Important things to check and know about renting a motorbike.
Whenever I travel, my favorite thing to do is renting a motorbike and explore the area. I just love it, the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want. To feel the wind in your face while you’re comfortably sitting and cruising around enjoying the views and great trails. Life doesn’t get much better as a traveler, if you ask me.
But, nothing ruins your trip more than a flat tire, thanks to huge holes in the outer tire. Or returning your already scratched motorbike and having to cash out bigtime, because they blame you for damage you never did. Or finding yourself without working lights in the dark! There are plenty of other bad situations you might get into, so to avoid these situations I have a certain checklist that I usually follow. I should admit, I don’t always follow this complete checklist. Sometimes I forget, sometimes I can’t be bothered and sometimes I just trust the people. But it has got me into trouble a couple of times, at the worst possible moments.
- tires, make sure they’re hard enough and that the outer tires don’t have any holes in them or anything sticking in it that might cause a flat tire.
- valve, make sure it’s in the right position. If slanted, that might cause a flat tire. Check it especially when you’re getting you’re getting a flat tire fixed.
- lights, very important, make sure at least the front and rear light are working, preferably the blinking lights as well. If they don’t, be very careful when turning and use your arms to indicate where you’re going.
- gauges, you should really have a working fuel indicator to avoid ending up without fuel. You can live without a working speedometer though, but it’s best not to.
- test ride the bike to make sure it sounds ok and works ok
- test the breaks, they need to work properly, this is so important
- fuel, check the fuel level when you leave, usually first thing you have to do is get some fuel.
- take photos of the bike as you rent it to be able to show the state of it, in case they claim you damaged.
- bike’s papers, police might ask you for it. Usually when you tell its rental, they’ll usually just ask for your license only. Often the papers are under the seat though.
- license, have an international drivers license on you when driving! If the police stops you, you will have to show this, or else you’ll get fined. Here in Chiang Mai I’ve got checked about once a day, some days three times.
Safety & warning
Riding a bike is easy. Getting into an accident is even easier! And trust me, a lot of travelers get into accidents and plenty get seriously injured or even die as a result. As much as I’m an advocate of riding a motorbike, as much do I want to warn you to the dangers of it. Too many accidents happen because of carelessness.
You must understand that the consequences can be really bad, don’t expect medical help in foreign countries to be as fast and good as in your own. Local hospitals are often very limited in the things they can treat, so it might require a long trip over land and/or water to get proper help.
During my 9 months in Siargao and Jen being a doctor on the island, I heard of all the stories. And there are too many of them. In some cases other people or things are to blame, but in most cases it’s the fault of the driver. Inexperience and irresponsible driving (especially drinking under the influence of whatever) are the main causes. Accidents will ruin your trip and more than that.
Realize as well that when you’re on some nice island somewhere, proper hospitals are a long trip away. At Siargao for example, you’d have to wait for the ferry the next day to get to ‘mainland’ Surigao and get to the hospital. People die because they can’t get there fast enough. Don’t be one of them.
I’ve heard plenty of stories of people who got into a bad accident, leg broken for example, but before the ambulance would take them to the hospital, would take them to the ATM. Payment before treatment. Be aware. Be prepared.
Want to keep enjoying your trip? Follow this 😉
- Follow the above checklist to make sure your bike is alright and don’t run into trouble because of those simple things.
- Only drive if you’re experienced, always be careful (wear helmet!), and take it easy on the road, chill.
- Don’t drive under the influence of anything, just get a taxi or walk back in those situations. It’s not just about you, it’s about the other people you might hurt as well, like your friend on the back.
- Make sure you have a proper insurance when traveling in case you get into an accident. In case of an accident or disease, you might want/need to return home to get proper care in your own country. Make sure your insurance covers that, it’s not always the case! Imagine the costs of a few days or week in hospital and having to pay for it all 😱
Going to Chiang Mai?