The 40 Best (and worst) Motorbikes in Vietnam

Jon Tigit

The 40 Best (and worst) Motorbikes in Vietnam
This is an opinion piece about the 40 best and worst(!) motorbikes in Vietnam by Tigit Jon. I’ve included the average used prices for handy reference. Most people reading this have no interest in buying a brand new model so comparison price accordingly on other sites.
Note – I do love Suzuki and Honda, but I do not work for them!
These are some of the main scooters and bikes you’ll see when travelling on the streets around Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi.
Be warned!, Some motorbikes are cheap because they are rubbish…. So understanding and researching what you are buying is incredibly important!

Motorbike List

Chinese Honda Win Manual Transmission

honda win in vietnam

The Win! The most common motorbike to be found flogged in the backpacker street!

🏍️$150-250

Usually found flogged in the backpacker street. It is also probably one of the worst motorbikes in Vietnam!
A comical joke of a motorbike that wobbles around and breaks down all through the country. Surprisingly expensive to fix and generally an absolute burner of dollar notes in mechanic bills. The Honda Win looks “cool” so backpackers fall in love with it, only to find a holiday riddled with unpredictable and expensive breakdowns.

Pros:

  • It looks cool.
  • It makes noise.
  • It is cheap.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t work.
  • It is expensive to fix.
  • It is dangerous to drive.

The Win is for:
If you are an adventure seeker!  You are a lad on tour wanting a “laugh”!

Chinese Honda Semi-Automatic, Wave, Dream, Future

chinese honda wave

Dazzling looking Chinese Wave! If only the quality could match that appearance.

🏍️$150-250

Cheapest motorbike in Vietnam to buy and also the cheapest to fix. For the traveler on a tiny shoestring budget and absolutely no spare cash then the Chinese Honda Wave is a reasonable choice!
The Chinese semi-automatics are all the same underneath, the “name” Wave, Dream is just the bodywork design. Underneath is the same Chinese engines.

The Chinese semi-automatic is severely lacking in the power and character department. Overall it is nothing more than a chunk of plastic on two wheels. Generally, the Chinese Semi will get the traveler from A to B cost efficiently. Even a catastrophically bad breakdown is quick and cheap to fix providing the traveler gets the right price in a backstreet mechanic.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Cheap to fix.
  • You are actually fitting in with locals with these bikes.

Cons:

  • No power.
  • No pleasure and no joy.
  • They are really not designed for big foreigners and a house full of luggage.

This bike is for you if:
You got no money!

SYM Attila Automatic

The 2007 SYM Attila Victoria

The 2007 SYM Attila Victoria!

🛵$150-250

The famous 2002/3 Attila was one of the first automatics to arrive in Vietnam, and it was THE first with a 125cc engine. They are rarely seen on the streets today. but can be picked up for $100-$150 (I wouldn’t advise it though). Now, SYM have various modern models but SYM in general are known for budget / very cheap scooters. The depreciation and shelf life of an SYM scooter is quicker than a rotting apple. Modern SYM scooters can be bought between $600-1000 which does make them a cheap purchase for an expat on a temporary stay in Vietnam. The bikes are comfortable and perform nicely, a lot of bang for the buck. However the reliability is questionable and SYM have useless after service. For someone settling in Vietnam it is better to get something more than an SYM.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Comfortable.
  • Powerful for the money.

Cons:

  • Difficult to fix.
  • Permanent electrical problems.
  • Ugly.

The Atilla SYM is For: 
If you want a very, very cheap automatic!  You have not a care in the world about how you look! You don’t mind kick-starting an automatic!

Yamaha Nouvo 1/2/3/5/6 Automatic

Yamaha Nouvo 3

Yamaha Nouvo 3!

🛵$150-600

The Yamaha Nouvo is the most commonly seen automatic motorbikes in Vietnam driven by foreigners.
The Yamaha Nouvo 1 back in 2002 was a Japanese made scooter, and a very good one at that. The Nouvo 1 is still seen on the streets today with some value. A testament to a scooter that is around 15 years old! Yamaha must have arrived on the scene of Vietnam with a massive bang for quality. However since the Nouvo 1 (2002), it is fair to say that Yamaha in Vietnam are unreliable, high maintenance and depreciate like rockets. Yamaha rode The Nouvo 1’s reputation all the way through to around 2012 which was the end of the Nouvo 4 days. Since 2012 the Vietnamese have finally become wise to Yamaha’s poor reliability and the 5/6/7 models are now rarely seen on the streets today. Infact the Nouvo as a model has mostly died off on the Vietnamese market. Held up by the foreigners relying on the branding of “Yamaha” to mean something.
To be fair to Yamaha,  they are significantly cheaper than the power house of Honda, and the ride / suspension / styling tends to be far better than the equivalent Honda’s.
We get what we pay for with Yamaha, an ok bike at an ok price with an ok after service.

For the expat / backpacker, just know that “Yamaha” does not equal quality in Vietnam. That $150 fifteen year old scooter is A) Very gas hungry, B) Very expensive to fix!

Pros:

  • They look ok.
  • Small / light weight and convenient to drive.
  • It is cheap.

Cons:

  • Difficult to fix and expensive to fix.
  • Paying a “mid range” price for a brand that is not delivering on quality.
  • Brand recognition and model age often leads foreigners to a bad purchase.

