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Renting vs Buying

Honda Master 125 - keyhole

Contents

Covid Update 2022

Currently, we are still in the midst of the pandemic and there is very little inflow of tourists or expats into the country. In fact, tourism is still as dead as a Dodo. Only a few expats are willing and able to enter the country as well, If you add in the fact that the whole economy here in Vietnam has generally been weakened, then you’ll understand that the bike market is not what it once was. 

This definitely sheds and new light on the dilemma of buying vs renting. This is because you can either buy a very reasonably priced bike from a dealer (however, be sure that it hasn’t been sitting for an extended period of time as this is not good for any bike) or you can pick up a cheap bike from someone who is desperate to leave the country. You may even get a bike for free on the promise to sell it for someone who has to leave it behind. What could be better than a free bike? 

All I would say is do not bargain too hard and be understanding that the seller is probaly already taking a loss. Karma is a bitch 🙂 

The Decision

Renting vs buying a motorbike is a choice most expats have to make. If you plan to remain in Vietnam for a year or more, you might be tempted to purchase, rather than rent a motorbike. The motorbikes most commonly seen on Vietnam’s streets generally cost from $1,000-$3,000 new. Premium brands such as Piaggio fall at the higher end of that spectrum, as do the larger, more powerful machines capable of doing double duty as touring bikes.

Honda Lead - back right angle

Benefits of Buying

Over the course of a two-year teaching contract, you might well save a little money by renting vs buying. This is especially true if you can resell your motorbike for a decent price when you’re leaving Vietnam. Under what circumstances, then, should you consider renting a motorbike?

Frankly speaking, $1,000-$3,000 is a large expenditure for a frightened new expat unsure of how well she or he might like Vietnam. Renting does not require the same financial commitment.

Some might consider shopping for a used motorbike instead. Keep in mind that there is no way to evaluate the seller. Expats often try to sell their bikes after they’ve had an accident or after struggling with nagging maintenance issues. Locals frequently post motorbikes for sale at prices far greater than their real value. Buyer beware.

If you buy a motorbike in Vietnam, you will have little recourse if the motorbike falls short of your needs and expectations. If you end up with a lemon, you will be stuck with it. The same is true if you discover the bike has less power than you require or is missing features that you wish you had.

a pretty river in North Vietnam

Do You Really Save Money?

Well, yes and no.

If you buy a piece of trash, cheap old bike that has been thrashed, then probably, no. This kind of bike will most likely need repairs very soon. This could end up costing you the value of the bike and more. Especially, if it is a NUOVO. Then, you have the potential loss of earnings when you break down on the way to work. Let’s not mention the hassle and stress! When it comes to selling the bike, you will either lose money on it or be forced to sell it to an unsuspecting fool. Tough choice.

If you buy a decent bike that is fairly new, let’s say 3 to 4 years old, then it is likely to be reliable. Of course, you need to be cautious when buying ‘Caveat Emptor’, but you have a better chance of finding something decent. You will then most likely have trouble-free motoring, that is, as long as you keep the bike serviced and this isn’t hard to do. And, when you come to sell you will see that the price depreciation of bikes here in Vietnam is surprisingly little. This is particularly true of Hondas, which really hold their value.

Benefits of Renting

When you rent a motorbike, you have recourse. If there is a problem with the bike, you can have it repaired or changed out. You can upgrade or downgrade models as you wish. Any decent, serious motorbike rental shop will accommodate your wishes and requests. And if they don’t, you can simply terminate your contract and take your business to a new shop.

Why rush into a purchase? With most motorbike rental shops charging around $45 per month for an entry-level motorbike, take a few months to get used to driving in Vietnam. Go for weekend trip out to the countryside to see if touring is something you’ll want to be able to do. Carry a passenger or two. Switch between bikes to get a feel for what suits you. The best way to evaluate the features you will need from a motorbike is to live with one for a month or two.

inventive vandalism prevention sticker on the side of a car

Is It Really Less Hassle?

Again, yes, and no. Like anything, you get what you pay for.

If you rent from a low-quality firm that tries to be competitive by offering the cheapest rental possible, then it is likely you will have problems. The bikes in these places are often very low quality, badly serviced and maintained, and the customer care level is very low. We often have people switching to us after having ‘3 different bikes break down’ or being ‘fed up with driving a death trap’.

If you rent from a decent reliable firm that offers good customer service (see RentABike’s reviews), you really will have less hassle. The bike that you rent will be in good condition. There will be no paperwork issues. It will be serviced regularly. You will have the backup support if you have a mechanical issue, problems with the police, theft, an accident, need directions, etc. Overall, it makes it a very easy option.

Does RentABike Sell bikes?

Yes, we do. 

This is not something that we consider to be a main part of our business so we don’t really shout about it. However, if you are looking for a decent used bike, we can often help out. 

Our bikes are regularly maintained and we check them very carefully before selling. You may find something slightly cheaper at the bike market or in a private sale, but you won’t have any come back should it turn out to be a piece of trash. That is not how we roll. We don’t want to see you again after you have bought one of our bikes and, therefore, we do our best to make sure you will have 6 months to 1 year’s hassle free driving. 

We also do not pretend to offer crazy 3 year warranties on engines, which are unlikely to be honoured. 

We will sell you a decent bike at a decent price, that will run well for a long time. If you service it regularly, you shouldn’t have any major issues over the next 5 to 10 years. (We have customers on bikes that we sold them, this long ago 🙂 

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