Social media is flooded with comments, analysis, and critical remarks about the backriding shields that have been approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, for the use of couples and domestic partners riding a motorcycle together. We’ve heard a lot of talk about aerodynamics, the effect of the shield on the bike’s handling and stability, and of course, the safety of the riders.
In the Philippines, we have experts on almost anything debatable. But wait—how many have tried the two IATF-endorsed backriding shields?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Days before the IATF begins apprehending violators of the policy, we requested George Royeca, chief transport advocate of motorcycle-taxi company Angkas, to provide us a backriding shield designed by his company. Luckily, the first batch of mass-produced shields had already arrived at the company’s main office in Mandaluyong City, and a demo unit was readily available for us.
Again, we’d like to remind everyone that these backriding shields are not commercially available, and Angkas’ supply is for the use of its rider-partners. Let me also stress that this trial is just about the ride experience using the shield, so it did not involve any scientific testing process.
I asked my wife Ameng to ride with me on a Honda ADV 150 for a quick spin around Taguig and Parañaque. It had been years since she joined me for a ride, so it took some convincing for her to hop on and give me firsthand passenger feedback on the backriding shield.
Let’s start with the weight of the shield because it’s a factor in riding comfort. Surprisingly, the shield tips the scales only at 0.63kg.
As she got on the bike, Ameng insisted on holding onto my shoulders, not the shield. As she planted her feet firmly on the pegs, I convinced her to hold onto the handgrips at the lower part of the backriding shield instead. Oops—I noticed the back straps were a bit loose and that was probably the reason she was hesitant to take the handgrips. I tightened the straps and that got her to switch her hold.
I throttled up to Arca South to get her used to the backriding shield. She felt relaxed, thanks to a clear view up front via the transparent portion of the 2.5mm-thick polypropylene sheet. The edges of the shield are not that sharp to cause injury to rider or passenger. Also, it flexes or bends a little, unlike the stiff acrylic-type barriers being sold in motorcycle accessories shops in Caloocan City.
As we sped up to around 30kph to 40kph, Ameng claimed she felt almost zero wind drag due to the deflected top portion and sides of the shield. During cornering, she managed to lean in with me since there are no GI pipes mounted on the chassis or the foot pegs, as in the design proposed by Governor Arthur Yap of Bohol.
Also, the absence of the GI pipes, which serves as the frame for the other backriding shield design, made it easy for her to get on and off the motorbike.
After I brought Ameng home, I made a quick solo run on C5. There was wind drag from 50kph to 60kph, more so when I sped up to 90kph. Frankly speaking, it was difficult for me to say how much turbulence there was at the back of the shield—we need a wind tunnel to get an exact figure. All I can attest is that there was some wind resistance, although it was not enough to affect the stability of the bike or throw me off balance.
Also, we have to remember that the allowable maximum speed for Angkas riders is only up to 60kph. If they’re caught going beyond that, they get suspended.
So what’s our score for the Angkas backriding shield? At a scale of 1 (poor) to 10 (very satisfied), we give it 7 for comfort, 7 for safety, and 9 for the overall design (my son Tongki loves its baby-blue color scheme with the Angkas logo). Too bad we can’t say anything about the price because it’s not commercially available on the market. Not yet.
Again, as of this writing, we have only four more days to get backriding shields. On August 1, the IATF will start apprehending pillion riders whose bikes are not equipped with this feature.