What Kind of Motorbike to buy in Hanoi?

Scott Homan
September 22, 2016

by Scott Homan

(Check out part 1 on Manual Bikes’ Do & Don’t here)




Wave 110: $250 –  $500

Most efficient, reliable and most often copied by Chinese knock-offs as well as stolen:

These are everywhere and highly reliable and efficient. If they are real Japanese versions then you’ll basically ride trouble free for years. Locals say they are the most efficient on fuel and from my personal experience I’d say it’s the perfect fun-to-drive city bike and handles long trips with ease.

The only downside is the transmission is geared for city travel and hauling things like stacks of full beer kegs at lower speeds. They can reach fast enough speeds for the highway yet in top gear it sounds like it’s going to explode at 50km/h.

There are a couple other semi-automatics, which are geared for higher speeds and the compromise is likely a tiny bit of fuel efficiency. Those models include:

Honda Future Neo: $400 – $600

This is a step-up from the Honda Wave in a few ways: Faster top speed, Front disc brakes and newer.

Honda Dream: $300 – $600

These are possibly tied with the Wave for popularity in Hanoi and all of Vietnam for many of the same reasons: they ride great, are super reliable, efficient and powerful. These are the bikes that Hanoi is built upon and make all things possible including beer delivery.



Exciter 135: $700

The Exciter is a new performance model with a larger 135cc engine. Nothing was spared in terms of features and quality.

Yamaha Jupiter: $300 – $400

Jupiters are getting a bit old but are good bikes. They have a higher top speed due to different gearing. Yamaha’s in general are higher performance than Honda and the compromise is less fuel efficiency but its a small difference. These also come stock with front disc brakes.



Honda Cub

The cutest bike in town, these are highly popular with the girls but the quality and reliability varies hugely due to how long these have been made. There are many versions from many decades. These are also very popular to customize and they have been deemed an indestructible bike. Stories abound including one about someone launching one off of a building and later picking it up and driving it around. Just be very careful when testing out the cub to look for worn parts. Definitely get a 2nd and 3rd opinion simply due to the age.

Super Cub

These are being sold in mass since 2013. Research needs to be done to determine if they are actually Honda or if they are fakes.



Yamaha Nuovo $250-$500

Nuovos are very common and reliable. Common knowledge is that these are gas guzzlers yet that’s in comparison to the highly efficient Honda Wave. All scooters are low on fuel consumption compared to a car yet automatics scooters are least efficient of all the options. Large storage.

Honda Spacy $300 – $500

Looks like a Buick family car, wide and curvy with huge tail lights. Large storage.

Vespa 125 $700 – $1500

Classy scooter. All vespas look great. They likely cost a bit more to maintain since all parts come from Italy and most dealerships are corporate Vespa/Piaggio.



They exist but I can’t recommend any particular model. Speak with the locals about which they recommend and why. They go about 25-30km/hr, which is around bicycle speed or a bit faster. Most commonly they are driven by teenagers, college students and grandmas and from the looks of things are reliable. Because they need to be recharged, this is a great option if you have regular commute and you don’t need to deviate often. These can leave you stranded if the battery dies. You and the bike can be transported back home by a Tuk-Tuk driver if stranded. They are light weight, easy in and out of your house, relaxing to drive and great for the city air quality.

More than you ever wanted to know, eh? Good luck shopping!

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