One of the greatest ways to explore a foreign country is on two wheels. Having the freedom to go where you want, when you want is a great feeling. It can also save on transport in the long run! Unfortunately not everyone who decides that they are up for renting a scooter or motorbike is equipped with the required experience or knowledge. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Everyone has to learn somehow. But before you take off on that exciting adventure, be sure to do your homework!
Our friends Ron and Michele Legge from Legging It have compiled a great list of tips and advice for the first-time rider. Having left their home country of Australia to go on a motorcycle mission from Malaysia to Europe, they definitely know what they are talking about!
Before renting a scooter or motorbike…
- Get a licence. Travel insurers won’t payout if you have an accident but don’t have a licence.
- Alcohol and motorbikes don’t mix.
- Get a bike based on your ability rather than your ambition.
- Don’t rent based on price. The cheapest bikes usually have more miles on the clock and in some cases less roadworthy.
- Do an inspection of the motor bike. Check the tyres for tread and damage, the engine for oil leaks, the instruments and lights all operate. Photograph and record all damage. Most importantly check the brakes. If you are not happy with the condition of the bike get another one or go elsewhere.
- ATTGATT – All The Gear All The Time. Protective gear will help to minimise injury in a crash.
Once you are on the road…
- Constantly scan the road looking for hazards like entering traffic, pedestrians, animals etc
- Cover your brakes. Be ready to stop.
- When riding in traffic drop a gear. If you need to speed up you’ll be ready.
- Check the road surface. Oil, diesel, debris, potholes, ice, water
- Plan escape routes. When riding in traffic always have a way out.
- Own your lane. Ride in a position that other drivers wont try to squeeze you out.
- Make yourself seen. Wear light coloured clothing. If it is legal turn on your headlight. Make eye contact with drivers.
- Ensure your indicators are off after every turn.
- Get clear of traffic. At traffic lights work your way to the front of traffic and use your power to get ahead of cars into clear road.
- Mirrors and head checks. Constantly check on your surroundings.
- When changing lanes, MILO: Mirrors, Indicators, Look, Over
- Don’t get yourself between vehicles and exit ramps. Move into a position so that you’ll avoid cars that change lanes at the last minute.
- Use larger vehicles as cover. When crossing intersections, roundabouts use other vehicles as protection.
- Coming into corners select the right gear, come wide so that you can open your line of vision and as you round the apex turn sharper so that you avoid oncoming traffic which maybe cutting the corner.
- Use the Internet to get motorcycle tips. Even if you’re an experienced rider a fresh perspective is always welcome.
- Enjoy your ride, but stay safe to ride another day.
Now that you know some great tips on renting a scooter or motorbike, don’t be afraid to go out and explore the world on two wheels! It could become the greatest adventure you have ever undertaken.
9 thoughts on “Tips For Renting A Scooter Or Motorbike For First Timers”
I Always remember your tips .You provide such an valuable tip for those who want to hire Scooter on rental first time.
Glad we could help. 🙂
Does anyone know the procedure to get a drivers license for a motorbike in Sapa? Only there for 2 days.
Hi Pamela, Awesome you are visiting Sapa. When it comes to the license in Vietnam, you do have to have a local license but many travellers do not get it, especially if you are there for a short period. Keep in mind that if you do not have a motorbike license in your own country, your travel insurance company will not cover your injuries if you fall off the bike. May do not realise this and get stung with a medical bill. Maybe still do ride scooters and nothing every happens. It is totally up to you. There is amazing hiking in Sapa. Check out our article on it. Have a great time
I’m considering getting a scooter for my husband and I to go on little adventures with but I haven’t a clue about scooters. I appreciate the tip on not renting based on price. A lot of times things that are cheaper mean they have more wear on them and it sounds like the same goes for scooters. This was really helpful information. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for creating this page.
Could you please add some information here? A lot of this (such at AGATT) will not be relevant for somebody who’s never ridden or rented a motorbike. I’d suggest adding the following:
-Renting a SMALL, semi-auto or full auto bike.
-Ride one up. Sharing a bike will be much more difficult if you are a new rider.
-Wearing a proper, ECE helmet (Critical if you ever want to survive a crash. Very unlikely a newbie will have gloves or a jacket to minimize road rash… highly secondary problem anyway). ECE stickers will be on the back of the helmet as well as stitched into the strap.
-To check tire pressures on rented motorbikes. SE Asian shops don’t use tire gauges and this is the biggest concern for handling of the bike. Bring a gauge, know what the pressures should be. Having 10psi in the front and 80 in the back is a recipe for disaster.
-How to check for good brakes (should not be able to pull it to the handlebar at least)
-Always run headlight, regardless of legality. This is Asia, your safety matters more than a possible ticket or warning.
Again, thanks for posting this page and only hope to help. Also, please remove/correct the following:
“Own your lane. Ride in a position that other drivers wont try to squeeze you out.”
I am on a multi-month trip around SE asia and this is not in any way true. You cannot own a lane out here, this is not the US. Trying to ‘own your lane’ will end in lots of honks from trucks and a possible crash. Ride like the locals do, stay slow and predictable. Get comfortable nearly touching elbows in urban areas.
Thanks for this website and all if it’s wonderful information! Hope I can help!
Thanks for the input Blaise! Much appreciated 🙂
Great post with some useful tips for beginners! After our Asian and European adventures, we would certainly have the same advice! Just get going!!!
Glad you enjoyed the post! Definitely some very handy tips in there. Ron and Michele know what they are talking about!