Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blaze Brute 150 motorcycle review - Marinduque biking

blaze brute 150
blaze brute 150
blaze brute 150

Here's a little review of a motorbike I bought to get myself mobile. Here in Marinduque, a bike is probably the best form of personal transport - it's economical and the roads are reasonably safe - nobody really goes fast and there isn't too much traffic. After shopping around a bit, I almost bought a Kawasaki Wind 125, a nice bike at 59,000php but finally settled on a Blaze Brute 150 for a few reasons - firstly the cheaper price (hard bargaining got it down to 45,000php), bigger engine (same BHP but at lower revs than the Kawasaki), electric start, and generally nicer (ie. more retro) styling. The only obvious minus compared to the Kawasaki was having a drum brake and not a disc brake in the front, but that's not really a problem.

The first bike was returned to the agent very quickly - it had a leaky fuel tank - fill it up with petrol, and it goes pouring onto the engine, not very safe. The agents here, Starbike, are really nice guys. They replaced my first bike with a totally new one, and have been very helpful in fixing all the gremlins in the 2nd one .. When it comes to gremlins, Blaze is king! On their website Blaze proclaim themselves to be a filipino company, and it shows. The bike is really chinese, but may be assembled in the philippines. The basic design is OK, the assembly is .. uhmm ... lacking! The total list of faults on my 2nd bike were : faulty starter switch, headlamp at the wrong angle (making it very dangerous at night), a wonky fuel gauge that would let you run out of petrol while merrily showing more than half a tank, a rev counter that jumps from 6000rpm to 10000rpm without any major change in engine speed or road speed, and just about everything was loose. In Starbike's defence, they have rectified all these problems (except the one with the rev counter, I didn't mention that one, and I think that having a bike without at least one gremlin will make it not filipino enough .. and also I have a feeling that if I fix that one, something else will come up ..).

With the problems fixed, the bike is actually quite nice to ride. Compared to the Kawasaki it's NOISY .. and it vibrates a lot. This is partially due to the bike's design - it seems it was designed for tricycles, so it has the following 'not so useful' features .. it's on 4 springs/shock absorbers at the rear, so it feels a bit like riding on a stone - i'm contemplating removing 2 of the shocks to afford a softer ride - and the rear sprocket wheel is enormous, with 52 teeth. On 5th gear (the bike has 5 gears, and quite a nice gearbox actually) it does 10km/hr for every 1000 rpm (that is until the rev-counter becomes wonky and you're doing 11,000rpm at 70km/hr). At normal cruising speed, 50-60km/hr here, the engine is trying to tear itself off its mounts. I'm trying to get myself a rear sprocket wheel with 42 teeth, to gear the whole thing a bit higher, but it's not a part you can buy off the shelf here in Marinduque, and the agent is quoting a 2 month delivery time. The noisiness is partly due to the engine being a bit rough, and also due to having a very small silencer. There are plus points though, the 150cc engine pulls like a beast, and because of the really low gearing, once you're in top gear there's hardly ever a reason to downshift (it can pick up again from 10km/hr in top gear with surprising power). Economy is not bad either - the tank is quite big - a full tank yesterday cost me 510 pesos, which at the current price is over 11 litres - and a full tank goes forever. I think it's doing about 50km/liter or maybe a bit less, but I haven't worked it out accurately yet. Compared to the underbones which seem to be the order of the day here it has a much more macho look .. it's a proper 'big' bike, quite heavy, and stable at speed (if you call 70km/hr speed, that is). I'm a big guy and I think on a little underbone i'd look a bit sissy. Also, it's built like a tank - strong and simple. Anything can be taken apart with a few spanners,and the construction of the bike seems like it's built to last.

There is precious little information about the Blaze Brute 150 on the internet - the company website seems to be partially complete (or partially incomplete, depending how you see it) and classifies the Brute as an underbone, which makes the rest of the technical information look suspicious.

Some additional info :
i've calculated the exact mileage the motorbike is giving me .. it's taken 10.11 litres of petrol for 347 Km, about 34.3 Km/litre. That's not very good, considering that most of my riding is done in very little traffic (this is Marinduque after all), and on paved roads which are mostly flat with very little hills here. My average riding speed is 50-60Km/hr, above 70Km/hr the engine of the bike is really stressed due to the mentioned very low gear ratios. I am hoping that once I get the rear sprocket changed mileage will improve, however finding a part is proving almost impossible - it's been ordered at the agent for close on 6 weeks now, and they have no idea when it will be delivered. 26-10-2009