When my boyfriend travels, he always likes to get a little scooter to ride around the town on. I am generally not a two-wheel-kind-of-girl unless you count my feet as wheels. Having never learned to be confident on a bicycle, which is powered by my own energy, imagine my lack of confidence behind the handlebars of an engine-powered two-wheel machine!
However, I completely trust my boyfriend’s scooting skills and am a very confident backseat passenger. I have learned through our travels together what to look for when going to rent a scooter, so here are some pointers if you dare to scoot around your destination, which is highly recommended, even as a passenger.
Before You Go
Point #1: Does my international license allow me to legally rent and drive a scooter abroad? The answer is that it depends on the country and the size of the motorbike you rent. For most Western countries, a motorcycle is classified as having at least a 150cc engine. Anything below that is a scooter and generally will not be questioned in terms of needing a specified motorcycle license. With that said, some Western countries may go ahead and check the box giving you the freedom to ride a motorcycle upon request when they issue your international license, but don’t count on it.
Point #2: What’s the weather going to be like? If you are heading to a destination that is in their rainy season or it’s just that time of year when rain falls, then you should consider whether or not you want to be scooting around in the wet. Also, if you are not totally confident with your driving skills (or your travel companion’s skills), then you may want to reconsider seeing the area via two-wheels. Further consideration for the weather is having the right gear and whether or not it will be available where you are heading.
Point #3: What sort of clothes will you need for scooting around town? As you are packing your bags, consider the appropriate clothing for riding around. In tropical areas, you can generally get away without wearing long-sleeves during the day, but if you plan to go for a lengthy ride, you will want to cover your arms and legs for protection from the sun as well as it helps should you happen to fall.
No matter where you go, you will want to have longer-sleeves and pants for the evenings. Also, a hat is or scarf is sometimes good to have as local helmets may not fit quite right or just may not be all that clean that you want to put it directly on your hair…. A scarf can be helpful if you plan to ride around on dusty roads or high-traffic areas as the less you inhale of pollutants, the better.
Finally, if you are riding at night, you might also consider getting some clear-lensed glasses as you never know what the insect nightlife might be. Most definitely, you should have a good pair of sunglasses for riding during the day.
When Going to Rent A Scooter
Now that you have prepared and have arrived at your destination, it is time to go out there and get your scooter. There are a few points you should keep in mind when you are looking for your perfect set of wheels to take you around.
Point #1: Tire quality is most important. Make sure the treads on the tires are not smooth and run down. If you are in a place where the roads may be bumpy or unfinished or where it may rain quite a bit, then you definitely do not want tires without decent treads. You really just never want tires without decent treads. Plus, getting a flat in some unknown place is not a way to spend a day of your vacation…. Therefore, take the time to check out the tires thoroughly.
Point #2: Consider the engine size. For most scooting around town, a 125cc engine is good enough. It has enough get-up-and-go, but not so much that it can overwhelm you.
Point #3: Always test drive before you negotiate. It is always important to know what you are spending your money on. If the renter will not allow you to test drive the scooter, then there is probably a reason for it. You want to know that you can feel comfortable on the bike before you hand over any cash.
Point #4: Shop around. Know what the going prices are and settle for something in the middle. You do not want to go too cheap as you may get what you pay for and, of course, you do not want to get ripped off. It is sometimes helpful to ask others who are riding scooters what they paid and if they can recommend a good renter. Otherwise, walk the streets and look for the deals. Do not be afraid to negotiate, especially if you plan to rent for longer than a few days.
Finally, above all things, BE SAFE. Riding around on a scooter can be a lot of fun, but it is also dangerous especially during high tourist season or in areas with a lot of traffic. You want to relax and enjoy your vacation, not spend it in a hospital or stressed out. So, make your choices carefully and happy scooting!