motorbike by whyking

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									Motorbikes – the best way to really see much of the Philippine Islands
The best way to get around the various Islands of the Philippines, is by motorbike.
Not only are these cheap to buy/rent, but they have a convenience not found using
taxi/jeepney/v-hire or private car. It is relatively easy to put on a ferry and travel between Islands.
One is also able to get a better view of the country as one travels around on a motorbike that you
don‟t see from the windows of a vehicle. OK so walking is perhaps even better, but who has the
time and energy to see much of what there is to see in the Philippines, doing it „on-foot‟?


So what type of motorbike is best?
                                     This depends on what sort of terrain one intends to travel on. If being used and
                                    concrete/tarmac roads and dirt tracks then my personal opinion would be to go for
                                    one of these „U‟ framed motorbikes such as the trend Honda started with their
                                    Honda C-50 and Honda C-70. These have large normal size wheels compared
                                    with „scooters‟ and as such are more stable in my opinion. The built in leg shields
                                    protects one from inevitable rain, especially if fitted with optional handlebar
                                    windshield – so much better than wearing a jacket back to front, as many „locals‟
                                    can be seen wearing. The newer generation of this style of bike, look a lot sleeker
                                    and models such as Honda „Wave‟ feature a more powerful 125cc 4 stroke engine
                                    and has electric start, I believe this model retails for about Php50,000. Try
                                    changing the tyres from the skinny road tyres if you want better grip off road.



If one intends to go „off the beaten track‟ and really explore the countryside,
then a more rugged off road „trail bike‟ or „enduro‟ version is advised. These
cost more however, with a Philippine assembled Honda XR200R going for
about Php100,000.

                                     The Yamaha XT225 is also a very capable
                                     „Dual Purpose‟ motorbike, but costs a bit
                                     more at about Php130,000.

                                     Good stretches of road that allow somewhere to use a „sport style‟ racer type bike
                                     are few and far between unless you are in NCR. Same goes for „Touring‟ style
                                     bikes also. There was a lot of controversy about not allowing bikes to use toll
                                     ways!



Protection recommended!
                                      I would not consider riding a motorbike
                                      anywhere without wearing a crash helmet,
                                      especially in the Philippines.

                                      Don‟t buy the cheapest thing available!
                                      Many locals don‟t wear helmets and
                                      others wear things that would never be
                                      rated with any safety certification and they
                                      often don‟t even fasten them.


Buy a Polycarbonate crash helmet, rather than fibreglass, as they are a lot lighter. Go for a white or silver colour to
reflect the heat, and choose one with ventilation ducts to help keep your head cool whilst you are being safety
conscious. A full face helmet offers more protection than an open face design but with the visor closed down they
can get rather hot (even with ventilation ducts). I would go for an MX style version, as shown.

Whilst wearing sunglasses with such a helmet offers some protection for keeping dust from your eyes, I would say
something in the way of industrial safety goggles is far better. Impact resistant and does better job at keeping dust
out of your eyes. (Do not wear tinted/smoke version if riding in the dark! Yellow versions can help improve contrast).

Most of the time it is fairly hot in the Philippines so the thought of riding around in a jacket, might be considered too
much to wear. However when travelling at ant reasonable speed, there will be an element of „wind chill factor‟.
Putting a normal jacket on will „balloon‟ as the wind gets inside and inflates the jacket. The locals get around this by
wearing a jacket back to front! Seriously though you should consider wearing something for protection in case of a
spill. Contact with any kind of surface with skin at speed, can do damage –„road rash‟. In high humidity can take a
long while to heal also if not treated properly. Consider wearing leather gloves to protect hands and wrists. If riding
in shorts, your knees are particularly vulnerable in the event of a spill, as are elbows if not wearing a jacket. Consider
wearing protection like skateboarders do?

If into serious off road riding, then think about more serious protection. Get something better than trainers, like some
MX boots. A good strong pair of boots provides protection and gives one confidence to put that leg out to steady
ones self and perhaps prevent a spill.


Maintenance to prevent problems
Modern motorcycles have relatively small capacity oil reservoirs in their sumps, unlike classis bikes of 30 years ago
that had separate oil tanks. As a result the oil should be changed fairly frequently along with the oil filter to help
prevent premature engine damage. This is especially true in dusty conditions. The cost of the oil is a lot cheaper
than having the engine rebuilt. Consider changing more frequently than the manufacturers recommendation – say
every 2000Km?

The rear chain is often exposed on many motorcycles. The exception is found on the „step-through‟ bikes like Honda
C-50/70 and similar types that often have full chain enclosures. This allowed the chain to be well oiled and not get
clogged with dust and kept the water out also. The chains would last a lot longer with this kind of protection. Bikes
with exposed rear chains need a lot more maintenance. Special chain sprays should be used if available. Better still
to remove the chain from the bike and wash in paraffin before soaking in special chain grease heated gently over a
stove and then hung up to allow excess to drain off. If none of these „special‟ chain lubrications are available, at least
apply oil regularly.

Make sure your brakes are in good condition.

Another MUST is a working and effective HORN. Motorcycles are vulnerable anywhere. Driving standards leave a
lot to be desired in the Philippines and one needs to drive defensively to survive. Personally if I were riding a
motorbike in city traffic, I would probably want to fit air horns. If I needed to warn some ignorant driver he cant just
pull out into my path without looking, then I would not only want to let him know of my presence, but I would want
him to think a “bloody great big bus was right on top of him” – they would probably think twice about continuing to pull
out and at the very least take a look in their mirror.


