May 07, 2021 By C! Magazine Staff Words and Photos by Diana J. Limjoco

The Last Frontier’s Electric Solution

This wonderful story written and photographed by Diana J. Limjoco was published in Issue # 38 of C! Magazine in May 2013. Before the actor, philanthropist, presenter, Dakar Rally racer Charley Boorman set foot and twisted his right wrist on our archipelago, he was widely recognized for two incredible and hugely entertaining documentary television series of challenging long distance motorcycle rides with his friend, the very popular actor Ewan McGregor.

The first, “Long Way Round” in 2004 covered a distance of 31,000 kilometers on bespoke BMW R1150GS all-terrain motorcycles, taking them from London to New York via Europe and Asia. The second series “Long Way Down” in 2007 covered 24,000 kilometers from John o’ Groats in Scotland, to Cape Town, South Africa on custom BMW R1200GS Adventure bikes.

In 2020, well after his experience in the Philippines, best friends Charley and Ewan set off on a new challenge compounded with scientific research and development; “Long Way Up” from Ushuaia in Argentina through South and Central America to Los Angeles in the United States covering 21,000 kilometers on bespoke Harley-Davidson LiveWire electric motorcycles while also being supported by pre-production prototype Rivian electric sport utility vehicles for the production team that supported Ewan and Charley’s epic journey.

Dave Dewbre purchased his first electric motorcycle in 2004. It had 3000W and he tested it up and down the mountains in Tucson AZ. It was love at first drive.

When he moved to a pristine and forested housing area in Subic, he bought some smaller versions, 1000W to run around Subic to test. Two reasons: he missed his high-powered model in the US, and he didn’t want any noise pollution or emissions in the beautiful Subic Freeport housing area. The 1000W model was the most powerful he could find back in 2006 from a dealer in Manila.

While living in Subic and enjoying his E-bikes, an associate at the time asked if we would go to Palawan and talk to Mayor Edward Hagedorn about the electric vehicle project, as the Mayor is a staunch environmentalist.

Dave Dewbre went to Puerto Princesa to consult Mayor Edward Hagedorn in July of 2009. Hagedorn showed Dave the first gas-to-electric tricycle he had a team make in 2002! Famous Philippine actor Gabby Concepcion’s father, Rollie Concepcion, led the first gas-to-electric conversion in the Philippines and they called it the Trikebayan. For this story, we’ll call it the eT1 (electric trike 1, since it was the first-ever). Well, the chap who made it passed away and no one knew how to fix it. It also never went very fast. So that project ceased but not Hagedorn’s dream of seeing the existing 400 noisy gas-guzzling trikes replaced with an electric version.

Along came Dave in 2009. Mayor Hagedorn asked Dave if he could attach an electric motorcycle to a traditional Palawan-style trike body. Having felt the power of his 3000W motorcycle, he tested it on the gas trike body and then had it assembled in Puerto Princesa. After connecting the e-bike to the body, it became the eT2. It worked well and hauled two large passengers plus the driver (that’s about six small Filipinos). It had several thousand kilometers on the odometer the last time Dave’s people serviced the eT2.

Meanwhile, Hagedorn had gone to Manila and had seen the E-trikes plying the streets of Taguig in 2009. He scrapped the idea of using the old bodies with electric motorbikes and instead wanted a new, more modern version like those in Taguig. Discussions were proposed to make it a livelihood project for Puerto Princesa to make the e-trikes here. Mayor Ed gave the challenge to Dave to find or make a modern electric tricycle here. Dave went on to create the eT3 moon-shaped modern e-trike. He tested 3000W brushless motors on the lightweight moon-shaped body. The bodies are used in France as pedal taxis, some of which are electrically assisted.

The eT3 goes up to 76 km/h with a range of 80 kilometers. Though we love this model and still use it, Dave found that the passenger capacity was lacking for use as a commercial trike. Knowing how Filipinos love to overload things, he deemed that trike body unsafe for public consumption. However, he did find that the 3000w motor worked very well and is still going strong today.

