The date: 1978
The location: Heading towards Port Klang from the Simpang Lima (though it has always been Simpang Tujuh, (1) haha) roundabout,
2 rows of three-storey shops along Jalan (2) Telok Gadong (then re-spelt as Jalan Teluk Gadung; which later was re-named as “Persiaran Raja Muda Musa”),
just after the Caltex petrol station on the left, with Jalan Jelutong separating it from Hin Hua School. The old bicycle shop was the third shop from the corner coffee shop (today they are called “restaurants”). On the other side of the bicycle shop was a car mechanic shop (In some places, it is called a garage).
The scene: I had just walked and pushed my daily mode of transport, “Hercules”; all the way from my house in Jalan Ladang, walking past La Salle School and Hin Hua School, ” to the bicycle shop. It was a good 15 minute walk. It was not my regular form of exercise. The rear tyre had a flat.
It was fashionable to have bicycles since it was all we could afford. Other than the 3-speed racing and chopper bicycles; Hercules or “the black stallion” from Raleigh of England; was the most common bike for those fresh from school and working low salaried jobs.
One of the shop’s bicycle mechanics (the guys who repaired and serviced bicycles) came to look at the bike. He probably was about 14 or 15 years old, with more oil and grease on his clothes than in their original containers. Making some conversation, I said, “pomchet!” (3); though I did not have to say anything. He could see for himself.
Without saying anything, he loosened the bolt at the rim (no quick release mechanism in those days) and dismantled the tyre from the bike. He removed the tube from the tyre and did the usual: pumped it up, put it in the water, section by section at a time, to check for air leaks which would be indicated by bubbles coming out of the tube. He found the leak moments later and marked the spot. He released all the air from the tube, wiped dry the area of the leak, sandpapered it for smoothness, applied Saba glue to that area and then sealed the hole with a small piece of rubber on top of the glue-applied area. He waited a few minutes for it to dry, then put the tube back in the tyre, fitted the tyre back on my bicycle and pumped the tyre up. It was good to go. All this in 10 minutes. Price $2.00.
While waiting for the tyre to be repaired, I peeked in the car repair “garage” next door. There she was, in all her glory, My Fair Lady, the British answer to the Ferrari and Lamborghini: the MG Midget 1100 Twin-carb, bearing the registration number BJ5324. I went in to have a look at it, It was a beautiful cabriolet sports car. It had its canvas roof down.
My bike was like that shown in Fig.1 but a souped-up version. I modified it by adding a 3-speed gear, a speedometer, a battery operated siren horn and a horn, too. It was a multi-role bike: road bike, mountain bike, downhill bike and tourer. The partial chain guard (as per the picture) always left grease stains whenever we used slacks or the local term “long pants”. This was the famous Raleigh heavy, steel bikes, not the aluminium, carbon or titanium bikes of today.
The Black Steed was my everyday personal mode of transport, dating back from La Salle School Klang days. Other than going swimming everyday to the Mariner’s Club in Port Klang; I used to roller-skate at the skating rink near the Royal Klang Club, which was just next to the Sultan of Selangor’s palace. I used to rock it on the skates, a speedster. A group of us guys, including my brothers Nigel and Terence; were regular skaters. After roller-skating, we would end up at our favourite rock shop (coffee shop) in Palm Grove for super-chilled coca-cola with ice(a thirst quencher. It’s the real thing), char kuey teow, wanton mee and snacks. There were two coffee shops in that single row of shops. We frequented the coffee shop in the middle.
Many people had the Hercules bicycle. There were other brands of this type of black bicycle those days but everyone referred to it as the “Hercules”. I rode in the palm oil and rubber estates, the nearby hills, towns and even cycled 30 kilometers all the way to Petaling Jaya (PJ) and back for the fun of it. It was quite a feat. The ride to PJ was without the knowledge of dad & mum, until years later when it was accidentally blurted out in a conversation. Fun days.
Please share your fun experiences you had in your young-er days.
“The young ones, darling we’re the young ones. And the young ones, shouldn’t be afraid…. Once in every lifetime, comes a time like this” – Sir Cliff Richard.
- “Simpang” is the Malay word for “intersection”. “Lima” and “Tujuh” are also word meaning “five” and “seven”respectively..
- “Jalan” is the Malay word for road in this context, followed by the name of the road.
- “Pomchet” is a misspelt Malay word meaning “puncture”.