Buying vs renting motorbikes in Vietnam is probably a hard decision, many people don’t know what to choose because of many options and availability. Below are the details and facts that we would like to point out to help you decide what is the better thing to do in buying vs renting motorbikes.
Some tourists complained about Vietnam having crappy bikes. In fact, they selected the wrong (cheaper) choice, trying to save money. There are better choices but like anywhere else you have to stretch your budget!
If you buy bikes, the cheapest is a Chinese copy of a Honda Win 110cc. Most tourists to Vietnam bought this bike simply because they are on budget or dealers cheated them by the name. Instead of saying “Chinese Win“, dishonest sellers advertised “Honda Win“. This copy is very unreliable that offers only 7 HP. We are not using or selling this model because we evaluate our customers’ safety more than cash. However, we will cover more details about Chinese bikes below. Chinese Win is, in fact, the worst in buying vs renting motorbikes. A bad copy that rode up and down the country many times will be very dangerous: horrible steering, leaking oil, dead bearings and engine that burns oil etc!
Honestly, you likely spend more time in garages than ride this Chinese Win. In the end, it’s not a “Chinese Win” but a “Chinese Loose”!
If you prefer to rent motorcycles just to save the headache of purchasing and then figuring out how to sell them when you’re done then you need a bit more budget. You can also probably rent something nicer than what you could afford to buy. To be honest, when you rent a bike, you are likely checking every bit to make sure they work, all want the best quality product. On the other hand, when people buy a bike (mostly because of budget issues) they tend to ignore the risk and accept very low-quality standards that are unacceptable in your home country. We used to provide older Honda GL160 and our customers suggested we should use the new models that we are providing now. A big “no no” to Chinese copy. Sorry if we are too straight to say this.
Real Touring Bikes
There are bigger motorcycles from companies like KTM, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Honda, Ducati, Harley-Davidson, Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph and Royal Enfield etc. But it’s not practical to mention because they cost between 10,000$US to as much as over 100,000$US each. Vietnam charges 120% taxes or more for imported touring bikes above 125cc. These big bikes won’t help in buying vs renting motorbikes in Vietnam.
Riding two up?
In reality, none of our bikes is really suitable for riding two up. If you ride double, the pillion passenger won’t feel comfortable and there is not enough room for rider’s legs. This is sadly an honest statement. A standard touring motorbike for two people is from 650cc and this is very expensive in Vietnam due to 120% taxes. FYI, a new Kawasaki Versys 650cc is 14,000$US!!! That’s ways too much for business. Do you accept this crazy price? We have to be realistic about buying vs renting motorbikes here.
There are usually more motorbikes for sale in Hanoi than Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The main reason could be most of the riders were inspired by BBC’s Vietnam Top Gear Special and choose to ride the same route. In addition, the roads are easier (though more crowded) in the Southern part of the country and are more beautiful (yet challenging) in the Northern part of Vietnam with higher mountains. Most want to save the best for the last. Below is a typical Chinese Win for sale by most shops in Vietnam or other tourists.
Most of touring motorbikes you can buy now are either new or used Chinese copycats of the famous Honda Win. They usually come with an 110cc electric start, 4 speeds and cost between 150-400$US (used) or 500-600$US (new). Many dealers advertised “Honda Win” but in fact, it’s a Chinese copy ( a copy is a copy, that must be clear!). Check the registration paper and look for “Honda” as the brand, if different that’s a Chinese generic product. One easy thing to know if it’s a Chinese or not is to look for the electric start, the Japanese Honda only came with kick start and Chinese copies has both electric and kick starts. The quality of Chinese parts is pretty poor, especially the braking system! If you think your life costs that amount of money then go for it.
Japanese manual touring motorbikes are also available but cost much more.
Starting from the smallest Honda Win 100cc. This bike was discontinued in early 2000’s and costs 500-1000$US (used) or over 2,000$US (new). Only kick start version was available, it never came with electric start. This bike is on the top list of many Vietnamese collectors.
