The first order of business when we arrived in the Philippines after locating a place to stay was to sort out a good motorcycle. I had done some research before we arrived, and it looked like it was possible to get exactly what I was looking for, at a reasonably cheap price. I wanted to get a big bore single, something similar to if not an actual Kawasaki KLR 650. The reasons I wanted this type of bike were many. It has the power to get you out of sticky situations; the suspension is solid, and you can load up the bike with a fair amount of weight. They are, for the most part, reliable bikes, and they are designed to handle well on the street and in the dirt.
After we located a place to stay and had got somewhat settled in, I set about trying to locate a good bike to buy. It was not long before I discovered this was not going to be as easy as I had hoped. The biggest problem with big bore singles or any big bike, for that matter, here in the Philippines is that they are not that common. The large majority of Philippinos ride small displacement bikes. A small displacement bike basically means anything under 250cc. This is a matter of practicality, economic circumstance and governmental regulation. You don't really need a big bike here, and even if you have one there are few places you will ever get the bike out of 3rd or 4th gear while riding it around town. Most Philippinos use their bikes to get around town not to ride from one end of an island to another, or to a different island altogether. Sure some do but it is not that common. They could use the bigger big bike suspensions though, almost all the small bikes experience massive over loading. They will load up to four and sometimes five people on a little 125cc bike, then ride over the pot hole filled roads in and around town. It does not take long for the suspension on these small bikes to give in, and it is rare to see one functioning properly. Most small bikes go bouncing down the road due to the struts being shot.
I had found a few advertisements online for motorcycles before we arrived in the Philippines so that was the first place I started looking for a bike. The one that looked the most promising was a guy, who had a KLR 650 for $4000 US. I met him at a hotel in Pampanga as he rode the bike down from La Union, and I met him half way. The bike itself looked great, but when we got to the paperwork, something did not smell right. The bike was not registered in his name, which is not uncommon here due to the snail's pace of the Land Transportation Office, but when I asked him if I could get a deed of sale from the owner, he started squirming around like I had just asked him for the impossible. I found this double strange as when we were talking earlier, he told me all about the owner and how he was his friend, and he was in contact with him about all the work he had done on the bike. I said I would buy the bike, but I needed to get a deed of sale from the owner. I wrote up a deed of sale, gave to him by email and a hard copy, subsequently told him to send it to the owner who was apparently in the UK. I wanted to have the alleged owner sign it in front of a Justice of the Peace, or the equivalent of a Notary as we call them in the US, then send it back.
I called him back the next day. My suspicions were confirmed, for some reason his friend was not willing or able to sign the dead of sale. I asked him if he had any other motorcycles for sale which he did have, but none had paper work. I can't say for sure, but my guess on what this guy was doing, was this. He was shipping the bikes to the Philippines from the US in pieces then reassembling them. The bikes were good but they at no time went through Customs, and they were quite possible stolen bikes in the US. I will never know. I needed a clean bike with a clean title to be riding around the Philippines and from island to island. The last thing I needed was to be stuck on some island getting a shakedown by the Police because my bike was not legitimate. I doubt I would have ended up in jail, but I am certain my wallet would have been a lot lighter.