The Nouvo is For:
If you think you can detect the good from the bad! You fancy your chances and hope to get a good bargain for the money

The Honda Cub Semi-Automatic

honda cub

A Cub from one of our customers

🏍️$300 to priceless

The Honda cub is a semi-automatic motorbike from a long time ago. Due to the age of the motorbike, it is now seen today maintained with cheap Chinese parts. Honda will not service the Cub which means over time these gradually have fallen to be no different to the Chinese semi-automatic. A source of confusion and misunderstanding among foreigners who purchase these beauties expecting Honda reliability. Only to find the motorbike has no brakes, regularly falls apart and is an ongoing and stressful maintenance project.
The cute styling of the Cub will often create a defensive reaction by the owner if interrogated about the reliability of their beautiful motorbike. A few hard-hitting questions in the right areas and the sob stories will eventually come out! Contradictory to belief, the Cub can still be bought new for around $550 as a Chinese and useless replica.

Pros:

  • Cute and classic.
  • Can be customized to look how you want.
  • Cheap.

Cons:

  • They don’t work.
  • No performance.
  • The people buying them for aesthetics and Instagram reasons are the very same people who would have no idea how to maintain them.

The Honda Cub is for:
If you have not done your research, just grab it! The classic look is worth all the misery and stress that the motorbike will eventually bring you!

SYM Excel Automatic

150cc Automatic Excel

150cc Automatic Excel!

🛵$350 +

The SYM Excel is another powerhouse from SYM’s early days in Vietnam. It WAS a hidden gem of monumental value among Expats lucky enough to find one (back in 2008), however today they are no longer seen. Even if we looked for this old school classic, the chances of finding one are slim. The chances of finding a working one, are next to none. A cheap 150cc large framed automatic motorbike that is comfortable for a foreigner. If you do find a working Excel for around $300, then you just found that golden nugget!

Pros:

  • Cheap large framed scooter.
  • Comfortable.

Cons:

  • Old.
  • Can’t find them.
  • To old to be “working”.

SYM Excel:
If you want a large automatic scooter on a small budget.

Suzuki Epicuro Automatic

epicuro 125cc

Big bike, 125cc?

🛵$500+
An expat will never be found driving one and even on the Vietnamese market, they are rare motorbikes in Vietnam! The Epicuro is a high quality imported scooter from around the year 2001. In the early days of Tigit we bought and sold a few of these successfully. Hard to explain, but the Epicuro is in a class of its own compared to all other normal scooters in Vietnam. A clear quality jump from a local Asian built scooter to a Epicuro European import. The Epicuro we later discovered is basically an unfixable scooter due to the high quality but old systems within. Mechanics do not have the skills or parts to fix them. When broken the Epicuro’s life is done and there is no reviving it.
Writing in 2019, these motorbikes are still seen driven by local Gangsta’s!

Pros:

  • You become a Gangsta!
  • Comfortable and high quality.

Cons:

  • Can’t be fixed.
  • Can’t find them.

Epicuro is for:
If you have some spare cash sitting around and you fancy trying your luck at picking up an old but very high-quality scooter.

Minsk Manual

Minsk retro motorbike

Top Gear star is here!

🏍️$300

As Richard Hammond from Top gear says.. “The ak47 of motorbikes”. Supposedly indestructible machines that are the origins of the now-famous concept of traveling Vietnam by motorbike. Richard Hammond thought the Minsk was indestructible but backpackers put this theory to the test and came out on top. A 2 stroke engine requiring a mixture of oil and gas in the right concentrations is what led to the slow and eventual deaths of the iconic Minsk. Backpackers who know nothing about motorbikes failed to get the mixtures correct and one by one these motorbikes came to a bitter end. The story doesn’t end there though! The Minsk is now used by the tour companies in Sapa, renovated with modern Honda engines and used for charitable rides.

Pros:

  • 2 stroke classic!
  • Look cool.
  • The classic, oldschool backpacker.

Cons:

  • They don’t exist anymore.
  • They were all destroyed.
  • A thing of the past.

The Minsk:
Buy it if you find one that works!

Honda 67 Manual

Honda '67

That classic look is priceless in Vietnam!

🏍️$300 to priceless

The 67 is without question one of the most beautiful looking motorbikes in Vietnam. In modern times they are maintained with low-quality Chinese components making them unreliable and useless motorbikes. The price bracket shows the variation in quality and a truly original Honda 67 is worth a fortune. A motorbike that should be used by people who enjoy “projects”. Constant ongoing maintenance should be considered “fun” by the owner.
For most people, they are something to be admired from a distance. Owning one of these beauties can be a stressful experience!

Pros:

  • Sexy.
  • Small and fun.
  • Customize appearance to be “you”.

Cons:

  • They don’t work.
  • Difficult to fix.
  • The people buying them for aesthetics and instagram reasons, are the very same people who would have no idea how to maintain them.

The ’67:
If you enjoy a good old-fashioned project! You want a “sexy” motorbike for popping down to the local bar or cafe!

Bonus Manual Transmission

SYM Bonus 125

SYM Bonus 125!

🏍️$300-450

A slightly bigger version of the Win. The bonus is the cheapest “big” motorbike that money can buy. Often used in scams as the frame can be customized to create a cool looking motorbike on a shoestring budget. The motorbike may look cool, but has nearly no chance of actually working!
Ultimately the Bonus is a motorbike from the past that was low quality, to begin with. Today, they are only seen being sold by dishonest dealers turning a quick buck. It is one of the most common scams on the market when dealing with motorbikes in Vietnam!

