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These custom Honda TMXs will change your mind about the humble ‘pantra’

The workhorse of tricycle operators has plenty of potential

Using a workhorse as a base for a custom bike is not a bad thing. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Alongside the Kawasaki Barako, the Honda TMX125/155 is one of the most ubiquitous motorcycles in the country. It has seen workhorse duty as tricycle and delivery bike for many years with its bare-bones engineering offering reliable and fuss-free operation.

In the hands of a skilled custom builder, the “pantra” (pang-tricycle) is also a blank canvas. Its simplicity means the electricals are easy to modify, the spare parts are abundant and cheap, and the body panels can be fabricated quickly. With an SRP of P51,400, a base bike doesn’t cost a fortune. There are many custom TMXs running around the Philippines, but the quality of work can range anywhere from natty to nasty. It all depends on the skill and the imagination (and the budget) of the builder.

The vintage look on this Iron Macchina build is immaculate. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Two examples particularly caught our attention because of their refinement and attention to detail. The first is a classic treatment by Paul Symon Cantos of Iron Macchina Customs. We already featured some of his builds last year, but his latest TMX oozes retro charm with a custom “Jaguar green” paint job. Starting off with a brand-new motorcycle, Paul went to town on the side panels, the fuel tank, the exhaust, the bench seat, the lights, the fender and the tires. The OEM 18-inch rear wheel was swapped for a 17-incher, but the front wheel remains stock. Vintage-look Swallow tires, with a distinctive sawtooth tread pattern, were fitted.

The custom exhaust and heat shield are gorgeous. PHOTOS BY ANDY LEUTERIO

Only the bare frame, the engine, the transmission, the front fork, the brakes, the wheels and the electrical system were retained. The rear shocks were changed to twin-piggyback units with 340mm of travel and preload adjustability. Since the major mechanical parts are left untouched, the bike is as easy to ride as a stock TMX. It’ll start every time and won’t give you maintenance headaches.

The stock engine and transmission are left unchanged to avoid any headaches. PHOTO BY ANDY LEUTERIO

In fact, this particular bike was sold within a few days of its completion to a customer who uses it for leisurely weekend rides. The owner was kind enough to let me try it out around the neighborhood. This custom TMX really is a pleasant little charmer. It purrs on idle, and goes and stops about as quickly as you’d expect a small commuter bike to be. But of course, no one will think that you’re on something designed for tricycle duty. With the tooling and parts available to create a similar bike, Paul says such a build will cost around P156,000. This includes the base motorcycle and the buyer’s choice of colors.

The raw appeal of a café racer is perfectly captured by the 'Cola' bike. PHOTO FROM SHIEGFRED DICHOS

Meanwhile, we came across this café-racer build on social media, and just had to contact the builder. Based in Cagayan de Oro, Shiegfred Dichos of La Garahe Motorcycles has been modifying classic bikes for almost a year now. His TMX125 build named “Cola” is one of the cleanest we’ve seen yet. It features a distinctive red-and-white livery, and a fuel tank from an ’80’s Honda CB125. The side panels have been removed for a minimalist triangular chassis. The battery is hidden inside a handmade metal cowl, and the seat is custom. The handlebar gets Vans x Cult clip-on grips. The drum brakes have been converted to discs, and the front hub is from a Honda XRM. The SPD wheels are wrapped in tubeless Metzeler Sportec Street rubber.

One thing about these custom builds is you need to keep them nice and shiny all the time. PHOTOS FROM SHIEGFRED DICHOS

The engine and the transmission remain unchanged, but it’s equipped with a NUI shifter from a Suzuki Raider 150. LED lighting is used all around, while a minimalist, round speedometer takes the place of the stock instrumentation. Shiegfred says it takes just one month to turn a standard TMX into something like this. The conversion work is said to cost around P121,000, and that includes the base bike, the parts and the labor.

Creativity and attention to detail turn a no-frills bike into something special. PHOTO FROM SHIEGFRED DICHOS

Should you be interested in getting your very own custom Honda TMX, you may check out Iron Macchina Customs here and La Garahe Motorcycles here.

Andy Leuterio

Andy is both an avid cyclist and a car enthusiast who has finally made the shift to motorcycles. You've probably seen him on his bicycle or motorbike overtaking your crawling car. He is our Motorcycle Editor and the author of the ‘Quickshift’ column.