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Jul 16, 2017
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One weekend, FHM decided to join agroup of vintage and retro bicycle enthusiasts for a ride out on the scenic countryside of Pila, Majayjay, and Pagsanjan in Laguna. The idea was we would load a couple of bikes on the back of a pickup truck and drive south down SLEX then out to the Los Baños route to Pila, meet up with the cycling group and pedal our way through the back roads of the towns, be done by mid-afternoon, then drive back to Laguna-Rizal backdoor—through Lumban, Paete, Pangil, Mabitac, Tanay, Binangonan, Teresa, Antipolo—effectively making the Laguna Loop, a route very popular with adventure cyclists (though not cycle the entire way, as is the custom).

To do the job of hauling our bikes and asses out to the country, we chose the Mazda BT-50 4x4 double cab 6-speed automatic because right off, without really bothering about its exact dimensions, you can see that the pickup is big. This was crucial because the original plan had six boys stuffing themselves in the passenger cab, and six bikes piled on every available space out back. The cab is really good for maybe four regular-sized guys (five if you include the barkada clown), but the FHM bunch weren’t a sensitive lot—we could exchange faces in a cramped space if we had to. As for the bikes—we weren’t riding half-million-peso carbon bikes; we had steel mountain bikes, a cruiser, and a retro tourer so we didn’t need a rack or any of that rig. We’d pile them on top of the BT-50’s generous bed like scrap metal, only more precious.

But as with most weekend adventures you sort of plan ahead, people flake. So what was initially a six-man team ended up a man-date for two—which was just as well because it meant our bikes had more space to enjoy the wind back.

As we were hauling our bikes—the cruiser and the tourer—onto the pickup’s flatbed, we realized what seemed to us a fortuitous detail: when we took out the front wheels of our bikes an loaded them cockpit first, it turned out that the brakes fit snugly on the bed once you lifted up the gate. And by this we mean that we didn’t need to secure the bikes with rope or anything to keep it from wayward swinging. With two bikes, there was space left for spare bicycle tires, bags, tents, coolers, toolboxes, a whole lot of other things besides.

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Heading out to Laguna, it immediately became apparent what Mikko David, Mazda’sPR and Customer Relations Manager, said about BT-50 that makes it a viable choice for the adventurist looking for a carrier. “The BT-50 is more of a stylish alternative to the typical utilitarian pickup. While it also delivers the power hauling capability that are among the best in its class, it does so with elegance and style. Drivers swear by its car-like handling on the road as well. This goes hand in hand with the brand’s focus on delivering a pure driving experience.”

What David was probably describing was the cabin appointment that, while not posh, did not make you feel like a sweat worker delivering goods. We could feel the power, too, 200 ps @ 3000 rpm with a torque output of 470 Nm @1750-2500 rpm. We put this to good use going up the Sierra Madre in Rizal. We would have wanted to test how the BT-50 would behave in the unpaved roads of Pagsanjan by the riverside. It would have been as pleasurable as riding them with our bikes. But this much we can be sure: if you were going to take the NT-50 up the winding roads of Luisiana to the town of Lucban in Quezon, the experience would not be unlike driving a regular car.

How can we describe the BT-50’s balance of comfort and power? Maybe this way: Inside, you could be listening to something a bit twee like a bunch of The Smiths tracks (which we did), and yet outside you’d look like you were rumbling through Deep Purple (which we also did).

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