Kawasaki Barako II vs Honda TMX Supremo: The battle of the work horses
Mounting a sidecar to a motorcycle puts immense stress on the bike’s frame. The engine is also pushed to its limits trying to pull the extra weight awkwardly hanging on to it. Then there is the rough and tumble that such a motorcycle would go through on a regular basis. Their riders cannot afford to shower their bikes with love and care even though it is their livelihood. These bikes would be grateful if they even put some good quality fuel in them. They also need to be light on fuel consumption if their owners want to make any profit lugging around passengers all day.
With the arena set, we can now face the gladiators. The battle is fought everyday here on the streets of the Philippines. The Kawasaki Barako II and the Honda TMX Supremo are its battle hardened veterans. These bikes have been the preferred choice for drivers for generations now. Being in the game for so long, both have improved and evolved to incorporate features that make them very good for the job. But which of these two is the better bike?
The Kawasaki Barako II, for example, has a stonking great engine. Compared to the Honda TMX Supremo engine it is more torquey and meaty. The Kawasaki Barako II’s engine is an air-cooled and carbureted 177 cc, 4-stroke, SOHC, single-cylinder. Its peak power output of 12.74 hp at 7,500 rpm and peak torque of 13.4 Nm at 4500 rpm is a 15% boost over its previous iteration. Its most recent update also brought in a new exhaust that allows it to pass Euro II emission norms. The Honda TMX Supremo also has a 4 stroke air-cooled and carbureted SOHC engine. But it is smaller at just 150 cc. As is the power at 11.03 hp at 7500 rpm and 11.60 Nm of torque at 5000 rpm. Admittedly, the difference in power is slight but it is still there. And that goes against the Honda.
Yet, the Honda TMX Supremo specifications save some face with its 5-speed transmission. The Kawasaki Barako II still uses a 4-speed transmission. This should allow the Honda to get a leg up on the competition as its rider can use its power better.
Both the bikes come with an electric and a kick starter. But the Kawasaki is equipped with what Kawasaki calls the Automatic Compression Release System or KARC. This lets the valves to release cylinder pressure and equalize with atmospheric pressure. This makes the bike easy to start, so much so that you’d prefer the kick starter over the electric starter. The bike also comes with a choke for cold starts. The Honda TMX Supremo also comes with a choke.
Fuel economy is obviously high on the priority list for both bikes. The Kawasaki Barako II manages to deliver 57 kmpl of mileage which is nothing to sneeze at. But the Honda TMX Supremo claims to achieve 63 kmpl which is simply astonishing. Real world performance will obviously be different from this but still that number alone will shape the decision for many buyers. The Barako does come with a bigger fuel tank at 12-litre compared to the Honda’s 10.5-litre.
Both the bikes are built with practicality in mind. These bikes are meant to last for ages and not win any beauty contests. Still, they make a decent attempt to look good. The Kawasaki gets black engine components, wheel hubs and silencer, and a rectangular headlight in a bikini fairing. The Honda does a slightly better job with a modern headlight shape, bright colors and graphics and body colored stanchions.
On the practicality front, both the bikes have thick wide and long seats that can easily fit more than two people. Both have racks on their back and three point mounts for sidecars. But hidden in the Kawasaki Barako II’s specifications is a rear quad suspension system that gives it the ability to carry heavier loads. If it is any consolation for the Honda, its 18” wheels are bigger than the Kawasaki’s 17” wheels. As for brakes, both are on equal footing with drum brakes on each end.
The one glaring difference between the two, however, is the massive price difference. The Kawasaki Barako II price is Php 81400 while the Honda TMX Supremo price is Php 72900. A price difference of Php 8500 is very much worth consideration.
The fact of the matter is that the Kawasaki is the real deal here when you want to attach a sidecar to your bike. If you want to use the bike for yourself, you are better off with the Honda.