I remember the day I first stepped into the old Royal Enfield showroom in Makati, looking to buy an Interceptor. I’d done my research on the Indian-engineered roadster with British origins, and the classy ambience at the showroom coupled with the cheerful, expert advice from the staff helped to make my first foray into motorcycling an enjoyable one. With that first big bike to cut my teeth on, I met dozens of other RE owners with their customized rides, made new friends, and experienced firsthand how a vibrant motorcycle culture can sustain and nurture a brand.
Many enthusiasts already know that the brand isn’t big on spec sheets. The bikes have modern features like slipper clutches and ABS, but high-power figures are nowhere to be found. Instead, its bikes are about enjoying the purity of riding, the simple aural pleasure of a well-tuned motorcycle, and the underrated pleasure of running such a low-maintenance machine.
So it’s only fitting that the brand’s growth in the country could have only happened under the stewardship of Hardcore Brothers Custom Motorcycles. Owned by the husband-and-wife team of Jimmy D.L. Barinaga (president and CEO) and Flerry de Leon, Hardcore Brothers started out in 2007 as a customization shop and distributor of West Eagle and Easyriders products from Japan. A motorcycle distributor that has been in the industry for a decade and a half now, the company started distributing the British nameplate in 2012, and it’s hard to imagine the distribution rights being awarded to any other party. The bikes are hardy and stylish machines as they are, but in the hands of an artisan, they can also be a blank slate for personalization.
In the first year alone, the brand gained street cred by successfully finishing the BOSS Ironman Challenge. Its bikes also gained a reputation for fuel efficiency by winning the top three spots in the 400cc-to-600cc category of the Petron Saferun 2012. Today, it has a tempting lineup of affordable big bikes: the Interceptor and Continental GT 650 twins, the Himalayan adventure bike, the Meteor 350, and the recently launched Classic 350. In the used-bike market, pre-owned bikes are few and far between, as most owners can’t bear to part with them.
“Because of its extensive history and unmatched heritage, Royal Enfield has a cult following among classic-motorcycle enthusiasts around the globe,” shared Jimmy. “Here in the Philippines, we have gained a new breed of loyal customers by demonstrating that Royal Enfield bikes are reliable, fuel-efficient and versatile. Of course, there’s also the rock-star styling that’s hard to resist.”
An accomplished rider himself, Jimmy was one of the riders in the Petron Saferun 2012, as well as being one of the first Filipinos to ride the world’s highest motorable pass of the Himalayas in Khardung La, India, in 2017.
Personally, I’ve spent enough time with him to say that, aside from being one of the most humble and affable leaders in the industry, he’s also a family man and someone you can talk to about anything. In the local Facebook groups, Jimmy will even personally respond to customer concerns if ever a problem arises.
The company recently had to close their Makati shop as the business was growing quickly. The new (and bigger) office and showroom is now located in Tomas Morato in Quezon City, and it now has official dealerships in Bulacan, Tiendesitas (Pasig), Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete and Davao. It also has satellite stores in Butuan, Dipolog, Kidapawan and Tacloban. A new dealership is set to open this summer in Bacoor, Cavite. With a total of no fewer than 20 dealerships targeted to open by year end, the brand has indeed come a long way in the past 10 years, all thanks to Hardcore Brothers.