Finding a "Gummikuh" in the Philippines

In 1993 I had tried to import my BMW R80GS. to the Philippines but failed due to red tape and lack of clarity about process and cost. I tried again in 2004 but in addition to the shipping cost I would have to pay 100% tax, 30,000 to 50,000 Pesos (around 1,000 US$) for registration and an unspecified amount of grease money to various individuals who would try to take advantage of the situation. Not worth it. I subsequently bought a locally produced Honda XR200 and an imported Yamaha TTR250, which is excellent for off road trips on bad Philippine roads. So why considering a big bike at all? There are good reasons to get a bigger classic bike, even in the Philippines:

  • You can't go fast on Philippine roads because road conditions are really bad and traffic is very dangerous. Consequently a big classic bike with a big engine is ideal for relaxed cruising while Ducatis and Japanese rice rockets are pretty useless.
  • On the few tollways the country has motorcycles below 400 ccm are forbidden. 
  • The fund and show factors.

 So I was always on the look out for a BMW or a Harley. in 2009 I finally found several 2-valve BMWs that appeared affordable on http://www.motorcyclephilippines.com. I had a look at a BMW R100/6, which was according to the owner previously owned by a major of a major of a southern island. Despite the fact that the said major had some reputation for driving around with his motorcycle gang members and sometimes shooting at criminals taking the law in his own hand, the bike was in pretty bad condition, leaking oil in many places. In June 2009 there was a Triumph Bonneville advertised but I did not get any response from the seller when I emailed him. Later I found out that the owner was on trip. Shortly after I found a BMW R75/5 close by in Pagsanjan and had a look at it. It looked OK, was mostly original (so I thought) and the engine was running reasonably OK in idle and could be kick-started easily.

I thought it would not be a bad purchase for a almost 40 year old bike and agreed to buy it, intending to overhaul the pistons and cylinder heads and do some other minor work on getting it to original condition. I figured that although the old BMW was quite expensive (in Europe I would have paid a third of the price), if I would put another 1,000 US$ in some repairs, it would still be a lot cheaper than importing my bike and I would have two BMW bikes instead. The plan was to sell my Yamaha TTR250 as soon as the BMW is running well. How little did I know about the real condition of the BMW! It will take a while.

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