FIRST RULE : Understand the market
There are two main markets in Vietnam for buying a motorbike.
- The Chinese Motorbike market
- The “real” motorbike second hand market
Getting a grip and understanding of these two markets is the most important part of buying a motorbike when in Vietnam.
The Chinese motorbike market :
These mechanics are cheap, but their parts are also all Chinese which leaves the owner of the vehicle in a constant loop of regular and ongoing maintenance. Locals sometimes opt for the Chinese motorbike as a very cheap purchase, coupled with gentle driving and the understanding of mechanic shop market prices. With knowledge of how to correctly operate a cheap Chinese motorcycle, they can be a relatively efficient way of owning a set of wheels. Keep in mind the average salary in Vietnam is around $600 a month, meaning those $1000+ genuine Honda motorbikes are out of range for a huge part of Vietnam’s population.
To the untrained eye, that “Honda Wave” logo is enough to cause huge confusion over the motorbike being genuine or being Chinese. This again, can be seen in the Honda Cub world, and also the Honda Wave world. Drive a Honda Wave into a genuine service center that has had a lifetime of Chinese maintenance, and the first thing the Honda Shop is going to do is tell you to rebuild the entire motorcycle.
The real motorbike market :
Vietnam has service centers and stores marked as “Honda Head”, “Yamaha Town” or “Suzuki”. The very bottom line of genuine Honda motorcycles will be around $400 on the second hand market.
From here, you look for the nearest official service center to your home, and use this as your primary mechanic shop. Trust in their service, most of them are good at what they do.
Top 2 GOOD brands motorbike in Vietnam:
They are also known globally as the bulletproof brand of reliable motorcycles. This is no different in Vietnam, and it is fair to say that if you want a motorbike that is going to be trouble free then Honda is the way to go. They also have the most service centers, the best service centers, and from our experience they have the most consistent service.
2. Yamaha :
Yamaha tends to have softer suspension and more attention to detail when it comes to ‘cool’ styling. They are cheaper than Honda motorcycles, but from experience they are less reliable and more expensive to maintain. However with Yamaha, you are often getting lighter or smaller models than the Honda equivalent. They also have service centers everywhere and overall are known to be excellent motorbikes. They are also known to have smaller or lighter models than Honda versions of their bikes. The best way to maintain your bike is to buy a new model from Yamaha .
Choosing the right motorbike – The transmission :
- Semi automatic : The semi automatic is a motorbike that has gears but no clutch. Semi Automatics are not hugely common around the globe, but in SouthEast Asia they are the most popular motorbike type.
Feature : Cheap to buy, reliable, cheap to maintain, easy to drive, amazing fuel economy and often light in weight.
Little to no luggage space, slight jumpy driving (gear changes).
Common models : Honda Wave, Honda Blade, Honda Future, Yamaha Sirius, Yamaha Jupiter
- Automatic : Automatic, also known as twist and go is the easiest scooter to drive around town.They come with under the seat luggage space and an enormous variety of styles to suit all the different needs of everyday people.
Feature : Easy and convenient to drive, under the seat luggage space.
More expensive to maintain than semi-automatic, worse gas consumption, more expensive to buy.
Common models : Honda Airblade, Honda SH, Honda Lead, Yamaha Nouvo, Honda PCX, Yamaha NVX.
- Manual : A motorbike with a manual transmission and clutch. In Vietnam there are only two manual motorbikes that are sold on mass in genuine service centers. The Honda Winner 150 and Yamaha Exciter 150.
The process of buying a motorbike
When buying a motorbike there is an ownership paper called the “blue card”. A sale in its simplest form simply requires the handing over of the blue card from one person to another. However, the blue card topic is complicated and deep where the buyer must consider what we call “the scale of legitimacy” when it comes to motorbike ownership in Vietnam.