Pros:

  • Big frame manual.
  • Look cool.

Cons:

  • They don’t work.

Buy or Rent the Bonus:
If you enjoy being scammed!

Daelim Manual Transmission

Dealim 150cc

The Dealim 150cc cruiser!

🏍️$450-800

The Daelim motorbike is a huge vehicle for the money. A big cruiser that fits the dream of driving a proper motorbike. The Daelim is essentially Chinese and so therefore designed to be maintained with low-quality parts. This actually makes them easier to fix than some of the other smashed up garbage out there that has gone beyond its maintainable life cycle (looking at you the Suzuki GN). If used as a gentle city monster truck the Daelim can be a great motorbike for the money. However, when pushed hard they overheat and fall apart.

Pros:

  • Cheapest and biggest cruiser available.
  • Comfortable.
  • For the money, they do give a great feel.

Cons:

  • High maintenance.
  • Difficult to find.

Buy or Rent a Daelim:
If you want a comfortable cheap cruiser for the city!

Suzuki GN Manual Transmission

Suzuki GN 125

Super cool looking GN!

🏍️$400 – $800

The Suzuki GN is a magnificent motorbike to drive when discovered in good condition. The GN has a huge heart and lots of character. Unfortunately buying Suzuki GN components is near to impossible which means they are maintained with cheap Chinese parts. The Suzuki GN is an incredibly expensive ongoing maintenance project that will eat the bank balance.
However, the GN is so much fun to drive, a broken bank is not actually a terrible trade-off for someone that loves motorbikes. For the backpacker, it is a con that will likely ruin a holiday. For an expat or motorbike lover, the Suzuki GN can be a much-loved friend.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Amazing driving performance and fun!
  • Suzuki noise that will have you falling in love.

Cons:

  • Impossible to fix.
  • Seriously high maintenance.

Buy or Rent the Suzuki GN:
If you want a friend for life that will put a smile on your face!  The bank won’t allow you to buy a proper motorbike but the GN feels like the real deal and the ongoing maintenance is a price worth paying to drive the motorbike of your dreams!

The Yamaha Mio Automatic transmission

Yamaha Mio Classico

Yamaha Mio Classico!

🛵$400 – $700

The Mio is a small framed automatic. Mostly seen by expat girls who find the standard automatics too heavy and bulky for city driving. The Mio is basically a Nouvo 1/2/3 with a small frame. Low quality and broken garbage that has an inflated value on the expat market due to its “cute” frame size. Rental companies attempt to rent these to target the female market – in Tigit’s opinion, this is a bottomless pit of non-profitable rentals as the maintenance is on-going and high.

Pros:

  • Nice and small.
  • Comfortable for girls.

Cons:

  • Unreliable.
  • No character of fun in driving.

Buy or Rent the Yamaha Mio:
If you want a small framed scooter and the Honda Click is out of your budget!

Yamaha Sirius / Taurus Semi-Automatic

Yamaha Sirius

Yamaha Sirius!

🏍️$400+

Rarely seen driven by foreigners, but do exist out there on the Vietnamese Market. Yamaha Semi-Automatics are both cheaper and smaller in frame size than the equivalent Honda Semi-Automatic. Semi-Automatics rarely breakdown and so for the money, they are a good and reliable purchase.
The Yamaha Semi-Automatic lacks in power and performance compared to the Honda competition and this shows in the price differences between the two. As an entry-level motorbike created by a proper company that is Yamaha, the Sirius is not a bad choice!

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Reliable.
  • Small.
  • Good suspension.

Cons:

  • No power.
  • Look and feel cheap.

Buy or Rent a Yamaha Semi:
If you want a small, cheap and reliable motorbike!

Honda Wave Semi-Automatic

Honda Wave

Honda Wave in the wild!

🏍️$500 + Honda Wave for sale by TigitMotorbikes.

Buying the correct Honda Wave is the most financially sound, safe and economical purchase a human can possibly achieve. The “Honda Semi-Automatic” is an indestructible motorbike. Only ruined or broken due to the incompetence of the owner. The Wave, if maintained in a Honda shop with Honda’s world-class service will never break down.
Ridiculously cheap to maintain and the long term depreciation is minimal.
Unfortunately, Honda semi-automatics can be maintained by people using backstreet mechanic shops that use Chinese components. This creates a large variation of quality. However, even a badly maintained, smashed up Honda will not drop below the value of $450. Generally, on the market, they are found from $550 and upwards. The Honda Wave is one of the most common motorbikes in Vietnam, and there is a good reason for this!

Pros:

  • Cheap for the reliability.
  • Indestructible.
  • Cheap to maintain.

Cons:

  • No character.
  • Hard suspension.
  • Waves have alot of models. The Alpha is garbage.

Buy or Rent a Honda Wave:
If you want the best value for money motorbike! You never want to break down on the streets of Vietnam!  You count every penny and want the safest possible long-term investment!

Yamaha Jupiter Semi-Automatic

Yamaha Jupiter manual transmission

Yamaha Jupiter!

🏍️$650 (never owned and never driven, but we do talk to people!)

