Renting a motorcycle is one of my favorite ways to travel.

You have the freedom to go where you want, when you want, and at your own pace.

Aside from the freedom of mobility, there’s nothing quite like invigorating your senses by absorbing it all while the wind blows through your hair and rushes around you.

Some of my best experiences traveling in Southeast Asia and South America have been exploring on rented motorcycles. Often I just drive in from town No set direction, no set plan and just see where the road takes me.

Often times, this leads to the discovery of villages, landmarks, and even hpy locals curious about why foreigners would take the time to explore their remote area.

After we have found the reasons for wanting to rent a motorcycle, we can focus on the essentials.

Guide to backpacking a motorcycleSafety tips for renting a motorcycle while traveling

Renting a motorcycle involves risks.

As with any vehicle, there is always a risk of an accident. So first and foremost Make sure you know and understand local road and driving habits. Knowing about motorcycling is also a good idea.

It is a good idea to have an international driver’s license (although many stores in Southeast Asia and South America rent one to you without one) to avoid legal ramifications or bribes in case something happens or you get run over.

part of lower the risk If you want to make sure your rental experience goes smoothly, you need to make sure that you have a rental bike that is in good condition. I’ve probably rented over 30 motorcycles in my time. The condition of the motorcycles ranged from almost inaccessible to practically brand new. I’ve learned the importance of thoroughly inspecting a rental bike before removing it.

There are three main reasons you might want to inspect the bike

1. Security – A bike in poor condition can increase the risk of an accident. For example, worn brakes mean you won’t be able to stop as quickly. This can be the difference between driving into the back of a car or stopping safely.

2. Time – There’s nothing worse than breaking your rental bike and spending a few hours getting it repaired or exchanged for a new one.

3. Money – If something is wrong with the bike that is not pointed out when renting, the owner of the bike can easily tell that you broke it while you were away and are responsible for the repair.

Safety tips for renting a motorcycle while travelingSafety tips for renting a motorcycle while traveling

Here is a thorough checklist of information to review when renting a motorcycle.

1. Read your rental agreement carefully.

Do you need to fill the tank with gas? Is the bike insured and are you insured in the event of theft or accident? Is there a deductible? Are you insured without an international license? What is the maximum amount you would have to pay if the bike were stolen or completely demolished in an accident?

Make sure you have adequate travel insurance if you plan to rent a motorcycle while traveling. We recommend WorldNomads for great travel insurance.

* I’ve met way too many people who screwed up because they didn’t read their rental agreement and something, and they had to pay a lot of money.

2. The brakes.

Take the bike down the street for a short run. Make sure that both the front and rear brakes are working properly. They shouldn’t be cocky and they shouldn’t be soft. You shouldn’t have to press the breaks too tightly to get them going. Also, if you feel an inconsistency as you break it, it could mean the rotors are warped, and that’s not a good thing.

3. Make sure the motorcycle is straight.

If you take the bike for the quick test in step 2, Make sure the bike rides straight. Sometimes when the forks or frame have been bent from a previous accident, the bike will pull you to one side of the road.

4. Lights and horn.

It is incredible how many vehicles in South America and Southeast Asia drive at night with no lights on. Forget about being able to see yourself, but how do you expect to be seen by others? Lights may seem insignificant, but they are a very important safety feature.

Make sure the taillight, brake light and headlight are working. If the turn signals are not working, you can leave this slide as you can safely signal your turn signals with your hands.

Don’t forget the horn too. Unlike North America and Europe, where the main purpose of the horn is to express your frustration with other drivers, it also functions as an important means of communication to alert other people around you.

5. Tires.

Check the tires for good pressure and sufficient tread. You don’t need to say the actual pressures, but they should look and feel full. Sit on the bike and make sure that the tires hold your full weight and are still full.

Check the tread (the grooves in the tire that give it traction and grip). Use a coin (as seen in the image gallery here) to check the depth of the steps. If you are too warned or bald, do not take the bike with you. Warning about tires will seriously affect your traction and safety and is an accident waiting to deteriorate.

6. Shocks. Take off the front brake and push the handlebars forward and down.

If the bike falls easily, there is a chance that the bumps will be shot off. Also sit on the seat and slide your weight back and down. If your back is falling too easily, this is not a good sign.

Take a look at the front fork seals, the two pieces of rubber that surround the metal rods that connect the handlebars to the wheel. If there is oil on the seals or forks, this is also not a good sign. The shock absorbers not only ensure a comfortable ride, but also play a role in handling or cycling.

7. Listen to the engine.

It should hum regularly. If you don’t think twice.

8. The chain.

Make sure the chain is not too loose.

9. Cosmetics.

Look at the bike. Notice any scratches, cracks, etc. Make sure you point this out to the shopkeeper and even have them put it on the contract.

10. Have a copy of the rental agreement.

Make sure you have one Copy of the rental agreement and telephone number of the shopkeeper.

The list seems like a lot, but once you learn how to inspect a bike you can easily go through it in under three minutes. Believe me, you will save yourself a lot of risk, hassle and headache by taking a few minutes to ensure that the rental bike you receive is in perfect working order.

It’s a good idea too wear a helmet regardless of local laws. I highly recommend it too Glasses or sunglasses how dirt and stones and bugs can fly into your eyes, which is not pleasant.

One last tip for renting a motorcycle:

If you get into a minor accident and need repairs to be done, we recommend that you go to another store to get the bike fixed. Often times, the store where you rented the bike will try to ask you for more money than it would normally cost to fix the bike. Since they have your passport or credit card and your rental agreement, they have leverage.

Take it to a third party who is more likely to offer you a fair price because they don’t yet have your credit card and are competing for your business. If you can find a local friend to help you with this, even better.

Safe riding and as a wise man once said to me: „Keep the rubber side down.

Fancy riding a motorcycle all over the world? Check out these posts:





Motorcycling in Vietnam: Practical Rules You Should Know

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