Extreme Jugaad! Motorized Tricycles of Puerto Princesa, The Philippines - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Extreme Jugaad! Motorized Tricycles of Puerto Princesa, The Philippines

As soon as I got down in Puerto Princesa Airport and got out, I was treated to a street-full of these vehicles- bikes with extra fittings to carry 4-6 people. Over next 3 days, I saw hundreds of these all over the Palawan province and clicked dozens of pictures. This post shares those pictures and some related information.

What are these things called?
They are simply called "Tricycles", though the full name is motorized tricycles. May be we can invent some more creative names- Bikar (Bike+Car)?

The tricycles  are essentially a bike with additional seating enclosure attached to it. The additional enclosure involves the 3rd wheel, seating for 4 people (2 main seats and 2 more facing it in opposite direction), a roof, a luggage holder space behind (in some cases 4 more people can sit in the rear facing the road,instead of this luggage space), a roof and windshield and front facia taken from any scrapped car. The driver err rider rides as if he is riding his motorcycle- no changes are made to its handle, headlight etc. As the motorcycle moves, it drags along the enclosure carrying more people than a 10 times expensive small car.

The detailed views of the motorized tricycles...
Rear: Most of them have no electrical additions. They operate on bike's headlight, tail lamp and turn indicators. But some owners with some extra cash can add car tail lamps and headlamps- mostly non functional but sometimes functional ones too

Interior is bare minimum

Above: City Taxi!
There're cargo variants too. Bikes pulling vending carts are common scene in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia

And Ladies version...

Majority of the front facia seem to be from old Toyota cars. But you'll see them with all other brands as well. Let us pause for some pictures.



I also saw Mitsubishi, Hyundai and other "Latest Models", but after sometime, lost my appetite to click them

Tricycles operate either as on demand taxi or ply on pre-defined routes, ferrying people for extremely cheap fares. Assuming the main component- the bike costs about 50K INR, my guess is all the extra fittings together wouldn't cost more than another 5-10k INR. If one is to use genuine spares, the windshield glass alone will cost about 5k, headlight and tail light assembly will cost another 5k, but I guess these guys pickup spare parts from junk yard for throw away price and weld them together to make these tricycles, making a 6 seater vehicle for under 60k INR, 10 times cheaper than a small car or sedan. Fuel economy is great as well.

Safety be doomed. With such extreme jugaad, there is no provision for safety. But having an extra wheel makes the set up more stable than a two wheeler and these things never go faster than 30-40kmph anyway. With more load to pull, top speed of the bike is compromised

They go everywhere: In India cycle rickshaws and even auto-rikshaws suffer an inferiority complex- you don't get dropped to airport departure area/ 5-star hotel lobbies in one usually. Or security staff at the star facilities would shoo them away. But in the Philippines, there are no such inhibitions. The tricycles go everywhere- 5 star hotels, airports or any place required.
This one has a super tight access control!
Tricycles in Manila...
Bike with a roof and front windshield is a good idea as it offers protection against rain and sun. Wonder why bike/car manufacturers haven't bothered launching factory made variants of tricycles, with safer build, better electrical and comfort. I guess it is the cost. Genuine manufacturing can never beat scrapyard supported jugaad in terms of pricing. Bajaj RE60 (Cute) could possibly be tested in Philippines to see if it clicks. There is an electric tricycle in use in Intramarus area in Manila, but obviously cost factor limits its widespread adoption.
In India also we have some variants of this extreme jugaads- the tractor engine inspired vehicles of North India (Maruthas), aged Tempo Hanseats, 8-10 seater share autos of Chennai are some examples. But overall I feel we have better RTO regulations in place as to what kind of modifications are permitted on a vehicle. For example, adding of 3rd wheel for differently-abled persons need to be done by a certified mechanic only. Share auto business is also sort of controlled either by authorities or by unions. Vehicles older than 15 years have lots of requirements to comply with to stay fit. Bike taxi concept is active only in select states like Goa. The Philippines on the other hand seem to have a much relaxed approach to vehicles on the road.

In India, if an extra wheel is added mechanics usually provide it with its own suspension. But the 3rd wheel in Philippino tricycles have no suspension at all- resulting in more bumpy ride but reduced costs. One other advantage of tricycles is that they have reduced the need for cars and other bigger vehicles- thereby sort of reducing traffic jams and pollution. If these tricycles are to be banned then more cars will be needed to replace them and rides also will get expensive.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel we should try these extra fittings on bikes to carry more people?


  1. Oh, I just read an article about jugaad in deccan herald.

    Never ever imagined that I will come across your article so soon.


  2. Interesting article..

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. Amazing contraption indeed! They are literally bikes with actual side cars!

  4. :-) Wow !! Brilliant idea . today came to know that Phillipines people are more advance than Indians in "Jugaad Technology " .

  5. @deepak- Thanks Sir

    @Yogi Yes, they beat us hands down!

  6. Innovative and best out of waste !
    And the name given by you BIKAR is perfect :)

  7. Check its indian version "Chakda" very famous in Gujrat

  8. Thanks Ashu for sharing this. yes, we have cargo versions, but not not real passenger version and certainly not as cheap as the Philippines ones and more importantly not in numbers that exist in Philippines

  9. This is cool. Why can't we have a modified/safer version of these tricycles or even bikes with a rain-roof in India? Preferably manufactured by the bike manufacturers themselves...


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