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Motorcycles in the Philippines


Because of the need for transportation and the low income of many Filipinos, there are many motorcycles used here. There are motor scooters and motor cycles. The most common motorcycle size is a 125cc engine. The largest common size is a 250CC. Very seldom do you see any larger bikes.

Motorcycles have been used and modified in many ways. Motorcycles have added to them sidecars for cargo, commuting, and also as power for larger vehicles. There is also an extended platform on the rear of the seat to accommodate extra passengers.

For passenger uses, it is not uncommon to see 3, 4, or even 5. Ladies will sit sideways if wearing a skirt. I have seen passengers holding dogs, small cskylabchildren and babies. In the provinces they even have a modification called Skylab. That is where they put a board across the seat or a platform around the bike to hold more passengers. Many will ride without helmets and in shorts and flip-flops.
There is was a new law from LTO (Land Transportation Office) that there can be no more than 2 persons on a bike, no flip-flops, no young children but the law is not enforced.  For helmets you will see many wearing some so flimsy, they look like baseball batters helmets with chin straps.

Besides the lack of safe helmets and too many passengers, many drivers are insane. They will pass you on the left, the right and weave from one side to the other. There have been times, crossing the street with stopped traffic, you almost get hit by a motorcycle zooming alone the right side of the traffic. They will come up and swerve in front of you as a light turns green and you’re hitting the gas to get going. They will also pass traffic on tricycle2tricycle3the left by moving into incoming traffic lanes. There are many driving with no license, but getting a drivers license in the Philippines is another interesting topic.

Unmodified motorcycles are used for delivery. Tanks of propane, sheets of glass, even pizza or McDonald’s burgers.  Then there are the modified. There are bikes with welded sidecars. You will see them loaded with cases of soda, beer, cases of product going down the roads.

Then there are the ones for public transportation. The smallest has a side car that seats 2 facing forward. Then there are some with a rear bench seat to accommodate 2 more. These are not enclosed and have a canvas roof.

Then there are the metal enclosed ones. Some the motorcycle is on the side and some the cycle is in the middle looking like a van body over the bike. You can hear the strain of the little 125cc engine whining as it tries to get up a hill with 10 passengers. These units have an open door in the rear, open window openings on the sides and little side door openings for passengers to squeeze in on each side of the driver. Some have clear vinyl window and door coverings to roll down if it rains.

For us taller foreigners, you need to sit with your back bent and head down so it does not bounce off the roof. Sometimes you’re lucky if they have a canvas top.

All day long, no matter where you are you hear the buzzing whining engines, unless you’re in an upscale gated subdivision and they are not allowed.

12 Responses to “Motorcycles in the Philippines”

  1. Palawan says:

    Bruce, sorry have not posted for a friend has this wedding and I have not taken a rest for almost a week now…tomorrow will be the wedding and I will be very glad when it ends…heehehehe..we have to make so many souvenirs…and preparations..I even forgot to eat this morning..hahaah..anyway…

    I really like motorcycles….I actually have a 110 cc second hand already broke down..hahaha..hopefully I will be able to buy my own in the future..a 200 honda xr and a 450 honda crf x. hahaha..

  2. Palawan says:

    One of the best places to see tricycles or motorcycles with sidecars is in dumaguete. I even this tricycle loaded with fifteen people and the motorcycle used was only 100cc….heehehehee..bruce, why don’t you try driving one of those..hahhaha…

    • Bruce says:

      I see enough motorcycles here for my needs. About me driving a motorcycle, with the crazy drivers, 2, 3, or 4 wheeled, I prefer a car so Elena does not become a widow so soon.

  3. Philmor says:

    I also love riding in motorcycle. It’s prohibited in national roads specially in urban area like Davao City…

  4. Ray says:

    Hi Bruce

    You said the law is not enforced. That is something I find interesting. In the states you have traffic cops whose only job is to give traffic tickets. In the Philippines I never see any police with cars or motorcycles pull people over and ticket them. In Manila I have seen people get a ticket but the officer is one who is standing directing traffic and he just waves at the car to stop and then will ticket them.

    • Bruce says:

      It sounds like the same here in Davao. On some intersections there are TMC (Traffic Management Office) Officers who will pull you over and give a ticket.
      I had heard in the past there were mobile traffic police but because of Mayor Durante’s anti corruption campaign he eliminated that group.
      Also some feel a lot of the ticketing is targeted to Foreigners, but I have not been stopped at all for almost a year and I am out driving most days.

  5. ceblogger says:

    i don’t know how to drive a motorcycle. But i tried once.

  6. Hi, good post. I have been thinking about this issue,so thanks for writing. I will certainly be subscribing to your posts.

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