If you have visited other countries in Asia you are probably aware of Tuk-Tuks. Tuk-Tuks also known as Auto Rickshaws are used as taxis in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and parts of China, the most common of these is the Bajaj RE.
Because they are cheap to buy, economical to run, comfortable for the passengers, small and have enough speed to nip through the traffic they are perfect for the job they do.
For some reason the Tuk-Tuk never arrived in the Philippines where instead they opted for what they call a “Tricycle” which is a motorbike and sidecar. However things are changing and the Tuk-Tuk has arrived in the Philippines.
Bajaj Auto which sells more Tuk-Tuks around the world than any other manufacturer has introduced the Bajaj RE 4S model to the Philippines. This is sold through just 2 dealers at the moment “K Servico” in Luzon and “Emcor” in the rest of the Philippines.
There has been much written about tricycles by visitors to the Philippines and very little of it is good. The majority of tricycles in the Philippines are 100cc or 125cc motorbikes with a poorly constructed sidecar attached. Tricycles do not give you any comfort at all, if you are over 5 feet tall you will bang your head on the roof in many of them, the suspension often made out of rebar does little to cushion the ride. Most of them have no working brake on the sidecar so rely on the motorbike brakes to stop them, brakes that were designed to stop a maximum of 2 people on a motorbike not a motorbike and sidecar and anything up to 8 people, braking is not even because of this and you will often see tricycles pull violently to one side when they brake hard.
Tricycles seem to travel at 30 – 40kmph, I suspect there is 2 reasons for this, firstly the poor little engines were never designed to pull that amount of weight so struggle to go faster and secondly the design of them means they are out of balance so any speed higher than that makes them hard to control. The drivers of them seem to have a love of the overtaking lane and drive along it at these low speeds causing a hazard, danger and delays for other road users, not to mention the danger to themselves and their passengers, it also means the only way to pass them is undertaking which is not safe.
The overworked engines of tricycles blow out a lot of pollution, some of the older ones are two-stroke where oil is burnt with the petrol (gasoline) which adds to the pollution, even with the 4-stoke engines it is not long because they are overworked the engines become worn and produce more pollution.
On top of all this is the fact many of the sidecars are simply not roadworthy.
Bajaj RE Safer, Cleaner, more comfortable Transport
The Bajaj RE 4S solves many of the problems with tricycles. It is designed for what it does with safety and comfort in mind, it is factory built not constructed in a welding shop. Bajaj Auto have a whole design team in India, they also have testing facilities to test the designs. The Tuk-Tuk dates back to the 1930s and has gradually been developed into what it is today. Bajaj have been selling 3 wheelers since 1944 and have manufactured them since 1959 when they obtained a License from Piaggio to manufacture its two and three wheelers. Bajaj now sells nearly half a million 3 wheelers a year.
With all their experience Bajaj have developed the RE into what it is today, a purpose built rigid chassis with a Muscular SKUDO Design, it has a rear bumper designed to withstand impact. Its curved upright windscreen with wiper gives the driver good viability in all weathers, lights and indicators are fitted the same way they are on most cars and are the same quality with dual headlights at the front.
The Brakes on the Bajaj RE are hydraulic and foot operated the same as a car and apply braking to all 3 wheels at the same time this along with the symmetrical design of the Bajaj RE means braking is even and does not pull to one side.
The symmetrical design of the Bajaj RE also means it is perfectly balanced which give a much safer, smoother ride and it remains balanced even at high speeds.
Bajaj RE Engine
The engine is a purpose built twin spark 200cc 4-stroke engine which easily handles the load even on steep climbs. I have taken mine on a mountain road and it managed the hills with ease even loaded with the family, I know many other people that have also done this with their Bajaj RE’s.
With there being strict emission laws in India now Bajaj changed from 2-stroke engines to 4-stoke engines and a lot of work has been done to make them comply with the emission laws, it also means the Bajaj RE 4s complies with the new emission laws in the Philippines.
Bajaj RE Speed
The Bajaj RE 4S is happy cruising at speeds up to about 70kmph but is capable of about 80kmph.
As the maximum speed limit in the Philippines is 80kmph on open country roads the Bajaj RE is capable of keeping up with traffic. It also handles extremely well at these speeds and I have found the breaking distance at speed is less than it is on a car, probably because there is far less weight to stop.
Comfort for Passengers
The Bajaj RE has easy entry for passengers you do not have to crouch right down like you do to get in a tricycle,so even old people can get in with no problem. Once inside the passenger is able to sit upright and has plenty of headroom and legroom, I have had my friend in mine who is 6′ 3″ tall and there was still room above his head. I myself am a big bloke weighing 90kg and I can sit in the back for hours with no discomfort.
Bajaj RE Philippines Unexpected Market
Judging by K Servico (the main supplier of of Bajaj RE in the Philippines) advertising they aimed the Bajaj RE 4S at people providing a taxi style service for customers which traditionally used tricycles and that is understandable as that is what the Bajaj is used for in many countries around the world.
However in the Philippines many people that use vehicles only for private use have seen the Bajaj RE and decided to buy one, most have quickly fell in love with it, for some it is a fun form of transport, others saw it as an ideal way to get round the overcrowded roads in the Philippines, some use it for short trips to the shops etc. while others realised what a tough reliable machine an RE is and use it for long journeys, for some it is a way to have their own transport at a price they can afford, while others already have a car but just fell in love with the Bajaj RE and leave their car on the drive and use the RE. The Bajaj RE is such a versatile machine and so well built it is suitable for all them things.
The love these private owners have for the Bajaj RE in the Philippines is very quickly turning it into a cult following with clubs starting to be formed in a way it was for Scooter riders in the UK back in the 1960s. There is a comradeship forming amongst owners of the Bajaj RE in the Philippines and groups have sprung up on Facebook.
Is the Bajaj RE the Future of the Philippines
The Bajaj RE could be the future for the Philippines, if people got out of their cars and started using vehicles the size of the Bajaj there would be far less congestion, if they were used as a taxi style service customers would be safer and would travel in comfort, it would also mean traffic would flow better as they take up less room on the road than a tricycle, accelerate faster and can keep at a speed that matches the rest of the traffic on the road.