The Yamaha Jupiter is Yamaha’s top range semi-automatic. We believe people buy these due to the soft suspension of Yamaha, small frame size and stylish Yamaha looks. In Tigit’s opinion, at this price range it is better to buy a Honda. For high-end motorbikes in Vietnam, Honda is usually a better choice.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Good suspension.

Cons:

  • No power.

Buy or Rent the Yamaha Jupiter:
If one is found in the right place, at the right time and at the right price.

Honda Future Semi-Automatic

Honda future

Source: qtmotorbikesandtours – Honda future!

 

🏍️$650 +

The Honda Future is Honda’s top-level semi-automatic. Hard to put a price range on these as the model has been around a long time and significantly changed through the years. The variation of prices and quality is a minefield. If buying the correct one the 125cc engine in the Future is like driving a sports motorbike through the city. They are astonishingly fast and smooth – probably the ultimate motorbike for a combination of city and long distance driving. Rental companies often like to use the Future to promote the concept of a 125cc engine to foreigners. In reality the Future is over budget for a rental company and unless the rental price is in accordance to the luxury image of the vehicle it will be found that the Futures used are old and have lost their power.

Pros:

  • Very fast and smooth.
  • Some seat storage on a Semi-auto.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Impossible to find in good condition second hand.

Buy or Rent a Honda Future:
If you have cash in the bank and want a motorbike that is ideal for city and long distance driving.

Suzuki Hayate Automatic

Suzuki Hayate

The Suzuki Hayate parked and loaded

🛵$350-500 Suzuki Hayate for sale by TigitMotorbikes

The Hayate is without question the best value for money automatic scooter in Vietnam. It is reliable, has character and for the money, there is nothing in its class. It puts the Yamaha Nouvo 1/2/3 to shame.
Not only is it amazingly reliable for the money, but it also has a buzzing noise and handling that is to die for. The downside to the Hayate is the carburetor problems which can cause it to cut out at low rev. The Suzuki mechanics are not hugely honest or skilled at diagnosing this problem. The fix is around 2 mil, which is a fair percentage of the value of the entire scooter! When looking for a motorbike in Vietnam, the Suzuki Hayate is up there as the best value for money scooter in the country!

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Reliable for the money.
  • Fun to drive.

Cons:

  • Difficult to fix when they go wrong.
  • Expensive to fix when they go wrong.
  • Bad gas consumption.

Final word on the Hayate:
If you understand that buying $200/300 scooters rarely has a happy ending!  You want the cheapest automatic that is going to get you from A-B consistently!  You are a boy racer at heart!

SYM Shark

SYM Shark 150 cc

SYM shark

🛵$600+ (never owned, never driven)

The poor mans Honda SH.

The SYM Shark is very popular among expats due to its big frame and low price. Generally, they are advertised at nearly double the market value with claims of an upgrade to 150cc from the 125cc stock engine. Believe this if you will, but I am happy to remain a skeptic, and what is +25cc on a city scooter anyway?
For the price, the SYM Shark is a good purchase but as with any SYM bike the after service is limited and a small problem can escalate into an unfixable problem very quickly. Most SYM Shark owners seem happy with their purchase and overall I believe these to be a solid choice.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Comfortable.
  • Large Frame.

Cons:

  • SYM is not reliable.
  • No after service.
  • Big bike but only 125cc.

This bike is for:
If you want a cheap large framed automatic and you don’t mind being seen as the person that simply couldn’t afford an SH!

SYM Elizabeth Automatic

SYM Elizabeth

SYM Elizabeth

🛵$500

The SYM Elizabeth is a comfortable and stylish girly motorbike. A flat platform for bags and often crash railings makes the Elizabeth an attractive choice. A common theme of SYM motorbikes where quality is not the priority, they are a Vespa copycat company but sometimes they do seem to release golden gems and we believe the Elizabeth is one of them. The ladies out there rushing to buy the “cute” Yamaha Mio, hold your horses and get one of these instead!

Pros:

  • Cheap comfortable girly bike.
  • Big storage.

Cons:

  • SYM are not reliable and have no after service.

Buy or Rent the Elizabeth if:
You want a shopping mall of a scooter that is affordable!

Honda Dream Semi-Automatic

Honda Super Dream

Honda Super Dream!

🏍️$800 + (never driven and never owned)

The Honda Dream is the Ford Transit-Van of the Vietnamese motorbike world. Mostly seen driven by delivery drivers, motorbike taxis or old men. The flat seat design is comfortable and convenient for transporting goods around. The dream has a cheap exterior but high-quality internal mechanics which creates a misunderstanding among foreigners.  Looks can be deceptive and the Honda Dream is one of the more expensive Honda motorbikes on the streets.  Those smashed up looking delivery vehicles are worth far more than that beautiful spray-painted Chinese scrap the average foreigner is pottering around on. Upon research, this motorbike remains a dream that is over budget and out of reach!

Pros:

  • Flat seating on a semi.
  • Indestructible.

Cons:

  • Expensive.

Buy or Rent the Honda Dream if:
The classic image of the dream is worth extra coin to you!

Honda Click Automatic

Honda Click

Honda Click!

🛵$900 (Tigit never owned)

The Click is a very small city scooter. Seen around the streets of Vietnam but for a Honda it can be considered a small release and in relation to other motorbikes the Click is rare. The Click really is an unbelievably small motorbike. We are not sure why Honda stopped producing this model which means most of them are now quite old. If a small size is the most important element of a motorbike then the Click is the one to get!

