There is a sizeable market for customising vehicles and motorcycles in Sarawak. There are many reasons why people customise their cars or bikes.
Personal satisfaction and improved performance
Over the years, cars and bikes have been modified according to their owners’ aesthetic valuations.
As the local car accessories market and motorcycle accessories market developed, it became trendy for bikers and car enthusiasts to modify their motorcycles and cars.
Whether it is to increase the aesthetic value of a vehicle, to boost its performance or to have a better audio system — each car enthusiast, for example, has his own reason for modifying his vehicle.
Car enthusiast Adibazli, started modifying cars because he wanted to boost their performances.
“Improving the performance of the car does not necessarily mean having a faster car. It may mean better tyres, better braking system and other things.”
Ever since he bought his first car in 2017, Adi’s focus has been on enhancing its body kit and performance.
“I always look out for better tyres and suspensions. To me, this type of modification has the potential to improve the condition of a car.”
The fitness instructor added, ”When an individual buys a car, he can choose to improve the car’s efficiency through better suspension, tyres and a bolt-on turbo.
“It’s mostly for comfort, better handling and satisfaction.”
Asked about the trend towards lowered cars, Adi said every modification had its reasons.
“Yes, with lowered cars, I have to drive sideways when I need to go over a speedbump.
“I cannot go up steep slopes. But a lowered car will have a better centre of gravity, which can reduce ‘body rolls’ when turning into corners,” explained the 28-year-old.
Meanwhile, by installing a performance exhaust system, a car can free up some of the power in the engine, allowing for a quicker, more efficient path for exhaust gases to escape.
“Sure, installing it will give the exhaust a more aggressive sound. But this allows the engine to breathe better, therefore creating more power,” Adi added.
So how much is he willing to spend on car accessories and spare parts?
He said he would spend according to his means.
Adi is the founder of Kuching Fast Culture (KFC), an automotive lifestyle and non-organisational community group based in Kuching, Sarawak.
As the founder, he hopes to promote the local motorsport scene by uploading contents on Youtube and engaging with local enthusiasts.
Speaking to bike enthusiast Afiq Asyraf Ali, when he saw his first bike, a Brixton 150, it was a love at first sight.
Having an interest in customising a bike, Afiq said he bought the bike in 2019.
“I loved this bike because of the potential it had. It was like a blank canvas waiting for me to work on it,” said the freelance graphic designer.
Afiq explained that he was willing to spend money as it was his passion to customise a bike.
“I consider this a good distraction, especially during these trying times.”
A regular at accessories and spare parts shops, the 30-year-old shared that he would spend money on accessories such as handlebars, fenders, tyres, and others.
“Each month, I can spend an average of RM300 and RM400, depending on the parts.”
Afiq said that customising was not about competition or who had the most expensive parts. Rather, it was to spend wisely and accordingly.
He admitted that when he became bored with his bike’s outlook, he would change the colour.
“I probably do it once a year. So far, my bike has sported three colours — dark grey, yellow and aurora blue.”
Afiq disclosed that as an enthusiast himself, he wanted his bike to be stylish.
“It depends on each individual. I look for personal satisfaction. However, despite all the customisation, sometimes, I feel there’s always room for more! It all depends on my mood at that time too!”
Money main problem
But money remains the main problem for many enthusiasts.
“The prices of these parts can sometimes be cheap, but most of the time, they are costly. Furthermore, you will have to compete with other buyers when something rare is on the market.”
Afiq is the founder of Mujo Juros, a local group supporting customised motorcycles — transforming average stock motorcycles into one-off custom bikes. The purpose of the group is to share the love of custom bikes among its members.
According to car accessories and spare part seller, Tiar Suhaili, the process of customising and modifying a car is very important to a car enthusiast.
“They are willing to spend from hundreds to thousands of ringgit to modify their cars.”
Tiar revealed that Japanese specifications had a sizeable demand in the local market.
“Most of my customers would purchase car parts to modify in response to the Japan Domestic Market (JDM) culture. The price of a product is set by rarity.”
As a car enthusiast himself, Tiar said there were many ways to modify cars.
“Customers will usually browse through selections of bumpers, doors, seats and other interior accessories.
“These are common and basic methods for turning their cars into Japanese specifications.”
Tiar said the trend arrived in the city decades ago.
“Most of the parts in the market are no longer produced. Hence, we will get stocks from the second-hand market. However, they can be expensive as they are very rare.”
Tiar added that a JDM-style mod not only focused on the aesthetic outlook but also improved the quality of a car and offered long-lasting performance.
“It can be weird to some people. But most of us think it is cool, mysterious and wonderful.”
On the other hand, Anuar Gobil, a bike accessories and spare parts seller, shared that a bike enthusiast would willingly spend money to have his motorcycle look good or run smoothly.
“Depending on the customisation, a person usually spends around RM1,000 on his bike modification. It depends on respective goals but the market has always been encouraging.”
At his motorcycle workshop in Matang, Anuar and his partner, Hibrie Junaidi, do repairs, upgrade engine specifications and sell parts and accessories.
“Our customer is anyone who owns a motorcycle. We usually get customers coming in to modify items for work, autoshow, as a hobby, or for restorations. The resale market for restored old bikes is big.”
Explaining further, Anuar said the market for bike modification and customisation was unpredictable.
“Customers usually buy aftermarket parts to make their motorbikes look better or to perform better. Some will purchase parts for good maintenance,” he added.