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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.