Pros:

  • Tiny automatic scooter.

Cons:

  • Difficult to fix.
  • Can’t go over curbs.

Buy or Rent the Honda Click if:
You want the smallest automatic that money can buy!

Yamaha Nouvo 4 Automatic

Yamaha Nouvo LX (Nouvo 4)

Yamaha Nouvo LX (Nouvo 4)

🛵$500

The Nouvo 4 is 135cc of automatic power making it one of the fastest automatics on the streets. In a completely different league to the Nouvo 1/2/3 and is the cause of some of the confusion about Nouvo’s being “good” motorbikes. The Nouvo 4 is popular among locals and can quite often be seen as a bling’d out automatic. Yamaha bikes depreciate quickly and in 2017 the Nouvo 4 has considerably dropped in value making it a reasonable purchase. When buying Yamaha, it is important to consider the long term depreciation…. Although good value for 2017, we believe it will continue to quickly drop in price. Update 2018 – Yamaha really are useless at maintaining scooters, the Nouvo continues to plummet in value and soon Yamaha won’t support it.

Pros:

  • Cheap to buy.
  • Powerful for the money.

Cons:

  • Heavy handling.
  • Unreliable.
  • Bad gas consumption.

Buy or Rent the Yamaha Nouvo 4 if:
You are going for a bargain that will probably work out, but are willing to accept the consequences of buying a mid priced scooter that doesn’t work!

Suzuki Impulse Automatic

Suzuki Impulse

Suzuki Impulse

🛵$800+

The Suzuki Impulse is a large framed Hayate with fuel injection as standard. The only real negative of the Hayate was the carburetor and with the Impulse, this has been replaced with a modern fuel injection system. This alone is why nearly every expat in Vietnam should be driving this motorbike, yet no one is!
At around $800 this starts to creep into the $1000 Airblade territory so I imagine most people skip over it. The $1000+ scooters tend to be characterless blocks on wheels in Vietnam. I believe the Impulse is probably the highest end scooter that still brings life to a party. If it wasn’t for Suzuki questionable after service Tigit would use these over and above Airblades.
Considering how new they are, for $800 these bikes are a steal and people who want a good bike and are squinting at the Airblade price then this is the logical bike to get.

Pros:

  • Suzuki’s are fun to drive.
  • Cheap to buy for a new scooter.

Cons:

  • Suzuki after service is questionable.

Buy or Rent the Suzuki Impulse if:
You want a good bike that still has character. The Airblade is just out of your reach or you want something a little bit unique.

Honda Lead Automatic

Honda Lead

Honda Lead!

🛵$900 +

The luggage space is enormous and these scooters are basically a transport box on two wheels. Very popular among the locals and the Lead can be seen everywhere on the streets.  The lead appears to be hard to get hold of despite its popularity, and we have never managed to find them at the “right price.” Perhaps this is because the owners won’t let the beast go!
They wobbly around at speeds over 40km/h and have the handling of a boat. They really are terrible to drive. However the Lead is not about performance, it is about convenience. Flat floot position and a large seat make this the “go to” family vehicle.

Pros:

  • Big under the seat space.
  • Flat platform for more space..

Cons:

  • Handles like a boat.
  • No power.
  • No fun to drive.

Buy or Rent a Honda Lead if:
You need a shopping cart on wheels that is a Honda and therefore reliable!

Honda Airblade Automatic

Honda Airblade

Honda Airblade

🛵$1000+  Honda AirBlade for sale by TigitMotorbikes

The Airblade is the most common automatic scooter in Vietnam. There will not be a Vietnamese household that does not own a Honda Airblade of some sort. The ultimate family vehicle of supreme reliability, great gas consumption (even though it’s slightly smaller than the  Yamaha Nouvo fuel tank), and minimal depreciation. Economical and practical is the name of the game here. Front opening gas tank refills for convenience, a solid 110cc engine (older models) and a mid-sized frame make it the most down to earth and straightforward scooter that money can buy. The same old story of indestructible Honda’s ruined by people using back street mechanics applies here though, so getting the right one is important. The Airblade is a high-quality vehicle and therefore the components are expensive. Fixing a bad purchase can be a costly mistake!

Pros:

  • Best value for money scooter in Vietnam.
  • Reliable and easy to fix.

Cons:

  • No character.
  • Hard suspension.
  • Expensive, but worth the price!

Buy or Rent a Honda Airblade if:
You want an automatic that is simply going to work! You want a good long term investment with minimal depreciation! You want to get from A-B with absolutely no drama!

Honda Vision Automatic

Honda Vision

Honda Vision

🛵$1000 (only experience with the oldest generation)

The Vision is Honda’s entry-level automatic and is worth every penny. The usual Honda reliability and a flat foot platform that is convenient for shopping. From experience, the Vision lacks in the suspension department and this is where we believe Honda have shaved off a few dollars in comparison to the Airblade. Overall there is no reason not to get a Vision if wanting the cheapest Honda automatic that money can buy!

Buy or Rent the Honda Vision if:
You want the cheapest automatic that Honda offers! A flat foot platform and shopping is important to you!

SYM Wolf Manual Transmission

The SYM Wolf Classic!

