What if not Nmax? How to choose and rent a scooter in Bali

Photo: shutterstock.com
Biking and non-biking Bali - two different worlds. Any seasoned user of the paradise island will tell you that. A scooter here truly offers a level of freedom that neither taxis nor, considering the post-COVID insane traffic, even a personal car can replace.
For an inexperienced rider, all these unfamiliar "varios" and "skupis" can be bewildering - it's unclear which model is better to choose (if the rental offers a choice, of course). How your relationship with your "iron horse" will unfold depends, in part, on its "breed" - whether you'll be tearing through Balinese roads on a wild mustang or cautiously trotting on a cozy pony. We'll tell you how to choose a bike for yourself and what to pay attention to when signing the rental agreement.
This material is prepared based on the recommendations of "Balimotion" experts.
"Can we see all of them?"
"If it's a bike, then it's the Nmax!" - that's what most people who decide to rent a scooter in Bali think. Especially for the first time. Partly, it's justified. It's really good. Optimal power, comfortable seating (for both driver and passenger), and a spacious trunk. But the demand for Yamaha's flagship, and therefore the rental price, is noticeably overheated. At the same time, there are many other worthy models that will suit you in terms of technical characteristics. Especially if you're alone and not planning to overtake trucks on mountain serpentine roads.
Honda Scoopy is very popular among delicate girls and beginners. Although you can easily ride it with two people. Stylish, maneuverable, with a good trunk.
 Balimotion expert: "My wife has one. The two of us drive to Amed and back without any back pain or anything. It's quite light: both in weight and in handling. But it's better to take it with insurance, spare parts are not cheap."
Honda PCX is a fairly high-quality and comfortable bike, with its own unique appearance. In terms of operation, it can be compared to the Yamaha NMax. Essentially, it's more or less the same. The difference is in appearance - whichever you prefer. It's better to take it with insurance, as spare parts are not cheap and not always available.
Honda Vario 125/150 is also suitable for beginners - it's a bit more dynamic than the Scoopy. There is space for a bag in the front, which can be hooked on. It's quite comfortable for two small passengers, for example, a guy weighing 77 kg and a girl up to 50 kg. The downside is that if you're 180 cm tall or taller, you won't have anywhere to put your legs. The latest generation of Vario has keyless start and an improved braking system.
Yamaha XMax 250 is the most affordable maxi-scooter on the island. Comfortable for long and leisurely trips, suitable for passengers of any build and height. Not as agile at the start, but its element is long distances. You don't feel discomfort in heavy traffic and dense movement.
Yamaha Aerox is like a sports option. It has a fairly aggressive design and a stiffer suspension. The passenger sits high on it and is not very comfortable on uneven surfaces. For solo riding - an excellent option. It's quite dynamic at the start and handles turns excellently.
Yamaha Lexi is a bulky scooter for beginners. Very comfortable, quite agile for its 125 cubic centimeters. There is space in the front legs. You can put a hand luggage suitcase there. The downsides are: practically no space under the seat and a small fuel tank volume: 4.4 liters. The range is about 150 km.
Perhaps the main factor to consider when choosing a scooter is the height and combined weight of the driver and passenger. For drivers under 160 cm tall, it's better to choose the Scoopy or Vario. For those over 165 cm, it will be more comfortable on the NMax, PCX, Aerox, Lexi, or XMax. It's comfortable to ride two-up on any of these bikes. Stories that the Scoopy won't carry both driver and passenger uphill are a myth. However, if your combined weight exceeds 150 kg, and you plan to ride a lot on winding roads, it's advisable to choose something like the NMax or PCX.
And which bike is suitable for a family? Dad, mom, and a little child?
 Balimotion expert: "I wouldn't recommend riding a bike with children under seven years old. The risk of a fatal outcome in the event of an accident is too high. I understand that many people do it, and many will say now: "What are you talking about"?! But this is statistics, it's relentless. If you want peace of mind with your child, it's better to take a car with a child seat. Let it be tiny, but it will be a thousand times safer."
And are you sure about the rental? Contract, insurance, deposit
To rent a bike correctly, you need to use trusted services with contracts in two languages, transparent conditions, and no ambiguous points. Ideally, with insurance covering at least damages, with no damage limit. Finding such offers, especially now, is not easy. Again - in serious rentals, the conditions are always constant. In street rentals, at best, you may be able to negotiate insurance for $100, which they'll use to repaint a scratch, if anything happens. Comprehensive insurance is not provided here, so if the bike is stolen, you'll still have to pay.
Pay attention to reviews and recommendations. Ratings, for example, on Google Maps, are also important. It's preferable to have no less than 50 recommendations. Constantly positive reviews raise suspicion. Aim for a rating no lower than 4.6 out of 5. In good services, you don't need to check the condition of the bikes. In 99% of cases, they are serviced and do not require inspection for the next 1000 km. Taking a brand new bike is, of course, nice, but it imposes additional responsibility: any scratch, even the smallest one, will be visible, and the rental will ask you about it.
Lately, many rentals have started asking for a deposit - 1 million rupiahs. Some even require leaving your passport (don't even think about it!). It's up to you to decide about the deposit. But the demand for bikes from them is huge right now, so they can afford it.
To avoid questions later, when renting, take the time to turn on your phone's camera and inspect the scooter from all sides. Capture every scratch and scrape. Don't rush. It's essential to take the bike for a ride before signing the contract.
Balimotion expert: "If this is your first bike, ideally ask someone experienced to conduct a test drive, maybe even someone from your hotel staff. A person with driving experience will immediately notice any issues. For example, the bike may have bad, failing brakes. A low remaining tread depth or completely bald tires. The bike may pull to one side (usually related to fork or frame geometry issues). In good services, the vehicle always looks decent. If the bike is all scratched up or has cracked parts, it's unlikely that it was well maintained. The appearance speaks volumes about the attitude towards the equipment in general."
Friends, share your bike rental experience. What other pitfalls can you expect? Have you encountered dishonest rentals? Looking forward to your comments!
Author of text and photo: Maxim Boytsov
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