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Tricycles in the Philippines

Tricycles or “trikes” are vehicles with three wheels powered by pedalling or by a motor. In the Philippines, however, the word tricycle refers to a diverse number of vehicles with a similar structure. The most popular of which is a customized motorcycle with an attached “sidecar” or a passenger cabin.

Most tricycles are hired public utility vehicles that can transport four or more people plus their luggage. The seats of this type of motorized vehicle are very compact with the passenger cabin accommodating two adults and a child and the motorcycle section seating the driver and two other passengers. It also has a modified steel frame at the back and on its roof that serves as cargo space.

Variety of tricycles in the country

The design of tricycles around the country varies from location to location. In Mindanao, for example, the “side car” extends to the back of the motorcycle with side-facing seats that can seat four people and another four beside the driver. Some tricycles even have a closed body and doors.

In Luzon, particularly in the subdivisions of Calabarzon, the most common trike design is an open bodied sidecar which is attached to the right side of the motorcycle. In the rainy season, drivers generally place a plastic cover over the entrance to protect passengers from the rain.

The passenger fare for tricycles varies greatly; it can be as low as P8 for short distances and as much as P250 for several locations with tourist spots.

Motorcycles as trikes

Motorcycle manufacturers, especially the top four Japanese brands, recognize the market for motorcycles that can be converted into tricycles. As such, they have developed several models dedicated for such purposes like the Kawasaki Barako, Honda TMX, and Yamaha STX.

A common strategy used by tricycle operators is to buy a used motorcycle and have a local steel fabricating business fit a sidecar to it. A second hand Suzuki Mola, for instance, costs around P50,000 which is cheaper by at least P15,000 for a brand new version.

Recently, several electronic tricycles or e-trikes, such as the ones running in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, have been promoted by local governments as an alternative to regular motorcycles that use fossil fuel.

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