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Motorbiking in the Philippines

März 28, 2013
Guenther Vomberg dtrving in negros

Since 2 years I am riding a Motorbike in the Philippines.

Nothing great or special, its a simple 150 Cubic „Soft Chopper“, made in China. (What isn’t made in China  ?)

I got it cheap from an American fellow Member of the Kiwanis Club , who had it for 3 years, but only drive 1500 km with it. Since he did not use it at all any more, he sold it for half price to me. thus came in handy, I was already looking for over a year, it isn’t easy to find comfortable Road bikes in this market flooded with under-bone scooters or oversized „Big Bikes“. And „off roader“ was never my favourite, I drove one for a while and it wasn’t my thing. Too uncomfortable and i want to drive on roads and not in the „wilderness“. Most people think because of a few potholes or some dirt road bits one needs already off-road quality.

Well, this is NOT the case, until the eighties, the now so popular ‚off roaders“ did not even exists. NOT EVEN THE MILITARY HAD THEM !

Honestly, in my youth I used to drive a lot Off road in forests and other places, and all with „off the production“ line bikes. And they were way inferior then even the ‚worst“ bikes right now.

There was never any need for those „special bikes“ I go as far as to say, that this is another „invention“ of the Industry to sell us things we do not need.

Anyhow, I was looking for a „comfy“ cruiser bike or at least a normal one , here they would call them „habal habal“ type.

Guenther Vombergs Skygo Viscount SG 150E
with Honda sticker 🙂

To cut the story short, I found the ideal one in the mentioned „SkyGo“ Viscount Cruiser. (Made in China by LIFAN Motors)

150 cc, 17 Hp and a solid size for a grown up 6 foot person.

(Which I was told, was the main reason they stopped selling the bike here. Most people thought it was to big for the average Filipino) However, this is of no concern for me 🙂

The engine is a robust Honda License one, which Lifan build for Honda over a decade now.

I drove th4e Bike in the past 2 years 25.000 km now, and i had no troubles at all with it.

The often complained ‚Rust“ issues is mainly caused by the salty air here. 9(The Philippines is ALL coastline actually) And looking at my friends motorbikes from Honda, Yamaha and other manufacturers, they suffer from the same corrosion problems. The only prevention is washing, polishing and preserving. ( Have a cloth with a spray of DW40 and briefly wipe all corrosive surfaces after washing..briefly ! That’s all)

The rest is standard, Chains and sprockets, Tires, Cables for clutch and gas, Sparkplug air filter and Oil. All just the normal materials one needs. Nothing broke so far.

I am 75 kg, my wife 50kg, so we can say, we are a regular load and the bike never made any transport problems. Also accelerations and speed is sufficient. I changed the sprockets from 14 to 16 (front) and 38 to 34 (rear). Thus gave me less vibrations and still a comfy acceleration. Yes, in fact it is better now, since I do not have to change gears like a maniac. And I got a bit of the big bike feeling as well. I also had the slight impression, that SkyGo originally ordered ex factory sprockets for a Tricycle version. Otherwise I can not explain the ratio of just 15 km/h in first gear. in half a second or so. ? I never sued first gear back then until I changed the sprocket gear ratio.

Top speed then went up from 95 to 120km/h, well over what one can actually drive in CEBU !

That is misconception number two. I often hear, one needs a powerful bike, that may be nice in Europe or so, but in a country where 40 and 50 is considered neck breaking speed I would carefully say, that anything above 60 km/h 9Cruising speed) is asking for the inevitable disaster. Following „Big Bike Clubs“ on their Sunday excursions, ( I can not participate, they have a minimum Engine displacement. A kind of Biker racism, lol) I also never saw any trouble following them along the road. To be Honest, sometimes I wish they would drive a bit faster, as mostly I am on my way to actually shop or visit something and not just wasting my time biking on a Sunday. So I firmly state that a Bike with good enough acceleration and a normal and easy to achieve speed of 80 clicks per hour is fairly sufficient for Cebu.

This may be different in Luzon, but I doubt it.

Anyway, its a philosophy, I just wonder sometimes why Motorbikes in our days have to have a higher engine displacement then cars ?  I very well remember the days of the first ever Honda 500 or 750 four… Nobody seriously wanted more in those days, and i lived in Germany with NO speed limits. As said, „philosophy“ and they change..

For all those which have not yet made their mind up I can only recommend to first TRY and ride a bit with some smallish motorbike before they spend the equivalent of a family home for some ‚Big Bike“ like a Harley or so.


It’s maybe more fun with a „cheap china chopper“





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