2018 has been a busy year for motorcycles in the Philippines. While four-wheeler sales have dropped year-on-year for the first time since the time of Y2K (for those of you old enough to remember that), motorcycles have experienced a second wind. With whispers around the industry that sales this year have skyrocketed following the increase in the price for cars, we thought it would be good to look back at the most significant bike launches of 2018.
So in no particular order, here are what we feel were the 10 most significant bikes launched in 2018:
While Yamaha Motor Philippines tends to grab headlines with its focus on big bikes such as the Tenere and MT lines, its scooter lineup pushes sales to stratospheric numbers. The new Mio, which Yamaha hopes would appeal to what it calls ‘Mio-llennials’ (insert eye-rolling here) comes standard with a stop/start system, ABS and a smart keyless ignition. Questionable puns aside, the Mio has always been one of Yamaha's bestsellers, and the Aerox might be one of the best scooters in the market today.
Not to be outdone, Honda also introduced the new Honda Click 150i. Its features read almost like a clone of the Mio, with Start/Stop, keyless entry, and answer-back systems as standard. While the Click doesn’t have ABS, it makes do with a Combi Brake setup by Honda. This scooter is also one of the best-selling models in the country, and together with Yamaha, these two are important in the Philippines for the sheer volume they can sell to the bike-buying public.
After businessman Ramon Ang purchased the distributorship of BMW Philippines, BMW Motorrad seems to have found a new lease on life (not like its GS models ever sold poorly in the first place). A rash of new bike introductions showed a renewed commitment to motorcycles in the Philippines. The first of these new bikes under the new management is the BMW C400X. Getting into the maxi scooter game isn’t anything new for the Bavarian brand, and the new C400X exudes the same premium quality that one would expect from the German marque. This isn’t even its most important model this year (as we will see further down this list).
While relatively new to the big bike game, Honda Philippines hit the ground running
with a full-scale introduction of large motorcycles, culminating in the CB1100EX. Taking the fight to retro bikes of yore, the Honda CB1100EX gives off Super Four vibes instantly. Its old-school chrome plating and single large round headlight makes it instantly recognizable as a UJM (Universal Japanese Motorcycle), the first of the superbikes that started with the original Honda CB.
A brand that has had a bit more history in the Philippines selling big bikes (with the Ninja and Versys introduction years ago), Kawasaki could not afford to be left behind by the retro bandwagon, so it also launched the Z900RS. A retro throwback bike with classic looks and (like the Honda CB1100EX) a powerful and modern inline-four engine, the Z900RS takes the fight for your hard-earned pesos directly to Honda. The two bikes couldn’t be more similar in styling, performance or brand recognition.
Of course Ducati sells a paltry amount of bikes per year compared to the Japanese manufacturers, but doesn’t that make it more special? The previous Scrambler was one of Ducati’s best-selling bikes in ages. A Ducati has always been an emotional purchase, but the new 1100 Scrambler, with its much larger engine and beefier frame, makes that choice a lot more compelling as a go-anywhere motorcycle from a premium brand.
Nicknamed the ‘scalpel,’ the new 790 Duke reimagines the naked sport bike in a way that only KTM can. Power is tremendous from an all-new engine, and the chassis and suspension setup truly makes the new 790 a special bike—leagues ahead of the other bikes in KTM’s stable. What makes this bike even more significant is are the hushed rumors going around bike events that the 790 will be produced in Ayala’s KTM plant in Laguna. If that turns out to be true, then this bike will take the place of the 390 Duke as the highest performance motorcycle produced in the Philippines. We’re crossing our fingers.
The Panigale has never been about volume. Much like the brand itself, the bike has always been about the pinnacle of performance. To hell with ergonomics and practicality, the new V4 S has always been about one thing and one thing only—having the most exotic and most powerful motorcycle in the world. With many of its parts and tech coming from Ducati’s MotoGP efforts, the Panigale V4 S stands alone at the summit of two-wheeled performance wrapped in a gorgeously Italian body.
Last, and definitely not the least, the R 1250 GS was unexpectedly introduced during BMW Philippines’s year-end breakfast ride. Being the first country in Asia to have a unit, the message is clear: BMW Motorrad knows the importance of the Philippines. More than just being a great motorcycle with the best technology, it is the ultimate aspirational bike for anyone who has fantasized about taking a motorcycle around the world (or even just around Luzon). If there is any bike out there people are lusting after more, we don’t know what that could be.
So there you have it, 10 of the most important motorcycle launches in 2018. Ending on a high note, it seems that this year may just be the best-ever for two-wheelers in the Philippines. With these bikes as a springboard, we are very much looking forward to what these brands have in store for 2019. What are you looking forward to?