The SYM Wolf Classic!

🏍️$1000 + (Never owned but have driven one before)

The SYM Wolf is an almost mystical motorbike that everyone recommends to buy. Person A: “I want a cheap but good manual motorbike”…. Person B: “Ah, get an SYM Wolf, I heard they were good” ….. Person A:”Where do I find one?”…. Person B: “No idea!”….
Tigit’s opinion is the SYM Wolf is just another Chinese piece of garbage. Somehow and from somewhere it has developed this mystical reputation as being the number 1 motorbike to buy when on a budget. However, no one knows where to buy one. No one has ever seen one. Does anyone even have one?
Do they even exist?………..

Buy or Rent the SYM Wolf if:
You know a guy who knows a guy who knows another guy that knows a dude that maybe has an SYM Wolf for sale.

Suzuki Axelo Manual Transmission

The Suzuki Axelo

The Suzuki Axelo

🏍️$500+

The cheapest manual motorbike that actually works in Vietnam. The Suzuki Axelo is an amazing machine for the money. Power, reliability, and performance handling all for $900.
Suzuki actually managed to build the perfect backpacker motorbike. A cheap and reliable manual that can also be fixed. Unfortunately, Suzuki messed up the styling which has created one ugly monster of a motorbike. Such as shame as we would love to buy and sell these on mass.

Buy or Rent the Suzuki Axelo if:
You are all about performance to money ratio! You can’t afford an Exciter, you know imported manuals are useless and all you want is a manual motorbike that is going to work! Despite the appearance, the Axelo is for the hardcore and real drivers that are on a budget.

Honda Master Manual Transmission

Honda Master

Honda Master

🏍️$1100 +

Like the SYM Wolf, the Honda master is another mystical motorbike commonly spammed around as the “recommended motorbike of choice”. In this case, at least they do exist and can eventually be found! It is true the Honda Master is a wonderful machine for the money and any owner should be proud and lucky to have one. They are small enough for city driving whilst also being comfortable for a long cruising holiday. Imported which means they are not under support by Honda. Maintenance is an unknown and needs to be sourced through back street mechanics.

Buy or Rent the Honda Master if:
You want a combination of a city and touring cruiser! You want a comfortable and affordable motorbike and you are not interested in pushing any boundaries in price or performance!

The Rebel USA Cruiser Manual Transmission

The Rebel USA

The Rebel USA

🏍️$1200+ (kind of driven one before)

The Rebel USA is a gangster looking cruiser that is all about style. For the Harley wannabe to sit back and display dominance. The Rebel USA has a rumor of low quality around the “experts” and when people state an interest in these cruisers the reaction from the public is usually a word of warning and caution. The Vietnamese driving test for A2 licenses is on a Rebel USA 250cc cruiser which is where I had the pleasure of driving one. It was a shockingly bad motorbike but I am not sure a drivers test arena where motorbikes are driven by learner drivers all day long is a fair test of performance.

Buy or Rent the Honda Rebel if:
You are wanting an aggressive dominant looking cruiser!

The Yamaha Exciter Manual Transmission

Yamaha Exciter

Tigit Customer on a Yamaha Exciter

🏍️$1500 + and the Yamaha Exciter is for sale and for rent by Tigit Motorbikes.

The most common manual motorbike in Vietnam. Seen everywhere on the streets in use as a normal city commuter or a pimp’d out race motorbike. The Exciter has a huge range of models through the years alongside a modification culture which has created a wide range of prices. In 2015 the new generation of Exciter was released that Tigit uses, a 150cc large framed manual that is great for travelling Vietnam. The oldest models of the Exciter are becoming collector items for local street racer boys as the old technology is great for modifying up to death defying speeds.
The Exciter is a quiet and gentle motorbike when relaxed, but a thundering monster when unleashed. The Exciter is a great motorbike for anyone with a keen interest in biking! More description of the Yamaha Exciter over in Linh’s blog Yamaha Exciter: King of the streets!

Buy or Rent Exciter if:
You want a common and high performing manual motorbike! You want the cheapest manual motorbike that is optimized for speed!

Suzuki Raider Manual Transmission

Suzuki Raider motorbike

Street Racer!

🏍️$1300 + and the Suzuki Raider is for rent by Tigit Motorbikes.

The Suzuki Raider is a racing motorbike at heart. Designed for street racers and small circuit track events. For the city it is an absolute blast to smash aggressively through traffic. The brakes on this roaring go-kart outperform any rivals within its class despite being the lightest and smallest motorbike within its category. The Raiders bodywork is not exactly “firmly” attached to the motorbike and vibrates around – it is clear that this machine was built with speed in mind and it lacks in some areas of convenience. The Raider is the motorbike that is designed for someone who can really drive and can put its amazing power to weight ratio to good use. It is for fun and the owner of this motorbike should probably already have experience driving as well as other more convenient motorbikes sitting around as a backup. Worth noting that the Raider is disappointingly “restricted” within Vietnam which means it needs modifying and money spent on it to unleash its true potential.

Buy or Rent the Suzuki Raider if:
You love driving! You have more convenient backup motorbikes around! Acceleration and adrenaline sends joyful shivers down your spine and you have the skills to handle this go-kart!

