With their three children away in college and boarding school, big biker enthusiast Abu Bakar Othman knew that his wife, Yusniza Ismail, was feeling lonely at home.
“As a homemaker, Yusniza has spent the last 20 years doting on our three sons. When they began leaving the nest, there was a sense of emptiness at home. My wife started to miss our children dearly,” says Abu Bakar, who is known as Burn to his family and friends.
To cheer up his wife, he came up with a proposition for her.
Burn, 47, who owns a Harley Davidson Street Glide bike, suggested that his wife sign up for motorbike lessons … and not for riding just any regular bike.
He wanted her to get her license for riding the Superbike B (B Full), so she could ride high performance bikes above 500cc capacity.
“Yusniza first learnt how to ride a motorcycle when she was 18 years old. But after several falls from the bike, she became scared and gave it up altogether. But when I suggested she sign up for lessons again, she was enthusiastic,” relates Burn, a senior manager at an aviation company in Petaling Jaya.
In April last year, they paid RM1,300 for Yusniza’s motorbike lessons.
For Yusniza, learning to ride a bike again was the chance to tick off one of the items on her bucket list.
“I’ve always admired the confidence of women bikers, especially those in their leather jackets, high boots and full-faced helmets
“Obtaining my license made me feel like I am a step closer to becoming one of these strong and empowering women,” says Yusniza, who immediately took up the challenge her husband threw at her.
“My husband has been very supportive of my journey. He has been patient, encouraging and has taught me so much. I wouldn’t have done it without his encouragement and commitment,” says the friendly woman from Kulim, Kedah.
To celebrate Yusniza earning her license, Burn presented his wife with a Harley Davidson Sportster 1200CC.
Unlike other oversized bikes, the Sportster is deemed a woman’s bike due to its small size.
Its low seat and centre of gravity give women the confidence to handle a powerful motorcycle with ease.
“Yusniza has been my pillion rider for three years. I felt it was time for her to own her big bike. It is for her transformation, from a shy homemaker to a confident big bike rider,” says Burn.
Yusniza, who stands at five-foot-two-inches, says it took time for her to learn to handle a two-wheel vehicle twice her size.
“I had to get used to the bike’s foot controls and handlebars. It essentially boils down to confidence and determination. Women can do anything, if we set our mind to it.”
But Yusniza still has to work hard to overcome the challenges of riding a 250kg bike, which is five times her weight.
“The heavier the bike is, the more difficult it is to control. I have fallen from my bike a couple of times but thankfully, there were no serious injuries.
“I just learn to watch out for road hazards. Wearing the right gear also helps.”
Hitting the highways
Last June, Burn and his wife made their first road trip – riding separately – together. It was a five-day biking journey from Kuala Lumpur to Phattalung, Southern Thailand.
“It was really exciting as I finally got to ride a big bike across the border. It was fun, especially riding on the many trunk roads from Kedah to Thailand. We passed many small villagers and managed to get to know the local culture and food,” says Yusniza.
In October, the Shah Alam-based couple went on an eight-day road trip, around Malaysia, travelling up to the northern states, then cutting across to Kelantan, Terengganu on the East Coast, and down south to Pahang and Johor, before ending in Melaka and Negri Sembilan.
Burn is proud of how well Yusniza did on their biking road trips, which covered a distance of over 2,000km.
“Our road trips to Thailand and East Coast came with its fair share of challenges, like uneven roads and unpredictable weather. Yet, Yusniza remained focused and undeterred. I salute her for that,” says Burn, who relies on a Bluetooth communicator to converse with his wife on those long trips.
The couple agree their new shared interest and on the road experiences have strengthened their 20-year marriage even more.
“Due to long hours at work, I didn’t spend a lot of time with Yusniza. These road trips let us catch up on lost time. It has also enabled us to get to know each other better, and enjoy each other’s company. It almost feels like a second honeymoon,” Burn says with a warm smile.
Yusniza shares: “I strongly encourage couples to spend quality time with each other. It creates a special bond in a fun way. Next October, we plan to make another trip across Malaysia and Thailand.
On weekends, the couple enjoys travelling on their gleaming machines to neighbouring towns.
“We have travelled to Tanjung Malim in Perak for its famous dumplings and all the way to Temerloh to savour fresh patin fish. It’s our way of enjoying good food while bonding with each other,” says Burn.
The couple are members of the Brothers and Machines’ bikers club, comprising big bike enthusiasts who go on excursions in convoys.
They go on breakfast rides to nearer destinations like Slim River and Teluk Intan in Perak or Bentong in Pahang. They have participated in overnight rides to Betong in Thailand, Kota Bharu and Kuala Terengganu.
Yusniza encourages other women to ride big bikes and pursue this hobby with an open heart.
“Never be frightened. Follow your dreams and never give up. It may seem intimidating but all you need to do is set your mind on achieving your dreams.”
Burn concurs, saying: “It clearly shows that with some encouragement, anyone can pursue their dreams. Everyone should fulfil their goals and aspirations.”