Arriving in Thailand and deciding to rent a scooter for a few days, is probably one of the most popular things that tourists do while on holiday. It’s fun, it’s easy and you see a lot more sights getting around on a scooter. But in most cases the individual who rents a scooter or motorbikes has never ridden one in their life. So here is where you make the big choice, of course if you know how to ride a scooter or motorbike you can move on to the next paragraph. You take a big risk by hiring a bike and taking to the Asian roads if you never rode a bike before, some motorbike or scooter riding experience is essential.
Too start of you need to find a shop to rent a bike. Somewhere near your accommodation is always the best choice to find a scooter hire shop, as you don’t want to be travelling miles to rent a bike and have a long walk back when you finished with the bike.
Prices, most shops will charge the same price for a standard automatic scooter with 125cc. Prices vary depending on the types of bikes. But the standard automatics are the same price per day through all of Thailand.
You will need a passport or a deposit of at least 5000 Baht. A driver’s license is required, but not always asked for by the hirer. They hardly ever ask for this at any shops. For some reason they just expect you to know the highway code in Thailand and road rules.
Choose a bike, and sign the papers that the shop will give you, which normally includes name, age, passport number, address, telephone and the address of where you are staying. This document you will sign, which is an agreement of looking after the bike and returning it in the same condition.
On the back of this document which is very important is the price list of parts. Pay attention to these prices! You have signed this agreement for renting the bike, therefore, agree to the prices of each part of the bike that can get damaged. If some reason you damage the mirror or other parts of the bodywork of the bike, they will charge accordingly referring to the price list on this agreement.
Take photos of the bike with your smartphone or camera. Try to get as much detail as possible of the bike. Any scratches you see and broken parts document with your camera. Even mention the broken part to the person who is renting you the scooter.
If you are confident enough to learn, then try and practice on a nearby road that is quiet. Scooter hire at Tik Shop has a quiet road next to it which she asks you to test the scooter before renting. We are assuming you have an automatic scooter or renting one. A scooter will have a set of handlebars with breaks each side for each hand, the right side will have an accelerator which twists with your right hand at the same time your fingers operate the brake. The left side break and left hand is lazier. Left break is back, and right break is front, but most new scooters the breaks operate in sync for front and back.
Sit on the bike and get comfortable with the breaks and accelerator, these are what cause people to crash immediately when getting on a bike. Accelerator and brake are on the handlebars, you will need to multitask with your hand between breaks and accelerator. Many people panic and accelerate while trying to break and it’s a crash or fall as an escape to control the bike.
Basic skill is master the throttle (accelerator). There are brake levers on each handlebar, one for each hand. Hold both breaks very tight. Then accelerate a tiny bit and listen to the engine noise. So release the throttle and listen to the engine noise calm down. Once you feel confident to move, gently release the break and then gently pull back the throttle a tiny bit listening to the engine. You will begin to move forward at the same time balance as you are riding a bicycle.
The basic skill here is to balance while controlling the throttle just enough to move you along the road, as you feel the speed increase ease off on the throttle… The slower you go the more difficult it is to balance the bike, so keeping at a reasonable speed of 30km you can ride and balance. Once you release the throttle and let the bike come to a stop, you will then know when its time to use your foot keep the bike standing. Once you have mastered the throttle, balance and brake lever you half way there to riding a scooter. See More on How to Ride Scooter
Helmet, mirrors, good clothing and good strong shoes, these four items can save you from a lot of injuries if you ever come off.
The helmet is mandatory in Thailand, it is law. In Bangkok, you can be fined on the spot for no helmet. Move further away from Bangkok towards the smaller villages and you will see nobody wears a helmet. This not because the law is different, this is because Thai people don’t bother, they don’t care. The places like Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Tao, Krabi, to name a few the same law applies, but people don’t bother and for any tourists, on holiday renting bikes do the same. Some people do wear one because they understand its importance, others think they are invincible. Wear a crash helmet! Although the law around the Islands has got stronger an police will stop you on the spot, especially on Koh Samui.
Mirrors, using your scooter mirrors could save you from a huge accident. Mirrors are your eyes in the back of your head. Knowing what’s behind you at all times or what is about to overtake you keeps you in touch with the road events. It quite often happens that a car will overtake a scooter, and the scooter rider is unaware of the car because of not using mirrors if the scooter rider changes his/her road position it can be a very bad accident. Mirrors are an important part of riding a bike.
Mirrors are an important part of riding a scooter. Seen on the roads many times, people twisting there head to look behind them, taking there eyes of the road in front of them. We have to say how stupid is this!! Use your mirrors, anybody who has done a driver license will know that the you would of been told 100 times or more to use your mirrors.
When renting a scooter, for your own safety it’s a good idea to check the mechanics of the scooter or motorbike. Indicators, break lights and Head lights are very important to you and other road users.
Tires are important for your handling of the bike. Most rental shops, rent the same bike over and over again and the tires wear. It’s worth paying attention to the tire treads and make sure that the tire has some tread lines. A bold tire will slide easily on sand and will not grip the bends efficiently. A bold tire on wet roads can give you under-steer which could lead to missing that bend and ending up on the other side of the road. Tyre pressures also comes in to play, might be a good tread, but if the tire pressure is low, you will get under steer, because more of the tire touches the road, which leads to more grip, hence when you turn the wheel the grip is stronger and the bike feels difficult to turn. Low pressured tires also get hotter and wear quicker. If the tire pressure is too high, you will feel the bike shake a lot when riding, and if the tread is good the steering will be very sensitive. A good pressure with good tire tread is around 30 to 35 PSI. Experienced riders will adjust there tire pressures to there riding style, and if offloading, lower tire pressures work better. Scooter hire shops normally maintain the tires at a correct pressure level, but we have seen rented bikes on the road with very low pressured tires and the rider has no idea why he/she is finding it difficult to ride.