Motorcycle riders in the Philippines often encounter the dreaded "bengkong" – those notorious potholes and rough road surfaces that can turn a peaceful ride into a teeth-clenching ordeal. We've all been there, facing a massive pothole with resignation, knowing there's no escape.
In such situations, the outcome can take different paths. Sometimes, you emerge miraculously unscathed, a testament to your riding skills. Other times, you end up sulking on the roadside, your once-pristine alloy wheels now looking like abstract art.
If luck is on your side and you escape unharmed, you ride home, grateful for another day to conquer the "bengkong." But what if your wheels haven't been as fortunate? Riding with misaligned wheels isn't safe – you'll feel a wobble at speed, and the risk of failure increases as they lose their roundness.
Fortunately, all hope isn't lost when your wheels take a beating.
Have them repaired by a professional
If your wheels haven't suffered extensive damage, there's a good chance they can be expertly restored by a professional workshop. I recently encountered a similar situation when my Yamaha MT-07's front wheel felt the effects of the rugged roads leading to Baler in Aliyaga. Although the damage was mostly cosmetic, my perfectionist tendencies wouldn't allow me to ignore the misalignment of my bright orange wheel.
I decided to entrust the task to ACT Dynamics, a well-known workshop located in Antipolo, Rizal. They've earned their reputation for their expertise in repairing alloy wheels, catering to both cars and motorcycles. What sets them apart is their commitment to precision – there's no haphazard hammering here.
Aluminum, as you might know, is quite brittle when compared to steel. Using a hammer on it would likely do more harm than good. ACT Dynamics employs a more sophisticated approach. They heat the wheel to make it pliable, then use a hydraulic alignment tool to gently press it back into shape. It's a delicate process that requires skill and the right equipment. In just a short while, my front wheel was back in perfect alignment, as if the bumpy roads of Aliyaga were nothing more than a distant memory.
Get new wheels
When your wheels are damaged beyond repair, which can happen if they've cracked or fractured due to a severe impact, the only viable option left is replacement. The cost of this replacement can vary significantly depending on the type of motorcycle you ride.
For those on scooters or commuter motorcycles equipped with spoked wheels, there's some good news. In many cases, it's possible to replace just the rim, which is a more budget-friendly solution, though it can be quite labor-intensive.
However, if you're riding a premium bike with alloy wheels, be prepared for a potentially significant expense. The price of a new front wheel can range anywhere from P5,000 for smaller scooters to well over P50,000 for high-end models featuring lightweight forged aluminum wheels. Rear wheels are often pricier due to their larger size and more heavy-duty design. For example, the rear wheel of a bike like my Yamaha MT-07 can cost up to P50,000 to replace. The costs can soar even higher for top-tier European bikes.
So, when it comes to wheel replacement, it's not just about functionality; it's also about budget considerations, and it's wise to explore your options carefully.
How to avoid damaging your precious wheels
Certainly, the ideal scenario is to avoid any necessity for wheel repairs by keeping your wheels damage-free from the start. Fortunately, there are effective methods to prevent damage, even on the challenging pothole-filled Philippine roads:
- Strategically Plan Your Route: It's prudent to plan your route with care, consciously selecting routes known for their well-maintained road surfaces.
- Exercise Caution While Riding: When you encounter a pothole, exercise caution, as it often signifies more potential hazards ahead. Reducing your speed upon encountering one is a wise move to avoid damage.
- Harness the Power of Navigation Apps: Utilize navigation applications such as Waze and Google Maps, which can provide timely notifications regarding ongoing construction zones and road-related dangers. These apps can be valuable allies in ensuring a trouble-free journey.
By incorporating these practices into your riding routine, you can significantly diminish the likelihood of wheel damage and ensure a smoother and safer experience, even on the challenging roads found in the Philippines.
In the grand scheme of things, there are instances where accidents become unavoidable. In such uncertain situations, having a protective shield against exorbitant repair costs, such as wheel replacements, can be invaluable. Motorcycle insurance serves as this safeguard, offering you peace of mind by ensuring that you're covered in case of any unforeseen events.
While it's true that comprehensive insurance, especially for larger bikes, can come with a hefty price tag, it's an investment that carries immense value. This is particularly true when you consider the substantial costs associated with replacing motorcycle parts. In essence, the expense of comprehensive insurance pales in comparison to the potential financial burden that could result from not having coverage in the event of an accident or damage. It's a wise choice that can save you both money and stress in the long run.