Honda XR 150cc Manual Transmission

Honda XR 150cc

Group of 4 riders from New Zealand

🏍️$1700 +  Honda XR for sale and Honda XR for rent by Tigit Motorbikes.

The XR 150cc is a large framed dual sport and has become the most common motorbike used for off-roading and tours within Vietnam. The “XR” is an international name and most motorbike enthusiasts who enjoy off-roading will be familiar with the 250cc+ versions. A farm vehicle at heart (Americans will call them “dirt-bikes”) and we consider them reliable tractors on two wheels. They are comfortable to sit on and despite the aggressive look, the XR is a gentle giant.
These motorbikes have become “THE” motorbike for rentals and tour companies. Superb reliability and the cheapest manual motorbike to be “comfortable” for foreigners. The only downside to these motorbikes is that the standard Vietnamese mechanics can’t fix them. If you buy one, then you a relying on a company like Tigit who is importing components.
The XR 150 is proving to hold its value as they are difficult to buy new and the demand is higher than the supply.
Comfortable for both city and long distance driving, these really are excellent all round machines.

Buy or Rent the XR if:
You want a comfortable large framed motorbike! You want to go both on the road and off the road! A scooter is just not good enough!

Honda Winner Manual Transmission

 Honda Winner 150cc

The Honda Winner 150

🏍️$1300 + Honda Winner for sale and Honda Winner for rent by Tigit Motorbikes.

The Winner is Honda’s rival to the dominant Yamaha Exciter. Since launch back in 2105, the Winner has been gaining market share among the locals. It is the most powerful and reliable 150cc manual motorbike in the country.

Pros:
Most powerful 150cc manual in the country.
Honda reliability
Heavy, high quality build.

Cons:
Terrible seating position all round, especially for tall riders.
For a small motorbike, it is unbelievably heavy.

Buy or Rent the Honda Winner if:
Performance is more important than “character” and upgrade kits!

Honda PCX Automatic Transmission

Honda PCX 150cc

Honda PCX

🛵$1800 + (never owned, never driven)

The PCX causes some confusion as in Thailand it is 150cc and very popular. The PCX is not that popular in Vietnam and up until recently, only the 125cc version was available. The PCX is famous for being a comfortable sofa, and for a foreigner its size is perfect. It has an image of class about it, whilst not being considered a show off scooter like the SH.
For a high-end scooter, the PCX is well priced and we believe these will be better valued long term than the SH. At Tigit when the time is right we are likely to rent out this model as we consider it a good value for money.

Buy or Rent the PCX if:
You want a comfortable high-end scooter that is good value for money.

Suzuki Satria Manual Transmission

Satria

Satria

A classic two-stroke motorbike that pollutes the planet and annoys all the surrounding motorists. For the driver, however, an explosion of acceleration and a rare two-stroke noise that can only be enjoyed by a motorbike enthusiast! Many of these old two-stroke motorbikes look old and broken but are sitting on values upwards of $2000. Now illegal to import the two-stroke motorbike to Vietnam meaning these classics will likely increase in value as time goes on.  The standard motorbikes are boring and slow whilst big motorbikes are impossible and impractical to drive here. This leaves the 2-stroke where the performance and acceleration is optimum and an underground knowledge is needed to realize that the smashed up beater is worth a small fortune. Respect and acknowledgment when someone compliments and understands the beauty of a classic motorbike that looks like a $200 broken down toy!

Choose the Suzuki Satria if:
You think normal motorbikes are boring!

Yamaha NVX Automatic Transmission

Yamaha NVX

Yamaha NVX

🛵$2000 (never owned, but have driven one)

I think Yamaha’s goal was to step in the high-end scooter market where Honda was only doing the 125cc reasonably priced Honda PCX. Yamaha saw a gap and quickly launched the NVX 155cc. In true Honda style, they quickly closed this window and launched the Honda PCX 150cc, making the NVX another obsolete and pointless Yamaha piece of garbage.
I guess you can argue it is a love or hate image…. I hate it, no argument there. It drives like a chunk of low quality plastic, which in relation to the Honda competition is exactly what it is. Strangely enough, these have taken the foreigner rental market by being advertised at 155cc which is perfect for the larger foreigner. In real terms, this is a massive 5cc more than the Honda competition. When a company is throwing an extra 5 CC on the table to separate itself from the competition, then you know that this is nothing more than a grasp in the wind for some hope. These will depreciate and hit rock bottom faster than throwing a brick off a building.

Choose the Yamaha NVX if:
You fall for technology buzz words and acronyms.

Honda MSX Manual Transmission

Honda MSX

Source: news.webike.vn – Honda MSX

🏍️$2300 (never owned, but have driven one)
An eyebrow and question mark is raised just looking at the Honda MSX. A small and lowered powered motorbike with an astronomically huge price tag. We can’t see any point in these ridiculous machines and from what we can tell it is the motorbike for showing off to friends.
I had the unfortunate pleasure of driving a pimp’d out MSX that was probably a total of $5000 of a motorbike after bodywork and accessory upgrades. Had I been blindfolded and asked what motorbike I was driving – the answer would have been a Honda Win. It wobbled, it lacked power and even the brakes didn’t work. Maybe I got unlucky, but for a $5000 motorbike, it is probably the biggest joke I have ridden to date!

Buy or Rent the Honda MSX if:
Have money spare to buy a small manual motorbike for the coffee shops.