Then come the under-bone manual clutch used bikes and new touring bikes that serve a wide range of budgets. The cheapest is a used FX125 that goes for around 300-400$US. A new 2013 Suzuki Raider 150cc costs 2,300$US while a Yamaha Exciter 135cc – 150cc costs between 2,000$US and 2,500$US. From June 2016, Honda Vietnam launched Honda Winner 150cc which costs about 2,200$US with registration.
A real touring bike is very expensive because most of them are imported products. Note that Vietnam has a luxury tax of 20% in addition to the standard import tax of 90% so bikes over 125cc cost much more than below 125cc. Many people don’t know this when they look at prices. Expect to pay 500-1000$US for a used 125-150cc touring bike or from 2,500$US for a new bike.
We only sell our used motorbikes (Japanese Honda XR250) that we don’t use to upgrade to newer or bigger motorcycles. We don’t specialize in dealing with second-hand motorbikes or offer a buy back option.
Needless to say, a Chinese copy is the worst everywhere. In Vietnam, the standard is lower than in China so Chinese bikes in Vietnam are not Chinese bikes in China. This means they are the cheapest possible so you can imagine how the quality will be. You can’t get a good quality if you pay less.
Japanese bikes are almost the same everywhere. They have to pass many quality checks and regulations (safety, emission, lights, braking etc.). Even Honda bikes made in China are far better than Chinese best products.
What do you need?
You need to know mechanic basics and to be ready for any challenge on the road. If you buy a used motorbike, you likely need to do some service before you start because this bike just completes a long trip. Check our other links on this website to plan your own trip.
When you want to save money and accept lower standards or travel long days through many countries.
We do sell some used Japanese Honda motorbikes (no Chinese copy cat) and you could follow this link to find out more.
You may still wonder “How bad is a Chinese Win?”, check this link out before you decide on buying vs renting motorbikes.
When you rent a touring bike in Vietnam, you likely get more support and advice from professional motorbike rental outfits. Most of the bikes are Japanese products (though a few shops still offer Belorussian Minsk or cheap Chinese Win fakes). One-way rental costs more due to shipping of the bikes back to the original destination. Believe it or not, Vietnam is in fact still among the cheapest countries to hire a touring bike.
Most of the motorbikes for rent are new and in good conditions (of course not the Chinese copies). There are more (and better) manual touring and off-road motorbikes in Hanoi than in Ho Chi Minh City. 125cc is the standard but you can have bigger bikes of 150cc, 230cc, 250cc and even 400cc. Most of our customers rent the 125cc or 250cc dirt bikes as they offer more power (11 or 28HP) and the best suspension. Please click on this link to find a bike for your motorbike adventure in Vietnam.
Most rental shops provide a tool kit and basic spare parts that you can take during the rental contract. The newer bikes are a better choice and save you in the long run (less fuel consumption, fewer repairs and more power). We provide full support, tool kit, spare parts, tips, road rules and advice to make your holiday one of the most memorable vacations. We are with you on the road!
Safety motorbike riding gear
It’s best fit to bring your own gear. We also hire riding gear for 3$US/person/day and a typical set includes an HJC helmet, gloves, protective clothes or pads as seen at this link.
What do you need?
You need to know mechanic basics or we can show you when you collect the motorbike(s) and plan ahead. Check our other links on this website to plan your own trip and contact us if you need further details.
For the freedom of mind, not to worry about buying and selling a bike, no need to service motorbikes before or at the end of the trip. Just grab one and enjoy Vietnam!
Making a decision of buying vs renting motorbikes is not easy. You get what you pay for. Many repair shops in Vietnam have good mechanics but you likely pay more when you need some repair works. Therefore, get the more reliable bike may save you in the long run and your bike won’t break your holidays! Taxes may go down and more touring motorbikes will be assembled or made in Vietnam that makes it more affordable but that’s the story of the future.
To have an idea how Japanese motorbikes manage off road riding while Chinese bikes can’t, please watch a video here.
That’s it, straight forward thoughts and hopefully, you could make your decision easier. For more information, please contact us.