An Aborigine tribe rides around town on beautiful ornately carved bikes, and have been grabbing attention worldwide.
The members of the Igolot-Garonne tribe in the Phillipines can rarely afford conventionally made motorcycles, so they carve their own, and now many people around the world are expressing a preference for these carved bikes.
When photographer Richard Haw was passing through the town of Batad on a business trip, the unexpected sight of the alternative biker gang took him by surprise and he was lucky enough to be able to take some great photos. He said,
“I was walking to my truck in the town when we were treated to the spectacle and it just so happens that I had my camera on hand and snapped the cowboy inspired scooter zooming downhill. Owning a motorcycle is considered a status symbol for people of a humble background. Since most of them do not really earn enough to afford the real thing they would just make imitations of scooters by whatever means they have.”
These stunning and detailed carved wooden bikes are a source of pride for the tribe members, and it’s a way for them to show off their wood carving skills. They often have an animal theme, with features including the heads of horses, dragons, and lions.
They also participate in their own road races which provides locals with an exciting event to watch.
The bikes can reach speeds of up to 25 mph when going downhill and are fitted with a wooden pedal which can apply pressure to the tire to slow them down.
The aborigine riders don’t wear any kind of protective gear, instead preferring to wear their traditional attire of a dyed red robe.
“I have not heard of any fatalities or accidents while people have been using the bikes, but looking at their legs you can see deep scars and I can imagine that it might have come from this,” said Haw.
Haw’s wife Elaine, who is part Igorot, commented,
“When they race through the town, it is a chance to show off their scooters which is a source of pride for the carver.”
This tribe is part of a larger group of mountain tribes, all referred to as the Igolot (or Irorot), who inhabit the island of Luzon. The craftsmen often share their work with the rest of the village and occasionally dress up in their traditional gear for a day out.
Unfortunately, the aborigine tribe is fighting to remain on it’s indigenous land, pushing to be recognized as a self-governed people so that they can continue to benefit from the resources in the mountains they inhabit.