Honda SH Automatic Transmission

Honda SH

Honda SH

🛵$3000+ (never owned, but have driven one)

The SH 150cc is the icon of the Vietnamese scooter world. The creme de la creme of what is possible. The target and dream of any up and coming city boy or girl. We have Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s in our magazines… the Vietnamese have the SH.
The irony is that it is so popular now, and city folk are now making “real money” that these scooters have become unbelievably common and normal. Despite this, the SH has managed to maintain its image of  “I have more money than you” and it continues to be the eye candy of dreams.

The scooter now comes in all different sizes and colours, basically a “for him SH” and a “for her SH”, ranging in physical size to actual power. The mother-load of the SH being around a 11,000usd 300cc Rolls Royce of class.

It goes without saying that the SH is built properly and it does not have corner cutting, money-saving techniques such as cheap suspension and low quality brakes. These corner cutting, price slashing methods have been erased and the SH drives how a scooter should. Smooth acceleration, good power and brakes that actually work.

The downside to these scooters is that they weigh a tonne which is not ideal for the cramp’d style parking in the cities. Some parking lots may have a special SH row for the upper class, but if this is not the case, your $3000 scooter is piled in with the rest of the trash, ready to get scratched to pieces.

Buy or Rent the Honda SH if:
Money is no object and you want the best officially supported scooter in Vietnam.

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  1. Carol says:

    Mine is the honda cub with pink seats 😊 best bike EVER! 4 years so far and with a regular service runs really well.
    I put 125 engine in so it’s quicker & safer!

    It is priceless! Kept my daughter safe and she reads/does her homework on the back 😂

  2. NGUYEN HOANG LINH says:

    Hello, Vietnamese here. I find your article funny and somewhat accurate! But what do you mean by “It doesn’t work?” They do work! Just occasionally.

    • Mint says:

      That’s Tigit Jon’s sense of humor. He’s saying it doesn’t usually work well. You’ll find that if you run the win long enough it’ll have some random issue which can’t be fixed properly.

  3. Vincent says:

    do you have good advice for the purchase of a suzuki hayate..?
    I want something strong and powerful suzuki hayate is this a good choice ?

    • Jon - TigitMotorbikes says:

      For the money yes it is a good choice. People need to be realistic about “you get what you pay for”.
      For a $450 scooter, yes its amazing. But no, it is not the same as a $2000 Honda SH 🙂

  4. Mees van Eijk says:

    Hello there,

    First thing i would like to say is that i really like this article and it is well written.

    i am very tall and i would like to buy the honda xr 150 are the prices quoted for new motorcycles or second-hand ones?

    and do you know from what price the honda xr sells for?

    • Mint says:

      Hi ,

      What is your current location so that I can check the availability for you?
      We currently have second hand bike of this model only.

    • Mees van Eijk says:

      Hanoi

      What is the cheapest second Honda XR available

    • Mint says:

      Hi ,

      We curently have the XR 150cc as follow information:

      42 347 km
      $1600
      6 month warranty or 6000km

      Let me know if you want to come and have a look.

  5. metasac says:

    This is the most hilariously written review of motorcycles I have ever read.
    I guess I’ll buy the Axelo when I get there. Thank you.

  6. adem says:

    hi,

    I disagree with the SYM Wolf part. SYM is a famous motorcycle company in Taiwan, and the SYM wolf is one of the most legendary bike model in Taiwan.
    It’s definitely not “another Chinese piece of garbage “. It’s a Taiwanese good bike.

    • Jon - TigitMotorbikes says:

      SYM after service and support is non existent in Vietnam,
      Over time the bikes get repaired with Chinese parts.

      It may start life as a good motorbike, but a few years and it becomes Chinese. I believe the information in this article is correct.

  7. MIke says:

    I can confirm that the best scooter overall in Vietnam for budget is: Suzuki Hayate!!! Weight balance is perfect, as well as center of gravity… Super easy to ride and very fast!!! Super reliable.

    I had this bike for 5 years.

    P.S. Official Suzuki service/fix place is complete Bull sh*t! The one that on the way to the Airport in HCMC.

  8. Noemi Rav says:

    I own a Honda PCX and really like it. It’s light weight, very comfortable, easy to add a case behind, and can be modified for a bit more power. I’ve also rented the 150cc model while in Thailand, even nicer. If you were already renting these I’d get this form you for my next trip:)

    • Doug Lund says:

      I bought a 2018 PCX, the 125 cc model, I believe its made in Vietnam? Only 8,900 KM, and I paid 42.5 Million , from a dealer in Vung Tau.

      I just love it, so much more comfortable and responsive and fun to drive compared to the Nuovo’s and Sym Elizabeth I own. I plan to buy a PCX in the States so I can drive it around in the summer months ..

      I love how the floorboard goes up on the sides, so you can actually put your feet up a bit and at a more natural and comfortable angle.

      Its just so fun to drive !!

  9. James Elkins says:

    How about the yamaha acruzo/janus?

    No honda blade??

    I also kind of expected you guys to go into the difference between the wave alpha and rsx. The rsx is significantly nicer..

    • Jons Theories says:

      Depends how long I want the article 😀

      Could go into model breakdowns, but if I do that then I need to go into year breakdowns as well.

      But yes, agree Alpha Vs RSX is a huge difference and probably worth talking about! I will add in at some point.
      Cheers