Restored bike rekindles memories

Restored bike rekindles memories
Mr Boo Balan John Smith on the 44-year-old Honda scrambler he had owned since the 70s
PHOTO: Abraham Murali

You could say that Christmas this year came early for Mr Boo Balan John Smith.

The retired police officer was re-acquainted with an "old friend" he had not seen in 10 years, after he left the police force and decided to live in Perak, Malaysia.

The person who "arranged" the meeting in October was his son, Mr Abraham Muralli, 42.

So at a multi-storey carpark in Beo Crescent, Mr Balan lifted the canvas of a motorcycle and was surprised to see that his "old friend", a 44-year-old classic Honda CL175 K3 dirt bike, was restored to its former glory.

Well, at least close to its former glory.

Mr Balan, 67, told The New Paper via text messaging: "When I saw the bike again, I felt rejuvenated and wanted to ride it... I feel that he (Mr Abraham) has done a great job."

For the next 10 minutes, Mr Balan's smile spoke volumes.

He didn't say much, having suffered a minor stroke in February, which robbed him of his speech.


Mr Balan inspected every piece of the machine - he tugged at the front forks and brushed his wrinkled hands on the metal fuel tank - bought in the early 70s for about $3,000.

And then he sat on the scrambler, which once took a painful 17-hour journey from Singapore with his pregnant wife on Malaysian trunk roads to Teluk Anson in Perak.

Mr Balan, with his trademark cowboy hat, had previously taken jumps on the Honda as captured in old photographs.

Observing his father's every move, Mr Abraham said he felt it was worth every painful moment sourcing for parts.

Said Mr Abraham, a workshop foreman at Harley-Davidson Singapore: "I've received several generous offers for the Honda, but I will never sell it. There is simply too much of my father's memories in that bike."

Boo Balan John Smith in an old photo from the 1970s where he is seated on his workhorse Honda CL 175 K3.
Photo: Abraham Murali

The scrambler, which makes at most 20hp, was his father's workhorse and "buddy".

As a constable earning about $250 in the 1970s, it took Mr Balan nearly six months of saving up and paying little by little before he could take the Honda out of the showroom.

Mr Abraham holds strong memories of the Honda.

He still remembers the daily rides to primary school and the grocery trips, which even included a sack of durians mounted on the Honda's fuel tank.

Added Mr Abraham, who is an only child: "When I used to live in Morse Road (off Keppel Road), I would hear the distinct exhaust sound, and I knew my father was home from work."

When Mr Abraham kickstarted the roadworthy Honda on Wednesday, the parallel twin came to life effortlessly, belching a unique tune similar to that of post-war Triumphs and Nortons.

"I am glad my dad was pleased," said Mr Abraham, who owns a handful of motorcycles.

"But it is still a work in progress because I need original mirrors and handlebars."

While Mr Abraham keeps spares such as engine gaskets and drum brake shoes, he searched on eBay and relied on friends for the restoration work, which started four years ago.

Mr Abraham Muralli, 42, proudly sits on a Honda CL175 K3, a dirtbike from the 1970s which was previously his father's workhorse and buddy. Four years ago, Mr Abraham embarked ona restoration project to restore the motorcycle but kept the engine untouched.
Photo: The New Paper

His mother had accidentally thrown away the original handlebars during spring cleaning.

Even in its present state, the Honda is a sight to behold. Its bent two-into-one exhaust has a long ventilated heat shield.

The rear seat pops up like the hood of a car and there is also a steering cone adjuster in case you feel your fork needs to be adjusted after an off-road run.

What the bike needs now is a new coat of paint.

Ultimately, the Honda was not relegated to the scrapyard because Mr Abraham wanted to thank his father for instilling in him a sense of adventure.

He said: "I kept and restored the Honda as my way to say, 'I love you, dad.'"

This article was first published on December 24, 2016.
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