I’ve just got back from a couple of weeks holiday in Borneo and wow, what an amazing place that is! So much wildlife you wouldn’t believe from the bulbous-nosed Proboscis Monkeys, Bornean Gibbons, Pygmay Elephants, stunning coral reefs and an array of weird and wonderful birds, butterflies and lizzards.
But of course all that was rather dull (cough!) compared to what I came across at the Sabah Museum… A 1952 AJS Model 16! In Borneo of all places!
Probably some interesting history with this bike, ‘I wonder who it belonged to?’ I thought. Asking at the ticket counter I was told that “it belonged to our former ???” but couldn’t quite make out what the ??? was. But then, on the way out of the museum, I spotted a sign with the required information.
“Di Larang Duduk Atas Motosikal” it said, which with my non-existent knowledge of the Malay language I translated as “The ‘Larang Duduk Atas’ motorcycle”. But who was Larang Duduk Atas? That would have to wait until I got back home to my computer and could access the wonderful world of misinformation that Google opens up.
So back home this afternoon and I thought I’d see what I could find out about this mysterious Bornean biker. First stop, a quick flick through the history pages of my trusty Lonely Planet guide. Lots of talk of various governors and rulers since independence from the British, but no mention of Mr Atas. An initial search on Google found nothing much useful, that is until one page offered to translate the text for me.
Bingo, I thought. Then it dawned on me. The sign that could have held so much info on the history of this old bike actually just said “It is forbidden to sit on the motorcycle” in Malay. Oh!
So I’m still none the wiser as to who this Model 16 AJS belonged to. Borneo was part of the British Empire at one time, but that was before the Second World War. It doesn’t seem to have been an army bike, so I guess it must have been imported privately, perhaps by the governor of the area at the time being as though it’s now on display at the Sabah Museum.
Quite a nice looking bike with the black frame and shiny silver tank. Looks pretty complete too apart from a missing dynamo and battery. Wouldn’t take much to get back on the road I wouldn’t have thought. It’s just a year later than my ’51 Matchless G3LS and shows the switch to the torpedo-style sidelights at the sides of the headlamp, as opposed to the underslung pilot light on my bike.
But anyway, here’s a gallery of the photos I snapped when I was looking round the bike for you to have a look at. Clicking on any of the photos will open then up full-size. In case anyone is interested, the number stamped on the engine is “52/16M 15267”.