steering damper, windscreen, foglights, and saddlebags).
Going up Cameron was smooth as we got more and more accustomed to the R 18, particularly how its 1,802cc 'Big Boxer' handled with its 91hp and 158Nm of torque. Led by Faizal Sukree, the founder of FS Adventures and certified BMW Motorrad On-Road and Off-Road instructor (together with his partner, Wong Kah Jeen), we were confidently in good hands when it comes to the three-day escapade. The combination of the sights and the bike's big-boxer sounds were satisfying enough to put a huge grin on our faces.
Getting up was without any drama as the bike performed beautifully on the mountain roads despite a couple of issues like a slightly weird seating position between a cruiser and a sport-tourer, plus a super low ground clearance that offered multiple footpeg scrapes up and down the twisties. Apart from that, the RM154k modern-classic was indeed a breath of sunshine as we enjoyed the winding paths ahead of us.
We were also quite surprised at how the bike handled itself despite the many bumps and dips up and down Cameron Highlands. Quite solid, this R 18. Even the brakes felt smooth, confident enough to dive into corners before unleashing the big boxer's torquey grunt. As for the R 18 First Edition and its bigger 19-inch wheel front tyre, it handled relatively okay, but vibrations were a bit harsher as the bike thundered down the highway above 130km/h, most likely due to a missing damper that's available on the Classic model.
We were also blessed with good weather throughout the three-day period, good enough to the point that it felt like we were cruising around European countries like Spain or Portugal. The cool Cameron weather and blue skies on our way down Cameron together with the perfect riding pace by our pack leader, Faizal, was indeed one of the more enjoyable rides we've had in a long time.
We headed to Penang on our second day and we had some time on the PLUS highway after riding down the mountain roads. This is where we tried out another very important aspect of the R 18 - cruising capabilities on highways. The R 18 Classic had cruise control (not available on the base First Edition model) and it was almost smooth sailing except for the seat which got increasingly harder as we progressed through the days and a windscreen that caused some helmet buffeting thanks to our seating position and height (some fine parts from BMW's Option 719 will most likely solve these issues easily).
As we arrived at our hotel accommodation for the second day, we were told to meet up at the lobby to head to our next event on the agenda, a sunset cruise near the Penang bridge. The catamaran from the Straits Quay dock took us right under the first bridge where we waited for the sun to set on fairly calm waters. Despite my issues with motion sickness, it was indeed a rare sight to witness and experience - a moment of calmness and clarity in Penang. Kudos to FS Adventures and BMW Motorrad Malaysia for this lovely planned escapade.
At the end of the day, we can confidently conclude that the R 18 Getaway is one of the best rides anyone can participate in. While the bikes are good (could be better with some Option 719 parts if you're planning to buy your very own R 18) and the route was great, what was most important was the perfect companions and newly-formed friendships. This is what a ride should always strive for, and FS Adventures together with BMW Motorrad Malaysia hit these notes perfectly.
As mentioned above, the R 18 Getaway Malaysia has nine trips planned out this year and ours was only the third. The event is open to the public at RM3,350 per head. The price tag also includes the BMW R 18 rental, fuel, accommodations, food and beverage, plus some special R 18 Getaway goodies. Just head over to www.fsadventures.com.my to book your slot today (the next one is right after Chinese New Year from 11-13 February 2022). If you're itching for a good ride, this is definitely worth every cent.