Before you make the decision to part ways with a chunk of your travel funds for a trusty steed, you need to make sure that it’s not going to fall apart on you a couple of days down the road. If, like us, you choose to buy a motorbike in Vietnam you will have no problem finding bikes for sale. There are plenty of travelers and dodgy second hand bike dealers everywhere in the backpacker areas of Saigon (District 1) or Hanoi.
Both have their pros and cons. The biggest pro to buying from a traveler is the price, you should be able to pick up a bike from a traveler for in the region of about $200. Their adventure is over and they have a rapidly approaching flight outta there so they will tend to sell them for cheaper. The downside is you have no idea how it’s been ridden and if it was looked after. If there’s something wrong with it, you have to then find someone to fix it and even though mechanics are cheap over there, major problems can still be expensive.
On the other hand, if you buy it from a Del Boy they will change and fix everything you want, like new tires, new battery, new lights, change the oil, the works. But that comes at a price. Expect to pay around $300 for a bike from a dealer. It makes things a lot easier and you didn't have to worry about being ripped off by a mechanic. If you have some mechanical knowledge, buy from a traveler and invest some of your savings on a tune up but if you’re like us with zero knowledge on the subject, buying from a dealer give you a little more piece of mind.
We made a deal with our guy that we would stay in Saigon for another day and that if anything obvious was wrong he would get it fixed or buy it back from us for what we bought it for. That extra day give us a chance to actually get a proper chance to ride it and look for problems with it.
If you're buying it from a dealer dude on the side of the road though, make sure you dial in a price before they start fixing stuff, cos once they’ve started, you don't have any ground for negotiation on the price!
Phi, the dealer we bought our bikes from in Ho Chi Minh. He was just sat with some bike on the side of the road in a backpacker area.
So here are the things we looked for, and a few things we should of looked for in hindsight:
At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter who you buy it off, they are just going to fall apart anyway somewhere along the road, but that’s what adventure travel is about! Hopefully by the end of your trip you’ll hopefully have a bit of mechanical knowledge as a result, the road is the best teacher after all.