What to take with you on a ride?
The best thing to take along with you on a ride is a companion. What better way to see
the Philippines than someone to share it with. Having a young Filipina babe on the
back of your bike can be great. Make sure she is protected and comfortable though.
Some bikes are better suited for pillion riders than others. Whilst enduro type bikes
may seem to have long enough seat and equipped with pillion footrests, it is not always
too comfortable back there, and not advised if doing serious off-road stuff.

If contemplating long journeys, touring the Philippines, it is good precaution to carry some „supplies‟ with you.
Drinking water is good idea for one thing. Spare motorcycle chain and inner tube along with puncture repair kit and
some tools may be a good idea. At the very least make sure you have the tools to remove the wheel so you can
take this to nearest „vulcanising‟ shop for them to repair it. It can be hot tiring work pushing a motorbike with a
puncture. Leave the bike unattended and there is always the risk of it not being there when you get back. For this
reason buy a security chain and lock of hardened steel to immobilise the bike in your absence, preferably to an
immovable object like a power or telephone pole.


Motorcycle Clubs & Associations
If you don‟t have anyone to ride with there are plenty of Motorbike Clubs and Associations in the Philippines that
caters to just about every possible taste. This includes clubs dedicated to specific bikes such as Ducati Desmo
Owners, and Yamaha Modified Crypton Club, to C-70 and others. There are also strange sounding clubs like „Naked
Boys Motorcycle Club‟ and the „Nastyboys Riders Club‟. Its not just for the „boys‟ as there is the Lady Riders Club‟.
Many of the bigger clubs like the „Mad Dog‟ and „Road Hogs‟, together with groups like „The Motorcycle Advocates of
the Philippines (MAP)‟. Looks like the Police have their own group as well - The Law Enforcers Riders Association of
the Philippines (LERAP).

A list of some 161 of these Motorbike Clubs and Associations can be found on the following website:-

                     http://motorcyclephilippines.com/pages/clubs.html

This website also has plenty of „Biker Babes‟ photos (like the one above) but only a handful of these are Filipina‟s or
indeed Asian babes, many have probably never ridden a bike and are just models looking pretty.
                      National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines -
                                           10th Annual Convention
                 26 – 28 March, 2004 ( Friday – Sunday) at the Ayala Entertainment & Food Center, Cebu

The Easyriders Cebu in cooperation with the Cycluns, Apache, Recycle, Vog, Cruizers, Star, Cebu Big Bikers
                                                                                          th
and Redeemers motorcycle clubs have been busy planning the activities to make sure the 10 Annual Convention,
in CEBU is really fun. The following are some things scheduled for the 3 day convention:-

       Great food, lots of beer and good old Rock & Roll music. Top local bands of Cebu are ready to rock our
        worlds on Friday and Saturday night. Get ready as we were “Born to Be Wild” .
        “Bike Show” For interested riders. You are invited to show your bike at the largest and most prestigious
        motorcycle show in the country. Cash prizes and trophies await the winners. Categories: Antique, Vintage,
        Dual Sport, Pure Sport, Sport Touring, Cruisers and Customs.
       A variety of challenging skills riding events including a Wheelie contest. And let‟s see the riders negotiate
        some unusual road hazard obstacle course. Also for the Trail riders, a real English Trials course. Fun and
        great prizes.
       Biker Babe Beauty Pageant. If you have got a hot back rider with you for this trip, dress her up in her best
        riding outfit and sign her up on Friday at the registration area..
       Awards for Best Dressed Rider, Club with Largest attendance, best sounding bike Friday and Saturday.
        They‟ll be there for the taking.
       An organized group ride through the historic streets of Cebu, to the Tambuli Beach Resort for a Barrio Fiesta
        lunch and beach party.
       Experience the Trans Central Mountain Hi-way ride, one of the country‟s most scenic roads.

I have been riding motorbikes since I was 16 and will be 49 next month. My first bike I bought as a £20 non-runner
„64 model Honda C-92 „Benly‟ 125cc Twin with electric start and having a pressed steel frame. The wiring loom had
                                                              nd
been pinched by the steering lock stops and it was stuck in 2 gear. A wiring repair job and a new gear selector
shaft sorted these problems, and a new battery completed the job. Having passed my motorcycle test, I went up to a
750cc Norton Commando Roadster. „Bike of the Year‟ several years running in the UK. It handled well if one kept
the „Isolastic‟ suspension, correctly „shimmed‟. O-60mph in under 5 sec, standing start ¼ mile in under 12 seconds,
showed it was no slouch either. A BMW R60/7 was considerably more reliable with my only failure on the bike being
the contact breakers getting pitted when the condenser failed. I fitted magnetic pick up electronic ignition system as
a replacement, even carrying a new set of points and condenser in case this failed – but it never did. I used a Honda
C-70 to commute to my local train station when working in London. This was very reliable, very economical and
extremely practical for this purpose. I traded the BMW in for a Triumph Trident T160 750cc 3 cylinder „Classic‟. I
gave this to my son when I came to live in Cebu and he sold it to help pay for his University education. I miss this
bike but not very practical for the roads in Cebu.

I miss the freedom and the ability to explore that one gets from riding a bike, and I expect I will get one, as soon as I
have some funds to buy one. I would go for a new XT225 (I have not seen any used models for sale in Cebu)if I had
                           nd
the funds, failing this a 2 hand Honda XR200.

If you are at all gifted when it comes to bike mechanics, it is best to do your own maintenance, as most motorcycle
mechanics are somewhat lacking (in Cebu at least).

David Whittall

								
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