Victor Lee owns one hot hatchback and six equally hot motorbikes
“EVERY BIKE IS DESIGNED DIFFERENTLY AND EXPECTED TO BE USED DIFFERENTLY.”
STORY & MAIN PHOTO DR ANDRE LAM
WHEN 54-year-old Victor Lee is not jetting around the region as manager in a multinational aerospace company that provides repair and overhaul services to airlines, he is busy looking after his “extended family”, helped by his 19-year-old son.
Said family is made up of Victor’s Volkswagen Golf GTI and a collection of six motorcycles. Yes, six.
Victor’s love of speedy machines began when he joined the Republic of Singapore Air Force in 1978. He saved up for his first motorbike in 1979, a Suzuki GS425E that he promptly modified. As someone who idolised professional riders such as Kenny Roberts and Randy Mamola, and local racers such as Gerry and Fabian Looi, he says: “The bike changed my life.” He has been riding for the last 37 years, five more than he has been driving. His first car was a Mini Clubman. “It fell within my budget during my initial wage-earning years as a regular with the RSAF,” he recalls.
His favourite car of all time is the original Volkswagen Golf GTI, which he owned in 1984. “That car irreversibly transformed my appreciation of driving after I sent my Clubman to the scrapyard,” he professes.
“I met my wife, Dorothy, while I had my first GTI. And from then on, I have kept to GTIs,” he adds. He has owned, and modified, several hot Golfs and Jettas since. Today, he drives a Mk 6 Golf GTI, which has performance parts for its suspension and an engine re-chip for more power.
Somewhere along the way, he “detoured” and bought a Citroen BX16 TRS. He quips that the happiest days he had with the French vehicle were the day he bought it and the day he sold it. Because of Singapore’s punitive measures against car ownership, Victor’s obsession has not resulted in a stable of automobiles. He reckons the price of his Golf GTI is almost equal to that of his six bikes
The firstgeneration Golf GTI made Victor appreciate driving like never before, and played a part in his love life, too.
His current collection (from right to left in main photo) consists of a Yamaha YZF-R1, BMW R1100RT, KTM 250 EXC-F, Ducati Hypermotard SP, Ducati 1098S and Harley-Davidson 883R Sportster. His favourite is the Yamaha YZF-R1, which he bought in 2000. As a pure racing bike, it gets to 100km/h in three seconds flat. He feels it gave him a newfound appreciation of bike technology.
The model has won many World Superbike championship races, and it was the bike on which Victor honed his riding skills to a high level. He even competed on his Yamaha in the Malaysian Super Series Races, ending with podium finishes in the early 2000s. He says: “I do no t really own any bike that I dislike, as every bike is designed differently and expected to be used differently, whether for cruising, touring, trail riding, sport riding or racing.” Riding is cathartic for him, as he enjoys being in the slipstream journeying to points as far as the Thai-Malaysian border over a weekend, leaving behind the stress of work life, if only temporarily.
Another aspect of bike ownership he enjoys is the company of like-minded riders. On one particular riding trip, he met a biker, Mark Bryant, who used a rather unique strapless full-face helmet. He showed Victor how the helmet snaps open like a clamshell and locks into place easily. By the end of the conversation, Victor wanted one badly. When he asked where he could buy one, the rider disclosed he was its designer and the owner of Australian helmet company Voztec.
He then offered Victor an exclusive distributorship of the product in Singapore. Asked about his next car, Victor replies he’s holding out for a future Golf GTI or an Audi S3. As for his motorbikes, “I intend to renew the COEs for the most collectible ones, and I have not completed my collection yet.”