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TRAVEL TIP TUESDAY – Fueling up that rental.

This is a very specific Travel Tip, but hopefully useful just the same.

I will start with a disclaimer that, while it is easy to rent motorcycles in many countries in Southeast Asia, it is not always legal. Please check the laws where you are to see if any license you may have is recognized in the country you are staying in. The rental companies are in business to make money and rent you a motorcycle, so they may not always be honest with you regarding the laws. You are the one that will face the police and potentially pay fines. Ignorance is no defense. Another thing to consider is your insurance. If you get into an accident and get hurt, your injuries may not be covered by your insurance.


This week’s travel tip is a simple reminder. Motorcycles get great gas mileage! (Kilometerage?) I crack myself up! Seriously, America is one of only three places on the face of the planet that still uses the imperial system, but I digress.


A 2015 Honda 125 Air Blade will get over 90 miles to the gallon! The same motorcycle has a fuel capacity of 1.2 gallons, so that gives you an approximate range of 108 miles–or for the rest of the world, 173.8 kilometers.

If you are going to rent a motorbike just to do some sightseeing, take a moment to calculate how far you will go. You need to know where fuel stops are and the distance between them. You may also discover that you are only going to cover a small area and just use the motorcycle for convenience.


When we were on Cat Ba island in Vietnam, we rented motorcycles for the day. We were told that they were empty and had just enough fuel to get there. We were also told this is a standard practice. When we got to the fueling station, we simply filled up the tanks and went on our way. Makes sense, right?


Cat Ba Island is about twice the size of San Francisco. and outside of the actual town, there is only one road that loops around the whole island, along the coast and through the National Park. That loop is almost 30 miles in its entirety. We stopped at several places to sightsee, and it took us the better part of the day. Doing the math, you can see that we only used about 30% of the fuel we purchased. Here is where the travel tip comes in.


Remember we were told that it is common practice for the motorcycles to come empty? We only used 30% of the fuel and returned them with lots of fuel remaining, right? How are all of the motorcycles empty when they get rented? It’s not like everyone who rents one uses the exact amount of fuel in the tank, right?


The owners of these shops get a lot of free fuel! They literally siphon out any extra fuel left in the bikes and use it for their own purposes. They use it in their own vehicles or resell it at manual pump stations or at small shops and stores in different locations.  Most ingenious indeed! These guys are making money from renting out the motorcycles and also making money on the fuel!


Just something to think about when fueling up if you are just puttering around. Try to buy only the fuel you need.

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