While testing the eT3, Dave was working on a larger body with a local machinist and a body shop, owned by William Russel, to fit six people comfortably, including driver, plus luggage. This was to become the eT4, a prototype before the production of a tricycle taxi for public use, powered with a 5KW motor. It’s still going strong and is the strongest e-trike in Palawan today or anywhere as far as we know.

 

He then went on to develop a work trike, the eT5, a powerful 3KW – 7KW flatbed e-trike with heavy-duty suspension that can haul extremely heavy loads while climbing steep hills and pulling a trailer.

Finally, currently in production and shipping, we have the eT6: a powerful City and Urban electric tricycle taxi available from 5KW – 32KW. Other options include Lithium or Silicone batteries, waterproof motors, quick battery exchange, and trailers.

Dave is the only Electric Vehicle Consultant in the Philippines with hands-on experience in creating e-trikes, as well as operating a test retail outlet and the only Electric Full Service Center. He has worked on most of the existing models in the Philippines and is a bit disturbed at the utter lack of post-purchase service for most of the new e-trikes sold out of Manila… with exceptions of course. If a problem arises, he can tell from a mere email what it is by the description and has solved many problems for e-trike end-user that way.

Cut to the chase: I am an avid online blogger and I do marketing for our e-stores online for our US corporation. I made several blogs about Dave’s electric vehicle adventures. A Producer at Beach House Productions doing a new TV series for Fox Sports called Freedom Riders Asia, and sponsored by SHELL oil found Dave through one of the blogs and asked if he would be willing to show them to Charley Boorman, the show’s host, and also let Charley take them for a test drive. Charley’s Honda XR200 motorcycle that he uses throughout the TV show season, runs on SHELL V-Power Nitro+ gasoline and uses SHELL ADVANCE engine oil, while Dave’s E-trikes uses SHELL Spirax MB90 synthetic gear oil and SHELL Spirax ASXR 75W-90 differential fluid.

Former Mayor Edward Hagedorn with Helen Belflower Limjoco, Dave Dewbre, the author, and their daughter Aliya

I contacted the Producer and told him that since I had my TV shows in the US, I was familiar with what was needed to facilitate the shoot locally. I then contacted the city and they sent out several traffic cops and a city ambulance, just for due diligence. I garnered all the volunteers to keep the barangay folks off our road so that Charley could soar through town without worrying about running over anyone or the ubiquitous dogs, chickens, goats, and carabaos that ultimately hang out on the warm cement.

Part of the script required that Charley eat a local delicacy called tamilok, a long disgusting looking mollusk that lives in dead mangroves and sold at the local watering hole called Kinabuch. The producer mentioned that they needed motocross shots and asked for some locations, which I gave him and they used. However, he didn’t know that the owner of Kinabuch, Buch Chase, was the Philippines’ original Motocross hero and icon. He was excited when I told him about the bonus of eating tamilok and meeting Buch. He asked if I could arrange for Buch to do the shoot with Charley and have the tamilok ordered up by him. I called Buch immediately and he agreed as well as hosted a post-shoot dinner with all of us as his guests.

Buch Chase and Charley Boorman

I contacted my friend who is the General Manager of Hotel Centro and they were given a nice discount to stay there.

After Charley test-drove the eT3 trike, he was impressed. The film crew did their stuff and Dave and I talked about how important electric trikes and vehicles are for our environment and how a bill is now ready to be voted on to help end-users pay less in taxes for alternative fuel and green vehicles.

Mayor Hagedorn’s dream of having the electric trikes replace the gas ones during his term may not have come about, but his environmental concerns endure and he is currently running for Senator where he will continue to vote for laws benefiting the environment.

Dave continues to tinker with e-trikes and is constantly updating and improving the technology. He serves as a consultant for those wishing to go into manufacturing electric trikes. He helps them through the maze of technicalities, saves them millions via his personal experience, skills, and knowledge of electric trikes thus helping them avoid common problems and pitfalls.

Dave sells electric motorbikes and e-trikes as well as the electric Jeepney from his online e-Store.

As far as I know, I am the only female private e-trike owner/rider and a proud active senior citizen. As a whole, we are the first all-electric trike family in the Philippines. My daughter Alysha wasn’t a year old when Dave would take her for rides. She now drives her toy electric car.

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