learnings, Travel Tips
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Renting a motorcycle in India – Do’s and Dont’s

In the last few years, tourers are not looking away from renting a motorcycle from the closest location, as an option too.

Certainly, bikes offer a much raw experience to explore any place. Motorcycle rental scene in Inda has come a long way and it is now not uncommon to find bike rental shops in tens of cities across the country.

Few startups in metro cities now provide high-end motorcycles on hourly rental have a look at one such company wicked ride.

I have used rented motorcycles on several occasions rented from cities like Jaisalmer, Delhi, Rishikesh, Patna, Goa, Bangalore, etc.

However, the easy availability of rental bikes comes at a price for serious tourers. Let’s begin with the most basic question

Is renting bike a good option?

NEVER. Undoubtedly, it’s not advisable to rent a motorcycle UNLESS YOU HAVE NO OTHER OPTION.

The Internet is filled up with hundreds of breakdown stories of rented bikes. Though some vendors claim to provide support, I have personally experienced they are of less use and only come as a consolation unless the mechanic rides along the tour.

Their support is generally restricted to the city limits. Few claims to have technicians on popular routes like Leh-Manali which should give some comfort to the pain in case of any issues with the bike on such routes.

Still, the rented bike is new for us, we don’t know if this was the bike which had miserably disappointed the previous renter. And there is no way to figure it out.

If somebody asks me as to which bike shall I trust more. Whether it would be mine 5 years old rugged bike or a new fangled rented bike?

Obviously, it would be my bike as I have been with it for some time.

funny bike pic india

Chances of ending up like him are more with rented motorcycles. Disclaimer: It doesn’t mean owned bikes will not end up like this 😛

But let’s consider we go ahead and wish to rent a motorcycle we can minimize the risk if we know where the catches are?

Basically in Indian motorcycle rental scenario, there are two schemes to have one on rent.

1. Renting bike with a yellow number plate

90% of the rental providers will have this option. In this type of renting, vendors will be the owners of the bike and they shall hand you a copy of vehicle papers.

Motorcycles are normally yellow numbered plates. Yellow coloured plates mean, it’s a commercial vehicle and can be used to earn money.

If it’s not a yellow numbered plate, make sure you know to convince the police if stopped and asked for papers.

In Goa and a few other places, local guys rent out their private vehicles. Take a note, this is illegal and against traffic laws. If caught by traffic police you/owner are liable to pay fine for renting a private vehicle.

motorcycle rental india, renting motorcycle

Yellow numbers on black number plate mean this is a self-drive vehicle hired by the rider.

yellow number plate bikes in India

A black number on yellow plates means it’s a commercial vehicle which can be hired to earn money. It doesn’t necessarily mean it is a self-driven vehicle.

Rental operators duck yellow number plates in order to avoid paying annual commercial tax to the transport department.

Whenever I rent a private bike (i.e. not having yellow number plate), I prepare myself to convince the police that this bike is of my relative or my friend and I am just his/her guest. Also, I prepare myself to answer basic questions about the identity of the provider.

2. Renting under a buy-back scheme

If you are required to cross national borders (rides involving Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar) the buy-back is what you should be looking for. The vendor will hand over original bike papers to you under buyback.

In buy-back, the rental provider basically sells the motorcycle on a pre-decided agreement.

They will ask you to hand over a cheque with some amount say 1 lac. They won’t encash it obviously. In fact, you can in advance make a stop payment for the cheque number. It’s just for the sake of agreement.

You are the owner of the bike once the paperwork is done and you can now ride the bike unhesitatingly across state and national borders.

This was about the rent schemes and now the most important section of this article.

Never stop yourself from negotiating for the daily rental and refundable deposit. Ask them to remove or reduce the deposit amount by insisting that you will be anyhow submitting an original ID.

Before taking delivery of the bike make sure you..

1. Ask for photocopies of below papers. Originals in the case of buyback

a. Registration Card
b. Invoice
c. Insurance paper
d. PUC (Pollution Under Control) Certificate

2. Note the primary and alternate contact number of the provider to call in case of an emergency

3. Have a thorough check of the bike from all corners. Use your mobile to make a video of the bike from every angle. Including the odometer reading as well

4. Take a >1 km test ride and check for below points

a. Check if the bike doesn’t stop when idle i.e. accelerator is not touched

b. Check the tension of chain and note the sprocket condition. Sprocket teeth should not be worn out.

c. Check the condition of the tire. Ask for another bike if tires are literally in bad shape. A worn-out tire is more susceptible to puncture.

d. Check the electricals (Front light, side indicators, brake light, speedometer and fuel indicators are operational)

e. Check the clutch, brake and engine speed setting.

5. If you don’t carry your helmet (sad :() ask them for one. They shall provide you free of cost. They may or may not charge for an additional helmet.

6. Ask for a duplicate main key and seat key **

7. Ask for a set of a spark plug, clutch and race cable, chain lock and toolkit **

8. Ask for policies such as what if the bike is stolen, meets an accident, suffers major engine failure, etc?

9. Ask beforehand about the availability and rental prices of travel accessories like luggage rack, bungee ropes, tents, sleeping bags, knee and elbow guards, etc. **

**especially for long distance tourers

I have tried to put as many critical things as I could remember, however, I would love to your experience on this.

Wish you all the best for your trip. Feel the air, ride safe 🙂

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Filed under: learnings, Travel Tips


Hello, I am Niraj. I define myself as an amateur photographer, biker and seeker. I like to connect with like-minded friends and share experiences and stories from the place, people and time. I believe life is an endless journey and our actions no matter how small affects this infinite universe in some way or another. So let's not stop and keep our work going.

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